Pitch your comic to dozens of publishers at the same time with OctalComics.com ! AMA about developing & pitching comics with editor, Mike Schneider

Mike Schneider
Jan 10, 2018

Hello, my name is Mike. I’m editor of Octal, www.OctalComics.com . I taught workshops, curated gallery shows, and produced animation before settling into comic editing. I’ve primarily been a comic editor for the past 6 years, coordinating anthologies and freelancing for indie creators and publishers. ✸✷✶★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✶✷✸ I come from a fine arts background and as an anti-artist, I tend to look for creative solutions to traditionally non-creative aspects of production. For Octal, I compared the submission guidelines from over a hundred comic publishers to identify the overlap where the least material would satisfy the most publishers at the same time. These composite guidelines were further refined through a series of interviews with submission editors and creators. I then worked with a panel of those submission editors to produce a set of templates which arrange that material into a succinct, editor-friendly presentation. (The templates and a manual breaking them down with tips and guidelines are posted on the website.) ✸✷✶★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✶✷✸ The resulting packets are curated into volumes and sent out to our ever-growing mailing list of publishers/ submission editors. To date, over 3 dozen publishers are subscribed, more than half the features proposals have gone on to further talks with one or more publishers, and more than a quarter have already locked down series contracts. ✸✷✶★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✶✷✸ Octal is open to international creators and can be used to pitch original comics, reprints of previously publisher/ currently selfpublished comics, print editions of webcomics, or translations of foreign language comics. Terms are non-exclusive, there are no entry fees, and Octal stakes no claim in the resulting comics.  ✸✷✶★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✮✭✬✩✫★✶✷✸✹✵✹✸✷✶★✫✩✬✭✮★✶✷✸ I also run a free semester workshop where creators can develop their pitch packets on coordinated schedule with instructional resources, editorial feedback, and group critiques throughout production. The next Semester will begin at the end of January. To enroll join ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/Octal2018/ ) by January 19th and post to introduce yourself.

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Jan 10, 10:02PM EST0

What are some of Octal's greatest success stories so far? Do you recomend artists/creators use only Octal, or a combination venues like Kickstarter to launch a comich or novel?

Jan 10, 5:15PM EST0

To date, 5 series have launched from Octal into series contracts with different publishers. It's hard to gauge which of them are the ‘greatest’ success story as most are still in production and pre-wide release.

Generally, I’d recommend creators develop their pitch packet and pitch their comic through Octal even if they plan on ( or are already ) self-publishing. Most publishers have no qualms about considering pitches for previously published and currently self-publisher comics and you’re under no obligation to accept any offer which isn’t right for you and your book so pitching is essentially self-publishing OBO.

If you have a specific publisher/ publishers in mind and they might not be on Octal’s mailing list yet, shoot them an email introducing it to them and offer them a free subscription. While the terms are non-exclusive so you can pitch directly, growing the mailing list has the same result only you also benefit from publishers others might approach and Octal grows to be a more efficient and effective pitching platform.

If you decide to run a kickstarter or other funding campaign, you’ll be able to cannibalize your packet. A lot of the same material and information goes into an effective funding campaign because funding campaigns are essentially pitching directly to an audience.

Once your book is in the can, if you haven’t gotten a better offer then self-publish… but I’d still keep your pitch packet circulating because it never hurts to remain open to a better option and pitching is all about fielding offers so you make the most informed decision possible.

Jan 10, 8:36PM EST0

Comic books have been around for decades, and we’ve seen a lot of changes in style and storytelling as time goes on. What do you see in the future of graphic storytelling?

Jan 10, 10:52AM EST0

I believe we'll see an e-reader specifically designed for comics and periodicals which will do for digitial publishing what the Roku and Apple TV did for streaming video.

If I was making a checklist of what that might look like it would be:

- Gutterless Dual Screen

- Full Color Display

- Pen and Touch Interface

- Flexible, Anti-Glare, and Water-Resistant

- Available in Standard Comic+ Magazine Sizes

- Able to be Used as a Digital Notepad/ Sketchpad/ Presentation Board

- A Well-Curated Channel Store Linking Multiple Services to 1 Account

- Affordable Price Point

In addition to that, I believe you bring in more readers by services going Transmedia. For example, DC is currently launching a streaming platform with a live action Titans and a Young Justice Season 3. Imagine that's a transmedia platform which also comes with access to their back catalog of comics.

