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Concept Phase: I hired an Artist, now what?

Concept Phase Now that you have gone through the process of finding and hiring the right artist, you need to start production on your comic.

By the way, if you haven't found an artist yet, check out my last blog series.
My Experience I did a concept phase with the artist I hired on my first production before we even looked at issue #1. It took a lot of work, but in retrospect, it was one of the best decisions I made.
What do I mean by "Concept Phase"? The concept phase should give you a color drawing of each character and main location that both the author and artist agree upon.
If you have written a complete set of scripts (several comic issues worth), it just makes good sense to work with your artist to get the characters and main locations finalized before starting work on the first issue.
Why? It saves you a ton of time. Instead of going back-and-forth as the artist is drawing panes of your comic, he/she can focus on making the art great because he/she will already hav…

Finding the Right Artist, Part 4: Hiring the Artist

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This is the fourth and final installment in my Finding and Hiring the Right Artist series where I cover Hiring the Right Artist. If you missed the introduction (or other posts in the series), please start here.

Assumptions:
You ARE NOT a well known writerYou want to produce a comic book, manga, or graphic novel (there are different rules for books outside of those types, e.g., children's books, etc.)You want high quality artworkYou don't have a high quality artist friend who is rich and will work for freeWho do I hire? Now that you have several hundred responses to yourad (check my post on finding the right artist if you don't), you need to figure out who to hire.
ChecklistI put together some bullets based on my experience and what I learned from Brandon Easton's blog post (podcast) to help:
Make sure the artist's style matches the style you want for your comic. (This should be described in your ad along with examples images.)
Don't hire artists that don't foll…

Finding the Right Artist, Part 3: Where do I find the right artist?

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This is the third installment in my "Finding and Hiring the Right Artist" series where I cover Finding the Right Artist. If you missed the introduction (or other posts in the series), please start here.

Assumptions:
You ARE NOT a well known writerYou want to produce a comic book, manga, or graphic novel (there are different rules for books outside of those types, e.g., children's books, etc.)You want high quality artworkYou don't have a high quality artist friend who is rich and will work for freeWhere do I find the right artist? I spent a lot of time Googling and digging through other writers' posts before I tried to hire an artist. I found two approaches:
Reach out directly to an artistPost a want ad in one or more online art communities 
I tried both, one worked and one did not. :)
Contact Artists DirectlyJim Zub, author over at Image, blogged about this in "How Do I Find An Artist?". He gives some great advice and even a template email to help.

Jason B…

Finding the Right Artist, Part 2: Pay

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This is the second installment in my "Finding and Hiring the Right Artist" series where we cover Artist Pay. If you missed the introduction (or other posts in the series), please start here.

Assumptions:
You ARE NOT a well known writerYou want to produce a comic book, manga, or graphic novel (there are different rules for books outside of those types, e.g., children's books, etc.)You want high quality artworkYou don't have a high quality artist friend who is rich and will work for freeIncrease your chance of success By hiring a high quality artist, you increase the chance your comic will sell.

From my experience (you can verify this too by thinking back through writers/artists you continue to support), here is a ranking of what sells best to what doesn't:
Amazingwriting & amazingartMediocre writing & amazingartAmazingwriting & mediocre artMediocre writing & mediocre art In other words, if you story is just "okay",  you will still fall insid…

Finding and hiring the right artist for your comic, manga, or graphic novel, Part 1: Introduction

Introduction
There are great resources online for learning how to hire an artist for you comic, manga, or graphic novel, but it takes a great deal of searching and some good old fashioned recommendations by actual people to find them all.

I am putting together a series of posts to save you time and outline my experience (part one is this intro). I wish I had read them first! :D

Assumptions:
You ARE NOT a well known writerYou want to produce a comic book, manga, or graphic novel (there are different rules for books outside of those types, e.g., children's books, etc.)You want high quality artworkYou don't have a high quality artist friend who is rich and will work for free Ready!?

Great, let's start with Part 2: Pay.

-Jeremy

P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!

Time management and my love for Toggl

TL;DR (Too Long; Don't Read):
I tested everything under the sun and no app (web and/or mobile) is better for tracking your time than Toggl (without an "E"). Also, it's free!

Details:
A long time ago (~8 years ago), I was asked how much time I spent on certain projects/clients to help project head count.

Having no idea, I started tracking my time by hand... which really sucks and isn't accurate.

After wasting more time tracking time than working on some projects, I decided to find an app that could help.

I tested EVERYTHING and no apps made my life easier. It took as much time to figure out the crazy complex software as doing my work.

I finally stumbled on toggl (without an "E"), and I was up and running in two minutes, I'm not kidding!

I have used it ever since for everything I track, and it keeps getting better (slicker UI, mobile apps, etc.).

It really helps me get a sense of where my time goes, and it's so quick to use, it doesn't take awa…

Smaller: Use contractions as often as possible (I'm vs. I am)

I cut down the length of my story wherever possible. Less is always more. As my friend Matt Sullivan pointed out, using contraction can really help you with this.

Google defines contractions as "the process of becoming smaller."

