How to get your comic over the finish line with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Christie Shinn, Barbra Dillon, Garrett Gunn, and Hannah McGill

May 25, 2017

Have you ever started a comic and not finished it? Are you in the middle of production on a comic and getting lost in the weeks? Do you lie awake at night trying to figure out how your book will ever get done?

That’s the topic of this week’s live episode, recorded at Silicon Valley Comicon. It’s for everybody that’s been in the weeds producing a comic and doesn’t know where to go next. I put together an amazing panel of guest who’ve all successfully produced comic books, from creators to publishers to artists and everything in between. Here’s the description, straight from the panel guide.

TITLE: How to get a comic over the finish line

DESCRIPTION: Does making a comic seem insurmountable? Are you stuck in the middle of production? Then this is the panel for you. Join a group of veteran indie comic creators as they discuss what it takes to get a project over the finish line and into the hands of readers.

MODERATOR: Russell Nohelty (Wannabe Press)
SPEAKER 1: Hannah McGill (RAWR! Dinosaur friends; www.hannahmcgill.com; @hannahcomb on Twitter)
SPEAKER 2: Garrett Gunn (Franklin and Ghost, Go West; www.geekerymagazine.com; @somewriterguy on Twitter)
SPEAKER 3: Barbra Dillon (Fanbase Press; www.fanbasepress.com; @barbrajdillon on Twitter)
SPEAKER 4: Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Boston Metaphysical Society; www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com; @mhollyrosing on Twitter)
SPEAKER 5: Christie Shinn (Personal Monsters; www.horatotastudios.com; @horatorastudios on Twitter)

You’ll recognize some of these guests from other episodes of my show over the years. You can listen to Barbra Dillon on her own spotlight panel here, and she talked about building an audience with Madeleine Holly-Rosing here.

You can also catch Madeleine on previous panels talking about Kickstarter here and how to sell at conventions here, along with her spotlight episode here.

Also, catch Christie on her own spotlight panel here.

If you enjoy this episode, please rate, review and subscribe to our show by clicking here.

And if you are an author or creator looking to make more money selling books then join our free Facebook group by clicking here.

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Plotting the ZeneSCOPE of your career with Author and Creator Pat Shand

May 18, 2017

I won’t lie. Pat Shand is a guy I’m a little jealous of because he seamlessly weaves comics and novels into one awesome career. He’s raised $20,000+ on Kickstarter and had exclusive contracts with comic publishers. He’s written Marvel books, including Guardians of The Galaxy, and he’s just killing it.

I’m not even gonna attempt to list out the rest of his bibliography here, but you can find it by clicking here.

I don’t know how Pat and I met, especially because we live on different coasts, but I am super excited that we did because he has been an awesome and supportive friend along with making great projects. I must track down Vampire Emmy and the Garbage Girl somewhere. It’s essential to by existence.

Pat came on the show to talk about building a living as a writer and to pimp his new book Clonsters, which is on Kickstarter now. You should check it out. The art is incredible.

Listen to this episode if you want to know:

  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to your fans
  • How to bridge the writing gap between comics and novels
  • Why networking is so important to writing success
  • How Pat writes 3+ novels in a year
  • Why you shouldn’t be pissed at creators if their covers suck
  • How to book jobs (both the sneaky way and the best way)
  • Why you should always buy from creators you meet
  • How to test an artist properly

If you like this episode, tell Pat by finding him @patshand on twitter. Talk to him positively about stuff you love if you want to win his heart.

If you are digging this show, please head on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate, and review it today by clicking here.

If you are an author or creator yourself, don’t forget to join our FREE Facebook community, Authors and Creators Making Money Selling Books, by clicking here.

 

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Becoming a better editor with Beth Scorzoto

May 11, 2017

This week’s show features Beth Scorzato, freelance editor, and maker of cool things. I’ve known Beth since she moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, and she was on my list of people I’ve wanted on the show since the beginning. Here’s her bio, straight from www.bethscorzato.com.

I'm originally from Connecticut, where I grew up in theater, surrounded by the workings of my mother's costume shop, a local business which started in our basement. I thought I'd be in theater forever, but I fell in love with comics during college at SUNY Purchase, where I earned my BA in Journalism. I continued to study publishing at Pace University, where I earned my MS in Book and Magazine Publishing.

Since then I've worked at Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Papercutz Graphic Novels, and Lion Forge Comics, as well as boutique YA literary development house Paper Lantern Lit. Currently, in addition to my freelance work, I am a partner and Editor-in-Chief at GeekChic Comics.

I moved to Los Angeles from NYC in 2014 and yes, the weather is great. And, after all that, I still work in theater on the side anyway.

Best is one of the few editors I know who doesn’t have a burning desire to write as well. She really loves editing and it comes through in everything she talks about in this episode. Listen to this episode if you want to know:

  • What makes a good freelancer
  • The biggest problems Beth finds when hiring freelance writers and artists
  • Why knowing the whole supply chain is critical to your success
  • Why prior success as a creator is important to whether a company will hire you
  • What you should look for when hiring an editor
  • Why editors are so important

If you liked this episode, find Beth on Twitter or Instagram @girladactyl, or on her site www.bethscorzato.com.

If you enjoy this show, please like, rate, and review it on iTunes by clicking here. AND if you are an author or creator who wants to make more money selling books, join our FREE Facebook community by clicking here.

 

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How to Sell at Conventions with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Gwendolyn Dreyer, Daniel De Sosa, and Mike Wellman

May 4, 2017

This week we have another live show from Long Beach Comic Expo. This is our last live panel from that show, and it was an awesome one, especially if you ever wanted to learn how to sell at conventions. Our awesome panelists are some of the best I know at selling at conventions, and I brought them all together to show how their styles are different, and how you can be successful as an artist, writer, or even editor.

Here’s a description of the panel, right from the program guide:

It’s incredibly expensive to exhibit at a show. Not only are there table fees involved, but you have to pay for products and marketing materials among many other expenses. Most creators go into their first exhibiting experience blind and end up losing a lot of money. Don’t let that happen to you. Join moderator Russell Nohelty (Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter) as he talks with a panel of experienced con veterans including Mike Wellman (Guns A’ Blazin’), Gwendolyn Dreyer (Monster Elementary), Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Boston Metaphysical Society) and Daniel De Sosa (Purrvana) as they give you their best tips to make money at conventions and make sure you are profitable from day one.

Most of these awesome creators have been on the show before. You can catch Gwendolyn Dreyer’s of my show here, and listen to her talking about building an audience from scratch here. You can listen to Madeleine talking about Kickstarter here, building an audience here, and on her own spotlight episode here. You can hear Mike and I debate Kickstarter vs. self-funding comics here and here.  The only person who hasn’t been on the show at all is Daniel, but I can assure you he is a con selling rock star.

If you like this episode please make sure to find the panelists online to thank them. They can be found below.

Gwendolyn Dreyer (@monsterelem on Twitter, www.monsterelementary.com)

Madeleine Holly-Rosing (@mhollyrosing on Twitter, bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com)

Daniel De Sosa (@bardicfury on Twitter, www.desosa.tumblr.com)

Mike Wellman (@macafro on Twitter, www.thecomicbug.com)

If you like this episode, then make sure to rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes by clicking here.

And if you are an author or creator who wants to make more money selling books, then join our new, awesome, promo-free Facebook group by clicking here.

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The Politics of Partnership with Mark Waid, Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Dean Haspiel

April 27, 2017

This week is another live episode, this time from the Comic Creator Conference at Long Beach Comic Expo. I know it feels like I’ve done a ton of live shows recently, but I have such a backlog of amazing panels that I want to get them out while they’re still relevant. Usually I like to toggle through interviews, live shows, and lessons, but with the anthology interview series blocking out seven weeks, I stockpiled a bunch of these episodes, and there are STILL MORE!

I know I still owe you an episode on the Kickstarter, but I want to make sure to collect all my thoughts, and that I’m feeling well, before I dig in to unpack that massive undertaking.

This panel is all about the Politics of Partnership. I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate one of the coolest, most epic panels of my entire career at this show, including a funny story that shows how a career can come full circle in just a few years. I won’t spoil it, but it involves being fired from Boom! While Mark Waid was the CCO.

This amazing panel is filled with fantastic guests. Here’s the panel description, straight from the C3 website.

Working with a creative team on an independent title or through a major publisher can come with questions of ownership and percentages. Mark Waid, Dean Haspiel and Amy Reeder discuss how to navigate these waters and negotiate the best deal for all parties involved.

We were also joined on the panel by Brandon Montclare, Amy’s partner on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and Rocket Girl. Between all the panelists involved, we had dozens of years of experience in both good and bad partnerships. They dropped knowledge bombs galore.

Hope you enjoy it. If you did, let the panelists know on Twitter or Facebook. If you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review by clicking here.

And if you are an author or creator, looking to make more money selling books, I highly recommend our new Facebook group, Authors and Creators Making Money Selling Books. It’s no promo, just awesome content. Join now by clicking here.  

 

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How to Build an Art Portfolio and Pitch to Editors with Pia Guerra, Tom Hutchison, Greg Smith, Laura Neubert, and Margot Atwell

April 20, 2017

This week on the show we have another live episode. This time, it’s an amazing panel I moderated and put together from Emerald City Comicon. The fact that me, as a first-time vendor at the show, was able to book a panel at Emerald City Comicon was pretty amazing, and it was almost entirely due to the amazing panel we were able to put together to talk about building an art portfolio and pitching to an editor, which is the topic of this panel.

This is the description, straight from the Emerald City ComiCon site: Before you can book jobs with publishers, you need to know how to build a portfolio. Once you've built a portfolio, you need to know how to pitch an editor or publisher. This panel combines both steps into one information-packed hour. Learn how to build and pitch your portfolio from pros who have worked in the industry for years.

I went out to find a diverse group of panelist who could hit this from all angles. I brought in writers, artists, publishers, editors, and art directors. Here’s a list of the panelists.

Pia Guerra (artist, Y: The Last Man; @piaguerra on twitter)

Tom Hutchison (publisher, Big Dog Ink; @tjhbigdogink)

Laura Neubert (artist, Artful from Action Labs; @missrosengeist on Twitter)

Greg Smith (co-writer/co-creator, Junior Braves of The Apocalypse from Oni Press; @thatamazingtwit on Instagram)

Margot Atwell (publishing director, Kickstarter; @margotatwell on Twitter)

It was an amazing and diverse panel of experts in every field of hiring and creating art. Two of our guests are returning to the show for this panel. Margot Atwell talked about Kickstarter here and Tom Hutchison discussed building a publishing business here.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, make sure to find the panelists online and say thanks! If you like this show, please write, review, and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here.

And if you are a writer or creator looking to sell more books, then join our free Facebook Community, Writers and Creators Making Money Selling Books, by clicking here.

 

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Incubating Bestselling Authors with Author Incubator founder Angela Lauria

April 13, 2017

Today on the show I have Angela Lauria, founder of the Author Incubator, which has successfully launched over 270 bestselling authors into the stratosphere.  I had to have her on to talk about her success and how she can create bestselling authors on autopilot. Here’s a little about the Author Incubator, from their website www.theauthorincubator.com:

People will tell you writing a book is a struggle, but with my system, it’s simple. There’s you and your book which is already written inside you. It already exists. We simply have to clear away the stuff between you and it.

The Author Incubator provides a structure and space so coaches and other healing professionals can get their message out to the world by writing a book that makes a difference with clarity and ease.

I’ve worked with hundreds of authors in transformation and what we’ve found is there are really only 10 pieces of the puzzle to writing a book that actually changes people’s lives. See writing a book SEEMS very complicated and that can make it overwhelming, but if you can master these 10 steps, you will have a book that makes a difference in many people’s lives. So would you like to know the steps?

That almost makes writing a bestselling book seem attainable to everybody, right? I actually found Angela from a Facebook ad, another nut I’ve been unable to crack successfully, and decided to reach out and see if she would be on the show. I expected nothing, but she replied the same day.

What amazed me about her advice for Amazon book launches was how similar it is to my advice about launching a Kickstarter. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since a book launch is a book launch is a book launch.

If you enjoy this one with Angela, make sure to like her page on Facebook by clicking here, and follow her on Twitter by clicking here.

And I know you are jonesing for some Kickstarter knowledge and I promise I’m going to do a post about it eventually, but in the meantime, you can head on over to my Kickstarter Toolkit by clicking here and seeing everything I’ve ever said about the topic.

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Live @ LBCE: How to Develop a Profitable Pitch

April 6, 2017

If you want to get somebody interested in buying your product, whether it’s a book, a print, or even your services, you need to start with a dynamite pitch.

