How to Get a Manga Published

By Michelle Bell

  • Overview

    Most aspiring manga artists would like to get their work published at some point. There is a misconception, however, that they need only work on one idea in one style and then find a publisher to buy their one story. Breaking into the industry is not nearly that easy. The comics world is competitive, and new artists who wish to succeed must be willing to work hard to promote themselves and their work. There is no surefire path to becoming a famous published artist no matter what type of comics style, manga or otherwise, one adopts. Some artists choose to freelance, creating and pitching individual ideas to comics companies or self-publishing online and in print, while others decide that they would like to work as in-house artists for one of the bigger companies. Whichever path you want to take, the following guidelines will show you one way to get started.
  • Polish Your Work

  • Step 1

    Make sure that your finished manga is formatted as professionally as possible. Adhere to your country's comics industry-standard paper sizes, equipment and art supplies for your final inking, coloring and lettering (see Resources below).
  • Step 2

    Clean up any mistakes or anomalies on the computer. Even if you have chosen to do most of your work traditionally by hand, you should still scan your manga in order to make digital and print copies.
  • Step 3

    Correct the colors, blacks, whites and grays for the best possible printing. Keep in mind that you want your work to look its best both online and in print.
  • Step 4

    Save your manga images in several places for safety. Keep large, good-quality digital copies of your manga that can be reworked for different printing and Web purposes.

  • Market Yourself

    • Step 1

      Build up a portfolio of your work. Choose your best pieces, not only from this manga project, but from other work in several different comics styles and formats. Keep digital and print versions.
    • Step 2

      Create a website. Put your portfolio, bio and other information you would like your potential employers, clients and customers to know on the site. If you plan on self-publishing your manga, set up a separate section or separate website for it.
    • Step 3

      Promote your website and yourself around the Internet. Participate in ad exchanges with other aspiring manga artists, start a blog, participate in manga-related communities, submit to online art contests and just get your name out there. Some great places to start are art communities like and, and social networking sites like Livejournal or MySpace.
    • Step 4

      Do other comics work. Join webcomic projects as a co-creator, submit other ideas to fanzines and work on new stories. Make sure that these projects all link back to your website, and include them in your Web portfolio.
    • Step 5

      Attend comics and manga conventions. If you can afford it, run a booth to promote your manga and your other work. If you are self-publishing, this is the best place to sell copies.
  • Learn From the Professionals

    • Step 1

      Make contacts with professionals in the regular comics industry. Some artists and writers may be willing to give advice over the Internet through their blogs and websites. Others may be tracked down at conventions, participating in panels. Do not underestimate the power of word-of-mouth in these circumstances.
    • Step 2

      Shop your portfolio around at the appropriate venues. Some comics conventions will have opportunities for you to meet with industry pros looking for the next promising artist, but more than likely you will need to apply to companies the old-fashioned way.
    • Step 3

      Send out queries and pitches for your manga idea if you are not self-publishing. Approach both the big companies and small independent companies that are advertising for new talent. Make sure to have more than one idea to pitch. Some of the more well-known comics companies that may interest you are DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Image, but do not discount smaller publishers like Alternative Comics, First Second, Last Gasp and even Tokyopop. Some book companies, like Pantheon and Del Rey, have also begun publishing graphic novels.
    • Step 4

      Submit to contests held by comics companies and magazines, such as Tokyopop's Annual Rising Star of Manga. Even if you do not win, you may make important contacts.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Portfolio of other comics work
    • Image editing program
    • Website domain
    • Tip: Many aspiring manga artists and webcomic artists like to use the program Manga Studio or Tokyopop Manga Creator instead of Photoshop.
    • Tip: Portfolios should contain many examples of what you can draw, not just what you like to draw. You want to give potential employers many options.
    • Tip: Get advice from professionals at all levels of the comics industry in your country. Inkers, letterers, editors and writers have plenty to say.
    • Tip: Self-publishers need to consider how they will be making money, whether the comic is published on the Web or in print, or both. Some common methods are ad revenue from the manga's website, a donation setup or regular old pay-per-issue.
    • Tip: Consider giving away free issues or previews of your manga to new customers, especially at the beginning. You may be able to make a deal with local comic shops, fanzines and other artists to get your material out there.
    • Warning:
    • When talking to industry professionals, especially in person, be aware of courtesy and appropriateness. They do not owe you their time and may be tired or busy. Use your best judgment.
    • Do not move to Japan just to create manga. Many aspiring manga artists think that they need to move to Japan to publish, but this is not true. It is hard enough getting published without adding an entirely new, unfamiliar set of cultural roadblocks into the mix. You are far more likely to be successful in your own country. If you dream about being published in Japan, you could very well have your work published at home and later picked up by a Japanese publisher.

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