Always wanted to publish your own manga? Got a great idea for a series but didn’t know how to share it with the world? Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before for artists to publish their work.
Self-publishing requires more work and investment on your part but is incredibly rewarding.
Manga artists today have greater access to publishing and distribution than ever before, which means you can share with a broad audience even if you’re just starting in the manga industry.
Below we’ll look at how to publish manga and popular ways manga artists can publish and promote their work, thereby increasing their chances of success.
How to publish manga
The original manga form comes from Japan, so most published manga are Japanese.
However, if you don’t speak Japanese, that doesn’t mean you can’t publish.
Manga artists also have more opportunities than ever before to self-publish, which means that if you have a fanbase who enjoy your work in your language, you can try self-publishing and still achieve success.
Popular publishing companies to note include:
- NBM Graphic Novels
- Yen Press
- Dark Horse Manga
Aiming to get published by the top English-language manga publishing companies may be a lofty ambition if you’re just starting. Hence, it’s wise to establish and develop a reputation first.
1. Build a reputation
Post on DeviantArt
DeviantArt is a great place to upload your work for free and establish a reputation as a manga artist. Your reputation is vital to reach a broad audience, especially if you choose self-publishing over a publishing company.
To use DeviantArt, sign up, start posting, and get your name and work seen and shared. Write comments, leave feedback, and engage with the network of manga-based or other artists you find on DeviantArt.
You can post single panels, strips, sections, or character art from your work on your DeviantArt account. Wise use of DeviantArt, such as regular posting, networking, and teasers of your work, will help you build a loyal fanbase that will follow you to other platforms.
When you create your DeviantArt account, you must create a username. This is not fixed – you can change your username at any time in account settings. Still, choosing a memorable username that aligns with your other usernames on different platforms is wise. This consistency makes it easier for fans to find you.
Leverage social media
DeviantArt and other social sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram help you build a fanbase and attract new fans. Tumblr is also a great place to share your manga. Tumblr users who enjoy your work can re-blog it, helping widen your reach.
Create your own website
In addition to social media, it’s wise to build your website. You can add links to your website on your social media to attract traffic and offer visitors even more of your work.
Share excerpts and shots from your manga to draw attention and create buzz around your work on your site.
Upload to publication sites
Webtoon is a popular site for comics and graphic novels and boasts an extensive manga collection, making it a go-to site for manga readers.
You can publish your manga on Webtoon with Webtoon Canvas. Webtoon offers running contests, so if you’ve got quality that you believe readers will enjoy, then give Webtoon a try.
2. Use an online self-publishing platform
Kindle Comic Converter is an easy-to-use tool that can help new and seasoned manga artists. It can help you create a well-formatted ebook by taking your existing files (PNG, JPG, GIF, CBZ, CBR, and CB7) and condensing them per standard format. KCC is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Best of all, it’s free!
Know that digital manga is increasingly popular and is something you should consider as a modern manga artist looking to gain financial success from your work.
Using KCC helps you format your book so that anyone with a Kindle device or other e-reader can download and enjoy it.
Once you have successfully converted your manga into ebook format, you’re ready for distribution.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a popular choice among aspiring artists who self-publish. With Amazon KDP, you must create a free account, upload your manuscript, fill in all the relevant details, set your price and royalty preferences, and hit publish.
Kobo Writing Life
Kobo Writing Life is another popular self-publishing platform. Graphic novels, comics, and manga are all welcome on the platform.
Manga is more popular on the Japanese Kobo site than elsewhere for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t upload and publish from wherever you are.
One significant advantage of publishing with KWL is that outside of Japan, there is not a large selection of manga. In other words, there is a limited amount of competition, which means your work has a better chance of being seen.
3. Enter competitions
Clip Studio Paint runs a manga, comic, and illustration contest for students. Winners can receive cash prizes, software, and public attention.
This is a chance to receive professional critique and get your name and work in front of big publishers.
