Publishing Your Manga On Paper

Publishing Your Manga On Paper

Seeing your own manga in book stores is your dream. You have different options for publishing your manga on paper. Fanzine, magazines, publishers to name a few.

I will introduce these different media, with their pluses and minuses.

Publishing your manga in a fanzine

Presentation

A fanzine is a review published by amateurs using standard home office equipment. It generally regroups the work of several artists in a booklet printed either in colours or in black and white.

Generally, people print fanzine at 2 pages per side on standard paper using the booklet format. They are printed either in colours or in black and white as they might also contain illustrations. Then people will fold the pages in two and staple them.

Distribution and revenues

Artists will sell fanzines during comics or game conventions (Comic Con, Tokyo Game Show…) where they will have dedicated stands. People might also be circulating and showcasing their work. Some artists will also display their fanzines in some local comics shop.

Artists might publish their fanzines either as a single shot, or periodically. The pricing will range from free to a few dollars. The objective is most of the time for artists to get known and to cover the costs of printing. Do not expect to make big profits.

Publishing your manga in a fanzine

If you want to publish your work in a fanzine the best way is to ask their authors. You can either ask artists at their stands during conventions. Or you can buy one in a comics shops and contact their authors.

You can also search on the Internet to find some manga or comics artists groups.

And of course, nothing forbids you from starting your own fanzine. The setup is quite simple, you just need a printer and staples. And you can distribute it around you, or during conventions to which you attend. Or you can ask your local comics shops’ owner if they would accept to display and sell your fanzine.

Publishing your manga in a magazine

Presentation

There are two kinds of magazines where you can publish your work. Anthologies are compilations of work from several professional manga or comics artists. And cultural or gaming magazines having some comic strip pages.

The most well known example of anthology for manga is the Weekly Shōnen Jump.

As for cultural or gaming magazines, you will have to look in your local library to see what is available.

Distribution and revenues

Publishers issue their magazines periodically in large volumes, and distribute them in book stores or newsstands. People can also subscribe and receive the magazine through mail.

The objective of publishers being to make money, magazines offer a recurring revenue. In Japan artists are paid a fixed amount of money for the number of page they provide. In Japan this makes an amount of ¥5,500 ($49) per page on average, and $87 in the US.

Publishing your manga in a magazine

Getting your manga published in a magazine will be complex as you enter the professional world. Many artists compete to be published there. Publishers therefore generally have plenty of artists to choose between. And they will target quality content that brings stable readership.

Some of these magazines will ask artists to submit a short story in the frame of competitions. The publishers will evaluate each submission and publish their top selection. They might also offer a money reward in addition to the publication of the short story. This is generally how manga artists in Japan start their career. The objective for the publisher is to get feedback from the readers about these short stories. The short stories that get good feedback might be offered to start a series in the magazine.

Alternatively, you can also contact the publisher of the magazine and ask if they would be interested in your work. Remember though that there is a lot of competition. Only high quality stories, in line with the magazine’s values, might therefore be given a look. And really few artists might be given an answer. If you choose this way you will therefore have to try many publishers. Or need to have an exceptional manga short story.

Publishing through a manga publication company

Presentation

A manga publication company is a company dedicated in publishing paperback manga volumes. These are the manga volumes you will find in your local book stores or on online stores.

Distribution and revenues

As indicated above, volumes published by manga publication companies are distributed through book stores and online stores.

The difference between publication in a magazine and publication of a manga volume is on the revenue side, though. A manga volume only contains your work. This means that the revenue sharing is between you and the publisher, and not you, other artists and the publisher.

Therefore if your manga sells, you will get higher revenue. But be also aware that if it doesn’t sell, then you might potentially lose money.

Publishers generally advance the money for the publication of your manga, in the hope of being repaid with the sales. But if the sales do not meet the expectations, they might ask you to repay that money.

Getting published by a manga publication company

To be published by a manga publication company will be complex. You will have to contact these companies and convince them that your work is worth being looked at.

This will take a lot of refusals and a lot of time.

But if you succeed, you will be assigned an editor. This editor will check that your work is in line with the products of the publication company and work with you to revise your work by leveraging the knowledge they have from past works of the company and of their customers. Once the work will be complete, which might again take several weeks or months of hard work, it will be ready to get printed.

The publication company will launch the printing of a set amount of volumes, in line with the selling potential of your work, and manage the advertising. And if you sell, then more volumes will be printed.

