Thursday, February 2, 2012

Publishing Your Graphic Novel

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Simply go to Youtube, and keyword in these words:

"Christopher Hart" draw manga

The tutorials will pop up. And you can choose the topic you want. If you like 'em, please post a comment. And thanks!

A great many cartoonists, manga artists and illustrators dream of launching their own graphic novel. And why not? It can establish you, and your cartoon or manga character, and spin off a series and licensing opportunities.

One of the main considerations is pricing. Many first-time authors, without writing or illustration credits, are currently self-publishing .99 cent books. Let's suppose you just wrote and illustrated the great American graphic novel. And BAM! -  it takes off, at .99 cents, and rakes in an impressively big number of sales for a book in its class by a first time author: 25,000 copies. (To give you some idea of average sales: the average published novel, in print, sells 4,000 copies; and the average self-published novel, in print, sells around 175 copies.)

This many copies sold would invariably lead you to ask the following question (oh, come on, you know it would) --  What if your raised your prices?

You first have to ask yourself what is the elasticity of demand for a book by an unknoiwn author, priced at $9.99?  They key question is: Have you made enough of a name for yourself that you can raise your price ten fold on a self-published book, and still retain your readership?

At $9.99 it's quite doubtful that you will sell anywhere near 25,000 copies. Or 20,000. Or 10,000. Or 5,000. And that's because, for $9.99, the reader can buy the work of the best, established writers, with the pedigree of a publishing house, and with the confidence that they will come away with a reliable read - not something they might have to toss out. At record stores - when there were record stores - a consumer might buy an album from an unknown band because the album cover looked cool - IF it had a fire sale price, like ... .99 cents.  But not at the same price as other albums by your favorite groups.

Here's the thing: there is no impulse purchase at $9.99. People do not have it in their budgets to spend ten bucks a pop for the excitement of possibly discovering the next Sventlana Chmnakova (say that five times fast). But at a buck a pop, well, why not roll the literary dice?

Bringing our projections down to earth, let's see how much you might make at a $9.99 price, selling 1,500 copies in a year. That would probably yield you around $9,000; while 25,000 copies at .99 cents may yield around 8,750. Neither is going to make you rich.

So which way should you go?

There are many considerations, too many to list here, but money isn't the only one.  Exposing your work to the public, as a first time author, especially if you don't possess the writing credits to get an established publisher to consider your work, is another. Having earned some success as an author is important for a career. And whether you charge a buck or a hundred bucks, a sale is a sale. Authors with higher sales are more impressive to publishers, and to the public at large, than authors with small sales and greater profits for themselves. 

There are many other, legitimiate opinions on this topic - but that's the way I see it. I hope this has been helpful.

--Thanks for stopping by!



  1. That's great advice. I was thinking of trying to get a graphic novel published at some point.

  2. Hey Josh, give it a try. Maybe you want to start off with a smaller giveaway at a convention first. It's a good way to get feedback, and it's easier to complete.