writing graphic novels

Guest Editor Danny Fingeroth re: Submitting Graphic Novels


Dear Editor…

My husband has put together a middle grade hybrid graphic novel that I’ve helped him to edit. He’s gotten some positive responses from agents but is always told they don’t think they can place the book. Is there something more challenging about selling this type of novel even though they seem to be very popular right now?


Danny FingerothDanny Fingeroth was a longtime writer and editor for Marvel Comics, best known for his work on Spider-Man. He has taught comics and graphic novel writing at NYU, The New School, and The MiMaster Art Institute in Milan. A recognized expert on comics and graphic novels, he has lectured about them at venues including The Smithsonian Institution and The Metropolitan Museum. Fingeroth created and edited Write Now magazine, the only how-to publication dedicated to comics writing and writers. He is co-author (with artist Mike Manley) of How to Create Comics from Script to Print, as well as its companion DVD. He’s also written the books Superman on the Couch, Disguised as Clark Kent, and The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels, and co-edited (with Roy Thomas) The Stan Lee Universe, about the life and career of the co-creator of Iron Man and The X-Men. Fingeroth serves on the board of directors of the Institute for Comics Studies. His online writing course “Graphic Novel Writing,” which teaches the entire graphic novel writing process, from producing a proposal to handling Hollywood, starts May 23 at mediabistro.com.

Dear Heather…

The graphic novel market is an especially tricky one. Because of the time and specialized skills required to create a graphic novel, advances are often fairly high to enable the writer and artist to live while they’re working on it. Plus, outside the work-for-hire world of Marvel and DC superheroes, there is really no way to accurately predict what a GN by someone relatively unknown in the field will sell. Is your husband the artist as well as the writer? Either way, having pages of the story drawn and lettered to include with the proposal is generally a good idea, although there is the chance that some editors may not like the look of the art, and so may reject the story even if they like the writing, and even if you make it clear you would be willing to work with another artist. In addition, the “hybrid” part of the description may be confusing or off-putting to some editors. Many graphic novelists are turning to Kickstarter and other crowd-funding venues to finance their work. That may be an option worth exploring for you.

Danny Fingeroth