Some people might give the comics a shot because they're already paying for access to them. Others won't but their subscriptions would still be helping to subsidize the comics so the shows they like continue to have new source material to draw from.

There are a lot of companies trying to become the 'Netflix of Comics' but I see the future as Netflix absorbing or replacing them.... and there's a real benefit to that because if it goes transmedia, they could make suggestions reading suggestions based on viewing habits.

'If you liked Devilman Crybaby, check out Mind Games ( film by series director ), Devilman: Birth, Demon Bird, and Amon ( prior OVAs, each adapting parts of the Devilman story ), Devilman Lady ( an alt version with a female protagonist ), The Soultaker ( an unrelated anime series with similar themes and tropes ), Devilman ( 2004, less than stellar live-action adaptation ), Faust: Love of the Damned ( Brian Yuzna's demonic superhero movie ).... but also Read: Go Nagai's Devilman (the original manga which the series is based on ), Go Nagai's Violence Jack ( the sequel to Devilman teased in the post credits ),  Takato Rui's Devilman Grimoire ( another creator's adaptation of the story for modern audiences in manga form ), Jack Kirby's The Demon: Etrigan ( DC's demon bound to a human host transforming anti-hero )....'

As more tv and movies are based on comics or share themes and tropes with comics, the ability to make reading suggestions based on viewing habits will help people find comics and graphic novels that they might like but might not know exist and the fact that you could suggest comics based on just about any show and movie will go a long way to dispelling the misconceptions some still have about the artform.

Last edited @ Jan 10, 3:00PM EST.
Jan 10, 2:52PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

Is your family supportive of your line of work?

Jan 9, 8:56AM EST0

Reasonably, to the extent in which they understand it.

Jan 9, 11:10AM EST0

What’s your daily routine like? Do you believe in work-life balance?

Jan 9, 3:59AM EST0

I don't have a daily routine. As far as work-life balance, the less time you spend worrying about making time for everything, the more time you'll have for everything.

Jan 9, 6:22AM EST0

I work 24/7 but always have time for a meal ;)

Jan 11, 9:21AM EST0

What comic genre do you usually get? Which is more saleable?

Jan 9, 3:49AM EST0

A lot of publishers are pushing for diversity. Diversity done right isn't about the color of the character's skin, etc. but choosing characters who have different upbringings, life experiences, and frames of reference and allowing that paradigm to inform their decisions and lead them down a different path.

As far as the types of stories, when in doubt, genre-bend. Genre-bent titles cross-pollinate readers and can check multiple boxes in a publishers catalog. The less expected the combo, the more it points you toward a clear point of distinction.

It's important to remember that 'publishers' vary as greatly as 'artists' and 'writers'. Like pairing art and story, it's about finding the publisher which best compliments the work and your own efforts. There is no one size fits all solution but our mailing list casts a wide net so we can accomidate a wide array of work.

Last edited @ Jan 9, 6:13AM EST.
Jan 9, 5:58AM EST0

Nice answer mate. Never thought of diversity that way before.

Jan 11, 2:21AM EST1

What do you think makes an outstanding comic book series?

Jan 8, 8:36AM EST0

I believe everything has an audience if it has focus.

On the logistical end, we might consider if it has a large enough audience to sustain ongoing production and if reaching that audience is cost-prohibitive but if we’re talking about the work not the logistics then that becomes a lot easier.

A good comic is one where all the decisions are well-maintained and compliment one another and push forward in the same direction.

A great comic is a good comic where the decisions and how they compliment each other are smart and/ or interesting and the execution is impeccable.

An outstanding comic is a great comic which helps you create new connections and makes you look at some of the comics and media you had already consumed in a new and interesting way.

Last edited @ Jan 8, 12:42PM EST.
Jan 8, 12:40PM EST0

What are the mistakes that are done by creators that you consider a deal-breaker?