In my experience, you don’t have much time to catch somebody’s interest. Luckily, I’ve perfected the steps to a good pitch so you can gain somebody’s attention in a minimal amount of time. Once they’re hooked, you can spend as much time as you want with them. The trick is getting them interested in the first place.

 I’ve tailored this formula through dozens of shows, but it can be used on social media, in meetings, or basically anywhere you need to get somebody’s attention.

A pitch needs to be simple and concise with specific appeals for your intended audience. There are tons of steps that go into a great pitch. Don’t worry if you get frustrated with it. Pitching, like any art form, gets better with practice.

Step 1: The question

The first step in any good pitch is the question. This is where you get your potential customer to engage with you by answering a simple yes or no question.

My first question to passersby at a convention is usually “Do you want to see a cool comic?” However, as the variety of titles at Wannabe Press grows, my pitches vary depending on what I am trying to push on any given day. If I want to sell more of my murder mystery novel, the question is “Do you like murder?” If I am trying to sell kids’ books, the question is “Wanna see something that will put your kid to sleep?”

The people who stopped and replied “yes” were immediately self-identifying that they were interested in what I was pitching. I knew they were in my target market because they said “yes.”

One of the most important concept in sales is the idea that many small yeses lead to one big yes—the big yes being a sale. If you can get people to say “yes” over and over again, they are confirming their interest in your product, and you have positioned yourself well to win their business.

If you are selling yourself and not your product, your question might be, “Are you sick of freelancers that bail?” or “Are you having trouble making people notice your brand?” If you are selling prints, you might ask, “Are you looking for a new accent piece for your bedroom?” or “Are your walls annoyingly bare?”

You won’t know exactly what works until you get out into the world and test several possibilities, but the idea is to get somebody to say “yes” to you right off the bat with a simple, innocuous question.

Step 2: The option

Once your potential customer is engaged with your pitch, you need to give them a simple two-choice option to move the conversation along to the next step. This option is another way to make your potential customer self-identify their preferences. When there are two comic books on my table, I ask “Do you like psychological mind screws or girls that kick butt?”

By giving them the choice, I’ve forced them to buy into their preference. Psychologically, this puts people in a more receptive mood to buy. By choosing their favorite, they agree they are interested in what I am selling. Now, all I have to do is make my case and hope they bite.

The beauty of this option is that I know every possible outcome and can plan my pitch accordingly. You know what your pitch will be if they say option one, and you know your pitch if they say option two. Even if they don’t pick either option, you know your next step because you’ve limited their potential responses.  For instance, if they say “both,” or if they pause for more than a second, I always pitch my best seller.

Some people prefer to ask their customers open-ended questions, but that is a dangerous game. If you ask a question like “What are you shopping for today?” or “What do you like?” you are giving the power to the buyer. They could say anything. For all you know, they might say, “I’m here because goats are cool.” By using the two-choice option, you get all the advantages of engagement with none of the risk posed by open-ended questions.

By narrowing down your potential customer’s options, you can nail your pitch every time. With pitching, even a few seconds’ delay can be the difference between a sale and the customer walking away in disgust.

Step 3: The pitch

Did you notice there are two steps before we even get to the pitch? This is called “priming the customer,” and it allows for you to get a couple of yeses before you even pitch the product. It also forces the customer to self-identify as a member of your ideal audience—twice. This leads to a more engaged listener and higher overall sales.

Your pitch is a simple one-sentence summary of your project’s biggest hook. For example, my pitch for Katrina Hates Dead Shit is: a woman gets sick of living during the Apocalypse so she sets out to Hell to Kill the Devil.

It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Most importantly, it creates an emotional connection with my ideal customer. The perfect customer of that book will hear my pitch and have a visceral reaction to it.

That’s the most important part of your pitch. It’s not about what your product does. It about creating an emotional connection to your customer. People make purchases based on emotion, so you need to make an emotional connection to the buyer. The good news is they’ve already self-identified that they want to hear your pitch. Now, all you must to do is nail the emotional hook.

Emotional connection is a powerful thing, and it’s the most powerful buying trigger you have to help boost your sales. When somebody doesn’t know you, they must be able to connect with your product emotionally in order for you to make a sale. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have this down perfectly at first. Discovering the emotional resonance of your product is difficult. You should write out ten to twenty potential pitches and then start delivering them to people to find the one with the best emotional connection. Most likely, you will need to combine the best parts of several pitches for the best effect.

Before a product ever even launches, I spend hundreds of hours developing the exact wording of its pitch. I show people our in-progress work, tell them as much as I can about it, and watch how they react, noting which parts of my description light them up. I mold that all into the perfect pitch. By the time the product launches, I know the exact emotional beats necessary to maximize sales.

Step 4: The flavor

Once you finish your pitch, let it settle in for a moment with your potential customer. Let them look at the product and turn it over a couple times. Once they’ve looked at it for a few seconds, you should start adding on some flavor elements to spice up your pitch. This is when you start peppering in some unique selling points and your value proposition for whatever you are selling.

These flavor elements are things they can’t find easily by looking at your product, like where it was made, why you made it, or who worked on it with you. Every product is different, and you need to find the right “spice” to resonate with a product’s ideal audience.

For my graphic novel, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter, people respond when I tell them about our influences for making the book, that we used a single artist for everything, and that it’s a complete story. With Katrina Hates the Dead, I know they respond when I talk about the artist going on to work on a Star Wars story and that we have additional process images in the back showing how we made the book. Each of these bits of flavor perk up the reader and strengthen their desire to buy the product.

Step 5: The acceptance

Before you ask for the sale, you want to get them to agree once again that the product is cool. This can be as simple as “Pretty cool, right?” You are priming them one more time before asking them to buy. They’ve agreed this is a product they want—three times—and now it’s time to ask for the sale.

Step 6: The ask

Ask for the business by stating the price of your services and giving them another optional close. For instance, you could say, “This book is twenty dollars or two for thirty,” or “Will that be cash or charge?” This final optional close once again primes the customer that they are going to buy. Instead of the option being yes or no, it’s, “How do I want to pay?”

Don’t be too pushy here. You’ll see their reaction when you state the price. Most people will back off, some will buy, and some will be on the fence. For the people who back off, exchange cards and add them to your mailing list. For the people who buy, have them pay and add them to your mailing list. For the people on the fence, move on to step seven.

Step 7: Objection handling

Most people aren’t going to buy your project. Some will flat out say no, but others will sit on the fence waiting for you to convince them to buy. They want your product but you haven’t given them a strong enough reason to give you their hard-earned money. So, you have to give them a good reason to buy.

With these people, you want to give them another question, like “What’s stopping you from buying this right now?” However, a better question would be, “I know you want this, but you’re trying to save your money to see if there is something better, right?”

They will almost always agree with this, and then you can make them a special offer, something like, “What if I gave you a money-back guarantee? If you find something better at this con, come back and I will give you your money back.” I’ve been making this offer for years, and nobody has ever come back to get their money back.

Maybe they will have a great reason, like “I’m not getting paid for two weeks.” Maybe they have a crappy reason you can easily overcome and make them a customer. Perhaps the pricing is too high, and in that case you can lower the price slightly, or maybe they really want multiple pieces, in which case you can offer them bundle pricing.

If you can overcome these objections in one round of objection handling, then you should have a customer on your hand. If they still have objections, try to flush them out with one more round before giving up.

You want to do at most two rounds of this objection handling. If you can’t make a sale by then, exchange cards, add them to your mailing list, and make them a future prospect. You can keep going for as long as you want with objections, but I’ve found if you can’t convince them with two chances, then they most likely won’t buy, at least not until later.

In practice, this entire pitch, from meeting a customer through objection handling, takes no more than a couple of minutes, max. It’s the whittling down everything you want to say into a couple sentences that takes forever. The actual pitch should be no more than two minutes.

The first time you do it, it won’t take two minutes. It will take forever, and you’ll get everything wrong. You’ll sound terrible. You’ll say things in the wrong order. You’ll say things you didn’t mean to say. You’ll ramble on forever. You’ll be…just awful.

That’s okay.

It’s unnatural to talk about your project. Nobody likes to do it. Since you don’t want to do it, either, you’ll stop after two or three attempts. Then, you’ll hang your head in shame and never want to do it again.

Don’t give up.

That’s the key to this. You can’t stop. You have to keep going. Over time you will get better. The more you practice your “pitching muscle,” the better you’ll get and the more natural you will become. The key to a pitch is that it can’t sound like a pitch. It has to sound natural, and it can’t sound natural until you’ve done it a thousand times. You can’t do it a thousand times if you stop after the first attempt.

You’re supposed to suck at this at first. Sucking at something, as Jake the Dog from Adventure Time says, is the first step to being kind of good at something. If you want to be kind of good at pitching, you have to do the work. There are no shortcuts in coming up with and practicing a compelling pitch. The only secret is to do it a whole bunch of times.

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Get schooled on anthologies with Monster Elementary writer Nicholas Doan and editor Gwendolyn Dreyer

March 30, 2017

Nicholas Doan and Gwendolyn Dreyer are two of my favorite people in the comics community. They are incredible at giving of their time and knowledge, along with making dope ass books. 

I brought them on the show to talk about anthology in conjunction with the launch of my new anthology Monsters and Other Scary Shit. Click here to check it out. For just $40 you get a hardcover of the book, digital print, and pdf, including shipping in the USA!

Nick and Gwen put together the amazing Monster Elementary anthology. Published by Spacegoat Productions, Monster Elementary tells the stories of five monsters who are forced to attend a normal human elementary school, with hilarious consequences. Here is the premise, pulled straight from www.monsterelementary.com: 

Monster Elementary is a fun, witty, comedy/adventure comic for children of all ages featuring five monster children based on classic monster movie archetypes. These five monster kids are forced to attend a human public school after their monsters-only private school is raided by the FBI. To their surprise, they're not allowed to eat any of the other students. The monsters’ adventures and experiences hiding their identities and growing up are the focal point of the book.

The book is amazing, and they have been in the trenches for a long time, attending cons, and slinging books. It was great to talk with them about Kickstarter, the state of indie comics, and anthologies. You are going to get a ton of value out of this massive episodes. I highly recommend you listen. However, if you just want the cliff notes, here is their list of the top five things you must know before starting an anthology.

1.) Make sure you have a variety of art styles. What's the point of doing an anthology if it all looks the same?

2.) Try to have all your stories end in even page numbers. There may be circumstances where that is less than ideal, but it will make the layout stage go SO much faster.

3.) Make sure to balance the desire for diversity in stories with the need to stay on theme. Always be asking yourself, "Why does this story need to be in THIS book?"

4.) Make sure your cover, and front and back matter have a strong sense of design reflecting the stories and theme of the book. It can be difficult to find a unifying design, but it's necessary to accurately convey to your potential reader what's inside.

5.) Make sure you finish big. Make sure the last story in your book is on theme, impactful, and is the lasting memory you want your reader to have at the end stick with them when they reflect on your book.

If you dug this episode, make sure to head on over to www.monsterelementary.com and let Gwen and Nick know, or find them on twitter @monsterelem. Tell them they need an Instagram, too!

Don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter for my book, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, live on Kickstarter now. Nick has a 7-page story inside with awesome artist Daniele Serra! Back it today by clicking here.

It’s just $40 for a hardcover book, digital print of the cover, and pdf, including shipping! That’s 224 pages of monster goodness. Click here to back today!  

Also, head on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate and review today. Just click here and subscribe today!

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How to build an award-winning anthology with Eisner-winning Popgun editor D.J. Kirkbride

March 23, 2017

D.J. Kirkbride is one of the people who I looked up to when I started doing cons. He had an Eisner, a ton of creator friends, and an awesome reputation. Over the years, he’s kept increasing his stable of books from Popgun at Image, to Amelia Cole at IDW, to The Biggest Bang at Dark Horse, to his new book The Once and Future Queen from Dark Horse, which you can find in stores now.

Honestly, I’m really impressed he gets any work with Dark Horse, since they put out so few titles, but I’m always impressed with people who can keep getting books published again and again with big time publishers. I guess it’s a little flaw in my personality where I look longingly at writers who were able to get a publishing deal with a big indie company.

On top of having a book that ran for 30 issues in Amelia Cole, D.J. is one of my favorite people in comics because he’s genuinely nice and helpful all the time. I asked him to come onto the show to talk about his work, but mostly to jam about anthologies. I recently read Popgun Volume 3, the volume that won him an Eisner, and I have to say it was one of the coolest, most beautiful anthology I’ve ever seen. It had no theme at all, just back-to-back awesome stories; 450 pages of them.

