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How to Become a Graphic Novelist

Many graphic novelists improved their natural skills in formal art classes.
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Graphic novelists are creative people who combine visual thinking, compelling storytelling and illustration skills. Graphic novels are self-contained stories that read more like traditional books rather than spreading the story over several issues of a serialized comic book. The art form was pioneered by Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman. With plenty of practice, you can become a skilled graphic novelist.

Take writing courses and workshops. Writing courses will teach you the fundamentals of storytelling. Since the graphic novel’s story is written before being illustrated, these courses are important to your future work. Some classes focus on writing for graphic novels and comic books specifically.

Study graphic design and illustration. Whether you take a few drawing workshops or enroll in a college program, formal instruction will improve your drawing skills. Writers don't have to draw, but enrolling in these classes will expose you to good artists that can draw your graphic novel. Graphic design classes teach the basics of coloring, graphic design software, drawing anatomy and more. Some colleges, such as the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, offer graphic novel art classes.

Attend comic book and graphic novel conventions. Attend conventions to get a feel for what kind of graphic novels are popular and get information for beginning graphic novelists, such as how to sell your work. Many conferences have lectures and seminars with experienced graphic novelists, which gives you the chance to show your work to them and get advice on entering the industry.

Write and revise your work. It may take many drafts, but editing your writing and art will strengthen your graphic novel. You want to make it as polished as you can before readers see it.

Submit your work to a publisher. Publishers have different policies on the submitted materials they accept, so call ahead about their submission guidelines to find the best fit for your graphic novel.

Prepare to self-publish the graphic novel if you can't convince a commercial publisher to accept your work. When you are happy with your graphic novel, work with a printing shop to create the finished product. The print shop will guide you on technical specifications and other methods that will help the graphic novel look professional. The printer can also advise you on printing costs, how many copies to print and how to distribute your work to readers.

Tip

Talk to different printers so you can compare their services and costs.

About the Author

Joe Kelly has been writing since 2003, specializing in media, education, design and business issues. She has worked for magazines and other media. Kelly received a Master of Business Administration from St. Edward's University.