Self-Publishing

By Rio

Part I
So you got a story all written down, characters all drawn and fleshed out, done a few penciling- now what? Now is the best part. Making your final product! A manga all your own! The final hurdle! 

Well, listen closely, and pay attention. I'll be showing you two ways to put your own manga together and some tips afterwards. 

Either types has their advantages and disadvantages: 

Type 1: Mini-Comic
-Least expensive of the two.
-Easiest to make.
-Materials to make the manga are at your home right now.
-Nine pages total.
-Page size is very small (4.25" x 5.5").
-Can't do too much details in manga due to small page size.
-Most suited for short manga stories.
-Good starting point for a beginning manga-ka (manga artist).

Type 2: Ashcan/Comic Book
-Most expensive of the two.
-Need about $100, more or less, to purchase materials at an office store.
-Materials should last you for several years- investment well worth it if used properly. 
-A bit trickier to make but once you get the hang of it, it'll be no problem.
-80 pages total possible.
-Ashcan (5" x 8") or regular sized comic (8" x 11") can be made.
-You can make a fairly detailed comic.
-Most versatile of the two types: 
1. Can make full-blown manga story in one comic (80 pages baby!) or create parts like regular comic books.
2. Can create short stories, series, or whatever your little heart desires.
-Almost as good as the real thing.

Drooling?

Before we move on, there are some things you should think about before deciding which type to make.

1. What is your skill level?
If you are a beginner in making mangas, I would greatly recommend that you start off with a mini-comic. Doesn't matter if you have the money to buy the materials for Type 2! This will get your feet wet, make you become familiar with the comic book process, and start you off slowly instead of rushing head-long into something like an idiot. It's better to do something small and great than something big and sloppy. Once you've familiarized yourself with the mini-comic, then move on to the ashcan or comic book.

2. Which one fits your schedule?
I know most of you are probably hankering to make a great big saga but most of you probably would never even finish it. Think about it: Is it better to make one whole, huge, world that will take several months.. maybe a couple of years to make (or even type the story out for that matter).. OR to make short stories that you can dish out every couple of weeks?
The second person will leave you in the dust before you've even started making that gigantic story you're making. Also, I know everyone of us has some kind of social life- heck, we can't all be pumping out manga's day and night.. leave that to when you're a professional- so start small and work up to that great big story. Unless you have no social life as it is so go for it!

You've gone through the questions, now weigh your options carefully. Once you've made your decision read on! 

Step-by-step imagePart II

Type 1: Mini-Comic

Materials
1 paper
1 scissor
1 stapler

Instructions
1. Take one sheet of paper (8.5" x 11")
2. Fold it in half
3. Fold it in half again
4. Mark the pages (lightly!) with pencil. Specify cover, page 1, page 2, etc.
*Don't forget that it's front and back!
5. Open up paper and cut the paper in half through the shortest length.
6. Staple at the binds to hold papers together.
*Remember to have the cover faced upwards!

Final product
1 page for the cover, 7-8 pages for manga depending on whether you'd like to put credits/contact info or something else in the back or after the cover.

If you like, you can add more pages into the mini-comic for a longer story.

Part III
Type 2: Ashcan or Comic Book

Long reach stapler Materials
Up to 20 sheets of paper (Regular or Legal size)
Paper Trimmer
Long Reach Stapler

Instructions
Handle Paper Trimmer1. Decide format: Ashcan or Comic Book?
Ashcan = Use regular 8.5" x 11" paper
Comic Book = Use legal size 11" x 16" paper
Paper will be folded in half. For example,
Ashcan = 8.5" x 11" -> 5.5" x 8"
Comic Book = 11" x 16" -> 8" x 11"

2. Decide on how many pages your comic will be. This can usually be ascertained through story/plot breakdown. To give you some idea of how many sheets of paper will become:

Rotary Paper Trimmera) Sheets Of Paper
b) Pages
c) Readable Pages
d) Cover Page Amount*

     a          b            c              d
-----------------------------------------
     10         40          36            4
     7           28          24            4
     20         40          76            4

*Front and back
Regular manga comics are around 24-28 pages long for one issue.
Ashcan's are around 8 pages more or less.

3. Fold all or just the cover in half
4. Unfold and staple papers (cover side up!) all together. If you're having trouble getting it to the center, don't worry about it. If you want, you can practice on other pieces of paper before doing the real thing. Also, you can mark the center line if you need a guideline.
5. Fold all the papers together. If you need to, flatten them with a heavy book... or two.

Before we get to the cutting, please read the following:
-Quality of paper trimmer differs with brand and type. There is the wood or plastic type which comes with a handle or rotary type cutter. For better results, get the handle. Whether the wood or plastic differs in any way, I don't know, but I personally like the wood. If you prefer safety, get the rotary paper trimmer but the results won't be as good as the handle. Also, you will have to replace the rotary blades so it stays sharp. The handle paper trimmer is self-sharpening.

-If you'll be getting the handle type paper trimmer, please use caution when using it as specified in your instruction manual. Use parental supervision if necessary. 

-I recommend you practice with scrap paper first before doing the following steps.

-For another alternative besides the paper trimmers (handle or rolling), you may use a scissor. It may be more cost effective & safer but paper trimmers cut straighter lines and are generally faster- especially as the number of pages increase in your manga- than scissors.

*For the best results, make sure you hold the papers securely! It may shift as you cut it and damage your work if held loosely. Personally, I put my weight down onto the paper, my palm on top of the comic.
*Do not stop at any time while cutting or the edge of the paper will have a bump or worse.