Having reached the pinnacle of prestige anthology making, I wanted to have D.J. on to talk about his biggest takeaways from making anthologies. We talked for over an hour about his work, but he was nice enough to send me his bullet points in case you don’t want to listen to the whole episode. Here they are.

  1. Organization is key. Something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet can save your ass. There's a lot to keep track of when dealing with a large number of creators on an anthology.
  2. Bigger isn't necessarily better. With POPGUN, each book got bigger. I thought keeping the price point the same while upping the page count would add incentive for readers, but that didn't pan out. We got to include more great comics, but it wasn't financially responsible.
  3. Themes can be good. While I loved and love the "anything goes" mixtape feel of POPGUN, we might've had an easier time finding readers if we'd had a loose theme for each volume. I'm not sure, though, at least not for POPGUN. The variety was king, but overall, for anthologies, a theme can be good.
  4. A great cover speaks volumes. Mike Allred, Paul Pope, Tara McPherson, Ben Templesmith-- whoa buddy, yeah, we were honored and lucky to have them on our POPGUN covers. A great artist with a cool visual coupled with excellent design, which we had on our covers from Fonografiks, can really help you sell all the awesome comics inside.
  5. You have to LOVE it. Careers aren't often made editing most anthologies, nor is any money. You need to enjoy getting cool work out there to curious and adventurous readers.

There are some themes emerging from all of these interviews, and I can’t wait to do the wrap-up show of the Kickstarter to discuss my biggest takeaways. If you liked this episode, head on over to Twitter and let @djkirkbride know how much you enjoyed it.

If you love anthologies, especially ones with monsters, head over and check out our anthology live on Kickstarter now @ www.monsteranthologycomic.com.

And don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes by clicking here. It helps more than you know.  

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5 pitfalls to avoid when making an anthology with Devastator Press publisher Amanda Meadows

March 16, 2017

This week on the show we welcome back Amanda Meadows to Jam out about anthologies with me! Amanda is the publisher of Wannabe Press along with Geoffrey Golden, and their awesome comedy publisher started our through anthologies, specifically Devastator Press.

If you haven’t listened to her previous episode, check it out by clicking here.

This episode is part of the celebration of our new anthology project, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, a 224-page monster anthology about monsters, which is live on Kickstarter now. It’s 47 creators and 30 comics about monsters of all kinds; funny monster, scary monster, fantasy monsters, sci-fi monster, and more. It’s just $40 shipped right to your door (in the US), and you get the pdf of the book included, and a digital download of the cover image, at no extra charge! Check it out today by clicking here.

I wanted to have Amanda back on the show, specifically, because she’s created 13 different anthologies, and really built her entire business from anthologies into a full line publisher. I wanted to know the top five pitfalls new anthology creators should avoid when they are planning their project.

Here’s her list.

1. Sloppy Planning + Infrastructure
 Most people beginning an anthology project for the first time don’t realize they need a process in place for accepting and managing submissions (what’s your timeline? where’s your documentation?), streamlining production (what’s your CMS?), keeping all their assets in order (where are all the files kept and backed up?), getting consistent final files (what are the print specs? do you have PS or InD template?) from all their contributors. All those above questions have to be answered before you start taking pieces, or it’ll be a monster of a puzzle for you at the end of the project.

2. Lack of Guidance (AKA Lateness)
 There can be a reluctance from editors of anthologies to, well, be editors. They want to commission the piece then expect it in their inbox by a certain date. But many contributors need more help in order to finish their pieces. Many creatives don’t really know (they were never trained) how to manage other creatives. The biggest issue in this category is lateness. One late piece can cause a cascade of production problems and delays. Learning how to communicate effectively and promptly with contributors is key to, if not preventing, then at least managing late pieces better.

3. Loose Curation
 An anthology is as good as its curation. There can and will always be amazing gems, but if the one story doesn’t work after another, it can make the whole book feel less amazing. You also want to ensure that there is a baseline of art and writing quality you’re sticking to. Nail down your criteria for submissions and make sure you’re transparent about those criteria if submissions are open to the public. There can and absolutely should be anthologies for newcomers and beginners, but if you are doing that, make sure you’ve chosen styles and tones that complement each other, and stories that make sense for the theme of the book. The order of stories can make or break a reading experience.

4. Zero Retail Marketing or Publicity

Just, in general. Anthologies don’t exactly get the star treatment in comics shops or book stores. They’re hard to sell unless there’s some major internet juice or star power behind it. So you have to be crafty and have a plan. Not just the Kickstarter plan, but the afterlife plan. How are you going to sell the stock remaining after shipping to your online orders? How will you mobilize your contributors to push the book beyond the first few months of release? If you’re going to conventions, how will you promote those appearances? How will you retain interest in the book after year one, two, three of it being available?

5. The Urge to Make More Anthologies
 I dunno, do you need to make another one? Sometimes it makes sense to let the anthology go, and move on the next big challenge: writing or editing a full-length graphic novel, starting a new indie series, or write a novella. Sometimes the arduous task of launching a good anthology is enough to prepare you for the next thing. For example, if you make a gorgeous and well-received anthology like my friend Taneeka Stotts did with the queer fantasy tome BEYOND, you should try to roll that goodwill into a partnership with another entity, get a gig on another book — seize the moment. If you’ve got a hit on your hands and see specific demand for more anthologies, great! Do it. Otherwise, consider taking a break and moving on to a new format and change things up.

I really appreciate her putting together such a thorough, thoughtful list. This is all advice I would have loved to have before I planned my first anthology. I mean my book turned out amazing, but some of it was just because of the awesome creators that I chose to work with, and not so much my amazing organizational sense. I ended up hoping it would work out because of my own scheduling issues, and it just happened to be amazing at the end of the day.

If you want to thank Amanda for her amazing advice, Amanda is on twitter @amandonium. You can find Devastator Press on Twitter @getdevastated.

If you love the show, please go to iTunes by clicking here. Please subscribe to the show, rate and review us today.

Finally, go check out our amazing 224-page monster anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, live on Kickstarter now. If you love monsters, this is the anthology for you. Check it out by clicking here.

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The New Paradigm of anthologies with Watson and Holmes publisher Brandon Perlow

March 9, 2017

Brandon Perlow is an interesting cat. I met him soon after he raised over $20,000 on Kickstarter for the Eisner-nominated Watson and Holmes, and we’ve been friends ever since, feeding each other advice on publishing and Kickstarter. I’ve learned a ton from him over the years, and I’m so glad he came on to talk about Kickstarter and anthologies. Considering we are currently running a comic book anthology Kickstarter this is perfect synergy with our current campaign.

In fact, he prepared a list of the top five things he learned from working on an anthology project and how to make them success. Here is his list:

1) The tighter the theme and subject are, the better. For instance, having an anthology dedicated to Watson and Holmes is better than having a broad anthology based on a group of people, or an anthology with no theme at all, like Our First Anthology.

2) Vary up the creators. It’s good to have creators who are well known and ones that are up and coming. You never know what up and coming creators will one day be massive stars, and the well-known creators help boost up the immediate sales and professionalism of your book.

3) The quality of the stories is what matters. You want the work to be of good quality. Anthologies are a great place for creators to show something different, but just make sure the art and stories are very high all around.

4) Size matters. Sometimes bigger is better. but not always. Try to have as many good stories as possible. That’s what people will remember. Don’t fill the anthology with junk just to make it bigger for the sake of size.

5) Packaging is important. At the end of the day the reader is what matters. If you don’t have something awesome then nobody will buy it, so make sure to make the packaging something readers will want.

He also got some bonus insights from noted Sherlock Holmes author Lyndsay Faye, who has contributed to many anthologies.

Obviously quality consistency is my biggest issue, but I also like variety when it comes to both style and length. Solid editing with a strong eye for plot is also key, because a lot of anthologies let authors get away with things that the editor of a book wouldn’t — plot holes, language problems, etc. And I want them ordered well, with an arc that makes sense from start to finish.

I hope this helps you plan your next anthology. Brandon mentioned a previous episode of my show with Tim Powers, which you can find here.

If you liked this episode, please head on over and tell Brandon thank you at @bperlownps on Twitter. If you like this show, head on over to iTunes and rate, review, and subscribe today. It only takes 30 seconds and it helps more than you could ever know. All you have to do is click here to be redirected.

And most importantly, we are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for our anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit. It’s a 224-page monster anthology about monsters. Check it out by clicking here and get your copy today!

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Top 5 things you need to know when creating an anthology with MANthology editor Christine HIpp

March 2, 2017

This week we’re talking anthologies, shockingly since we have our anthology live on Kickstarter now (Have you backed? No? You probably should. Just click here) with our good friend Christine Hipp. Christine came on to talk about her first anthology on this episode, and she’s back to talk about her new anthology, the MANthology, and everything she’s learned in the past year.

 

I can definitely sympathize with her more this year than during her last appearance since I’ve spent the previous 12 months figuring out my own anthology project. I didn’t want to rehash the same episode we did before, so this episode we did a top five list of things she learned from building three anthologies in 12 months.

 

Here are Christine’s 5 things she learned from editing three anthologies in the last year: 

  1. Trust your gut - I don't know what your gut is like, but mine tells me to do things like check in with creators, remind people about deadlines, and double check work for typos. About 90% of the time this turns out to be really good advice.
  1. Pad your schedule - People get sick, emails get lost, someone is always going to need an extension. Do yourself a favor and account for that in your project schedule so you don't have to stress out as much about getting to print on time.
  1. Respect the Project Plan - Every time we start a new anthology we copy the project plan from the previous book. If contributors asking how to format a script or what size the pages should be, we can add that info that the project plan and know it won't be an issue for the next anthology.
  1. The release party is where it's at - if you want people to buy your anthology tell them where they can get it, and make that event as appealing as possible with food, drinks, karaoke, and as many cool contributors as you have table space for. You can make fliers, post it on social media, and interview on podcasts (wink) to build hype, but the best results will always come from contributors telling their friends, family, and fans about this cool new book they worked on. 
  1. The theme is your foundation - It's how you convince contributors to join the project, it's how you'll sell your book to potential readers. It will also help you make other important decisions like what should go on the cover, what age group the book should target, and how tonally consistent the book will be. 

That’s a great list. Everything on it is super important. I made my own top 5 list from what I learned from making my own anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit.

Here is my top 5 list. There is some overlap, but that’s mostly because creating an anthology has a set of rules, just like everything else.

  1. You need to have the right group of collaborators. It’s not about finding people once you submit, you need to know at least a core group before you start.
  2. A certain percentage of people will drop out along the way. Originally had tons of interest. Of that interest 350 pages committed. Of that 220 pages came through.
  3. You are the leader. You need to set up the Facebook group, be on people about deadlines, and get everything together. It’s all on your shoulders to make sure it turns out right. Even though it’s a jam book, you have the vision.
  4. Give creators lots of time to deliver. If you aren’t paying people, you need to give them a lot of time to do the book, but you shouldn’t give them tons of extensions just because they are working for free. It devalues the work of everybody who was on time.
  5. Do all the cons. You have to go to so many cons and launch events to make sure your campaign is successful. It’s all about meeting people in person, and turning that into online sales.

Here’s a little bonus tip for all of you out there as well.

BONUS: You will never work with every artist you love in your career, so anthologies are a great way to work with friends and people you admire who you would never otherwise work with, either because they do the same job as you (i.e. they are also writers) or because they don’t work in your style. It’s also a way for people to try out different genres.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did please like, subscribe and rate us on iTunes by clicking here.

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Building a Comixtribe with Comixlaunch Founder Tyler James

February 23, 2017

We’re doing something a little new and a little weird on this episode of The Business of Art. This episode is the second part of a two-parter I recorded with my friend Tyler James from Comixtribe and the Comixlaunch podcast. The first part of this two-parter is where he interviewed me and you can find it at www.comixlaunch.com.

In this second part, I interview him about his publishing company, Kickstarter, and his history in indie comics. Here’s a little snippet about Comixtribe from their website @ www.comixtribe.com.

We recorded this episode back in November, but between his 6-Day Kickstarter challenge and my Kickstarter launch, it's been tough to schedule it in. This feel like the right time. Even though this doesn't fit with our anthology theme, it's definitely heavy into the process of funding a comic Kickstarter and building a publishing company. 

We waited so long to drop this episode because both of us are in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign right now. His campaign is SINK, and it's one of the scarier things I've ever read. You can check it out by clicking here.

