Submission Guidelines

Review Requests (Revised Oct 2020)

The core focus of has always been to help promote the underdog: the writers, artists and comic creators out there who have decided to go it alone, whether by choice or necessity.

However, as of 2020 I’ve been forced to rethink how I blog here on Shelf Abuse, and will no longer be writing longer reviews for comics. You can read why here. To summarize, after writing long-form indie comic reviews for 13 years it’s become apparent that nobody reads them, engages with them or shares them.

However, I’ll be writing a regular comics-centric column, and continuing the Indie Penance mini-reviews piece. Were I to write one Indie Penance post a week, each comprising 3 x 200 word reviews, it would probably cover 10% of the submissions I reviews. Sadly, is all I’m currently able to do.

To make sure that I don’t waste anyone’s time or mislead anyone, I’ve covered a few additional points below:

Submitting to Indie Penance

Henceforth, I’ll only be reviewing via my Indie Penance format. That’s a trio of concise and personal 200 word opinions, published on a regular basis when possible, and rarely any longer than that. Please bear this in mind when asking to submit your work.

Please also be aware that:

  • Due to an irregular work schedule I’m no longer able to commit to reviews or deadlines. Shelf Abuse costs me more money to run than it will ever make, and if I’m busy with paid projects there won’t be any more blog posts until said projects are done.
  • Want to send a physical copy? See below.
  • I cannot commit to reviewing digital copies of your work, so please do not email me to ask me if I’d be interested. Just send a link to a PDF, a Dropbox link, a download code, or something that allows me to take a look. I give you my word as a fellow writer and artist that neither myself nor anyone else affiliated with the site will share your work without your permission. Also, I do tend to buy the physical copies of books I really enjoy.
  • I’ll always try to feature as many indie titles as I can, time and creative work permitting. If I’m not able to reply to your email, then please always feel free to try again or get in touch with your next issue/release/project.
  • Discreet watermarks are fine, but I won’t consider any PDFs with watermarks or similar effects that obscure the artwork and/or detract from the reading experience.
  • Crowdfunding: see below.

Physical Copies

Physical copies of books will always be given preference over digital, and possibly slightly longer reviews (250-300 words) depending on the length and price of the book.

This is mainly because I a) love the feel and smell of physical books, and b) spend so much time working in front of a screen that the last thing I want to do in the evening is read comics from a tablet.

Please get in touch with an email telling me about your work (press releases, previews or promotional images are always good) and make it clear that you’re looking to send a physical copy, and if I’m interested I’ll provide my address.


I’m happy to share Kickstarters et al on social media. I might even back them, who knows. I often do, much to my girlfriend’s frustration. But I’m done writing glorified press releases for anyone’s latest self-published effort. Life is too short, and I’ve got my own books to finish, publish and promote.

Any more questions? Always feel free to contact here

Guest blogging

Guest bloggers and contributors are always welcome, so feel free to submit an article promoting your work to the site. Click here for details.


I’d truly love to speak to any of you crazy creators out there, be you at the top of the industry or a future talent struggling to promote your first book. However, interviews are incredibly time-consuming, especially those darned audio transcriptions, so as much as it pains me I usually have to pass.

But hey, please feel free to get in touch and change my mind with your amazing pitch, and I may well have one of my trademark changes of heart.

Free Advertising

I want to help promote new comics and media projects, so if you’re looking to get a small additional push for your self-published or independently financed work, you are welcome to advertise your project on Shelf Abuse for free. View the ad guidelines here.

Contact here

Submission Tips for Self-publishers

Currently, I’m receiving more review requests for self-published comics than I could ever respond to. A good number of these read along the lines of:

Hey there Mr Shelf,

I have just done a new comic. It got zombies in it. Let me know if you interested in reviewing it.


As someone who has more ambitions than they have time, I have no choice but to pass on such proposals. Life is simply too short.

When you submit your effort please ensure that the email contains several of the following, so that I may get a good impression of the book:

  • An attached sample of the comic, and/or a link to several sample pages
  • A cover image or promotional image that could be used in a news post/review
  • A brief synopsis
  • A little context: any useful information about yourself, and/or links to any homepages of the talent involved
  • What you have in mind (review/news story/interview

Please also be aware that the site does not review pornographic or torture-porn horror comics. But if your work is a little kinky (as in a sex-oriented comedy) or a reasonably graphic horror, do still feel free to submit it.

A few more suggestions for better submission etiquette:

  • Don’t attempt to pressure me into buying your book unless you’ve bought one of mine.
  • My time or my money – feel free to ask for one, but not both.
  • No DM on social media, unless it’s not review or crowdfunding related (I’m always looking to make creative friends). Email me please!
  • Please, don’t feel the need to proceed a submission by telling me that my blog is your favourite website, or that you’re a long-term reader (unless, of course, either of those genuinely happen to be true). If I had as many visitors as I had comic creators telling me how ardently they follow my site, I’d be a very rich happy man.

Thanks in advance!

Storytelling, comic books and self-publishing