This is a good one to leave the year on, I think, a 4000 word essay by Becky Cloonan on the evolution and execution of her self-published minis, which have won Eisner awards and sold thousands of copies. The piece covers some of the intangibles, but mostly the practical side, from living with tons of boxes to founding a small distribution company and dealing with the post office:
I can’t say there is a specific advantage to doing it yourself vs. taking your book to a publisher like Image. My mini comics are hard to get ahold of, and more expensive than regular comics. It takes months to do and I don’t get an advance or a page rate. I have to figure out how to finance the printing, and learn how to put all this shit together, and then do a zillion conventions to sell them. It’s hard. It’s stressful. It’s confusing. It’s depressing and solitary. You’ll never have enough time, you’ll start obsessing over it. And to top it off, you’re almost guaranteed to lose money on the first print run.
On the other hand, there is nothing like opening a box of your own comics for the first time, breathing in that first sweet breath of toner and paper, and whispering softly into the cardboard, “All of these books… ARE MINE!!” If you are a control freak than I guarantee* you will LOVE self-publishing. (*I actually don’t guarantee anything)
It’s a nice overview of how to use the myriad tools available for professional growth and possibly some profit. If 2013 was about anything it was about having access to all the resources that used to exist just for giant companies, and how that access is quickly allowing all creators to evolve. 10 years ago, Cloonan was making a bad deal with a problematic publishers to get her work out there, and in the process she lost it forever. Now she can call all the shots as long as she has the stamina and audience.
2014 will probably be about dealing with the panic attack that comes from having way too many options…or maybe that never ends.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.