If you haven't checked out my new anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, it's a 224-page monster anthology about monsters, filled with creators from Marvel, Vertigo, Image, Boom, and who've worked for brands like Transformers, My Little Pony, Invader Zim, and many others. Check it out today @ www.monsteranthologycomic.com.  

ComixTribe’s mission is simple: Creators helping creators make better comics.

The grand vision of what ComixTribe will become is extremely ambitious.  The ultimate goal is to make ComixTribe a premier online community and resource for comic creators serious about improving their craft.

We have an ambitious and exciting roadmap laid out for the development of the site.  However, we’re starting small and simple, with an initial focus on producing quality content geared toward comic creators.  We are curating a small selection of quality columns, podcasts, and resources we’re confident will appeal to the comic creating community at large.  Through frequent, consistent, and quality content updates, we hope to establish ComixTribe as a voice worth listening to.  As the community builds, we’ll incorporate new features that will go beyond content, to meet the many needs of comics creators.  ComixTribe will also sponsor special online events for creators throughout the year, such as the popular 30 Characters Challenge.

If you don’t know about the Comixlaunch podcast, Tyler hosts one of the best podcasts on Kickstarter around, and it’s ABSOLUTELY the best podcast that deals with how to launch a comic book on Kickstarter. Here’s a little bit about them from www.comixlaunch.com.

Kickstarter is the most powerful crowdfunding platform for new and professional creators and creative entrepreneurs alike. To date, nearly $40 million dollars have been raised for comics and graphic novel projects on Kickstarter.

Still, more than half of all comic projects on Kickstarter fail.

ComixLaunch is trying to change that by revealing the mindset, strategies, and tactics you can use to successfully crowdfund your projects.

Founded by Tyler James and Jeremy Melloul, ComixLaunch will help take you through the entire process, from pre-launch strategies to designing and managing a successful campaign, all the way to avoiding the pitfalls of fulfillment.

I actually met Tyler through Jeremy, who I cold tweeted about being on their show. Jeremy liked the idea and we did a three-way chat on Comixlaunch, which was the most downloaded episode of their show for the first 49 episodes. You can listen to it here. You’ll have to forgive it a bit. I didn’t even know The Business of Art would exist yet. I was still pitching Kickstarter University as a thing. It wouldn’t go under for a few more months after this.

Over the past year, Tyler and I became friends and often encourage each other and discuss business, both publishing related and podcast related. It’s not hard to see why we hit it off. After all, how many publishers do you know that also have a podcast where they talk about the business side of creating things?

Not many.

So when he came to me with an idea to do a two-part episode, I was thrilled. I wanted to have him on my show forever and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I spent the first half of the show being interviewed on Tyler’s podcast, and then we flipped it and I interviewed him on mine. Honestly, we ran out of steam a couple of times during this episode, but we got it together enough to deliver another banger for you.

We started out this episode talking about Tyler’s mentorship and courses. I do some of this myself, and so it was great to get in the weeds a bit about why coaching is so important. Basically, it helps you cut years off your journey, and years are precious.

Then, we talked about his history with Comixtribe. As you can see above, helping and giving back to the community has been a mission of Comixtribe since the beginning, and it’s clear that Tyler always wanted to build a community. We talked a bit about strategic planning, and he gave his thoughts on how you should think of strategic planning, how far out to plan, and how much of a plan to have when you do.

Once we finished up that, we talked about Comixlaunch. We talked about how he niched down to find a really core audience of people that needed information on how to launch a comics Kickstarter. Honestly, that is a really small niche but, as he said, once you have authority in one field it’s easier to parlay that into authority in another field. Even if he has to pivot in the future, he never loses his authority as a Kickstarter expert.

One thing I wanted to dive into was how he was able to open a successful kid’s book imprint for his company. I tried to do something similar this year and failed miserably. Yet his C is for Cthulhu brand is a massive success, even though he came from the world of very violent and dark comic books, just like me. His insights were eye-opening and fantastic. I really appreciate the detail he gave to his answer. It almost makes me want to try kid’s books again.

Almost.

If you like this episode, head on over to http://www.comixlaunch.com and sign up for their mailing list and head over to http://www.comixtribe.com/subscibe in order to get five free comics. Also, sink.comixtribe.com will get you on the mailing list for Sink, which is a great mailing list to emulate for your own project, plus it’s a really cool book. They are also on Kickstarter now, and you can check out their campaign by clicking here.

Comixlaunch is on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/comixlaunch too, so if you want to help them out and get cool stuff, check it out.

If you liked this episode, please head on over to iTunes and rate, review, and subscribe to both The Business of Art and Comixlaunch today. If you are coming from Comixlaunch, then you can find me on Twitter or Instagram @russellnohelty. If you want to find Tyler, he’s on Twitter @tylerjamescomic.

And if you love monsters, check out my new anthology comic, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, live on Kickstarter now. It's 30 different stories from amazing creators, and you can pick it up for just $40 INCLUDING SHIPPING! With your pledge you also get a free digital download of the cover AND the pdf/cbz files for all the books. Check it out today @ www.monsteranthologycomic.com

 

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How to make an awesome horror anthology with Nightmare World creator Dirk Manning

February 16, 2017

Dirk Manning is a horror institution. He’s been touring around the Midwest for nearly a decade with his amazing horror anthology Nightmare World, and more recently his companion series Tales of Mr. Rhee. He one of the few guys I know that cons as much and as hard as me. He did 31 appearances last year to my 45, but he’s been doing it for a lot longer too, so that stamina is even more impressive. Here’s Dirk’s bio, straight from www.dirkmanning.com.

DIRK MANNING is best known as the writer/creator of comic series such as TALES OF MR. RHEE (Devil’s Due) and NIGHTMARE WORLD (Image Comics/Shadowline), as well as the author of the ongoing inspirational column/book collection WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS (Caliber/Bleeding Cool).

If you’ve heard of him, that’s probably why.

That being said, Dirk has also written stories for other comics too, including LOVE STORIES TO DIE FOR (Image Comics/Shadowline), Riley Rossmo’s DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, and THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST (Big Dog Ink) among various other anthologies.

Dirk has also written several short films for the popular YouTube horror film series BLACKBOX TV, including “The Hunger, in which Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite plays the villain.

Dirk frequents the comic convention circuit, especially in the Midwestern section of the United States, and when not on the road he lives on the Internet and can be found online on FacebookTwitter and Instagram @dirkmanning.

Cthulhu is his homeboy… and no, he doesn’t wear the scarf and top hat in real life.*

*When alone in his office writing, though? Every damn time.

The reasons I wanted to have Dirk on the show should be obvious: He loves monsters, he makes awesome anthology books, and he gives way more than he asks. He was one of the other teachers on Tyler James’s 6-Day Kickstarter challenge with me earlier this year as one example of his generosity.

The main reason I wanted him on, though, was to talk about anthologies. As you may know, I just launched a new Kickstarter a couple of days ago for my new anthology Monsters and Other Scary Shit: A monster anthology about monsters. It’s a 224-page anthology full of creators of all types jamming out about monsters. There’s cute monsters, scary monsters, sci-fi monsters, fantasy monsters, and more from creators who’ve worked on Star Wars, Transformers, Invader Zim, and more.

If you haven’t yet, check it out by clicking here. For just $40 you get the hardcover delivered to your door (in the US. Intl shipping charges apply), a digital print of the cover (trust me you’re gonna want it), and a pdf/cbz of the book. There are NO ADDITIONAL CHARGES (domestically).

In conjunction with the launch, we are having a bunch of amazing anthology creators on the show: Christine Hipp (Manthology, Secret Anthology), Gwendolyn Dreyer and Nicholas Doan (Monster Elementary), Amanda Meadows (Devastator Quarterly), DJ Kirkbride (Eisner Winning Popgun Anthology), Brandon Perlow (Eisner Nominated Watson and Holmes anthology), and Dirk.

I wanted to have them on to ask one specific question: How do you make an awesome anthology. I asked all of them to put together a list of their five best anthology tips. The first half of the show is the same BS banter you love, and it’s followed by five specific bullet points to help you plan a better anthology. Every episode we’ll recap the five tips here. Here are Dirk’s.

  • Select a theme.
  • Strive for artistic diversity.
  • Don’t have any filler story. Make sure every story is amazing.
  • Avoid overdone twist endings. They are for children.
  • Offer something uniquely you.

We discuss the tips in detail during the show, so I hope you tune in and learn something over the campaign to help you build an amazing campaign.

If you like this episode, go find dirk online @dirkmanning on Twitter and Instagram. If you dig the show, subscribe, rate, and review it today on iTunes by clicking here.

And don’t forget to check out our awesome monster anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, live on Kickstarter now, by clicking here.

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Talking Baseball and Business with Author Kirk McKnight

February 9, 2017

 

Kirk McKnight took his love of baseball and turned it into a writer career, writing a book called The Voices of Baseball: The Game’s Greatest Broadcasters Reflect on America’s Past time, where the game’s broadcasters talked about the majesty of each individual ballpark. He followed it up with The Voices of Hockey: Broadcasters Reflect on the Fastest Game on Earth, both published by Rowman and Littlefield.

I’ve never had a non-fiction author in the show before, and it was incredibly interesting to see how his process is different than many of the fiction authors and comic creators I’ve talked to before. It was interesting to see how he started as a film and TV writer, and eventually molded himself into writing non-fiction books when that didn’t work out. I mean, who does that sounds like?

It’s me. It sounds like me. And I’m sure lots of you.

With my first non-fiction book dropping later this year, it was interesting to hear Kirk’s experience as an author living in the space I will soon inhabit, and getting his tricks and tips on marketing a non-fiction book was invaluable to me.

Even if right now you don’t think that you will ever write a non-fiction book, I still think there is tons of value in this episode. I found a lot of value in how his insights helped me imagine leveraging the brands of the artists for my anthology, and how his tenacity could help me land a publishing deal for a new book.

There are tons of insights to glean from this episode. I hope you enjoy. If you so, check out Kirk’s books by clicking here, of find him on Twitter @thevoicesofmlb.

If you love this show, please head to iTunes by clicking here to rate, review and subscribe today. Help the show and make sure you never miss another episode!

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Getting your Mindset Right with Misfit Entrepreneur Dave Lukas

February 2, 2017

I met Dave Lukas on Twitter of all places. We followed each other and exchanged some DMs, and that led to emails, phone calls, and eventually being on each other’s podcast. This is another podcast exchange episode. I was on Dave’s podcast, The Misfit Entrepreneur (http://www.misfitentrepreneur.com) to talk about improving your sales game without feeling gross about it, and he came on my show to talk about how to get your mindset right so you can scale your business to the next level.

Here is his bio:

Dave M. Lukas is a serial entrepreneur, author, and investor. He is vice president and co-owner, at Grasp Technologies, has almost two decades of global business development and corporate leadership experience. Mr. Lukas brings his senior executive business acumen to a wide range of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to small and mid-sized enterprises.

Mr. Lukas is the author of amazon best-seller “The Ten Year Career, The Fast Track to Retiring Young, Wealthy and Fulfilled.” The book is a culmination of 5 years of dedicated research into the mindset and habits of success, and leads the reader on a path to greater success and fulfillment. From teaching readers how to harness the true power of their mind’s capabilities, to the consistent habits and methods of the most successful, “The Ten Year Career” gives specific action steps required to achieve higher levels and sustain them. The uniqueness of the book is that everything Mr. Lukas teaches he painstaking executed in his own life for over 5 years, proving the viability of the methods and refining them before the book’s publishing.

At a very young age, he founded his first business and continued to develop successful businesses throughout his college years. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that catapulted him into a successful career path where he earned recognition as the top sales producer of a Fortune 500 company early on in his journey.

Prior to joining Grasp Technologies, Mr. Lukas was a sales leader at Paychex Inc., responsible for developing training programs to accelerate rookie sales reps’ early success companywide and as a turnaround manager for underperforming districts across the mid-west. As the owner of LCS Group, he has consulted with companies at all levels, from startups to multi-million dollar organizations, coaching senior executives, developing sales programs and platforms, in addition to offering training and general business consulting services.

In 2005, Mr. Lukas invested in Grasp Technologies, a leading SAAS and software development firm, providing business intelligence software, global data consolidation and solutions for data related issues and efficiencies. Mr. Lukas joined the company full time as Vice President and CSO in 2010. He is responsible for leading growth strategy, sales, marketing, and operations. Under his guidance Grasp has realized eight consecutive record-setting years of growth; over 50% growth annually, is now doing business in over 100 countries, and was recognized to the INC 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies in 2015 and 2016.