Jan 7, 10:04PM EST0

Creators put a lot of themselves into their work and so it can be difficult distance yourself from it and not take things personally. Your friends and family love your work because they love you. A lot of creator groups are nothing but supportive either as a matter of policy or because it's not worth the time, energy, or potential hurt feelings to be critical. As a result, a lot of creators have had so much smoke blown up their ass that they pop like a balloon at the first point of criticism. 

Shutting down, ignoring criticism and throwing good work after bad, talking shit about people, deflecting all blame to your teammates, becoming defensive, or derailing conversations to interject your life story will not make your work better. That will only make people reconsider working with you.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 11:19PM EST.
Jan 7, 11:17PM EST0

What made you decide to be a comic editor rather than a creator?

Jan 7, 9:48PM EST0

Problem solving is my favorite part of the creative act. Being an anti-artist, the editing process scratches my creative itch as much as any traditionally creative role would.

That said, I still sketch regularly, draft a couple short scripts per week, and pretty much always have a few long and short term projects in production.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 11:48PM EST.
Jan 7, 11:46PM EST0

What basic advice can you give to comic book artists before pitching in their work?

Jan 7, 9:07AM EST0

If you're trying to sell your services to writers, be sure you have pages of sequential art in your portfolio. One of the most important things to look at when evaluating the potential of a comic artist is how well they maintain decisions from one panel to the next and no amount of pin-ups and montages will demonstrate those fundimental skills.

Once you're signed on to a comic, lock down your character models first then compare every panel back to that reference material. Naturally, you can still exaggerate things for dramatic effect but the better your models are maintained in the quiet moments, the more impact you'll get out of those exaggerations.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 11:28AM EST.
Jan 7, 11:26AM EST1
Show all 3 replies

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

Jan 7, 8:21AM EST0

Coming from an art background, I approach editing comics a bit differently than someone who started out writing.

I start by looking for redundancy. If a line of dialogue or caption doesn't add anything to the scene that we aren't getting from the visuals, my first suggestion is we drop it entirely. If the comic is still in the development/ script stage, I offer ways to use body language or scene staging to help render even more text redundant and suggest panels which could be added, moved, or removed to smooth out the visual storytelling.

Sometimes, I sketch out diagrams to highlight why something isn't working or how ways in which it could work/ work better. It's helpful to have those tools in my toolbox esp if the writer is less experienced in writing comics.

If brought in early enough in production, I'm just as comfortable correcting anatomy and perspective as a missing comma. Even later in production, spotting floating facial features and nudging them into place is a fast and cheap way to elevate the quality of the artwork.

Sometimes, I'm just identifing where there's a problem and offering up what I believe would be the fastest/ simpliest way to address it. Sometimes, I'll bust out the Wacom and either demonstrate the technique for the artist or help them make the art revisions. It all depends on the comic but again, it's good to have those tools in my toolbox.

Finally, I establish early on that I view targeted criticism as a pratical compliment. The more competent and engaging the work is, the more nitpicky the feedback becomes. There's always room for improvement in art and it's not my place to decide when good is good enough. On the other end, if the work is shit and I get the sense that it's best the writer and artist are capable of, then I will not take their money. Some creators come to appricate that they get to draw the line and no time is wasted blowing smoke.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 11:09AM EST.
Jan 7, 10:39AM EST0

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a comic book editor?

Jan 7, 2:48AM EST0

'What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a comic book editor?'Advantages and disadvantages only exist in comparison to something else.

Comparing it to editing prose, there's less copy to edit but you need to read everything in the context of the visuals.

For example, if the script says the character is mad but doesn't specify the intensity then a common problem is the art being more or less intense than the dialogue. One or both need to be revised and since it's faster, cheaper, and easier to revise copy, it's usually the dialogue.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 5:28AM EST.
Jan 7, 3:15AM EST0

How did you come up with the name Octal Comics?

Jan 7, 12:58AM EST0

An Octal (noun) is a base-8 system.

Some publishers instruct creators to include sample pages of sequential art ( usually 5-8 pages. ) Other publishers require a complete story.

