Little Miss Shy

(This post is inspired by the person on tumblr who commented that doing all the stuff we talked about previously to get your work out there was difficult when you’re a person who is shy.  Thanks for your topic suggestion!)

We write a very aspirational blog.  What’s the best possible thing that you could be doing right now if you want to get a publisher to publish your comic?  We’ll tell you.  In great detail.

But we spend less time on ‘what’s the bare minimum that you have to do?’ (which is, as Tom Spurgeon usefully pointed out last week in response to our post, make excellent comics).

We’ve got a lot of thoughts about how you should be e-mailing publishers and putting your work online and going to conventions and sending mini-comics to publishers and approaching publishing employees you don’t even know at public events and befriending them.  But here’s a useful thing to know about all of that: it’s pretty intimidating, no matter how outgoing you are.

Honestly, going into any situation where the outcome can range from ‘we’re not interested in working with you; please never speak to us again’ to ‘here are several thousand dollars’ is going to be intimidating.  Add onto that the fact that your personal, creative projects are getting judged and you have a SUPER intimidating situation.  Honestly, if you’re going into a situation where you’re trying to get a book published and you’re not apprehensive, well, I envy your self-confidence.  I’d be shy and socially anxious in that sort of scenario.

All our aspirational thoughts about how you can be the MOST awesome at submitting projects and getting on our radar aside, here’s a secret: if you’re making comics and reading the First Second blog, you’re already doing extremely well at being a potential published author.

That probably sounds crazy.  We’ve talked about how we get multiple submissions every single day, and how we go do talks at art schools, and how many people send us mini-comics and art samples and we still don’t publish a lot of that work.  And that’s the truth.

But do you know what?  At least 90% of the people are sending us things that are completely out of our wheelhouse.  That 90% of people are sending us things that aren’t even graphic novels — business books!  how to code in C++!  poetry! etc.  I’m sure that they found us on a list of publishers somewhere, but what that means is that if you’re submitting to us a graphic novel, our response is something like, ‘someone is submitting this book to us on purpose — amazing!’

And if you send us an e-mail that has some clue that you know who we are as a publisher — if you name-check one of our other books, if you actually address the e-mail to one of the people who works here and not ‘Dear Editor/Publisher,’ if you say that you read our blog or follow us on twitter or tumblr — you’re doing better than the vast majority of people who submit books to us.  We really appreciate that.

If you’re reading this and you’re a shy person who’s dreading submitting a project to a publisher, that dread is probably just a sensible response to attempting to do something new and different that could be life-changing for you.  But if you do your research, make a great comic, and write a good submission letter, you’re going to be in the top 5% of submissions at any publisher.

And as for the shyness — it’s natural to be nervous at new and intimidating situations!  But if you aren’t so shy that you have difficulty talking to your friends or interacting with the internet, you probably don’t need to be too concerned.

So this is to say — if you’re aware enough of us as a publisher to comment on one of our posts on tumblr, don’t worry about your shyness.  You’re doing just fine.