Mr. Lukas is an accomplished investor in real estate and stock investing. He is a member of the Trading Concepts team, an investing education company, lending his expertise in its mentorship and training programs to students worldwide. As a compelling public speaker, Mr. Lukas has spoken extensively in front of a wide array of organizations, with an emphasis on teaching individuals the strategies to reach their true potential and deliver exponential results. He has been featured on radio, TV, and in many top trade publications, including Forbes Online. His latest venture is a podcast called the Misfit Entrepreneur.

It is a weekly podcast devoted to giving the audience incredibly useful and unique insight from the world’s top entrepreneurs with a focus on their non-traditional methods for achieving success, their Misfit side. Misfit was created to give the best, actionable advice to accelerate a listener’s success!

The show’s open format and Misfit 3 concept, combined with Dave’s intuitive and engaging interview style quickly uncovers each guest’s key tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can start using in their lives right now. Released in August 2016, the show has already gotten many 5 star reviews and has had some of the top entrepreneurs in their fields from around the world as guests.

Mr. Lukas received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management, Finance and Economics from Baldwin-Wallace University, and lives with his wife and daughter in Columbus, Ohio.

I usually cut some of the bio, but I put it all here to show you that Dave knows his stuff. He is a passionate businessman who brings creativity into his work. In fact, from the first question he spoke about his biggest passion is creative problem solving, and he shared several examples of that.

We talk about a lot in this show and cover many topics, but we focused on mindset at about the 30-minute mark. Mindset is such an incredibly important part of any business, and getting it right can help you with rejection, time management, productivity, and everything else. It’s really the foundation that a creative business is based.

I know in my own life, it was only when I learned how to get into the right mindset that my career took off and I felt like I had my life under control. So often, I hear creatives talk about rejection, or their inability to find work, or criticism, and I literally don’t deal with those issues because I’ve been able to build my mind into a steel trap. That’s not to say I don’t have haters or don’t get rejected all the time. It just means I don’t let it bother me.

I tell people all the time that if you don’t get your mindset right, then all the tactics in the world won’t help you. It’s why I start out by telling potential clients that if they aren’t willing to look at their art like a business then I’m not the right fit for them. My old talks used to be 80% tactics and 20% mindset, and they were very poorly attended. However, when I moved the needle to 80% about mindset and 20% about tactics people started seeing massive results immediately. That’s because when I gave them the tactics they were ready to implement them. That’s the power of mindset.

I know when I have business people come on to talk about their tactics they tend to be the least listened to episodes of the show, but I hope that’s not the case with Dave because he gave a step by step guide to improving your mindset that every single creative entrepreneur needs to hear.

If you like this episode, head on over to listen to my episode of his podcast of the Misfit Entrepreneur (http://www.misfitentrepreneur.com) and show him some love on Twitter. His show is awesome.

If you love this show, please head on over to iTunes by clicking here to rate, subscribe, and review it today.

If you have to catch up on old episodes, we have a commercial free version of all the hard lessons, ranterludes, and Kickstarter mini-seasons from the first year of our show, available by clicking here. That’s 74 episodes and almost 9 hours of content, and you can get it all for just $20

 

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How to Make Comics with IDW writer and DC Inker Martin Dunn

January 26, 2017

Today on the show we have another crossover episode, and with it a new format; the Roundtable.

Man, new formats are kind of becoming our thing in the recent past, huh? We had Tyler James on to do a two-part episodes with his Comixlaunch show, and how we have on Martin Dunn to do a crossover with his show I Make Comics.

Martin is a comic creator who has been through the trenches as an artist, too. He’s written for IDW, Hashtag, and his own company CAE, and inked for both DC and Dark Horse books, among many others. Seriously, his Comic Vine resume is hefty. Here is the first part of his it, straight from Comic Vine.

Martin Dunn is a comic book Creator/Writer/Artist as well as a webcaster and Convention Panelist, from Tampa, Florida. He currently acts as Chief Creative Officer of CAE Studios. He has done work for CAE Studios, IDW Publishing, Hashtag Comics, Creature Entertainment and more. His body of work includes his creator-owned properties 'Joshua Black', 'Project: A.P.E.X.', '#IFightGhosts', and 'FETCH: An Odyssey'. as well as work on the Hashtag Comics series 'Carpe Noctem', and IDW Publishing's 'Star Mage' and 'White Chapel'.

This wasn’t much of an interview in the traditional sense, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t packed with value bombs. Martin has been around the block and back when it comes to making comics, and he’s definitely a lifer at this point. We talked a lot about what makes a lifer in this episodes, and it comes down to making it past that extinction point where others give up. If you can push through that pain and make it out the other side a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you.

This episode was more like a roundtable of two people who have been around the block talking about comics. It reminded me of a panel I did with Lee Kohse at Anime California about how to make it as an artist. There wasn’t a lot of structure, but there was a ton of value. Similarly, this episode didn’t have any real structure to it, and there really wasn’t a moderator. Instead, it was just two guys talking about cool stuff. We riffed off each other about making comics, conventions, and why you should always be nice to each other.

This is one of the longer episodes I’ve recorded recently, and it was nice not to be confined to the hour space I’ve been stuck with for the past year. I’m enjoying having a more free flowing experience to talk with people for longer or shorter than usual, but let’s be honest it’s always longer.

If you liked this episode, you should head on over to Martin’s website @ www.caestudios.com or find him on twitter @mdunn82. If you are new to this show, head on over to www.thebusinessofart.us to rate, review, and subscribe today. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content. If you want to connect with me, I’m on twitter @russellnohelty.

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Being a Convention Warrior with Jamestown Publishing founder James Haick

January 19, 2017

James Haick is the publisher of Jamestown Publishing and creator of Solar Flare, a comic about a solar flare that destroys humanity’s way of life, that was successful on Kickstarter several times over the last few years.

I had James on the show because he’s starting a new company called Jamestown Publishing, which features an initial slate of four books including Walter Ostlie’s Shiver Bureau and Richard Rivera’s Stabbity Bunny, among others. His company is new, but his business sense and style are on point. I know Walter and Richard. Their work is synonymous with quality. In talking with James, it’s easy to see why they were convinced.

This dude in on POINT.

I always said the way to start a successful company that gets in with Diamond is to use Kickstarter as a proving ground, and James took it to another level. He layered convention success on top of Kickstarter to create a potent 1-2 punch. Since my two biggest revenue generators are Kickstarter and conventions, this sounds like a great way to build a foundationally successful company.

On top of that, Jamestown also will only publish books that have completed a full arc, or their entire run, whichever comes first. This is a caveat for publishing with Wannabe Press, so I’m all for this strategy. However, they are actually going into the direct market, which is something Wannabe Press has avoided like the plague.

This is one of my longest episodes ever at over 90 minutes long, but after talking with James for a while, it’s easy to be impressed with the future of his company. He seems to hit every note right when it comes to getting everything started on the right foot. There are no guarantees in this life, but I would say this is a high percentage risk.

This is a little bit of a weird episode because for most of it James was interviewing me and pelting me with questions. I don’t know he got the upper hand, but you should get a ton of value from what I deliver specifically about conventions. I hope I helped tweak James’s convention strategy to be more successful, and helped yours too.

I’m very candid in this interview b/c I kept thinking we would start the show and I would ask my intro question, but it never happened. This is like a 90 minute pre-interview which you get to listen in on. I know most of my episodes feel like a behind the scenes look at a creator’s brain, but I think this one even more so does that because I never thought we were recording.

If you like this episode, head on over to https://www.jamestownpublishing.com/ and let James know, or find him on twitter @jameshaick.

If you love this show, then head on over to www.thebusinessofart.us/itunes and rate, review, and subscribe today.

I also have a completely free Kickstarter Toolkit I’ve put together to help you succeed in your own creative business. There’s no sign up required. Head on over to www.thebusinessofart.us/kickstartertoolkit to check that out today.

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How to Have a Rosy Outlook on Comics with Emet Comics publisher Maytal Gilboa

January 12, 2017

Maytal Gilboa is the founder and publisher of Emet Comics and Rosy Press. Since she just acquired Rosy Press, I wanted to have her on in order to discuss why she bought the press, along with her massively successful Kickstarter for Finding Molly. Besides that, she's a wealth of business knowledge. Here is the description of EMET comics, straight from their Wikipedia page.

Emet Comics is the independent comic book publishing division of Emet Entertainment, LLC, an American graphic novel publisher and entertainment company headquartered in Los Angeles, California, United States. The Emet Comics publishing line is focused on empowering female creators and storytellers in comics

Emet Comics was founded in 2015 by Maytal Gilboa an ex-animation executive who recognized a void in the comic book community when it came to content with a female point of view. During Emet Comics first two years, the company has enjoyed many successes. In their first year, the company’s title Zana by Jean Barker and Joey Granger, a fictional story about apartheid in a future South Africa, was nominated for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics.Also, in their first year, the company sold their title The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish, to Papercutz for English language distribution, and to Editoria Oceana for Spanish Language distribution.[4]

In November 2016, the company announced the purchase of Rosy Press, a romance comics publisher focused on diverse stories about love and relationships. Emet announced that they would be continuing Rosy Press's successful Fresh Romance series as both a webcomic and printed graphic novel series.

Maytal is a powerhouse in indie comics and one of the few people who loves the business side of things as much as me. It was incredible to listen to how Maytal has pivoted her business in the last year, and how she thinks of her books as marketing material. I love how she is going about moving into 2017, and what she plans to do with her company in the near future.

What was really interesting to me was the reasoning behind her purchase of Rosy Press. Rosy is a romance comic book company, and Maytal said she bought the company because she refused to let it die because it was too important.

For those of you that don’t know, Rosy Press’s publisher announced she was shuttering the company, and a few weeks later resurfaced to announce Emet Comics’s acquisition. It’s truly a fascinating story, and one I enjoyed hearing immensely. It’s actually a great case study in how to acquire a company.

Throughout the interview, Maytal talked in detail about her exact marketing plan, along with how she repackaged many of her books for more success. She talked about what she will and won’t be bringing back to her next Kickstarter, and the struggles with having too many rewards.

Check out this episode, and go and find them @ http://www.emetcomics.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

If you like this episode, head on over to iTunes to rate, review, and subscribe today and if you are getting ready to launch your own Kickstarter, head on over to my Kickstarter Toolkit to find everything I’ve ever written about the subject by clicking here.

 

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Traditional vs. Self-Publishing with World Fantasy Award Winning Author Tim Powers

January 5, 2017

This week on the show we have Tim Powers, Philip K. Dick award-winning science fiction and fantasy author of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace and On Stranger Tides. I met Tim at Loscon and he made an offhand comment about how nobody should ever self-publish their book. I asked him to come on the show and make his case, and he agreed! This is his bio, straight from Wikipedia:

Timothy Thomas "TimPowers (born February 29, 1952)[1] is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides served as inspiration for the Monkey Island franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbeanfilm.

Most of Powers' novels are "secret histories". He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.

Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2000 novel Declare, he stated,[2]

"I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all."

Tim has been a published writer for a long time, and I really enjoyed his perspective on writing. Even though I don’t agree that there is never a reason to self-publish. He laid out his case very well for why somebody should look for a publisher, and even how to do it. I really enjoyed toward the end of the interview when he went through the step by step process for how to get a book published. It was a brilliant strategy, and even though he’s not a marketing person he clearly has some marketing in him because it’s genius in its simplicity.

I also really liked what he said about how to find an agent. Yes, he went through the exact process you should use to find an agent toward the end of the interview and it was great. There is a secret piece of the puzzle you need before getting an agent interested, and the way he talks about it is just fantastic.

The four publishers he talked about in this interview that accept unsolicited manuscripts are Tor, Daw, Baen, and Ace. I know I’m going to look into them and if you have a qualifying book then you should too.

If you liked this episode, please head on over to Tim’s Facebook page and website to say thanks. If you like the show, please head on over to iTunes. Rate, review, and subscribe today.

If you want to check out my Kickstarter Toolkit, the free resource I designed to help you launch your own project, filled with everything I’ve ever said about Kickstarter on my blog and podcast, click here.

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Live at Palm Springs Comic Con: The Man who Created Halloween with Legendary Producer Irwin Yablans and Shelly Saltman

December 29, 2016

This week on the show, we’re back at Palm Springs Comic Con for one of my favorite panels I’ve ever moderated, because I interviewed a living legend. Two living legends in fact. I was honored to moderate The Man who Created Halloween panel with Irwin Yablans, legendary producer of the film, and Shelly Saltman, who didn’t make Halloween but did help market the Birds and is a TV legend in his own right.