One might assume those publishers are only interested in ready-to-publish comics but with the internet, why assume when you can ask?I started emailing submission editors from publishers whose submission guidelines required complete comics. While it's true that some publishers were only interested in read-to-publish books, just as many simply wanted to see the creators arc a narrative from some sort of setup to some sort of resolution. I follows up with those editors to ask if a short pilot comic would satisfy their requirements and what the minimum number of pages would be. After talking it over with their teams, a couple of them independently responded 8-12 pages.

The more sets of submission guidelines I composited and more editors I spoke with, the more it solidified that in order to appeal to the most publishers at the same time, these packet would need to be built around 8-page pilot comics.

So, the series was named 'Octal' due to the 8-page pilot comics at the center of every pitch packet.

By sheer coincidence, in addition to the art pages, the packet needed to cover 8 additional points: log line, initial run, production timeline, audience, protagonist, setting, creator bios, and series synopsis. I found that amusing so doubled down which is why there are 8 packets in every volume, octogons incorporated in the book design, etc. but the series was already named by that point.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 2:30AM EST.
Jan 7, 2:09AM EST0

How many of your own comic books have been published and where can I find them?

Jan 6, 8:53AM EST0

I tend to work short form so my own comics are scattered across anthologies and periodicals. I pulled together a handful of samples here: http://octalcomics.com/MSchneider.pdf and have been contributing scripts to http://www.TheComicJam.com for the last few months on a semi-regular basis.

Jan 6, 12:49PM EST0

Do you work alone or do you have a team to assist you?

Jan 5, 10:23PM EST0

It's a bit of both.

Many creators and editors helped with the research and development. The first volume was produced by a closed group of creators I had previously worked with. Once the kinks were worked out, it was open to the public.

Creators are always encouraged to ask questions and a large part of that manual is the answers to their questions collected and organized. In the semester groups, we do check-ins and post-mortems and each semester evolves based on experience and feedback from the prior groups. So, creators play a huge part in the process's evolution.

There are other editors who hang in the production group. I tag them in if I need a 2nd opinion, there's a surge of interest, etc. There are also bilingual creators who have been happy to step in when I need help with a translation. Naturally, this is all recipricated when they need assistance on one of their projects.

In the semester groups, I ask for volunteers to help me with tagging people in updates. There's also a real focus on group critiques. By establishing a space where people are comfortable posting WIPs and critiquing each other's work, by the later steps they're actually getting the majority of their feedback from one another.

Thanks to everything being templated, a lot of the formatting and assembly can be automated with batch processes so those steps are just eye checking the results before setting them to upload.  Featured creators have also been fairly proactive about promoting the resulting volumes, telling others about their experiences, etc.

So, I usually don't have a dedicated team but I'm also never really working alone and have as much support as I need if and when I need it.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 11:37PM EST.
Jan 5, 11:09PM EST0

What are the most common challenges encountered during your workshops?

Jan 5, 2:44PM EST0

Early on, the most common challenge is reading.  The information is presented but every time, without fail, a number of creators make false assumptions and spend the rest of the first month trying to catch up.

The first group critique is 'log lines'. Creators who read the doc explaining what a log line is and how to write one fair much better. Their character, conflict, and goals are all clear and that invites the group to talk about their story, ask questions, and make recommendations. Meanwhile, the creators who couldn't be bothered to read the doc have the rest of the group pointing out 'This is not a log line.' and by the time they come up with a log line, the group's already moved on to the next step.

The schedule requires a little work each week. Not much. A couple hours would keep you on pace. The thing is, it adds up quick. The entire first month totals about half a page of text which is deceptively simple because this half page is the foundation of your entire book/ series.

While budgets are brought up at the top of the semester and creators who are looking for collaborators are instructed to start posting those calls before the semester even begins, inevetable there's always someone shocked that it's hard to find an artist who's willing to drop everything to work on their story for little to no money. That's not to say it's impossible to find someone who will invest their time to buy into a good idea.... it just tends to take a lot longer than finding someone who sees value in money.

