How to Publish a Graphic Novel

Male character's eyes from a graphic novel

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Graphic novels are more popular now than ever. With the success of blockbuster movies based on comic book superheroes and the ever-growing popularity of manga and manhwa, graphic novels have firmly established themselves as a mainstream literary genre.

If you’re an aspiring comic creator or writer looking to publish your own graphic novel, let us take you through the essential steps of turning your vision into a reality.

Prepare your manuscript

Before diving into the publishing process, you need to have a well-prepared manuscript. Writing a graphic novel requires a unique blend of storytelling and visual artistry. Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling graphic novel.

Know your story

Develop a clear and engaging storyline for your graphic novel. Whether it’s a thrilling superhero adventure, a poignant coming-of-age tale, or a thought-provoking fantasy, a strong narrative is the backbone of any successful graphic novel. Often, a tried-and-true structure like the hero’s journey is a good choice for your narrative foundation.

Scripting

Unlike traditional novels, graphic novels require a script that combines both the written dialogue and visual descriptions of each panel. Familiarize yourself with various script formats used by comic creators, such as the full script, Marvel method, the plot-first method, or the Dark Horse comics format.

Artwork

A graphic novel without art is just a novel. Collaborate with a skilled illustrator if you’re not the one who’ll be doing the art. The artwork should be as vibrant and captivating as the story, bringing the emotions and actions to vivid life to enhance the reader’s experience.

Refine your story and artwork

Editing and refining your graphic novel is a crucial stage before publishing. Even the most talented comic creators benefit from the keen eye of an editor. Here’s why editing is essential.

Story enhancement

Editors can help identify any plot holes or inconsistencies in your narrative and suggest improvements to strengthen the story’s impact.

Artistic feedback

Receiving feedback from an editor or fellow artists can lead to enhancements in your artwork. They may provide insights into composition, perspective, and visual storytelling techniques.

Grammar and dialogue

Ensure your written dialogue is clear, concise, and does the heavy lifting of telling your story.

Correctly format your graphic novel

Proper formatting is vital to ensure your graphic novel looks professional and is ready for print or digital distribution.

Page layout

Decide on the page dimensions and layout for your graphic novel. A common format for a comic book is 6.625 x 10.25 inches.

Panels and gutters

Arrange your panels and gutters so they guide the reader’s eye smoothly through the story. Consider the pacing and flow of the narrative as you structure your panels.

Lettering and balloons

Choose clear and readable fonts for your dialogue and captions. Ensure the speech balloons and captions are appropriately placed within the panels and don’t obstruct the artwork.

Bleed and trim

If your graphic novel includes full-page artwork or illustrations that extend to the edges of the page, account for bleed areas in your design to prevent any white borders when printed and trimmed.

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How to publish a graphic novel with BookBaby

Once your graphic novel manuscript is finished and edited and ready for prime time, you have a decision to make. You can either begin the traditional publishing process, which involves querying an agent who will then try to sell it to one of the major graphic novel publishers, or you can self-publish and take charge of all the elements of your graphic novel’s production and publication.

It wasn’t that long ago that self-publishing a graphic novel was too expensive for the average author. But nowadays, thanks to digital printing and print-on-demand distribution, self-publishing a high-quality graphic novel is truly affordable.

BookBaby’s team of experts will convert your manuscript into the required digital formats, ensuring that your graphic novel looks stunning in print as well as on e-readers, tablets, and other devices. If you need cover design, our Design Studio experts will create a professional cover that perfectly represents your graphic novel’s content and genre.

And when you’re ready to sell your graphic novel, BookBaby offers global eBook and print-on-demand distribution.

Book Publishing Plan guide

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