Posts Tagged: self-publishing

Lessons from Self-Publishing a Comic

It is done: Concerning Rosamond Grey is now available to purchase in paperback. It is done!

It is available for purchase here, also a link in the menu bar. As soon as you purchase it, will print a new copy just for you.

I feel like this character here:

I feel like a huge weight has lifted: now I’m free to draw for fun again. Now I feel free in general. I definitely felt burnt out with this self-publishing project, and I wondered if I would feel burnt out with my creations in general. Thankfully not: I sketched more last week than I have in the past month or two. Back to learning and drawing human/animal anatomy!

Back to the self-publishing, I tried both Amazon’s Createspace/Kindle Direct Publishing and, and I found the latter much better in ease of uploading files, number of printing options, and interior printing quality. The only thing that was strangely similar was the printing quality of the book covers: I picked matte finish on both, and they feel the same, and almost look identical. I think the Lulu one has more oranges, and the Amazon has more greens?

Now to the most important part: the interior printing. This makes or breaks a deal for me: the clearer the comic page, the better. Both Lulu and Amazon had some “dithering”, or fuzziness, but Lulu definitely scored higher points in this regard:

I used a macro lens so you can have a close-up of the print detail. As you can see, Lulu has interesting dithering, but at least the blacks are black, and the whites are white. On the Amazon printing, the blacks fade into a gray before they go to white. Not ideal. In this case, I find the Lulu printing truer to the original comic art.

Now a strange phenomenon happened consistently: the first chapters of the Lulu printing had dithering like seen above, and the latter half…Barely had any dithering at all. It almost looks exactly like the original comic art. Closely inspecting this page from chapter 4, you can see the difference in dithering:

…And I have no idea why this is. :/ Since it happened on a few printings, I have to conclude that it has to do with the original image files. I tried to look back to figure out “what I did”, no luck. It could be the scanner settings when I scanned the image, it could be the original resolution, I’m not sure. Looking at each page file, they are all gray scale (Lulu’s preferred setting), as far as I can tell, they should all print the same.

This leads to the next part of this post, about things I would do differently next time.

1. Document Everything/Be Organized

I admit: I’m disorganized, and I created more work for myself than I should have. As noted in The Cost of Self-Publishing post, I had multiple copies of files in random places, and didn’t follow a conventional naming system at first. I also was not careful about documenting everything: I didn’t pay attention to the printer settings when I scanned something; I didn’t note the color adjustment settings on the image editing program; I wasn’t consistent with final image size. Next time, I’ll create a system where I know how to find things on my computer, and to document settings and resolutions.

2. Say No to Bleeds

This has been the single most bothersome thing to preserve in CRG. By bleed, I mean where the characters or art extends to the cut edge of the page:

Another reason this is was hard to preserve is because I drew the comics in non-standard book dimensions. I used manga comic paper for the art, and I used their measurements. So my comic would fit manga and Japanese printing sizes, but the ratio is off with American book sizes. This means that I have more whitespace outside the panel on the top and bottom versus the sides, or vice-versa. I don’t have an even amount of whitespace all around the panels.

From what I understand, Amazon rejected my last revision because of the bleeds. Lulu allows the bleeds, it just gives you a warning. Still, I had to sacrifice space around the panels to make sure all of the bleeds really did…Bleed.

If you followed more standard comic book, or book ratios, perhaps bleeds would give you less issues. Another option would be to draw the bleed way beyond the suspected page edge, so you literally have buffer space. I will seriously reconsider drawing bleeds in the future.

Original image from Blue Line Art

3. Be comfortable with a publishing programs

I watched a video on Youtube about a comic creator self-publishing that formatted everything on Microsoft Word…I don’t know how he did it. That’s what I tried at first, and let’s be honest, Word is for…Words, not pictures. At the end I used the Serif program Affinity Publisher (sister program to my often-used Affinity Photo), and it made formatting so much easier. It’s relatively easy to learn: I figured most of it out with tutorials on one Saturday.


So, going forward, I will:

1. document everything

2. Avoid bleeds as much as I can

3. Well, I already used Affinity Publisher…

So those are the big things I found with self-publishing. A lot of it I had to learn and problem solve: neither platform offers customer service in regards to formatting. Lulu at least will tell you what settings the file should be in, file size, etc. With Amazon, it is completely guesswork.

Thank you for reading,


The Costs of Self-Publishing

I recently chatted with someone that also self-published his book (a children’s book). Rather than formatting everything as I am attempting to do, he hired someone to format the book for him. I was astonished at the cost: with all of the formatting and illustrations, the final product cost between $3,000-5,000. Wow.

…But I can’t say my method is really cheaper. Money-wise, if I only include products specific for my self-publishing attempt, maybe $200 to $400 dollars. But if we are counting time…Oh boy. The hours I have spent digitally cleaning the pages, the hours trying to format for publishing, the hours learning how to use programs…Honestly, the self-publishing project might have as many, if not more, hours involved as actually drawing the comic. Maybe I’m exaggerating…But only a little.

