Something I know I’ve mentioned here before: I’ve been putting comics up on Smashwords for years. Since the very beginning, as a matter of fact. There have been hurdles, and trials. There have been times I took my comics down from Smashwords because their platform wasn’t very friendly to it just then. And I’ve been inundating them – INUNDATING them – with feedback on the matter for years. YEARS. Mark Coker must want to have me assassinated by now.
Well, he can try. I’ve a personal team of ninjas that are very thankful for my efforts, albeit small and often ignored, that will lay down their lives to protect me. Come at me, Herr Coker. Fie!
Lately I’ve been doing my occasional research to catch up with the indie-publishing world because I’d fallen a bit out of track. I’m also Up To Something ™. These actions will always lead me back to comics, my personal ground zero. Then I read articles, submission guidelines, and shake my head. I am often confused, when I meet an aspiring comic creator at a convention who has a real good comic, why they never go digital. As of a few minutes ago I think I see part of why.
There’s apparently this broadly-spread idea that the only way to put your comics up digitally is to go through an ebook aggregator that specializes in comics. One article I just found mentions Comixology and the now defunct Graphicly as possible resources only to go on to say that places like Smashwords do not do comics.
Graphicly apparently pulled in something like 2 million with their idea that started a year after I began to publicly suggest that someone should make a comic aggregator. 🐱 Then they were bought by Amazon I believe… correct me if I’m wrong… and now they are no more. Coincidence? I dunno. You decide.
Comixology had (or has) an exclusive arrangement with two of the comic book big guys, Marvel and DC. So if you want to use them as your aggregator, you have to go through their submission process. Your book could get rejected. The Heavenly Bride was rejected – although I admit it was rejected two years ago because I found their submission process to be a big pain in the behind with too many items that I felt were utter BS, so I never went back to correct my submission. I’m indie because I hate the submission process. Intensely.
So now I read that if Comixology, the only real comic aggregator left standing, rejects you you’re pretty much SOL. (Insert silence. Insert crickets chirping.) Wut. (Silence) Okay okay. No. Please review what I’ve been telling you. I can wait.
The problem is that some of the people who choose places like Smashwords to publish their comic book have no idea how to make it look good. I even formatted one comic that used Word as the base upload platform. I tried to tell the creator that this would hurt the look of their comic, but they weren’t listening. The end result is their book looked terrible.
Here are some tips on how to publish your comic through Smashwords (and possibly other places as well).
- Don’t use Word. For the love of GOD. When it comes to the ebook comic book making process, I use Word for one thing and one thing only. To make an epub.
- Use an epub. Please. Smashwords accepts epubs, as do most of everyone else. I’ve explored a lot of aggregators in the past few days. My Heavenly Bride Book 1 epub has uploaded without a hitch to almost everyone – except one who had a ridiculously low file size limit. Catch up with the rest of us, China. No. Really.
- When creating your comic you want your pages to look crisp, clean and be of good quality. This means the pages are probably going to be sized a wee bit bigger than your standard ereader screen. So there’s a trick to getting your epub to resize across the ereader board. The key to this is the word “resize”. Basically I took what little CSS I know (trust me, it’s not a lot) and I created a code for pages that resizes my pages the way I wanted them too. In the case of ereaders with wide but short screens the pictures might distort a wee bit if I get it wrong. (I don’t have one. I don’t know.) But in the case of my android phone, My Nook Touch, Nook Color, Kindle Gen1, Kindle Fire, and Kobo Reader the book always looks great.
- Once you have an epub that has your code in place, you can use it as a template to make further comics. How neat is that?
- When it comes to your pages, you don’t want to put them at 300 dpi. I put my page resolution at about 150 dpi. That does the trick and my file sizes aren’t usually too terribly large. I just uploaded a four chapter comic book to Smashwords, for crying out loud. Now this is mostly thanks to Smashwords raising their file size limit because I couldn’t do that before. Still.
- Amazon has a free comic creator program that you can use to make comics for their indie platform. This is great if you only use Amazon (which I don’t recommend). However, once you make that epub, you can use their Kindle Previewer to convert it to mobi and keep most of the functionality. The only thing is, Amazon being Amazon, you’ll need to watch that carefully and always test on a real Kindle. Amazon is always changing things, and the more they change the the more they step away from being compatible with *anyone*. Smooth move, Amazon.
I have other tips I can think of, but really it’s common sense. You CAN put your book out there. Just don’t use Word, use epub. And learn! You don’t have to become a CSS master to do this. I do quite well. You will however have to be willing to keep up with things enough to keep building and able to add things as you go. That’s the only real challenge, at least for me.
(As a side note, yes I can create your Smashwords ready epub for you.)
Well, I hope that helped. As for me, now that I know the comic aggregator position once again needs to be filled I might just open my own business. :-p