Once creators make it through the crucible of foundation work and team building, the productions seem to be pretty smooth sailing ( largely thanks to that strong foundation. )

Last edited @ Jan 5, 4:44PM EST.
Jan 5, 4:43PM EST0

What is your personal favorite comics and why?

Jan 5, 9:09AM EST0

The Awesome Slapstick ( 1992 )https://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114711/3180719-9633391636-slaps.jpg

While increasingly common today, Slapstick was basically a cartoon living in and interacting with a world of more serious characters.

This was before Deadpool went 4th wall, when The Mask was the ultra-violent Big-Head not the Tex Avery character we saw in the movie, and a couple years before cartoons like Freakizoid... he wasn't all powerful like Bat-mite, Mr Mxyzptlk, or Impossible Man. Slapstick was essentially the Roger Rabbit of superheroes and I ate it up.

If I wanted to get analytical, I might say that the juxtaposition of the zany and serious makes them both pop in contrast... but really I've always enjoyed zany characters and this was the first one which I remember being limited enough that there were stories to tell that didn't revolve around him being a pest.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 2:21PM EST.
Jan 5, 2:20PM EST0

What is the common age range for comic book creators? Does it have any effect on the success rate of the comics?

Jan 5, 5:56AM EST0

It's not quite birth to death but it's close. Working with minors can be a headache as there's always that extra step of getting the parent/ guardian to review the work, contracts, etc. There are plenty of adult creators who feel uneasy about having their parents look at some of their work never mind needing them to sign off on it. You also need to be open to critical feedback in order to grow as a creator and yet parents can be rightfully defensive. While there are certainly exceptions, let's pin a min at 18-19.

On the other end, you have pros who by choice or necessity continue to work right up to their death. While some may live longer let's pin the max at around 80-85.

Most people arc from adaptable but inexperienced to experienced but set in their ways with some bumps along the way and every arc has its peaks but age itself is of little consequence when it comes to your comic's chances of success.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 1:53PM EST.
Jan 5, 1:51PM EST0

Can you share your biggest challenge upon starting up Octal Comics?

Jan 5, 5:21AM EST0

There's a lot of wait to rush and rush to wait in production. When a team of creators is in production they may think nothing of taking a few extra weeks or months to finish something but once they've finished their part, every day feels like an eternity.

Getting more creators on a coordinated schedule with the semester workshops seems to be helping that quite a bit... but it took nearly 2 years of trial and error to get to that solution.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 1:24PM EST.
Jan 5, 1:24PM EST0

Do you think this industry is becoming too saturated? What is your advice on how to make a comic stand out?

Jan 5, 4:14AM EST0

No. The rough estimate is that about 2% of people read comics. That 2% gets bombarded with choices because the publishers know how to reach and market to them. There's likely 3-8% who would read comics but dont. Perhaps they were underwhelmed and alienated by the options they were seeing. They're harder to find, reach, and market to but they exist.

As far as how can you make a comic stand out... stand out to who? Comics aren't all going after the same readers. Know your audience and focus on appealing to them.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 5:00AM EST.
Jan 5, 4:58AM EST0

How much time does it usually take from pitching until submission to the publishers?

Jan 5, 12:56AM EST0

There is no standard. Octal accepts rolling submissions. Each volume of Octal features 8 packets and is finished and sent out to the mailers within 48-72 hours of the 8th packet being locked in. One of the reasons we began launching the semester workshops was to get creators on a coordinated schedule so there's less wait time between the first packet being locked in and the completed volume being sent out.

It can take weeks to months for a publisher to reach out to a creator that peaks their interest. That dialogue and any subsequent negotiations can also take weeks to months.

The creators define their production timeline in the pitch itself and the clock starts whenever the contract is signed.

All together it can be anywhere from weeks to years between the initial pitch and the resulting comic hitting shelves depending on the creators, the publisher, and the varied circumstances surrounding the production. If your trying to set a timeline for your team of creators then once you develop your pitch, start producing your comic as if you're going to self-publish it. If a publisher makes you a better offer than self-publishing, then you've effectively shortened your production timeline.

