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Trade Paperbacks, Continued...

Hi, Folks! Now it’s time to fill out your trade paperback’s contents.  It may seem a little unfair, because you’ve already spent the time to get all those comics created, but these are some of the considerations you need to take into account: 

  • Indicia: This is the small print, legal information that goes inside the book.  The wording is pretty consistent, and you can adapt your own indicia’s wording and formatting from an existing book, just changing all the publisher and date information.
  • Dedication: These are common in prose books, not so common in trade paperbacks. 
  • Acknowledgements: Again, used more often in prose than comics, this is the section where the writer thanks all the experts (if any) he consulted, and other people who sacrificed time and effort to see the book completed, such as editors, spouses, friends, etc.
  • Forward: Do you plan to have a forward written for your book, or an afterwards?  These are usually written by successful folks in the same media or similar field, but there are exceptions.  In our first trade paperback, “Johnny Saturn: Synns of the Father,” we had our forward written by one-time comic publisher and now noted horror writer Bob Freeman, and our afterwards written by popular webcartoonist and editor, Tim Demeter. 
  • Sketch Editions: Do you plan to leave a blank page or two at the front of the book for sketches?  I suggest you do.  Then, you can sell sketch editions of your book, and you can make personalized sketches for buyers at conventions. I didn’t think of this for our first trade paperback, but I won’t make that mistake again.
  • Filler Pages: If your book is a long-form comic, then it becomes important to keep the page order—if not, you might end up splitting double page spreads, or giving away big reveals too soon.  Usually, the comic cover will be on an even numbered page, and the comic interiors will begin on an odd numbered page.  When maintaining the page order, this will usually result in a blank page between each comic, and it’s up to you how you want to design it.  Check out existing trade paperbacks to see how other cartoonists have handled this: I suggest “Johnny Saturn: Synns of the Father,” Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles,” and the “Invincible” trades.
  • Extras: At the end of the trade, you have the option of adding additional materials to raise the book’s potential selling power.  These extras could be exclusive comics, behind-the-scenes sketches, collected pinups, a who’s who of your characters, a large cast picture, or any number of other bonuses.
  • Back Cover: There are many options here, such as testimonials from fellow industry professionals, or author photo, or quotes from prominent reviewers, or a written teaser meant to entice the reader into buying the book.

This blog post is at best a general overview of the trade-paperback process, and any of these the topic mentioned above could themselves be expanded into a chapter.  In any case, putting together a trade paperback is going to require a fair amount of effort on your part.

Well, so ends my guest blogging for Comixtalk.  I'd like to thank Xaviar Xerexes for the invitation, because it has been a lot of fun.

Scott Story