Mar172023: Webcomics vs Tradpub

“what’s the merit between getting a book published and posting as a webcomic? could you finish a webcomic and then pitch that finished work”

Again, it really depends on what you want for that book in particular – and sometimes the circumstances of that book.

I wouldn’t make Seance Tea Party or My Aunt is a Monster into a webcomic – they are for kids (it’s hard to get and moderate a kids audience online), and wouldn’t be appropriately serviced by the restricted distribution options online to reach those readers in person. So they have to be actual books.

I often judge a book’s suitability for the traditional market by the targeted audience and if the market fits the story (rather than the other way around). For me, if I can get a book to be supported by the big engine of publishing resources, I will try. With publishing, you’d be able to access the services of people who are already hired to deal with marketing, distributing, accounting, designing and producing your book, handling shipping, international rights, getting into libraries and bookstores and schools… these are things you can’t do if you’re publishing webcomics on your own… or things you’d rather avoid doing.

I make webcomics for stories I am really passionate about, but cannot (or refuse to) bring to the traditional market : like The World in Deeper Inspection, The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya and Alexander Comic, all risky, unusual, adult work. These are books that need to prove themselves to the market, but even if they don’t, I don’t care. Because I just want to see them exist, and I have other personal, non-capitalist reasons to pursue those stories.

I like webcomics since it’s so accessible and the expanded creative freedom (no market, no physical limitations) benefits the stories I choose to make as webcomics. And I can make the work on my own pace. The only problems would be that if you were to crowdfund/self-publish your webcomic you’d have a hard time getting it into bookstores and libraries – not many of them are forward-thinking in that regard. And there’s having to market/promote it. And money lol.

Yes you can finish a webcomic and pitch that work.
i.e The Glass Scientist, Smile, Nimona, Delilah Dirk are all webcomics that got picked up by traditional publishers
Plus the humour, relatable comics you see online.

Sometimes the publisher may ask you to take down the original webcomic or truncate it (this is normal, especially for the mainstream, older publishers). Sometimes they may allow you to keep the whole thing online. YMMV, depending on which side you lean towards. I want my webcomics to be entirely preserved online even after they go to print – so I may have to negotiate harder or reject the offer.

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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