But as said in the previous part, be aware that there is a cost for printing and advertising. And don’t expect the publication company to pay that for you. The publication company will advance the money with the objective of being reimbursed through the sales of your volumes, but if your volumes don’t sell you will have to reimburse that money yourself.

Therefore do not be too ambitious and listen to your editor for your first work. Start little, with a few thousands of volumes or less at first, and see how the sales go. If it is a success you will be able to print more, and if it isn’t you won’t have lost a lot of money.

Self-Publishing

Presentation

Self-publication is a mechanism where you pay a professional printing company to print your manga volumes, and where you are then in charge of the distribution and advertising of your work.

There are two types of self publishing though:

  • For the first one, you submit your manga pages and ask for a print volume, and the printing company will ensure the printing of the requested number of volumes with a minimum of quality assurance. The printed volumes will be sent to you or to a distribution platform of your choice.
  • The second one is on demand printing. Here, you submit your manga pages to a platform, and the printing of the volume will only be performed when a buying request will have been made. This mechanism makes it therefore possible to have no stock to manage. A good example of that is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Distribution and revenues

As indicated above, when self publishing, you mainly delegate the printing of your volumes to a printing company, and then you have to manage the distribution.

First, you can sell your printed volumes yourself during conventions. This will require you to have some stock to be able to answer to the demand, and to travel to the conventions, which adds to the money you have to spend and try to recover. The advantage though is that you will be in direct contact with your readers and you will be able to receive direct feedback.

You can also discuss with some book stores to see if they would accept to display and sell your manga. Here again you will have to have stock to provide to the store, and you will have to negotiate the share of the store. You might save money though as you will not have to travel, and you will not have to pay for advertising as you will benefit from the attendance level of the store.

You can also sell your printed books through an online store that you can build yourself (Shopify…), or hosted an on existing platform (Amazon with fulfilment by Amazon). If you build your store yourself, be aware that you will have to account for the costs of packaging your commands and to manage returns and refunds (with the possibility to refuse them). And one last point to note is that some people are good at playing with the rules of the payment systems (such as ordering a good and contesting the payment once the good is sent or received…). It can be a great but tricky adventure for a beginner to whom each sale counts.

Self publishing your manga

Here, the process will all be in your hands. Do not hesitate to test several services (most companies offer the possibility to command samples) to see what is the printing quality, the cost of printing with volume discounts, and the shipping costs.

You can also have a look at mixam or PrintNinja or Alibaba to order some samples and have your manga printed. You can also visit the KDP site to view how print on demand works and pricing.

Then, if you want to sell your manga in person, you will have to look for the different conventions happening where you are, or close to where you are, and to plan your travels and stocks.

If you want to display your books in bookstores, you will have to visit different bookstores and ask for the feasibility and costs.

If you want to manage an online store, you will have to build your store, find a payment system, and then manage commands.

Last but not least, you will also to advertise your manga. You can take benefit from the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit…) to perform free advertising, and also use advertising platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads…).

Your challenge with self publishing will be to properly balance your time and costs. For instance, spending a few cents to have a third party fulfilling an order might give you time to produce new content and make more money.

Conclusion

Here is the global picture:

  • publishing through fanzines is a good way to start and getting your name and work known, but it will get you little money.
  • Publishing through a magazine can be efficient to start making a living from manga publishing, but you will have to face the competition.
  • Having a publication company publishing your work can also be complex, but if you have a good manga you might be able to make good money here.
  • Self publishing is a sure way to getting your manga on the market, but you will have to take the upfront costs of printing, distributing and advertising your manga.

Whatever way you take, nothing will be easy and make you rich in an instant if this is your objective. And note what we have seen here is not just for manga, this is also true for comics, novels or any published work.

You can of course also study the possibilities offered by publishing your manga digitally which can be complementary and bring in some revenue. But here again the competition is high.

Copyright

One last word about copyright which it is important to mention as this one will get visible by many by publishing your work.

First, make sure you do not intentionally infringe any copyrighted material, like re-use someone else characters or branding, as this could lead your work to be removed from stores and you could be fined.

In the same manner, you might also have to watch for infringing use of your work, like for instance someone selling t-shirts with your drawings. As a copyright owner you are entitled to getting such products removed from the market and to claiming money. Have a look at how copyright works in your country or in countries to which you are pushing your products. 


Do not hesitate if you have comments or questions. Do not hesitate also to like and share!

See you!

Stef

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