Going to a Publisher
By Rio

So you got a killer story in your hands - now what to do about publishing? Where do you start? Here is a few things to consider and know about publishing...

1. A new creator should begin with a certain level of quality work (i.e. perspective and anatomy is correct, people look like people, etc.)

2. You need to have dedication, perseverance, and be hard working in this field. It is hard to become a successful comic book creator much less an overnight success. Keep in mind, there is a lot of people out there who wants to "make it" in the comics business. Your own personal passion for creating comics should be the sole drive behind becoming a full-time comic book creator not for financial gain. New creators are not expected to sell much at debut.

3. Comics submitted must be original - no doujinshi of a copyrighted anime or manga series like Sailor Moon. That also includes anything else copyrighted. Unoriginal work will automatically be rejected.

4. It would be best if you, alone, worked on the manga (inking, story, penciling, coloring, etc.) so as you will earn all the royalties. If you cannot do all the aspects of making a manga, make sure you assemble your team prior to submitting your finished comic. You'll have to work out how the royalties will be split among your team.

5. You should always be professional when dealing with a publisher: submit monthly series on time, be courteous, etc. Don't take things too personally! They're not there to make judgements on your character but on your work. Besides, you never know if this company (or the people working there) will make or break you one day...

6. To build a fan base, show your work to as many people as you can be it through the web, photocopies of your work, etc. The bigger your fan base, the more sales it will generate when your comic is published.

7. Research the company you will be submitting your work to. Take a look at some of their published works, if you can, to get a feel of the company. Ask yourself the following questions too:

  • Does the company accept your style of drawing? (manga/anime)
  • Does the company accept the subject covered? (PG13 vs. Hentai)
  • Do you like the compnay? (reputation, offering, product quality, distribution, etc.)

8. Read the submissions guidelines of the publishing company thoroughly. Submissions guidelines vary from company to company and the type of project the work will be. If you have a question unanswered in the guideline, contact the company.

Now you know some basics things to consider, here are some general submission information:

1. Submissions sent in are usually asked to be photocopies of the original pieces. Do NOT send in originals unless specifically asked! Try to use a xerox that produces clean lines using new photocopiers rather than older models. Older models produces this smudged look. If you would rather print it out, I would suggest using a laser printer. Laser printers are fast and does not need drying time. You also have to option of printing on your inkjet printer but that's just too expensive in the long run, IMO. You're better off going to your local printing store.

2. Most companies ask that you start off with a one-shot or 3-4 issue miniseries. This will enable you to "get your feet wet", so to speak. It will also generate reader response to your work, positive or negative. Any type of response is a good sign, IMO. It allows you to improve if you receive constructive criticism. On-going series are usually reserved for people who have shown good storytelling and professionalism, to name a few. (I mention storytelling because the story is what sells a manga in the long run - good artwork is just an added bonus, IMO)

3. Most companies ask that stories and visuals remain PG to PG13. A few have special editions for more mature audiences. PG-PG13 is a good target area in that it is the most generic field. If you cater to specific niches as adults only, your audience reduces considerably.

4. Most companies require that you submit works in black and white only. Some allow for grey tones and fewer-still allow full page-by-page color. These publishers who print independent comics are usually small companies. They do not have the deep pockets as some of the bigger publishers as DC and Marvel to pay for the cost of color comics. Printing in color is a risk in that the price of the comic is drastically reduced in relation to the actual cost to make it.
To actually make a profit, sales of a comic must exceed the total cost of production and then some. It is much easier to turn a profit for black and white publications. ...Did you get that? OK, to put it simply, you have a better chance of getting paid more when publishing in black and white rather than in color.

5. A few companies have a specific page width and height in which the submission must be submitted. Make sure you adhere to their request as it has a better chance of being published than if it was not. If this is the case, it may cause some problems when going from one company to another. I would suggest sticking to a particular company you like; try not to bounce around publishers as much as you can. If it cannot be avoided try playing around with the xerox sizes or scanning your work and printing it in the new size.

6. Read the guidelines thoroughly! It is all there people - all you have to do is take a couple of minutes to read it. Some people only read parts of a guideline and miss out on crucial information mentioned in another area. You may not think reading the rest of the guideline is relevant but read it anyways - you never know if something important is mentioned. If a subject important to you is not mentioned - then don't hesitate to email the company.

Having read through all of that, here is a list of a few indepent publishers accepting submissions. Some you may have heard of, some you may not. A few specifically are asking for manga-style comics. Check 'em out and see which ones fit you!

BTW, these companies are US based. Try to find one that is closer to you if you live in another country. You'll have a better chance publishing where you are first than in a foriegn country. Good luck!

ALC Publishing
Antarctic Press
NDP Comics
Purrsia Press
Radio Comix
Slave Labor Graphics

For words of wisdom, check out Scott Frazier's page: Jobs in Manga.

Another option to getting published to try out for contests such as TokyoPop's Rising Stars of Manga Contest. Started in 2002, this is a contest that has grown from US-only submissions to now UK.Winning submissions get prize money plus get their work published in a compiled volume called, of course, "Rising Stars of Manga". Besides getting prize money, publication, and name recognition, you can pitch them a story. Try it out and good luck! Tell me if you've won!