This is not the only manga contest. Do a quick Google search for manga contests for which you’re eligible and increase your chances of building a solid reputation as a manga artist.
4. Print your own manga
You can upload a manuscript and print physical copies of your book with a self-publishing press. A press will let you upload your book, upload a cover, and create hard copies for a fee. Fees vary among presses and the number of pages.
Doujin Press publishes manga and comics exclusively, making them a popular choice for self-publishing artists.
How to write manga
Writing an excellent manga story requires the same commitment to structure and quality as other types of fiction. Remember that you’re writing a story to be read and enjoyed so the reader can follow the story arc easily.
Don’t make the mistake of over-relying on the visual side of things and forgetting about the actual storyline.
1. Decide on the type of manga you want to write
Like writing any type of fiction, there are many types and genres of manga, so you need to know your audience to promote it successfully.
There are five main types of manga, all of which differ significantly, so first, identify the kind of manga you want to write.
- Shonen – written for boys aged 9-18. Typically feature comedy and a lot of action. Character relationships cover themes of growing up and coming of age.
- Shojo – written for girls aged 9-18. Typically center around interpersonal drama and emotions rather than action. Romance is a significant theme.
- Seinen – aimed at young men over the age of 18. Heavy use of action and violence. Dark themes, strong language, and sexual storylines are common in Seinen manga.
- Josei – is aimed at young women over the age of 18. Narratives are adult-themed, and center around romance and relationships May also feature sexual storylines and strong language.
- Kodomomuke – aimed at young children. Typically features adventure and moral lessons.
2. Develop your characters
First, consider your characters. Who are they? How many characters will your manga include, and what does each character want?
Consider each character’s personality type and wants as you write the script. Your characters are the hook for your readers. Readers will follow your character through the story and become invested in their lives, so it’s essential to respect the readers and do justice to the character.
Give them personality traits, needs, desires, and opinions to make them more relatable. Flesh out your characters by building a background, identifying challenges they have overcome, and their future goals.
Most successful manga series feature a strong protagonist (main character) so give this character extra time and attention. They may be why a reader wants to read more of your work.
3. Follow a theme
Does your story have a message? Do you want to share insight or lessons in your story?
Think about what impact you want your story to make, whether it’s an observation about life in general, a window into life in a specific place at a particular time, or a lesson on relationships.
Essentially, consider what your story is about. What are the values, concepts, and take-home messages you offer your readers?
4. Create a cohesive narrative
Like writing any fiction, your manga should offer readers a cohesive narrative. You can flesh out the narrative in detail by asking yourself these basic questions:
- How? ‘Or’ What?
Take time to flesh out these answers. For example, when is your manga set? If it’s set at a particular time in the past, then be as historically accurate as possible. If it’s set in space, research space travel and basic astrophysics.
5. Construct the story
As with all stories, there are some essential elements you should include. These are
- Build up
- Falling action
This is a tried and true formula for storytelling that will help you engage readers throughout the story.
6. Make the storyboard
Once you’ve finalized a script, which means you’re happy with the order of the story and the narrative itself, it’s time to create the storyboard. This is a rough sketch of the manga story from start to finish.
The storyboard is like a draft – it is a rough example of the finished product but can still be changed and edited to suit.
Quality over quantity
Don’t make the mistake of mass-producing work to get consistent engagement online. If you have a lot of work to share, go for it, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity’s sake.
Many manga artists are out there attracting your audience, so making yourself stand out is essential.
Giving intentional time and attention to your work, not skipping on the details but instead making a piece that has a real impact, will help you stand out from the crowd.
The more you can post high-quality work, the more your audience will feel that your work is worth following.
Feel ready to publish your manga? It may seem daunting to imagine your work out there for the world to see, but self-publishing and reaching an audience who loves your work is incredibly rewarding.
The advice and guidelines on writing and publishing manga will help you take the next step in your illustration career.