Essays on Self-Publishing

I frequently receive emails asking me about the finer points of self-publishing, and after I send the email, I will often post what I've written online as an essay, in hopes of spreading the knowledge further than just the person who asked the question. Below are several essays that I've written, as well as links to essays by other people who said things that I wanted to say, only better.

Essays I've written

Essays by other people

Comics-related Essays
  • How to Present Your Portfolio -- I was going to write an essay about how to present your portfolio to established comics professionals at a convention, but Steve Leiber said everything I wanted to say and said it far better than I could. You should also read Steve's Rants on other topics; they're quite good.

  • Advice on Speaking to Creators -- Jeff Parker, creator of Interman, does amazing Convention reports about the shows he works. In this one, a review of San Diego Comic Con 2003, he has two incredibly accurate and concise bits of advice for speaking with creators -- the essay is in the yellow box. Link Contains strong language.

  • Convention Table Etiquette -- Another essay from Jeff Parker; another essay written during a convention report and offset in a yellow box for special consideration.Link Contains strong language.

  • Gold Rush Mentality: The Galactus Saga -- Also from Jeff Parker: For yet another reason why gold-rush collector's mentality is really screwing up our industry, please read the infamous Galactus Saga. Link Contains strong language.

  • What it takes to break into comics -- Kurt Busiek, creator of Astro City (and writer of countless other series), once put an impossibly long essay in the now-defunct Warren Ellis Forum detailing the insane amount of persistence it took before he "broke into comics". He dispenses more advice and wisdom in this long entry than most books. Take the time to read the whole thing; it's really really worth it. Who knows how long the WEF Archives will stick around? Best to copy it to your hard drive before it vanishes forever down the Memory Hole.

  • Dave Sim's Memorial Notes from the President Archive -- When Dave Sim began publishing his invaluable essays on self-publishing, he publicly stated that they could be circulated copyright-free. Cerebus FanGirl has kindly typed them up and hosts them on her website. They're completely invaluable -- anyone who's even considering making comics on a serious basis should go and read them all, or at least the essays numbered 168-189, which comprise the backbone of the Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing. Dave lays out the hard, true realities of self-publishing far better than I ever could. Required reading. Link Contains strong language.

  • Gary Reed's Guide to Self-Publishing. Gary was a publisher at the now-defunct Caliber comics. This is pretty old, written in 1993, so don't use any of the addresses or figures in this essay... still, the majority of the advice is solid, and quite good. Sadly, the lay of the land is even bleaker today than when Gary wrote this -- I'd guestimate the number of comics shops and issues sold is about 30% of the figures he states. He wrote this during the Black and White comics boom of the early nineties -- we're still recovering from the crash that followed it. For more information on the crash, please read Gods and Tulips by Neil Gaiman - a staggeringly prophetic and accurate view of the 1990's comics boom and bust. Explains why comics are meant for reading, and not for investing.

  • The full Come In Alone Archives -- all fifty-two of Warren Ellis' columns on the state of the industry. Written in 2001-2002, but still worth reading. Includes Ellis' unique take on the comic book industry, features first-class interviews with top-flight comic book professionals, and even includes the legendary Old Bastard's Manifesto.

Non-Comics Essays: For Writers

Here are some essays written by science-fiction and horror novelists. While they're not strictly related to comics or self-publishing, the advice is still invaluable.