So you want to write comics? It’s something you love passionately, and each and every day you wake up you have a burning desire to express yourself through story. Well, as it stands, you’re halfway there. Now to get you the rest of the way.
I meet a lot of people running the convention circuit. Have met some of my best friends in the world working in this business. Eric Basaldua, Nei Ruffino, Mike Debalfo, Christian Beranek, and the list goes on.
I’ve met writers I’ve admired, who inspire me in all things. JMS, Bendis, Peter David, Paul Jenkins, etc. Met editors, fellow creators, fans, and writers trying to break in. And all these people share one thing in common. We all love the art form of comics.
It’s an amazing thing, this thing we call ‘the business’. And I think that’s one thing a lot of new writers trying to break in forget. It’s a business. You, as a writer, are competing with every other writer out there. You are fighting for the same exact scraps from the table that everyone else is fighting for.
For you, as much as you love comics, it’s all about getting to a level where you are worth a readers hard earned $2.99. So keeping that in mind, keeping in mind there are already thousands of writers out there already working these gigs that you are fighting to get, you need to know what your biggest advantage is in all this … You.
You being you is your biggest asset. No one is you but you. No one can write the story that you can write. Your experiences. Your life. All these things have made you what you are. Unique. You have an outlook on life that only you can have. And that is the thing that is going to get you there. Your voice. There’s only one like it.
I remember, years ago, me and my mom were sitting at a table talking about writing, and we got on a subject about a new book or new show that had done really well and I pointed out to my mother that the reason the show/book had done so well was because it was written by Stephen King. I pointed out to her that there’s only one Stephen King.
Her response, and sage like advice, stays with me to this day in everything that I do. She said there’s only one Raven Gregory. Just like there’s only one you. But, in order to show there’s only one you, you have to get something done that proves that statement to be true.
Now there are rare exceptions to the rule where a writer breaks into the business without having self-published. I’ve only met one in my ten years doing this. Maybe two. And if you were to ask me how they broke in I really couldn’t say.
But I do know I meet a lot of writers out there who come to a publisher with no previously published work, with a story they really want to tell, but with no proof that they can actually get the job done. And what you need is that proof.
Most of us in this business know how hard it is to break in. We’ve published books. Lost money. Ate ramen noodles. Neglected family. Worked long hard hours to get a book to print and the list goes on and on and on.
This business, especially that first book you publish, is very much a trial by fire. It’s hard, but if you don’t do it then you have nothing on your resume that says “hey, this is me, this is what I can do.” And you very much need that.
So, if you’re the writer who has his first script done and you’re ready to make your book real, what do you do to make that happen? Well, that’s a tough one. Realistically, these things take money. Start saving now.
How important is being a writer to you? Is it important enough to give up fast food and cigarettes? Or strip clubs? Or video games? Or booze? Or weed? Take something in your expenses that you do not NEED and give it up.
Take the money that you would have been spending and start saving so you can pay for an artist or for a cover, or for colors, or for letters. Again, how bad do you want this?
Now I don’t recommend this, but I think everyone has heard the Kevin Smith story about how he got funding for CLERKS. How he got a bunch of credit cards and maxed them all out to pay for the budget for the movie. And how his huge risk paid off putting him where he is today (Cop Out was fucking awesome).
Wu-Tang Clan is another example. They sold drugs to be able to afford to make that first album (C.R.E.A.M.). Again, I’m not telling you to sell drugs or go out and rob a bank, but the idea of doing whatever it takes to make your dream come true is sound.
Do the research. Hit the library. Make a business plan. Get a second job. Hit up relatives and friends. Show them how you plan to make their money back and get them to believe in your dream.
You can’t just be a writer. I know that’s what you want but, right now, you can’t. You have to be a business man/woman, you have to be able to market yourself, you have to wear many hats in order to bring your story to life.
So, on that note, it’s time to get back to writing. I’m heading to Cali this weekend to celebrate my good friend’s birthday which means I have a day to get two scripts done (see how that works, gotta get the work done if you’re going to go and have fun, but we’ll talk about discipline later).
But, as always, if you have any questions about the business or any subject matters you’d like me to touch upon, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, as I mentioned last time, this is a race. If you’re not willing to do it, there are ten other writers who are. Ten other writers who are living the dream that you want to live – that put in the work, time, and blood, sweat and tears to get there. So, what are you waiting for?
To read Raven’s earlier columns, please click here.