Here’s Irwin’s bio, straight from Wikipedia:

[Irwin] produced films which included Halloween (1978), Tourist Trap (1979), Roller Boogie (1979), Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979), Halloween II (1981), Hell Night(1981), Blood Beach (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Tank (1984). Since his resignation from Compass International, Yablans produced films with Charles Band such as Prison (1988).

When Yablans was younger he realized he wanted to work in the movie industry by looking in one of the drive-in movie theater trash and found pieces of cut out scenes.

Halloween began as an idea suggested by Yablans (entitled The Babysitter Murders), who envisioned a film about babysitters being menaced by a stalker. Carpenter took the idea and another suggestion from Yablans that it take place during Halloween and developed them into a story. Along with noted film producer and financier Moustapha Akkad, Yablans put forward $300,000 for the film's production, filming in Pasadena, California over the course of 20 days. Released in late October 1978, the film was an unprecedented success, making $70 million in its initial theatrical run, becoming the highest grossing independent film of all time until it was surpassed The Blair Witch Project, released twenty years later. Yablans and Akkad remained as executive producers after the film's sequel rights were sold to Dino De Laurentiis, the latter producing every entry in the series until his death in 2005. Yablans and Akkad, along with producer Joseph Wolf, founded the independent production and distribution studio Compass International Pictures (later Trancas International Films Ltd.)

And here is Shelly’s, also from Wikipedia:

Sheldon "Shelly" Arthur Saltman (born August 17, 1931 in Boston) is a promoter of major sports and entertainment events including the worldwide promotion of the Muhammad Ali / Joe Frazier heavyweight championship boxing matches, creating the Andy Williams San Diego Golf Classic, helping to arrange the independent NFL Players Association games during the 1982 NFL season Strike, and bringing cellular phone technology to the former Soviet Union. But in the eyes of the general public, he is perhaps best known as the man that Evel Knievel tried to beat to death with a baseball bat.

Shelly has created, written, and produced shows for television such as Pro-FanChallenge of the NFL Cheerleaders (an early "reality" show), and the movie Ring of Passion about the fights between American boxer Joe Louis and German champion Max Schmeling in the years leading up to World War II. Shelly is also the author of various books including EVEL KNIEVEL ON TOUR by Sheldon Saltman with Maury Green (1977 / Dell Publishing) and FEAR NO EVEL: An Insider's Look At Hollywood as told to Thomas Lyons by Shelly Saltman (January 2007 / We Publish Books).

If you are interested in listening just to Shelly, he stays pretty silent until the last 15 minutes of the episode. So if you want his opinion on why he’s terrified of ravens, what it was like going town to town promoting the Birds, or how he created Sports Goofy, then fast forward to the last 15, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning, because this is mostly about how Irwin created Halloween, filled with tons of awesome stories. Some you might know, like whose mask they used for Michael Myer’s character, and other you might not, like how they came to cast Jamie Lee Curtis in her breakthrough role.

It’s not often in your life you get to share the stage with a living legend, and I don’t take it for granted. It was amazing hearing Irwin talk not just about Halloween, but how he helped invent independent movies, how movies have changed over the years, why he can’t watch horror movies now, and his #1 secret for success.

Irwin and Shelly are far and away the two most successful individual people we’ve ever had on the show, and talking with them was a delight. I tried to soak up the information they gave like a sponge, and hope you will too. There is nothing like hearing how somebody sustained a career in a creative field. It gives you insights on how to build your own career and shows you a path in the darkness.

Irwin also has a book, The Man who Created Halloween, which is his biography. It’s full of amazing anecdotes about how he came up inside the business, what he had to do to succeed, and how he built a career for himself. I was riveted to every page and highly recommend you checking it out by clicking here. Your copy won’t be signed like mine, but it will be filled with the same awesome knowledge.

Shelly also has an amazing book called Fear No Evel: An Insiders Look at Hollywood, where he talks about promoting the legendary Ali/Frazier fights and playing tennis with Boris Yeltsin, along with the time Evel Knievel attacked him with a baseball bat. Check that one out by clicking here. It’s soon to be a major motion picture.

When there is knowledge to soak up, I’m there, and both Shelly and Irwin dropped knowledge throughout. I truly enjoyed this conversation and hope you do as well. Interesting tidbit, my first management company was Trancas International, who co-produced Halloween with Irwin. Small world. 

If you do, please head on over to iTunes to rate, review, and subscribe today. And if you are looking to catch up on past episode, there is no better way than through our commercial free course that captures all the Hard Lessons, Ranterludes, and Kickstarter mini-seasons from our first 100 episodes. That’s over 74 episodes and almost 9 hours of content which you can find by clicking here.

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Setting SMART goals for 2017

December 27, 2016

When I started setting real, tangible SMART goals in 2015, my career saw hockey stick, exponential growth. Before then, I had a set of goals that I wanted to attain, but they were usually either too easy or impossibly hard to achieve. Most importantly, there was no way to measure success so I usually abandoned my goals before too long.

Now that I use SMART goals to set realistic expectations, I’ve been able to hit almost all of my goals in the past two years.

So what are SMART goals? SMART is an acronym for goals that are:

S-SPECIFIC

M-MEASURABLE

A-ATTAINABLE

R-REALISTIC

T-TIME BOUND

 

Before I tell you my goals, let’s talk about each part of a SMART goal and explain why they are so important in determining your success. For this example, let’s assume your goal is to finish the first draft of a novel in 2017. We’ll take each part of the SMART goal separately and break out why it’s so important to make that goal happen.

S- SPECIFIC

Most people don’t put much thought into creating their goals. Their goals might be as simple as I want to write more in 2017. This is a big problem, because MORE is not very specific when it comes to goal setting. If you have no data from 2016, you have no idea what MORE means or how you can accomplish writing more in 2017, nor can you motivate yourself to just write MORE.

However, if your goal is “I want to finish the first draft of a 70,000-word novel in 2017” that is a very specific goal. You can always look back at this goal and see whether you are moving toward or away from it.

M- MEASUREABLE

The second part of a SMART goal is that the goal is measurable. We talked about this above, but as my friend Tyler James says, “what you measure you can manage”. I would add to that by saying what you manage you can attain. Going back to our example above, you can measure the goal of completing a 70,000-word novel.

That is a very measurable goal. You can make a plan for each step of the goal and know exactly how much you need to get done each month, each week, and each day to stay on track to accomplish your goal.

A- ATTAINABLE

The third part of a SMART goal is that it is attainable. For me, this is the most important part of making a SMART goal because if something isn’t attainable you become discouraged and give up on it. So let’s take our original goal. Is it possible to finish a 70,000-word novel in a year? Well of course. Many people have achieved this goal before. Maybe writers compete in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which is a month dedicated to writing the first draft of a 55,000-word novel. So yes, finishing a 70,000-word novel is a very attainable goal. However, writing a 200,000-word novel might not be in the realm of possibility for your goal. That’s why it’s so important to make sure these goals are attainable.

R- REALISTIC

The fourth part of a SMART goal is that it’s realistic for you to achieve. While attainable deals with whether the goal is possible, realistic deals with whether you can accomplish your goal. What is realistic for you might not be realistic for somebody else. If my goal was to run a 100-mile ultramarathon this year, that would be unrealistic for me because I can’t even run 1 mile without getting winded. However, running a half marathon might be a good goal, depending on my fitness level. That doesn’t mean I won’t make running one of my goals for the year. It just means that I need to be realistic with my goal based on what I can achieve.

Going back to our goal, writing a 70,000-word novel is something most people can achieve in a year, as it is less than 200 words a day, or about the size of a long Facebook post.

T- TIME BOUND

The final part of a SMART goal is that it’s time bound. If you want to write a 70,000-word novel eventually, that isn’t something that can be measured. However, if you set a goal of one year to do it, then you can work toward that goal.

Does our goal fit?

Let’s analyze our own goal and see if it’s a SMART goal.

Is finishing the first draft of a 70,000-word novel in 2017 a specific goal? I would say so.

Is it a measureable goal? For sure.

Is it an attainable goal and a realistic goal? Yes and yes. Many people have done it in the past which means you can too.

Is it a time bound goal? Again that’s a yes because we’ve given ourselves a year to accomplish it.

Therefore, it is a SMART goal, and much easier to measure and manage than the standard “I want to write MORE next year” that becomes the goal of so many writers.

A SMART goal can be used for anything, though. You can use it to lose weight (I want to lose 25 pounds this year by going to the GYM three times a week and only eating one piece of candy a week), or you can use it to establish a money goal (I want to save $300/mo by removing alcohol and eating out from my budget). SMART goals can be used to accomplish any task.

What are my SMART goals?  

 

Now that we’ve talked about SMART goals in a general sense, it’s time to give you my goals for 2017. This is more for me than it is for you, honestly, because I want to be accountable for accomplishing my goals. I also want you to tell me if you think these goals are SMART or not.

Goal #1: Launch four new titles in 2017

 

My first goal for this year is to publish four projects in 2017. They are my first anthology Monsters and Other Very Scary Shit, my first non-fiction book Sell Your Soul: How to Build your Creative Brand, my fifth novel The Vessel, and the second graphic novel that I drew, How Not to Invade Earth.

 

This past year I published Katrina Hates the Dead, Gherkin Boy and the Dollar of Destiny, I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story, My Father Didn’t Kill Himself, and Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs.

 

That was five books in 2016, so I know that setting a publishing goal of four books is attainable and realistic. However, my additional goal is to do a much better job with each launch that I did last year, where I often didn’t give each launch the justice it deserves, especially online, which goes to my next goal.

Goal #2: Receive 100 new 5-Star Amazon reviews for our books

 

My second goal is to exponentially increase the amount of Amazon 5-star reviews our books receive. I completely ignored/abandoned Amazon this year to my detriment. Our online sales are abysmal and online sales are essential to the growth of Wannabe Press. 

We sell a lot of books at shows, and our goal is to transition those sales more online in the coming years. One way we do that is to set a goal to increase the reviews of our books. One of the reasons we flounder online is because we have very few reviews, especially compared to how many people buy our books. In 2017, I am committed to getting our books a total of 100 new reviews from fans of my work so that our online sales can rise to the level of our convention and Kickstarter sales.

Goal #3: Sell 3,000 total book units with an average sale price of $26.50

 

My third goal is to increase the total number of book units sold by Wannabe Press. Three thousand might not seem like that many units to set as a goal, but for us it would be game changing. This year, we sold over 2,000 book units across 10 titles with a minimum sale of $10 and an average sale of $16.50.

My goal for the next year is to increase the number of units sold to 3,000 and increase the average sale to $26.50. The reason I don’t want to go higher than 3,000 units is because all of our books coming out this coming year have a minimum price of $20, and I would like to get our average sale price up to $26.50, which is $10.00 higher than it was this year. If we can accomplish those two things, our revenue will more than double.

Goal #4: Increase our total mailing lists to over 10,000 people with a 20% open rate

 

My fourth goal for the year is to increase our mailing list exponentially. Currently, our mailing lists have a total subscriber base of 7,500 people across 10 different lists. My goal is to increase that to over 10,000 people and increase our open rate from 13% to 20%. Twenty percent is a lofty goal, but I think it is attainable if with the new changes I’ve recently made to my mailing list.

Goal #5: Increase online sales to $2,000 a month, equivalent with convention and in person sales from 2016.

 

My fifth goal is to increase online sales in 2017 so they are equivalent with convention sales from 2016. I cannot keep attending 40+ shows a year forever, and the only way to make sure I can cut back my convention schedule is to make a goal to increase online sales.

Right now, I make roughly six sales a month online, with a total revenue of $18. This is going to take a lot of work and is my biggest mission in 2017. Once this goal is achieved then I believe my business will be completely sustainable. These sales can include courses and books, along with live seminars.

So what do you think? Are those SMART goals? Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound? I certainly think so, but let me know by leaving a comment.

If you love this show, please head on over to iTunes by clicking here to rate, review, and subscribe to the show today. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.  

And if you want to catch up on all of our great content from the past year so you can have your best 2017, click here to get a commercial free version of all our hard lessons, ranterludes, and miniseasons from our first hundred episodes. That’s 70+ episodes and almost 9 hours of content, all for just $20. Just click here.

Happy New Year everybody! May 2017 be the year you break through to the next level!

