B&N Week 101: Become A Better Creator–Acknowledgements

| November 27, 2012


There is yet another Tuesday upon us! We’re also basically counting down to the end of the year. No, I’m not going to do any year-end lists. No best of lists, either. I’m just not a person for lists. I even detest shopping lists. What do I like? Spending time with you, of course. You’re the very reason I’m here.

Yes, we’re still talking about being a better creator, and this week, it’s all about acknowledgement. Let’s get into the Bolts & Nuts of that, shall we?

What do I mean by acknowledgement? Simple: even though it may seem like solitary work, most creators do not work in a vacuum. Wait. What am I doing? I’m saying most , giving the impression of something like 6 out of 10. What I really mean to say is the overwhelming majority of us. There. That’s better. So, the overwhelming majority of us do not work in a vacuum.

Remember that, generally speaking, there is an entire creative team behind every comic you see. That’s a whole mess of people who have worked their tails off in order to bring someone’s vision to life. Usually it’s the writer’s vision, but sometimes it’s the artist’s.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: in the indies, writers are generally the prime movers. They’re the ones who go out looking to put together a team in order to bring their dream to life.

I’ve said all that in order to say this: thank your team. Thank them often. While money is nice and good and fun, it isn’t the end-all, be-all. Money is only part of the equation. The other part of the equation is giving thanks to those that did the heavy lifting to bring the project to fruition.

The best way to give that thanks? Acknowledgement.

Giving an interview? Make sure that you let the interviewer know that the project couldn’t have been done without Graeme McFreelancer. Don’t say it just because it’s true, but also mean it. The sky is blue. The sky is a wonderful shade of blue. Both statements are true, but which one was more heartfelt? Exactly. You have to mean it. If not, then they’re just words, and if that were the case, then you might as well have not said anything.

If you aren’t already, then you have to learn to be selfless. Just because you’re paying someone doesn’t mean you own them. It doesn’t give you license to treat them like garbage, belittle, or have them at your beck and call. It doesn’t mean they’re your slave. If the only thing between the two of you is money, then you’re doing it wrong.

I’m working with a team on a project right now. The writer is the prime mover [of course], acknowledges the fact that they’ve had the story in their head for years, but then says that none of it would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the creative team. And this isn’t just a simple rehashing of what each person does: this creator goes in depth about the unique perspective each person brings.

That’s doing it right.

Now, if there’s an editor involved [and there is, isn’t there?], they’re usually pretty selfless. The editor should understand that theirs is a background job: take all the blame for things done wrong, and none of the credit for the things done right. (That’s not sexy.) Nope. Editing is necessary, but it isn’t sexy. Guide the train, make sure it stays both on the tracks and on schedule, while still being the reader’s advocate. Sounds simple, but it is really a lot of work.

If you want to go above and beyond in acknowledging those that helped you make your comic, acknowledge the contributions of the editor, as well. They will definitely appreciate it. (Wait. How is that going above and beyond?) In all of the interviews you’ve read, how many of the creators thanked their editor? How many of those creators even had an editor onboard, let alone acknowledged their contribution? You can think of a few, but they’re fuzzy, right? You know they’re there, because you vaguely remember reading it. My point exactly.

Want to be a better creator? Understand that you did not do this alone. Those other names on the cover and in the credits box? They helped, too. Give them their deserved credit, and do so selflessly.

That’s all I have this week. Short, I know. See you in seven.

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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 stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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