How I Survived Writing Comics and Lived to Tell About It

It’s been a roller coaster of a week, to say the least. While we were in the midst of the photo shoot for the cover of Jupiter Chronicles, I got a call from my brother saying that my dad was back in the hospital with pneumonia. That combined with his advanced Alzheimer’s is not a good thing so as of the writing of this post I sit, wait and pray that he either gets better or that his suffering not be prolonged. The photo shoot itself was a blast, until I got the call, of course. I brought out my newsboy hat and pipe prop and pretended to direct the shoot while Poochie did most of the work.

All of the shots turned out amazing.

We also received a new blurb for the book this week.

Check it out!

“Jupiter Chronicles is a fast-paced adventure that introduces kids to the Jovian world. Fantastic steam punk imagery, memorable characters, and intrigue will leave readers wanting more!” ~ Tammy Derr, Fairy Tales Booksore, Nashville, TN

You can check out Tammy’s website here.

Working on this project has been a blast especially being surrounded by fun people who work hard. That’s not always been the case though.

How I Survived the World of Comics and Lived to Tell About It

My first work published traditionally was a graphic novel called, Haven. If you’re reading this and you don’t know what a graphic novel is, no worries. Simply put, it’s a narrative told with sequential art and is much like a comic book on steroids. Anywho, it released in 2010 and did not have a single bad review when it released.

But what about before it released? Oh yeah. That’s not due to the editor we ended up with but the one that we had prior whose name I will not mention. The problem was that the editor was not focused on the project so he would work on it for a little bit, go on to something else and then come back to it and forget details. Communicating with him was also a nightmare. At the end of our run with him, I sent it out to a couple of reviewers who hated it. I, in turn, sent those reviews with my comments to our publisher and we switched editors. What added to the frustration was the time spent on all of that felt wasted.

Or was it?

After the release I sent it out to more reviews and we got some amazing feedback that even put it head-to-head with anything the big two (DC and Marvel) had to offer. I was stoked and proceeded to send it out to stores for review. No one told me that when you’re an independent comics writer you are totally on your own. There is no history of sales going back 40 years to back you up like DC. There are no household names that come to mind when folks think of your publisher like Spider-Man. There are no big marketing dollars behind you on behalf of a monster publisher. It’s all uphill and it’s only you pulling that pile of rocks up the steep canyon.

None of that bothered me until I caught up with the common customer who would only walk in to the store and pass me by only to make a dash for the aisle of the big two. That did bother me. The other stuff?

Nah. I like a good challenge.

Out of quite a number of stores I solicited, only two stores responded to my e-mails. One store treated me like I was some kind of communicable disease. If you live in the Nashville area you probably know which one I’m referring to.

Out of those one of them carried it, my hero, Outer Limits Comics in Franklin, TN.

After an event there and several appearances, talks, lectures, school visits and conventions I sold some but not many. At first I was devastated. But after a while there was one thing that I came to learn.

It’s not about selling books. It’s about making friends.

It’s also about quickly realizing that if I’m going to survive it’s going to be all up to me and not any one publishing house. Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published you are going to have to market yourself by yourself. Your future depends on you and not if your traditional publisher markets your work.

It’s also not about the medium. It’s about the characters. Haven will survive in the upcoming Haven of Dante as will all of the supporting characters and some not even in the graphic novel. This is why I have no regrets about all the hardship when it came to the graphic novel because had it not been for that I would not have written the prose.

Here’s to the future. Make it happen.

Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Please visit and sign up for the blog.

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