If you finish the issue before you get a better offer, then self-publish it. Most publishers have no qualms about entering into a publishing agreement for a comic that was previously self-published... so you can self-publish your comic while the pitch is in circulation and continue to do so until you sign a publishing agreement. The process can be slow but there's no reason to let it delay your production.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 1:43AM EST.
Jan 5, 1:38AM EST0

When did you realize you wanted to work with comics? Has it been a childhood dream or did it develop over time?

Jan 5, 12:35AM EST0

I realized I wanted to work in comics somewhere around the 7th or 8th time a short comic I wrote got published. I suppose I should wind that back.

I grew up on newspaper strips like Calvin and Hobbes. I knew all the DC/ Marvel characters from the trading cards, action figures, and cartoons but listening to people at the comic shop yammer on about depreciation made me feel uncomfortable holding their issues in my hands. ( Good job, comic shop owner. )

Luckily, my tastes slanted toward weird comics, horror stories, and zany/ cartoony pranksters and those titles were largely outside of that speculation bubble. I used to love crawling around a con floor and digging through the dime and quarter boxes for comics where the only value was their stories and art.

Those indie comics lead me to experiemental animation and fine arts ( esp the more conceptual and experimental anti-art end of fine arts. )  Strait through highschool, I basically lived in the art room but was just as happy helping someone with their project as working on my own. I was going to be an art teacher who made art and experimental animation in his spare time. I even got my degrees in Art Education, Sculpture, and Digtial Media but by graduation, I decided school wasn't the right setting for me.

I developed and taught workshops for galleries which lead to doing a bit of curation. The responses from people who wished they could attend the show but were too far away or otherwise unavailable caused me to pivot toward animation ( because it could go to them. )

The first time I worked on a comic was part of a barter arrangement where we would provide this magazine with short comics and they would hook us up with free ad space to promote our animation.

After making that sort of trade a few times, some of the artist I collaborated with would ask me about collaborating again on anthology shorts or helping them edit their comics.

So, yeah. I had multiple short comics published before I realized I wanted to work in comics.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 3:20AM EST.
Jan 5, 3:07AM EST0

How many international creators have you dealt with so far? What are the challenges encountered?

Jan 4, 11:17PM EST0

I've never had a problem working with international creators and have worked with enough to lose count. Octal, itself, has already featured creators from the Neatherlands, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, England, Canada, Philippines, France, Trinidad, etc. 

There are some tricks to globalizing communication. Speak in terms of pixels rather than inches or centimeters. Include a timezone when scheduling a chat or setting a deadline. Specify currency when negotiating compensation. State everything twice using different words to confirm your meaning. Try to limit your use of idioms and other cooquel expressions. Use diagrams whenever possible.

So long as you are both patient, it's really no trouble. If anything when you're aware of the language and cultural barriers, you assume less and question and that can avoid larger pitfalls down the line.

Last edited @ Jan 5, 1:44AM EST.
Jan 4, 11:43PM EST0

Which for you is more important- graphic arts or the storyline?

Jan 4, 10:33PM EST0

Storyline. A comic with a great story and bad art can be redrawn. I'd much prefer that than seeing someone throw good work after bad.

Jan 4, 11:51PM EST0

Who is your greatest influence and why?

Jan 4, 6:35PM EST0

I draw influence from anti-art movements like Les Arts Incoherents, Dada, and Fluxus. If all the creative people are focusing their creativity on the same aspects of production then the other aspects atrophy and things becomes unstable.

Jan 4, 6:58PM EST0

What is the usual turnout for your free workshop? How many usually participated?

Jan 4, 5:30PM EST0

The Fall Semester launched in September ( ends at the end of the Month. ) The Winter Semester launched in November  ( ends in mid April. ) The 2018 semester launches when the Fall Semester ends.

Fall had 125 enrolled but leveled off at around 75. The Winter semester had 100 enrolled but also leveled off at 75. The 2018 semester is currently at 32 enrolled with 2 more weeks left in enrollment. Enrollment opened and the semester was announced just before the holiday season so it was slower out of the gate but it's picking up traction and I *knock wood* I expect there to be some boost from the AMA which will be wrapping up a few days before enrollment closes.

