Now our columnist Ryan Garcia has a first draft of his comic script it’s time to fine tune it, and that’s where you need an editor to tell it to you straight. In his guide to how to write a digital comic, Ryan explains all in The Garcia Method: Why editing
is the single most significant step you can take in perfecting your script on the journey to self publishing your comic book matters!
You probably have some friends who also read comics so you may ask them to give it a read. And even though they aren’t familiar with reading comic book scripts they get the hang of it and read through what you’ve written. And they send you their feedback which is most likely positive.
But here’s the thing: these are your friends. Of course the feedback will be positive. Otherwise you have some horrible friends. They may point out some small things to change, some minor complaints; but these are people who like you, people who will encourage your pursuits, people who will go to their graves without revealing that you actually liked the Daredevil movie. That’s a friend.
You no longer need friends. You need an editor. Someone who is genuinely interested in making your project the best it can possibly be and will be completely honest in their feedback without having the sword of friendship hanging over their head. Because you may have a fantastic comic book script on your hands. Or you may have an amazing concept that needs some tweaking. Or you may have a lot of work ahead of you.
There’s only one way to know the difference. Get an editor!
Luckily, you have three choices in obtaining an editor:
Yourself. Sure, you can be your own editor and plenty of self-published comics have gone without an external editor. While this route will certainly be the cheapest it will also bring the least additional experience to the project. Unless you have multiple personalities and one of them is Mark Millar. At the very least you have to give yourself time. Once you’ve finished your script you need to put it away for at least a few days before you can read it with a truly critical eye. Even then you might be blinded to some glaring mistakes. But this is still a completely viable and inexpensive choice.
Script Editor. This is not an industry term so don’t go posting “I need a script editor!” Instead, know that you can hire an editor to just edit your script (versus a project editor described below). Having a fresh pair of eyes look at your script and give you honest feedback is the worth its weight in Adamantium. A script editor will be able to point out flaws in the script, plot holes, places where the tone seems to shift, and what needs to be reworked. Depending on the editor’s experience they’ll also be able to suggest things you can do better in the script to work with your creative team.
Project Editor. Again, not an industry term but know that many editors can do much, much more than just polish your script. They can essentially be your project manager for your comic book: recommend creative team members, connect you with potential collaborators, establish a budget, help negotiate payments and terms, keep everyone on schedule. Basically everything you don’t know how to do. If a script editor is worth their weight in Adamantium then a project editor is Captain America’s shield, wrapped in bacon, with an advance screener of Star Wars Episode VII on top.
Finding an editor can be a bit challenging if you choose someone besides yourself. Although there are plenty of places that have listings for artists, colorists, letterers, and even designers, finding a freelance editor can be difficult. Fortunately, there’s this thing called the Internet. You can certainly post on some comic forums that you’re looking for an editor but you can also try reaching out directly to some editors. Check out a few books similar in tone to your script and look up the editors. Comixology lets you preview the first few pages of comics so you may find editor names there. Contact the editors with a short email saying you’re looking to hire an editor and asking if they do freelance editing or if they can recommend some names to you.
Once you have some potential candidates you’ll need to select the right one for you. Here are a few things to think about when selecting your editor:
Communication Style. Do you prefer phone or Skype video calls or just email? Does that preference line up with the editor’s preferred style?
Experience. Does the editor bring the right level of experience to your project? More experience for the editor may translate to more cost for you, but less experience may be cheaper and less helpful in the end. Striking that right balance is important.
Workload. A working editor obviously has the necessary skills but they may also have higher-paying work than your project. Figuring out your timeline and priorities with the editor may be important as well.
Friendly. You don’t need to be friends with your editor but you’ll need to be friendly. You will go through highs and lows with them–they will challenge your ideas in an effort to make things better. If, for whatever reason, the editor rubs you the wrong way in emails or on the phone then you should consider if that will impact the project.
Budget. Or, can you afford the editor? This is part of the bigger picture, your overall project budget, and we’ll talk about that next week. But it’s absolutely part of the equation and something to consider.
Ryan Garcia (@SoMeDellLawyer) is a social media lawyer and professor. As a lawyer he is specially trained to use semi-colons when writing. Please do not attempt to use semi-colons without supervision.