Comic books are a wonderful genre, but the cost of paper and printing have driven the price so high that the market is in danger. Digital comics offer one solution to this. With the rise of eBooks and eReaders, aspiring comic book creators now have an economical way of launching their own creations, and established professionals may be able to keep their jobs.
Here are the basic steps to publish your own comic book on Smashwords, Pubit, or Amazon KDP:
1) Create your comic so the length and width are the ratio of 1:1.3 or else the entire page will not display on the Nook. (All Kindles, the Nook Color, and other devices don't have a problem but the original Nook does.) This is the aspect ratio of golden age comic books and the original graphic novels in the 80s. Current comics use a ratio of 1:1.5.
NOTE: Make sure your comic is VERY LEGIBLE ie. easy to read at 550 px on its longest side. Most comics formatted for the traditional print comic size will NOT work, because the lettering is too small. You may have to reletter your comic and use fewer panels per page. The best advice is to just format it as if it would be a mini-comic or digest. But also make sure it looks good big, because some people will read your comic on a 27″ iMac and see it in all of its 1100 px glory.
2) Save each page of your masterpiece as a jpg that that is either 825 px or 1100 px on its longest side. (This size is optimized for the Kindle which all other eReaders seem to copy.) Make sure it is 72 or 96 dpi (if you use Photoshop, Save For the Web will automatically do this.
For Smashwords and Barnes & Noble Pubit:
3) Create a new Word document. Create a custom page size in Page Setup that is 6″ x 9″ and set the margins to 0.5″ on all sides with no header or footer.
4) Create a title page following Smashwords’ formatting guide. Adjust for Pubit using Barnes & Noble's guidelines.
5) Insert each jpg into its own page (except the cover page which can sit on the first page unless it’s too big, then it will automatically move to the next page). This way Meatgrinder won’t automatically resize your images to illegibly small. You will NOT need to resize the image; it should automatically fit in the page. Stretching the image will cause it to become fuzzy, and is a sign you didn't create the jpegs properly.
NOTE: Meatgrinder doesn’t like several hard returns in a row, so adding a return after each image/comic page will cause a warning and put you to the back of the approval line. Just insert one image, then insert the next and it will automatically be placed on the next page.
6) Include an About the Authors/Artists, Other Works, etc. at the end. This is a great place to market yourself and your other works. It will also provide a word count for your work and make sampling work better.
For Kindle Direct Publishing:
3) Create an html document following the KDP guidelines.
4) Insert each image with an image tag in between paragraph tags
with an align attribute in the tag
5) Include an About the Authors/Artists, Other Works, etc. at the end. This is a great place to market yourself and your other works. It will also provide a word count for your work and make sampling work better.
Here are some other tips and considerations:
- Smashwords only allows you to upload a 5MB file, so your comic should not exceed 22 large pages (1100 px) or 33 smaller pages (825 px). Amazon KDP and Pubit have no such limitations. That means producing long graphic novels and trade paperbacks is impossible with Smashwords. My advice is to break it up into parts for Smashwords, but sell it as a complete work at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Maybe someday the 5MB limit will change, but for now that is your best bet. (These page counts are just rules of thumb; the size of your files will vary.)
- Allow 40% sampling. This will allow a reader to read about half of your story if you’ve included a lot of About Me information and Other works. A 50% sample will usually do this, while 30% may not let a potential customer see anything. BE SURE to preview at your book to make sure you aren’t giving the whole thing away!
- Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Sony will only allow a small sample (much smaller than you indicate) so most readers will not be able to see even one panel of your work. My advice for Smashwords is to break your story into 20-page parts and offer the first one for free. Most of your sales will be thru these retailers, so this is the best way to expose new customers to what you have to offer.
- I’ve said this once, but I’m going to say it again: Make sure your comic is VERY LEGIBLE ie. easy to read at 550 px on its longest side. Most comics formatted for the traditional print comic size will NOT work, because the lettering is too small. You may have to reletter your comic. The best advice is to just format it as if it would be a mini-comic or digest.
To see samples, I’ve published a couple of comics you can download for FREE from Smashwords and Amazon!
- Wandering Koala rides The Phantom Coach part 1
- Wandering Koala meets the Beast who came for Christmas 1 of 3
Good luck, and happy creating!
Jeff Thomason is an economist that writes novels and short stories, draws humorous cartoons, creates graphic novels and comic books as well as visionary illustrations, programs custom web applications, and builds unique websites. See his work at www.SkyFitsJeff.com or become a Facebook fan at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeff-Thomason/185915104772529