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Interview #41: Selling books to humans with Humanoids Marketing Director Hillery Pastovich

December 22, 2016

Hillery Pastovich has been selling and marketing comics for publishers since 2005, most notably for Tokyo Pop and now for Humanoids. Along the way she’s figured out how to sell not only to people at shows but also at libraries and directly to stores as well. In fact, her knowledge about selling to libraries and stores is what brought her on the show today. If you don’t know Humanoids, here’s a bio from their website (http://www.humanoids.com): 

From its beginnings, Humanoids has embodied creative innovation, a fiercely independent spirit, and a drive to break new ground.

Under the French name Les Humanoïdes Associés, the publishing house began in the turbulent period of the early 1970s in Paris, which—like San Francisco and New York—was alive with the spirit of artistic revolution. As young people were debating ideas in unprecedented ways, three young men—graphic novel artists Jean Giraud (known as Mœbius) and Philippe Druillet, along with writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet—were determined to push the limits of their art and of the medium as a whole. They joined forces to create a comics magazine like none before: Métal Hurlant (French for "Screaming Metal").

From its first issue in January 1975, Métal Hurlant showed how comics could be created and presented in groundbreaking ways. The magazine combined with its book publishing counterpart quickly achieved a reputation as a company run by creative people for the sake of creating and exploring sequential art in unprecedented ways.

The magazine achieved such worldwide acclaim that National Lampoon launched a U.S. version, Heavy Metal. It initially published Druillet, Mœbius and other European creators in English translations, exposing American audiences to a whole new side of comics.

Soon Humanoids attracted the attention of creative luminaries outside the comics world as well, such as filmmakers Federico Fellini and Ridley Scott, and Humanoids' vision evolved beyond selling books.

In 1988, Swiss entrepreneur Fabrice Giger purchased Humanoids from European media giant Hachette. Besides fostering talent, Giger's goal was to implement a unique creative approach that emphasized international collaboration. Over the years, Humanoids has achieved and maintained that mandate. It has become completely international in its thinking and creative process, with artists, writers, and staff in multiple countries working jointly to create art and stories with global appeal.

Humanoids has published thousands of original titles, with third-party publishers translating many of them into numerous languages. Some, such as The Incal, have achieved stellar performances worldwide and sold millions of copies.

Since 1998 Humanoids has been the only publishing house of European origin with a direct presence in the U.S., and since 2014 the only non-Japanese company publishing its graphic novels directly in Japan, under the brand ユマノイド ("Humanoido").

Known for creating beautiful books, Humanoids has also embraced the digital age from its inception. Its catalogs are available on platforms worldwide, including on its own iTunes apps.

Books were long considered Humanoids' primary focus, but never destined to be its end products. Part of the company's plan was to adapt the source material from Humanoids' vast IP library for other mediums, such as movies—when the time was right. The company wanted to be in an optimum position to select the best partners and have a hands-on approach to all aspects of the filmmaking activity. Fabrice Giger has been waiting for the opportune moment to strike and bring Humanoids' unique touch to this highly competitive field.

While retaining its Paris office, Humanoids made its American branch the headquarters of the group in 2013.

In 2015, it forged major audiovisual development deals with various international and Los Angeles-based partners, leading to the creation of the Humanoids production division.

As Variety put it in its May 15, 2015 edition, "Marvel Comics changed the face of Hollywood. Can legendary Paris–L.A. graphic novel publisher Humanoids do the same thing...?" Whether or not it sets the bar that high, Humanoids is certainly poised to keep rolling out quality and innovative titles, and to do the exact same with the other mediums it chooses to explore.

I had a really good time on this episode talking about selling comics. Granted, Hillery is mostly focused on distributing comics to retailers and libraries instead of hand selling at conventions, but that’s what made this interview great because she talked specifically about selling books on a way larger scale than I have ever thought about before.

I dug how she went deep into the sales process of getting your book ready for retail, and how to go through the whole process of selling and marketing your book for all sorts of markets. She also went into her history in sales, and how she got over the idea that sales is gross.

We went a little off the sales at the end there and discussed the general ethos of the Business of Art, and the big reason why so many creatives fail, and to me that’s where the interview got really interesting, because you are seeing somebody on the other side discussing all the things that make creatives succeed and fail.

If you like this one, make sure to reach out to Hillery online, and find Humanoids at http://www.humanoids.com to check out their books.

If you like this episode, head on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate, and review today. And don’t forget, if you love this show and hate the commercials, check out the commercial free version of 70+ episodes and over 8 hours of content, all for just $20, by clicking here.

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The 5 Best (and Worst) Cons of 2016

December 20, 2016

 

This year saw me make 45 appearances overall, and exhibit at 37 conventions. I thought it would be a good idea to do a recap of all my conventions for anybody crazy enough to attend as many shows as me, and pull out my favorites and least favorites so you can add or remove them from your own list for 2017.

These are completely subjective and I know some people who hate the cons I pulled out as my favorites and maybe even liked the ones that I didn’t. Across the board, I think that these cons, even the one I didn’t like, were generally well run and the organizers were nice. A lot of this is just personal preference, and honestly where I made the most, and least, money, because this is how I pay my bills at the end of the day. If I’m not making money at a show, I need to be doing something else.

These top five were not only the ones I made the most money but where I had the most exceptional experience of 2016. I felt like the attendees wanted me to be there, and the organizers treated me like a human being instead of just a booth space.

Before I get into the list, I should tell you about my expectation at a con. I expect to make 3x my booth costs before I even consider doing a show again. If I can 3x my booth costs I can break even for the day and maybe buy some street tacos for dinner.

My goal is to 10x my booth costs. If I can 10x my booth costs, I will buy a lifetime pass to a convention on the spot because I know I can not only pay for next year, but I can pay my mortgage with sales from the convention.

Make sense? The let’s get to it.

The five best and worst cons I attended this year. This is a long one, but it’s packed with value. Not only do I talk about why a con worked. I talk about what I did to make it successful (or why it was a failure) and who would be a good fit to table at each convention. These are in no particular order.

  1. Bakersfield Comic Con & Bakersfield Mini — November

Steve Wyatt knows how to put on a show. He keeps the tables cheap for artists and brings in people who want to buy independent books. I’ve been to three of his Bakersfield shows and the Pasadena show he throws with Scott Zillner (more on him later), and I made a ton of money and had a ton of fun every time. I think part of the reason his shows are so good is because he’s the president of CAPS (Comic Art Professional Society), and CAPS is full of amazing independent artists like Lonnie Millsap and Travis Hanson, along with being founded by Sergio Aragones. You don’t get much more indie than that, and their fans are filled with people who love and buy indie books, which means they buy other indie books. Additionally, the fans truly appreciate you making the trip to see them. This show, and all Steve’s shows, is a hidden gem.

What I did to make this show successful: I drove up with my buddy and we found the cheapest hotel in the city. Then, we split an artist table for $80 instead of a vendor booth and the person next to us ended up not showing up, so we got an additional table for free which helped our exposure.

Who this show would be good for: Independent artists, craft people, and comic book creators.

  1. Wondercon — March (used to be on Easter weekend)

This is the first con I ever did that I made money hand over fist. Previously, I made some money at shows, but Wondercon showed me that you can make real money and a ton of it at a show. Not only that, but you can also have a really good time. Wondercon is full of small press people and fans who really loving talking about indie comics. Some of my best friends in the comic world came from this show. It’s put on by the people who own San Diego Comic-Con, so it’s meticulously run every single time. Even when it moved to Los Angeles for a year because of a remodel at the Anaheim Convention Center, this show was smooth as silk. Everybody can make money at Wondercon, from indie artists to people who sell toys. That’s why it sells out so quickly. If you don’t sign up at the show, and I mean on Friday or Saturday at the show, you probably won’t get a table the following year. At least not an artist alley or small press table.

What I did to make this show successful: I bought a $300 small press booth (they also have a $250 artist alley option) and brought one of my artists to help with booth and parking costs. Then, I asked to be set up on a corner and brought my own table to that I could get the advantage of the main row traffic. That gave me an additional table on the main thoroughfare which helped boost traffic exponentially.

Who this show would be good for: Everybody.

  1. Palm Springs Comic Con — November

I had some issues with Palm Springs Comic Con when I first learned about them. The organizer and I even had words over email. However, we were able to squash our issues and I was blown away by the quality of the show. I will admit that part of my enthusiasm comes from the fact I moderated 4 panels at the show, including spotlight panels with Irwin Yablans (creator of Halloween) and Lincoln Castellanos (who plays Tobias on Fear the Walking Dead), but even without those things this small con made a huge impression on me. The people were super friendly, the venue was great (though small), and the people were there to buy things. I mean seriously, the amount of money I made at this show was insane. However, it wouldn’t have made my top list just because of money. It was also because the founding team was on point and delivered a great experience for vendor and fans alike, all while keeping costs down. I probably wouldn’t travel to this show if I had to fly, but if you are driving distance it’s definitely worth it.

What I did to make this show successful: I split a table and a room with my friend and made sure to sit on four panels to drive traffic to my booth. I made $225 directly after my panels and another $125 throughout the rest of the con. My total booth costs were $40 for half an artist booth, and then another $50 for a hotel room for the night. We drove up Saturday morning instead of Friday night to keep the costs down even more.

Who this show would be good for: Indie artists, creators, and craft makers. There weren’t a ton of people so I don’t know how good the show was for other vendors who sell other people’s work, but if you sell your own stuff you should do well.

  1. San Diego Comic-Con — July

This is the Mecca of comic book and geek culture, and it’s one of my most fun shows all year. Small press comic book creators and artists from around the world fly in for this show, but for me it’s only a short two-hour drive. San Diego feels like four shows in one. There is the big, monstrous pop culture phenomenon, the toy show, the artist show, and the small press/independent press show. Small press doesn’t get a ton of traffic comparatively to the rest of the show, but everybody that comes through your row has self-selected as a fan for indie books, and in a room of 160,000 people, even if 20% roll by your table that’s a lot of customers. Many creators complain that they don’t make money at San Diego, and I agree it’s a tough show because there is so much to see. However, if you can be aggressive in getting people to your table then you can do really well there, especially if you can accept the fact that attendees are there for an experience. If you can provide them with one, then you have a very good chance of winning their money.

What I did to make this show successful: I applied and was accepted into a $500 small press booth. Other booths at the show can range from $900 (exhibitor booth) to almost $3000 and beyond. I have friends that pay over $5000 for a booth at San Diego. That is my entire con budget for the year. I try to keep it as lean as possible at shows, so if there is a cheaper booth option I qualify for, then I will take it. I also brought down one of my authors who sat at my table all weekend and split the cost of gas, booth, and parking.

Who this show would be good for: Anybody who can be aggressive with their sales and get people to their table. San Diego is a volume game. You have to talk to a lot of people to make sales.

  1. Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con — Halloween Weekend (October)

Los Angeles Comic Con isn’t a perfect convention, but it does something I’ve never seen at any other big convention. It listens to its exhibitors. They used to arrange their table in pods of four instead of in rows, keep the main stage right behind artists so they couldn’t talk to customers, and separate their main stage and side stages which split the audience. Artists complained about all of that, and LACC actually listened. While it’s still not a flawless experience, man I loved this show. There was a vibe and an energy that you don’t get at many big shows, and it felt like a unique experience from most other shows I attend. They’ve worked hard to cultivate their special flavor and make it distinct. It took several years, but I think they are closer than ever. While this show doesn’t sell out that quickly, I recommend booking an artist table or small press table early so you can get the spot you want.

What I did to make this show successful: I booked a small press booth for $250, and then split the booth with another creator to lower the cost of the table. Then, I asked them specifically to be on an aisle as close to the main walkway as possible. Finally, I booked two panels which drove in over $100 in additional sales for the convention immediately, and another $100 over the rest of the convention.

Who this show would be good for: Almost anybody should be able to make money at this show, but like SDCC it’s a numbers game. You have to be aggressive at bringing customers to your table because people have a lot to see and do.

As you can see, the most common thing I do to make shows more successful is split booths, share driving time, and split a room with people when I travel. My goal is to make costs as low as possible when I walk in the door so that I can have the greatest chance of success in the long run.

Because of that strategy, the total costs for these booths, parking, and gas wound up being about $1300 while total revenue was $10225. That’s almost a 10x return on my investment. Based on what we talked about earlier, I would buy a lifetime pass to all these cons today.

Now let’s talk about the flip side. These are the five worst cons I did this year. Again, these are subjective. I saw other people kill at some of these shows, but they didn’t work for me. Sometimes you have to try a new show, or a new type of show, in order to see if it works for you. I did rather well at both horror conventions and anime conventions, both of which I tried for the first time this year. So you never know. That’s why I will do almost any convention once. However, when you have that attitude it often blows up in your face. You just hope that when it does you are can minimize the damage.