I can't speak to how many packets each semester will yield and how many packets will be started in the semester and finished afterwards as the semesters are a relatively new addition to Octal. My educated guess would be 4-8 packets finished in session and 4-8 packets finished after session but I'll be in a better position to answer that come September.

The semesters are still being adjusted based on feedback and observations. To date, promotion has been limited to a few social media posts. Once it's running clockwork, if we promote it wider then I imagine that will dramatically impact enrollment but it's a good starting point.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 6:26PM EST.
Jan 4, 6:07PM EST0

Is there any advantage other than more ‘eyes-on’ to throwing in with a publisher rather than self publishing?

Jan 4, 4:15PM EST0

Publishers vary as widely as writers and artists since most indie comic publishers were founded by comic writers and artists.

There are some possible logistical benefits. If the publisher has a relationship with the printer, they can get a reduced rate. If they have a warehouse, they can print larger runs which further drops the cost per copy. If they have a catalog of titles, they're more likely to be shipping multiple titles together which reduces the shipping cost per book. If they have relationships with any shops, it could mean guaranteed shelf space. If they have relationships with cons, it could mean free tables. If they don't have relationships with cons, it could still mean the cost of the table/ con being spread across more titles with creators doing shifts instead of manning the table for the full weekend.

It's not uncommon for the publisher to cover the cost of printing, warehousing, and shipping. Some throw in on promotion. Some offer advances on future royalities. Some help run/ promote fundraising campaigns to cover/ offset production.

Publishers are not created equal. Creators are not created equal. There is no one size fits all solution. The goal, as with any partnership, is to find compatible personalities with skills that compliment your own efforts and reaching mutually agreeable terms. The specific advantages of that can vary as greatly as the people involved.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 4:58PM EST.
Jan 4, 4:57PM EST0

In what situation would you rather self-publish than make a pitch

Jan 4, 12:44PM EST0

Pitching is how you field offers but self-publishing is always on the table. Knowing and considering your options allows you to make a more informed decision about what's right for you and your comic.

Since most publishers have no qualms about potentially reprinting previously / currently self-published work, you can self-publish while your pitch is circulating and only change course if/ when you're presented with a better option.

Many creators could also knock out a pitch packet from an existing work in a couple days using their readymade material. Even if you're finding success with self-publishing, I genuinely believe it's worth that effort to open yourself up to the potential of a better offer as you're never under any obligation to accept an offer which isn't right for you. It's also important to remember that creator-owned publishing contracts rarely last forever. 2 years, 5 years, 10 years... and you may be back on the market. It's not uncommon for an indie title to bounce between publishers and self-publishing over the life of the work.

To boil that down to a simple answer, I'd say you should consider both pitching and self-publishing at the same time whenever your comic isn't under an exclusive publishing contract.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 1:13PM EST.
Jan 4, 1:12PM EST0

Do you have any recommended source material or websites for comic editing?

Jan 4, 12:21PM EST0

Editing isn't one position. It's a blanket term like 'writer' or 'artist'. For example, developmental editing is often creative/ logistical consulting during the plotting and planning stages where as copy-editing is checking spelling, grammar, punctation, and syntax, ideally post-art and pre-lettering to avoid unnecessary revisions.

I'd recommend you start by googling 'types of editors'. Once you pick a specific roll, google that role and you'll find information and resources tailored to that specific type of editing.

A beginning painter will find more luck googling 'painting techniques' or 'brush techniques' than trying to navigate the whole world of art. Once they have a handle on painting, looking at, reading about, and experimenting with other forms of art can help them grow as an artist. The same is true of editing. Once you've got a handle on one type of editing, continue to expand your horizons one step at a time as indie comic writers, artists, and editors are often called upon to wear many hats.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 2:40PM EST.
Jan 4, 2:07PM EST0

Among your clients’ works, do you have a personal favorite?

Jan 4, 12:09PM EST0

As an editor, I have a slight preference for working with ESL creators. It's a bit more work but the errors they make are interesting and it sometimes leads to solutions that are somewhat unexpected.

