Thursday, May 17

Making a digital comic book

I received new information about digital publisher Graphicly. It turns out that panel mode works with the Kindle Fire but not with the iBookstore offering (not that it needs the panel mode. I think the comic reads well on the iPhone and it works perfectly on the iPad). Also I can update my ad copy on-the-fly at via the Graphicly dashboard.

Here is a brief overview of the Graphicaly conversion service:  For $150 they convert your PDF file and make it available as a digital book on iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (a lesser known reader that nevertheless has a significant market share) and Google Books.

The Subterranean #1 and #2 are now listed on iBooks for iPhone and iPad as well as on Amazon for the Kindle Fire. Issue #1 is also available on this blog and my Facebook Fan Page and are available on the Color Nook, and coming soon to Kobo, and Google Books.

Graphically has an additional option of making apps that will work for the iPad/iPhone and the Android. I will probably experiment with the app option when I publish the entire graphic novel at a future date.

If you want to make a comic book and convert to digital via a company such as Graphicaly here are some suggestions:

Edit thoroughly. My experience is that once you commit your PDF file to the conversion process it's difficult to change. If I had known that the upload was more or less final I would have been much more diligent with the editing process and not allowed my enthusiasm to rush the upload. Graphicly has been very accommodating to change to re-upload but it is still time consuming.

After uploading your PDF file you then "direct" the comic, meaning that you specify the panel-by-panel views. There is an edit button at this phase of the process and it gives the impression that after you direct the panel-by-panel views you can go back and tweak the cropping at any time. My experience suggests its best to crop the panel-by-panel views right the first time (and on the largest screen possible). There were a few panels where I didn't quite get the cropping right and other places where I might have directed the panels differently. But again, I let my enthusiasm get the best of me. I kept thinking I would go back at some point and re-edit. But before I knew it the comic had been uploaded to Amazon and iBooks and there was little I could do to correct the situation except ask Graphicly to re-upload a revised PDF.

I would be more diligent writing the book description. I basically wrote a single sentence describing the comic, like a logline. But I should have written something much more interesting and descriptive, like good ad copy with teasers but no spoilers. Amazon and iBookstore copy this directly into their pages and it will be the only description readers have when they purchase your book. After waiting nearly two months for Amazon to vet my book I assumed they would do something to help sell it. Although I now know I can edit this after the initial upload I think it's best to get it right the first time. 

There are other things I regret. I didn't put my blog address anywhere in the first two comics. In retrospect that's an insane omission, especially with the first comic being free and having potential to redirect people back to my blog (to become fans of future issues. Note: Amazon won't allow free sales unless the book is exclusive with Amazon so issue #1 at Amazon is $.99.) I was also remiss not adding an introduction or at least a postscript giving readers some background and letting them know where the project was heading (note: I have since re-uplaoed a new version with an afterword).

Although I would do some things differently overall I'm pleased with the end product as well as the process. The people at Graphically have been attentive, quickly answered my questions and solved problems. I think their conversion process is both visionary and practical. They have gotten so much right and promise to add even more features in the future. 

I applaud Graphicaly for setting a price that is very competitive. I wish them the best and hope they continue their project well into the future.

Brad Teare 2012

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