In grammar, it means combining two words into one.

For a more detailed answer, GCF Learn Free says, "A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words. Words like can't (can + not), don't (do + not), and I've (I + have) are all contractions. People use contractions in both speaking and writing."

This is especially important in dialogue, as most people will unconsciously use contractions wherever they can. 
Think about it, do you say, "I will see you later" or "I'll see you later"?
Try a couple more just to prove it:
You are = You'reI am = I'mIt is = It'sI will = I'llWe will = We'llWould have = Would'veThat is = That'sWhat is = What's You get the point.
I ofte…

Remove passive voice and ways to do it OR terms to search for after you book is finished

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Removing passive voice from your writing makes your sentences shorter and more engaging. Many famous authors agree, e.g., Stephen King. Check out rule #2 from his top 20 rules:
First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
Here is another example so you can really see the length difference:
Passive voice:Jeremy was running across the field.Active voice:Jeremy ran across the field.
You can see that the sentence is shorter and the character seems more active (see what I did there). :D

I slip up and sometimes include passive voice in my writing, so I came up with several search terms/strings I use after I finish a script/book to find and remove passive voice (list below).

Use the full st…

Writing is hard, really hard.

I learned programming computers before I started seriously writing, and when you start learning programming, there is a period in the beginning where it's really challenging and confusing, i.e., you just don't get it.

You have to power through that for about a semester (months) before anything finally clicks. It isn't easy after that, but it's never that hard again.

Writing is like that first phase, just all the time. It makes me wonder if writers are just masochist. :P

I can have a good day writing then read back those same pages a week later and think... WTF? This is terrible.

I assume it gets better as you write more scripts. I am closing in on the "golden 10", so I think it's getting easier.

The true test would be to go back and read my first screenplay, but I'm afraid to do it... very afraid.

Should I do it and post my thoughts? Ah hell, might as well if I truly enjoy pain. Look for a post in the next year. I guarantee it will be ugly.

You really…

English Grammar doesn't have to be hard!

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I used to believe that grammar was really difficult, i.e., if you didn't get it in junior high or high school, you just weren't cut out to write. This can be worse if you didn't attend good schools (like me).

I tried to buck this thinking by reading several books and even hiring a tutor. Nothing helped and I almost gave up before happening to come upon English Grammar For Dummies.

I wish someone handed me that book when I was ten. I didn't realize grammar could be so easy! I know it sounds crazy, but after I read the book, I thought, this is it?! I can't believe something this easy was made so hard.

Even if you aren't a writer, it's a huge confidence booster for your work. You will no longer worry about screwing up important emails or relying on someone else to fix your communications.

READ IT!

After you read it (and you feel great), you can optionally check out The Elements of Style. It's a great, short read and a good refresher. It's also small, so…

Write by following your instincts/characters, not a formula

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Before I started writing, I read ~30 books on how to write. They covered how to write novels, comics, manga, graphic novels... style... ugh, you get the idea.

I found some good tips and tricks, but they boiled down to two categories:

Follow your instincts/guts/visions/charactersFollow a formula
After getting several scripts under my belt, I firmly believe in the first approach, i.e., follow your instincts/guts/visions/characters.

Honestly, it's too hard to follow all the rules laid out in many of the books anyway. In addition, many of the "gold standards" for screenwriting were written by writers who have never had much commercial success (in writing screenplays/novels).

Having to start Act II on page X doesn't make a great story. In fact, if you have a script that is 120 pages (movie length) with good writing that doesn't follow any rules, it will sell (see Memento).

More proof? 

Successful screenwriters and writers do it. Reading all of William Goldman's boo…

Writers write!

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I have some bad news, your first ~10 novels/screenplays/comic scripts/manga scripts are going to suck.

The first one... awful. The second one... terrible... well, maybe a smidgen better.

HOWEVER, each one will get better.

Why 10?

If you watch interviews with successful screenwriters (The Dialogue Series is a great one), they all pretty much say they had to write 10 screenplays before they sold one.

It's the same with novels. You can even see this in action by going back and reading an author's first books, e.g., Cup of Gold or To a God Unknown versus to Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck).

Writing is like learning to draw or play tennis well. You suck at first, but as you put in more hours, you get better.

You don't hear a tennis player saying, "hey, I'm a tennis player, I want to do it for a living, but I don't really have time to practice."

OR

"I'm an artist, I was told I draw cartoon bunnies well. I want to do it for …

Why read? Why write? Why, Jeremy, why?

Read?
I read a lot and it's part of the catchy name. Plus, you have to read a lot to be a good writer, right? ... right?

Write?
I see scenes in my head and the scenes expand upon themselves. It's usually triggered by movie soundtracks. Through these "visions", I have met some pretty amazing people. If I don't write about them, the world misses out on their stories... so there you go.

I am crazy and I feel guilty if I don't write about what I see.

Why?
I wanted to detail my experience becoming a writer. I didn't go about it the easiest way, but I learned a lot along the way that could(?) be valuable to you. :)

Enjoy!

-Jeremy

P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!