Jan 4, 2:37PM EST0

Do you also have other hobbies and interests aside from comic books? What are these?

Jan 4, 11:57AM EST0

Cooking. I particularly enjoy experimenting with dehydration and reconstitution.

Jan 4, 12:52PM EST0

What part of the comic book publishers submission process do you think can be optimized or expedited?

Jan 4, 1:29AM EST0

Naturally, I believe in standardizing the packet and organizing mailing lists. Not only does Octal's packet work for all the publishers on the list, it should cover your bases for most of the publishers who are yet to subscribe.

This can be optimized and expedites further by encouraging other creators to pitch through Octal and offering publishers free subscriptions. The more creators there are developing pitches at the same time, the less wait there is between the first packet being locked in and a full volume being sent out. The more publishers there are on the mailing list, the more publishers you reach in that initial swing. The terms are fully non-exclusive so pitching through Octal doesn't mean you can't also pitch directly to publishers with the same pitch packet. If you offer them a free subscription to Octal, that saves a step for your next pitch by having them on the mailing list.

Also remember, a growing number of publishers have no qualms about considering a work that was previously/ is currently being self-published so rather than waiting on the right offer, you can proceed as if you are self-publishing while remaining open to a better offer.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 1:56AM EST.
Jan 4, 1:54AM EST0

What do you think is the hardest thing about writing a comic?

Jan 3, 11:55PM EST0

For many, it seems the hardest part about writing comics is not writing prose. Many writers struggle with excessive narration and often try to say things through captions and dialogue that would be more expressed by non-verbal communication. There's also a tendency to front load information instead of waiting for things to be revealed organically through the visual storytelling.

Personally, I'm more likely to find myself on the other end of that spectrum. Sometimes when I script, I need to take a step back and ask if I've relied too heavily on the reader decoding subtle visual cues, symbolic meanings, etc. So, it's possible to go too far but many struggle to go far enough.

Jan 4, 1:28AM EST0

What drove you to want to give burgeoning creators an outlet to get their comics looked at in a professional manner? And where did you learn to pitch professionally? -- I have looked for years and found no source that breaks down the process with such ease the way Octal does.

Jan 3, 11:33PM EST0

I was editing this short and its creator asked me if I thought the story had series potential. I didn't know how to answer that. In retrospect, an empty compliment would have done but being a curious sort, that question sent me tumbling down the rabbit-hole.

There are some great directories of submission guidelines out there. (Jason Thibault has a very good one. ) But, as with all things, data only goes so far without context. Luckily, I already had a friendly rapport with a couple of submission editors and they were kind enough to endulge my curiosity. As I asked the how's and why's of each component, it became clear there was a lot of guesswork and copying from one another.

I took a more anaytical approach and created venn diagrams for each component. The 8-page pilot, for example, is the upper limit for many who only want sample pages and the bare minimum for others who need to see a full story. This data was refined and contextualized by interviewing creators and editors. We discussed their experiences with the pitching process, what they put in a pitch, what they look for in the different components, etc. All in, I spent about 18 months in the R&D to get to the packet we now use for Octal.

Our packet is more rigid than most because it's trying to satisfy many publishers at the same time but there's a reason for every component and a clear sense of what each component is meant to demonstrate which really brings the controls and variables of a pitch into focus.

Last edited @ Jan 4, 12:49AM EST.
Jan 4, 12:47AM EST0

What do you think is the biggest misconception most new creators have about pitching their work?

Jan 3, 11:27PM EST0

I got to review a number of pitches when researching and developing Octal's packet. The most common problem I saw was that many of the pitches didn't articulate what they were pitching. How many issues? How many pages per issue? How long will it take to produce each issue? Characters are great and stories are even better but how can a publisher say yes without knowing what you are specifically asking them to publish?

Last edited @ Jan 3, 11:44PM EST.
Jan 3, 11:43PM EST0

In your opinion, what is our best chance of beating Omnisaur, the amalgamation of all the coolest dinosaur parts? 

Jan 3, 11:26PM EST0

Buffalo sauce.

Jan 4, 1:30AM EST0
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