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B&N Week 116: Protips!

| March 12, 2013

BoltsNutsFeatured-protipsIt’s another wonderful Tuesday! I’ve been missing you.

This week, I thought I’d hit you up with some pro tips. Think of these as really quick things to keep in mind as you get further into your comic book career. This list is nowhere near complete, is not all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be.


Read the ads and follow the directions before you reply to them. You could lose jobs that way.

Communicate with the team when you’re going to be late on anything. Just disappearing isn’t going to cut it. Be a professional. Communicate.

Hone your skills. Practice daily. That’s the only way to improve and to grow.

Lettering is an art, but one that is relatively easy to learn. This is basic, surface stuff, not the deeper elements such as designing a logo or fonts or kerning. Learn lettering. It may save you some money.

Difficult as it may be, separate your ego from your work.

Be proud of the good things people say about your work, but always look for your own mistakes so you can do even better next time.

Editors are human. All they have is an informed opinion. That opinion can be wrong at times.

Know which battles are worth fighting. Let the other stuff go.

Be so good that your talent cannot be denied. Do not be a dick/bitch about it at the same time.

Learn the market. Know where your comic fits, and cater to those readers.

Take breaks. Back away from the chalupa. This will save your sanity, and possibly any relationship you may be in.

Know what “face” you’re showing in public. You could damage yourself without even knowing it.

Cultivate a circle of creator friends that you trust. These are the friends that will tell you the truth about your projects, as well as give you a support group.

Save your money.

Learn how to read contracts and how to create your own.

Save any and all emails when corresponding with creators.

Hire an editor. Let them know your goals. Let them be the “bad guy” when necessary. Give them the power to do their job.

Memorable characters are more than a power set or a good design. They also have to live. Role-playing them works.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Counter negativity with positivity.

Take negative space into account when forming your word balloons.

Except for the personal pronoun and in acronyms, the crossbar I is the enemy. Treat it as such.

Deliver the work on time. Don’t make the rest of the creative team wait on you.

Make a production schedule, and add a buffer for delays. Keep this buffer to yourself. Creators will take advantage of you if they can.

Tie the page rate to the completion rate. Late work is lost money for the creator. Make sure this is stipulated up front, so there are no surprises.

If you know you’re right, stick to your guns.

Learn how to compromise. The Rolling Stones said it best: you can’t always get what you want.

Treat your creative team with care and respect, and they will want to work with you in the future.

Creator-owned work is full of risk, but also full of reward. If you’re both good and lucky, it will pay you for the rest of your life.

Get a foundation under you before attempting to study the masters. This way, you’ll know what you’re looking at.

Know the rules so that they can be properly broken.

Once you figure you know it all, you’ve stopped growing.

Comics does not owe you a living. It doesn’t owe you anything.

Retailers are a creator’s best friend. Your books don’t get ordered, recommended, and put into the hands of the buying public without them. Earn their trust. Put out good product.

Understand that “good” is subjective. So is art. A “good” comic is subjective.

Understand the role of reviewers and the power of word of mouth.

Create with love in your heart. That will come through in the final product, and people will connect with it.

Understand what will sell, what will be a tough sell, and what won’t sell. Spend your resources [time, money, energy] accordingly.

Understand what types of books a company publishes before trying to pitch to them. The bulk of your rejections are more than likely your own fault.

Spellcheck is your friend. So is grammar-check.

Be gracious with any and all interactions with editors. They talk, and they change companies. You could be burning bridges at multiple locations for a long time coming.

Make your package as professional looking as possible before submitting to Diamond. [And save your money. You’re responsible for the print bill when the orders come in. It would be embarrassing to get in only to not be able to pay the print bill when the orders come in.]

That’s it for this week. Have more? Click below to add in them in the forum!

See you in seven!

Click here to make comments in the forum.


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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at for rate inquiries.

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