Let’s look at what’s taking me so long to get this dang thing in print. 😉

Original Files

I recently learned that the Japanese highly rely on blood-type horoscopes—your blood type determines your personality. Having tested my blood during my internship, I knew that I am type A+. According to their horoscope, I should be the most organized, neat person you’ll meet.

I have since concluded that this horoscope only applies to Japanese people, and not to Westerners. One look at my desktop, and you would agree with my assessment. I confess that over the entire creation process of the comic (drawing, putting online, self-publishing), I’ve had files on three different computers. It also didn’t help that my middle computer crashed early on, and file recovery was sporadic. Also during this long period, I have used three different image editing programs: Photoshop C4 through the middle of chapter 4, Gimp for a very short stint (I hated it), and finally Affinity Photo for the rest of the comic. A third consideration is I put full-sized files on DeviantArt, but had to use scaled images for comic-hosting sites SmackJeeves and Tapastic.

So when it came to compiling all of my comic page files into one mass, many files were just plain missing. I might have JPG files for certain pages, but not the original PS or Affinity Photo file, so editing was harder. Sometimes I had the scaled image but not the full-sized, so quality differences were present. Finally I had to make the difficult decision to take the physical pages and rescan every one, edit every one digitally, and save it in a folder where I can (maybe) find it again. Some pages I could find a full-sized, editable versions: the final editing took maybe an hour. With pages I had to rescan, piece back together, add words, and finally clean, sometimes they took as long as 5 hours each.


From my old 2008 Macbook I used the Dakota Handwriting font for the vast majority of the speech bubbles in the comic. This is all well and good, as long as the developers continued updating the font.

Which they didn’t. As a result, on the corrected pages I had to use the similar but different Dakota font. The problem with this font is that the spacing isn’t as good, and honestly it’s harder to read. So the comic is now a mix of Dakota Handwriting and Dakota fonts, and because if I changed the dialogue for every single page again…Yeah. Honestly, since I have the Glyphs program for making fonts, and I somehow managed to make a constructed language font, in the future it might just be easier to make my own font: I can make it with just the right spacing, kerning, and I could make it based on my own handwriting—though for reading purposes, I should say “inspired”, because nobody really wants to read my handwriting, trust me.

Financial Costs

Now, let’s talk about things that cost money. >:) Some costs are more obvious, as they only relate to the self-publishing. For example, every blog I have read about self-publishing says “buy your own ISBN”. This is the identification number of the book: the barcode on the back of the book is a visual, scannable representation of that ISBN. Every edition of every book has its own ISBN. If you self-publish on some platforms (Amazon, SmashWords, etc), they provide an ISBN for that book for that platform only. So the advice is buy your own ISBNs. The cost? At Bowker Identifier Services, one ISBN costs $125. They also have an offer where you can buy 10 ISBNs for $295.00, so 29.50 per number. I decided to go for the more expensive option, because I wasn’t sure how many ISBNs I would need. I have since learned that not only do each physical edition of a book gets own ISBN, but so does each version of each Ebook (EPUB, PDF, Kindle, etc). I have already dedicated two of my numbers to my comic, and probably more.

Another product I got from Bowker was an application for copyright. While the chances of someone stealing images from my comic are low, I knew that I would be devastated if something happened. The copyright application cost another $80.00 from Bowker.

Lastly, I bought a barcode to go with my ISBN for my hard-copy version—it is sold separately. I also bought a QR code to link to my website. Both of these cost $25 each.

So my identifier costs turned out to be at least $400. This is not including the online file fee for the copyright office, which was another $65.

But wait, there’s more. 😉

I will explain my trials with self-publishing with Amazon for another post: but attempting to format for them and subsequently for, I have paid for monthly subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud (for the PDFs), Microsoft Office, and a one-time fee for Affinity Publisher.

Adobe x 2 months = $31.86

Microsoft Office: =0.00 (did I manage to cancel it before the trial period?)

Affinity Publisher: $34.99

Affinity Photo workbook: $34.99

So if I only limited myself to these costs (not to include my current MacBook Pro…You don’t want to know how much it costs), I have spent $566.84. This does not include the cost of Affinity Photo program, the watercolor supplies for the book cover, the digital tablet and stylus, etc.

And I am yet to get any of it back in profit. 😉 You might be asking: why on earth am I doing this? If self-publishing costs so much money up front, why on earth do it? Honestly, I’m not doing it to get money. Would profits be nice? Absolutely. Am I banking on Concerning Rosamond Grey making me money? No. I don’t think I’ll make much money from comics until I return to being prolific and regular in my comic-making. I’ve only completed on elementary work so far, and it’s not brilliant.

So why am I doing it? Possibly pride. I am still shocked and flattered that people want this comic in hard-copy. What an honor, what a blessing. Of course I want to deliver to the few readers I have. Secondly, I feel like this is validation for me. I need to do this so I can say “I finished a graphic novel—here it is”. I need to see it in a final, polished form as a mark of completion, and to give me pointers when I start the next comic. I need to see it in print so I can start to believe that my efforts in story-telling have value.

error: Content is protected !!