6. Align the paper over the edge that you would like to cut off.
7. Hold secure, and cut in one stroke.
8. If you made a guideline before, make sure you erase it.
9. If the papers still bends upwards a bit, keep it flattened with a heavy object. The more the pages, the more chance you will have to do this.
10. Finis!

Final product
One professional ashcan or comic book as you can get! 

If you want to go a little further, try working with special paper specific to inkjet printers, different weights of paper, colored paper, and anything you can think of.

Part IV

You've just finished reading the how-to's and you're all pumped up to make your own manga but before you start, read the following for some alternatives, suggestions, and ideas.

1. Multiple copies
If you'd like to make multiple copies of your work, save your original piece- don't staple it together! Instead, use it to photocopy more issues with a Xerox- make sure it's double sided!- so the quality doesn't erode with each photocopy. 

Drop by your local office store (Staples, Office Max, Kinko's, etc) to have it photocopied OR buy your own photocopier if you can afford one.

A note on photocopiers: there are copiers for the home but they usually don't come with a double-sided option (at least I haven't found one yet..). To go around this, just put the one-sided page already copied into the paper tray and photocopy the other side onto it. Just make sure to test it out before you do this! The direction it prints out might not be the right way. Wouldn't want that now, would you?

Speaking of that, you can use a laser or inkjet printer to print out black and white, one-sided copies. Then use the aforementioned method above. 

Also, if you've done color (particularly the cover), use the inkjet printer. If you have one of those color laser printers- good for you! 

2. Prices
So far, these are the going rate for comics (last I checked anyways):
Mini-comics: $0.25 (usually 8 pages)
Ashcan: Free (bundled as a promotional item with something else)
Comics: $2.50 - $4.99 +/- (depends on number of pages in total)

Note: These prices are for the American market. Prices may differ in another country.

Exercise restraint on prices! If you want to sell your work and get your name out there, keep your prices to a minimum. Buyers usually don't bother with a no-name artist so be modest.

3. Business to Business (B2B)
One way of keeping costs down is to set up a network with other manga-ka's.

a. Work out a deal with others such as advertising on each others comics for a broader audience target.

If you're going to do this, I suggest only advertising on comics that you, yourself like, and/or is something related to the genre of your manga. For example, if you put an ad for your hard-core, battle-ridden, action-packed, manga at the back of a bishoujo (pretty girl) romance manga, that won't attract that many new readers. Unless you've got a romance going on in your story in between all that fighting but you'll be stretching it a bit.

b. Another is to work with other writer's/artists, etc. to compile one big manga magazine or fanzine kind of like Animerica Extra. This way, costs will be distributed among all participating parties. 

4. Conventions
If you actually have the time and money to run a booth at a convention, this is a great opportunity to show your work! But don't expect to sell a lot at a convention. You'll be competing with a lot of people- many who will have more experience, popularity, etc. than you. Expect to reduce your price (for example, 3 issues for $2.00.. maybe even less) If you can, try to give away freebies as much as you can. People like free things.. don't you? And people at conventions usually expect rock bottom prices, free promos, and other goodies.
If you can set up a booth with other's like you, all the better! Try to sell something else as well besides your original manga's- sell prints of your artwork, and other things you can think of.

5. Give give give!
If you're not charging for your work, try passing it along to whomever you know- friends, family, internet buddies- or don't know- random people at an anime con.
If you're passing it to people you don't know, be polite about it and don't hound someone- if they don't want it, they don't want it.
Don't go berserk with this one by going to the mall and suddenly passing out your manga cuz more likely than not, it'll just get thrown away. Instead, go somewhere like an anime convention where it'll be treated at least more respectfully.
Heck, if you can, do a project on manga's at school and pass it along there.. you never know, someone in your class may like it and maybe become a fan of your work. Heck, my professors were quite interested in what I was doing in regards to my comics. :)

6. Funding
If you're giving your work for free, you can set up some kind of funding program where people donate money so you can keep bringing out more manga's for free. Most people, I've noticed, use Paypal. This is a good way to offset your costs in making the manga's, and if your get enough funds you can probably do other projects like making T-shirts.
Be honest about funding- don't spend donated money on other things... in other words, don't be a jerk! You'll get a bad wrap and it's not good to get a reputation as a <insert expletive of your choosing here>. Besides that, these people will be your future customers and if other manga-ka's get wind of your bad rep, they'll most likely avoid you too.
Besides donations, you can try for selling other products - you know: t-shirts, stickers, prints, posters, etc. It would be best for you to research the prices of how much it'll take to make these items. Some costs more up-front than others. 

7. Getting Exposure
One of the best ways to get a bit more name-recognition is to build yourself a web site! There are quite a number of free web site hosts you can sign up to but they usually have a downside - ads. All free hosting sites lay out a bevy of ads on the sites, some more than others. Best advice: look around.
If you're willing to, you can shelve out some money, look around for a web hosting site, and get your own domain name! If you do this though, make sure you have some kind of steady income to at least pay for the yearly hosting fee and domain registration. Check out rydia.net, if you're considering.

~~Resources~~
Here is a list of other resources you should check out if you wish to self-publish:

Printing Comics - How to work with a printing press company
OnlineComics.net - Online comics directory
Lulu - Print-on-demand your comic books
Cafepress - Print-on-demand your comic books or graphic novels
Articles for Writers and Publishers



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