8 Steps for Self-Publishing Comics for the First Time

Table of Contents

8 Steps for Self-Publishing Comics or Manga

Define your concept.

Write the story.

Create the drawings.

Color the drawings.

Insert the lettering.

Edit the manuscript.

Publish the comic book.

Promote your book.

Draw Your Stories to Life by Self-Publishing

What a perfect combination it is, the marriage between authoring comic books and self-publishing. If you are a writer with a passion for comics, the self-publishing route allows full creative control every step of the way. In stark contrast to the traditional publishing houses that stick to a proven formulaic mold, self-publishing gives free rein for a comic book writer to innovate.

Creating your self-published comic book will follow a path that differs slightly from standard fiction and non-fiction works. This is because there are two artistic talents involved in the self-published graphic novel, comic book, or manga—writing and drawing—versus just writing. Because of this added layer of artistry, comic book publishing is a collaborative effort involving various professional services.

Self-publishing a manga or comic book entails great storytelling, ripe with action and colorful characters, and amazing artwork to drive the story forward.

Comics, graphic novels, and manga utilize bold artistic stylized drawings as an effective tool for evoking an emotion response in the reader. Coupled with crisp narration and dialogue, the art takes the author and reader to a deeper connection.

This is why this genre is so well suited for series, as the reader becomes attached emotionally to characters through the drawings.

Creating a comic book or manga will involve progressing through a series of steps. These 8 steps include:

At the outset of your self-publishing comic book project you will need to decide on a theme. Comics lend themselves to a full

spectrum of themes

, including fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, comedy, horror, and romance.

Conceptualize the characters, setting, story arc, and emotional beats into an outline from which to work. The outline offers a framework, although it will likely evolve a bit over the course of the project.

Now it’s time to write the manuscript. This will contain the

dialogue that works

in tandem with the artwork to propel your story. Structuring a comic book or manga is different from writing a traditional book. It is a process more akin to a 3-act screenplay versus a compilation of many chapters.

Create story panels that allow you to sketch out the plot points and action through the story arc. If writing a graphic novel, a significant emphasis will be on writing the narrative.

Many comic book authors collaborate with a graphic illustrator or artist unless they happen to be artists themselves. The artist will work from the script, the story panels, and the character profiles you provide. The artist’s job is to translate the story into bold, compelling, and expressive images.

The artist may do the colorizing him or herself or may work with a colorist who will complete the artwork. In the past, coloring the drawings involved painstaking work as inks or dyes were applied by hand. Nowadays, many colorists use digital tools to perform this task.

The letterer is another valuable team member on the comic book or manga self-publishing project. This individual specializes in lettering and calligraphy, adding the speech bubbles and titles throughout the manuscript.

Once the manuscript has been completed and a scrupulous self-edit has been done, it is time to get the book into the hands of a capable editor. The editor reviews the manuscript and provides feedback on the structure, plot flow, character development, narrative and dialogue. After any refinements are made, a line editor will do the final proofreading to catch any typos, spelling errors, or grammatical issues.

Interior design and manuscript formatting follows different parameters for comic books than traditional books. Other print-edition preferences, such as


, finished size, and paper stock, are creative decisions made by the author and other collaborators. The comic book or manga will be published and distributed as an eBook and/or print on demand option.

Promoting your comic book will actually begin prior to publication. You should establish a following on social media early on to lay a solid foundation for

marketing the comic book

once it is published.


, Twitter, and


all provide platforms to introduce characters and other book details to a potential audience and develop a fan base. After the book is published, leverage these social media platforms by providing teasers, contests, giveaways, and other promotions that drive sales, as well as posting paid ads.

Never has there been a better time to bring your comic book, graphic novel, or manga to print. Enjoy the creative freedom that self-publishing offers the comic book author, and enlist the artistic and editorial talents of

Gatekeeper Press

to help you realize your dream.

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