Sunday, October 9, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Dan Rivera Offers Tips on Editing Anthologies!

In this guest blog, Comics Experience alum and Creators Workshop member, Dan Rivera, discusses his new project, Don't Be Afraid, and offers tips for editors of anthology projects. Dan will be at Booth 2939 at New York Comic Con, in the Small Press Section, so make sure to stop by!

In October 2010, the members of Elevator Pitch Press (comprised of a group of Comics Experience alums from the first online Intro to Comic Book Writing class) were talking about what to do next after our first release: Tales from the Comics Experience.

We decided to do an anthology of zombie stories married with historical events, and that led to the three issues of Great Zombies in History (GZiH) that came out earlier this year.

We also wanted to have another anthology that was tied to a singular theme. Many names were bandied about, and we settled on the theme FEAR. However, our energies were completely invested in the GZiH books, so “FEAR” fell by the wayside. Time passed and some of the EPP members had other commitments and had to pull out.

Last March, I attended C2E2 in Chicago and spent a fair amount of time in the Artist Alley and Small Press areas. After looking at the various books that were being sold (especially after having seen some of the finished GZiH stories), I felt that we at Elevator Pitch Press could put something out that would be just as good as anything being sold at that con.

Emboldened by a newfound confidence, I emailed the group and offered to take the lead. This was the first time that I took charge of anything since my high school yearbook.

Thankfully, working with these guys has been a pleasure. The level of professionalism in this group would impress any editor in the industry. Everyone got their stories to me in time for the book to be ready for New York Comic Con.

The hardest aspect of getting this book together was deciding on a title. After seeing the cover by Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, The Boys) and Richard P. Clark, the one thing that came to mind was...Don’t Be Afraid.

While I am no expert on editing, I did take away some important lessons from this experience:
  • When editing an anthology for and with other writers, try not to be a dictator. You must respect that the other creators have invested their time (and in some cases, money) into their stories, so they have as much equity in this project as you do.
  • If there is an aspect to the creative process that you are not completely comfortable with, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Graphic design is not a strength of mine, so I was able to get logo/lettering/design master (and Creators Workshop member) ET Dollman to help me lay out the book and get it to the right printing specs.
  • When developing a set of deadlines, give yourself some wiggle room because more often than not, there will be some hiccups along the way. An artist can flake out, a writer might want to tweak a line of dialogue, or life can just get in the way.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. I can’t stress enough how important this is. In fact, I feel this is an area that I must improve on for future projects. If something is holding things up, let the other creators know. If you think something in a scene doesn't work, let them know. It gives the creators confidence in you, and will result in a better product overall.
  • Find a printer that you are comfortable with. Do not settle for a printer solely because of one person’s recommendation. Make the extra effort to compare prices and turn-around time. Find out if they will provide a proof. You will be surprised at the varying degrees of customer service and overall product quality.
If you are attending NYCC, check out Don’t Be Afraid at the Elevator Pitch Press Booth -- #2939 -- in the Small Press Section.

Dan Rivera is on Twitter as @danriveraprime and can be reached via email at His webcomic, Platinum Falls, will be live in 2012.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you'll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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