  1. Art walks of Any Kind — Throughout the Year

I tried a few art walks this year and didn’t do well at any of them. These art walks shouldn’t be confused with gallery shows, which I love. I’m specifically talking about things like Downtown LA Art Walk, First Fridays, or Glendale Art Walk. There are places people go to have a good time and look at stuff, and not buy. My books are especially dark and depressing, and that’s not what somebody wants to buy on their fun night out with the family. My books are also high-end experiences costing mostly $30+, and that didn’t work for this crowd who wanted to buy cheap things if they were willing to buy at all.

How bad was it? I spent a total of $75 on tables at art walks this year and only made $100, but more importantly everybody looked at me like I was crazy for being there. I don’t like going where I’m not appreciated. Again, this isn’t about the organizers. It’s about the attendees. I did meet some really cool people at these shows, but it wasn’t the norm.

Who this might work for: Artists selling cheap prints and people trying to build a mailing list.

  1. Robo Toy Fest — Throughout the year

This is one of Scott Zillner’s shows, and it was a bit of a disaster for me. Now, this specific bad experience I don’t blame on Scott. It was actually a well-run convention with good attendance. Honestly, my books have no robots in them, and I do not sell toys, so I assumed I would do badly. I didn’t think I would do quite as badly as I did though. Throughout the day I got tons of sideways looks as people wondered what a guy who sells monster things was doing at a show for robots and toys. It was just a bad fit, but it wasn’t because of the con. If you are the right fit, then you could kill at this show.

How bad was it? I paid $80 for a table and made $140 back, but most of that was in one sale from a guy that bought almost my entire table at once. I think I made a total of 5 sales all day, and worse I didn’t talk to many people, which is how I judge success.

Who this might work for: People that sell robots, toys, or both. That’s it.

  1. Los Angeles Festival of Books — April

This show was miserable because of cost, placement, and weather. It’s the trifecta of awful. First, they placed me on a grassy knoll facing in from the walkway. There was almost zero foot traffic. Then, it rained for the first time in the history of the event. Finally, it cost $1100 for a booth, and then I had to buy insurance on top of that. Luckily, I split the table with another person so my outlay of cost was only $550, but with only $900 in revenue that is not nearly enough to justify revisiting this con.

How bad was it? Well, it rained for the first time in the history of the event, and it’s an outdoor event. So almost nobody showed up during the rainstorm. Plus, I sell books which don’t react very well to rain. Then, it cost a ton of money to get into this show and I barely broke even, and then there was no foot traffic because of bad placement and rain. It was all bad.

Who this might work for: Publishers not looking for a ton of sales, but just want to meet and interact with a ton of people. If that’s the case, though, make sure to speak with the person making the placements and get something on a main walkway. Otherwise, all that money you spent will be in vain.

  1. Holiday Con — December

One thing I learned this year was never exhibit at a con in December. They are always miserable for sales and the attendance is poor. Holiday con was the worst of these cons. Vendors were breaking down at 1 pm, and the floor was completely clear by 5 pm, even though the show was supposed to go until 9 pm. This con was so bad the organizer had to issue full refunds to all vendors. I actually like the organizer for this event too, because at least he acknowledged his shortcomings. He didn’t have to do that. Still, it was a complete waste of time. It didn’t help that they only had two months to promote the thing and the website wasn’t even up until October. Still, the experience was bad and that’s what I’m grading on.

How bad was it? Well, the vendor floor was completely empty at 5 pm, even though the con went until 9 pm. There was literally nobody through the door, except for the Magic tournament in over 2 hours. At least my $250 table fee was refunded. Otherwise, I would have been massively in the hole on this one since I only made $120 all day.

Who this show might work for: Nobody, without a lot more promotion.

  1. La Cosplay Con — June

I was torn about doing this con, because cosplayers very rarely buy books when they are in costume, but they are also such rabid fans they spend money making costumes. So….I really didn’t know what to think about this con. I was hoping there would be some cosplay fans who didn’t dress up and would be willing to buy books. This con felt like an anime convention, which I love and do well at, and I didn’t do horribly at this convention. It was just very poorly attended. More importantly, it wasn’t that much fun and that was because there just weren’t enough people. Even if I’m not selling, if I can talk about geek stuff with people then I’m cool. But when the floor is dead, it’s tough to even have a good time doing that.

How bad was it? There were hours when nobody passed my booth. The people that passed by my booth were cool, but getting them to my booth was impossible. I am also a little bit pissed that their site said the show closed at 11 pm, but they closed the vendor booths at 7 pm. It felt like a bit of a bait and switch. I paid $80 for this show and made $200 all day.

Who this might work for: People that sell anime and cosplay accessories, if they can improve their traffic.

As you can see, the most common thing that makes a show bad is attendance. If you don’t have attendance, you can’t make sales.

In total, I paid $785 to attend these five conventions that netted me $1460 in total revenue. That’s not even a 2x return for my money, which makes these five shows a bad investment. More importantly, they weren’t very fun to attend. I wasn’t around a ton of people who did small press books and often I was the only person like me in the whole convention. On top of that, the people weren’t enthusiastic about me being there, which is devastating for somebody when they are paying to exhibit their wares.

I hope this helps you decide what cons to attend this year. I know these were very specific to southern California, but I think there are similarities with the good and bad conventions that can be used to decide about any con anywhere in the country.

This the second to last show before Christmas, and the second to last non-interview show of 2016. With the new year upon us, I am considering changing the show to a weekly show instead of a twice-weekly show, and focusing more on interviews which seems to be what you guys are most excited about and what gets the most downloads. However, I would love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below and let me know.

If you want to get me a gift for Christmas, you could also go to iTunes to rate, review, and subscribe to my show today. We’ve been stuck at 17 reviews for a while now and I would love to wake up on Christmas and see a dozen or so more.

And if you want to go nuts, go and get the commercial free version of the first 100 episodes of our show. That’s every hard lesson, ranterlude, and mini-season of the show, all for just $20 by clicking here.

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Interview #40: The Secrets of Crowdfunding Success with Kickstarter Publishing Director Margot Atwell

December 15, 2016

This week on the show we have Margot Atwell, Publisher of Gutpunch Press, writer of The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success, and publishing director at Kickstarter. Here is her bio straight from www.emdashandco.com.

Margot Atwell is a publishing professional with over a decade of experience. She is currently a Publishing Community Manager at Kickstarter.com.

Previously, Margot was Publisher at Beaufort Books, an independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction. Under her leadership, Beaufort published four national bestsellers, including Hide!!! by Jeff Foxworthy, If I Did It by the Goldman Family, and a new edition of I'm Dancing As Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon, along with many award-winning books.

Margot is a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer. Her writing has been published in The Huffington Post, Moviefone.com, Publishers Weekly, fiveonfive magazine, and Derbylife.com.

Her first book, The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success, was published in February 2013. Her second book, Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Roller Derby World is forthcoming from Gutpunch Press. 

I knew of Margot before we met earlier this year, I just didn’t know it. Before I launched my publishing company, Wannabe Press, I read her book. When we first started talking, I knew the name sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. When she agreed to be on the show I did my research, saw the cover, and IMMEDIATELY connected the name with a very formative book from my past.

We started our conversation talking about her past and publishing as a whole. One of the things I quickly found out about Margot is that she is publishing through and through. Even before Kickstarter, she was a publisher and author. Since then, she has launched two successful book campaigns focused on her love of Roller Derby. Check them out here and here.

The conversation quickly turned to Kickstarter, as these things must. As much as I would have loved to talk about publishing books for hours, the purpose of having her on was to answer your pressing questions about Kickstarter…well really my pressing questions about Kickstarter.

The first one was one that’s been gnawing at me for years, since even before I got on the platform: how do you get to be staff pick? I’ve done five projects so far and only one has been a staff pick, since renamed Projects We Love.

While I wish I got a hard data answer, the truth is more subjective. While anybody can look through projects and flag something they like, it’s really the curation team that has the final say. One thing she told me is that tweeting at the Kickstarter people and sending them gifts DOES NOT HELP.

What does help is doing something cool and original, making sure your page is clear and concise. Make sure it tells a story and does something original. They specifically look for books that are told from a different perspective and featuring diverse characters. The end goal is that it’s unique and original. It can’t be something they’ve seen before.

If you look at the comic book team or publishing team at Kickstarter, one thing you will see is that they have very diverse tastes. They are almost all creators themselves (if fact Kickstarter encourages their team to run Kickstarters for their projects), and their tastes are diverse. Margot told me that they like to get a wide range of projects, from the $50,000 banger to the tiny $500 one.

Another thing she told me was that there is no limit. If 50% of projects are deserving, then they will all get picked. I always thought there was a limit, so it was nice to see there isn’t.

There were a couple of fantastic developments that I had only tangentially heard about when it came to Kickstarter previously, and Margot explained them in a way that got me incredibly excited. The first is custom referral tags. One of the main issues with Kickstarter for years has been that it’s impossible to track where your pledges come from. Even though you can use Google ads, you couldn’t do anything with Facebook because Kickstarter does not have a place where you can input the pixel required to track sales.

Now, Kickstarter allows you to create custom referrals tags, so you can track everything in one place and see exactly how much money each ad returned. I personally would prefer to just have a Facebook pixel on the site, but this is very nice when you are using something like Top Webcomics or Project Wonderful.

The second is Kickstarter Live. Kickstarter Live is basically Facebook Live, but for Kickstarter. In fact, Margot told me that they have Facebook integration so you can pull your Facebook audience into your Kickstarter feed. I’m so excited for this and I can’t wait to try it out. If you want to find out more, head on over to live.kickstarter.com/explore.

One thing people complain about is that Kickstarter doesn’t work like it used to even a couple years ago. There are fewer people on any given project, and people feel deluged with constant project updates. While Margot wouldn’t cop to this, she did say that there are many more fantastic projects today by sheer volume than ever before. Additionally, there are many more people using Kickstarter to find projects as well. There are 12 million backers on Kickstarter, and 3.5 million of them are repeat backers.

Margot said this is where you should focus your energy. 60% of all money raised is raised through repeat backers. It’s critical for you to find these backers because they are your best chance for success.

The last point she made before answering some listener questions was that Kickstarter is a community. That’s what they are trying to build and that’s what they are most proud of creating at the end of the day. Even though it’s overused, the word community really matters to them. Kickstarter works hard to build custom experiences for backers and works to get people to find new projects to back.

We talked about much more during our conversation, but I’m not going to spoil it all here. There was so much gold and I felt this was a more in depth conversation than most people get when researching Kickstarter. I’ve never seen or heard a Kickstarter community manager or director interviewed on a podcast before, so this was quite a thrill for me. I hope you get as much out of it as I did and that there is enough meat to pull a whole lot away for your own project.

Here are some of the links Margot mentioned in her wrapup. 

Kickstarter Creator Handbook

https://www.kickstarter.com/help/handbook

Kickstarter on Medium

https://medium.com/kickstarter

Kickstarter Basics on Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/user/kickstarter

Kickstarter Campus

https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/welcome-to-campus

If you liked this episode, head on over to twitter and say tell Margot herself @MargotAtwell. Don’t forget to find us on iTunes as well by clicking here to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast today so you don’t miss any of our awesome episodes. If you are looking to launch your own Kickstarter, head on over to my Kickstarter Toolkit to find everything I've ever said about launching a Kickstarter. Find it by clicking here.

 

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Live at Palm Springs Comic Con: The Writer’s Journey with Justin Kirkman

December 13, 2016

Palm Springs Comic Con asked me to participate on four panels this year. This was the first one of the weekend, where I talked about the Writer’s Journey with Justin Kirkman from Cali Comics (www.calicomics.com; @JustinJKirkman). You might recognize the last name from a previous episode. Justin’s wife, Melissa, moderated my panel on Kickstarting comics and book, which you can listen to here.  

Justin and I handled this panel as more of a Q and A discussion. We wanted to see where the audience was and then speak to that. It was a small, intimate group and they were very vocal about where they wanted to go with their careers, along with what was causing them problems. We talked about topics ranging from world building to where to focus your attention, and how finishing things can help improve your writing.

Justin launched his first slate of books through his publishing company, Cali Comics, at the show, so it was great to hear from somebody really just starting out on the journey of having physical products while having me to ground everything with a little more seasoned comments. 

Looking back, I probably dominated this panel more than I would have liked, but overall I think it's a great overview on how to build a world and set out on the journey of becoming a professional writer. 

If you liked this episode, please head on over to iTunes by clicking here to subscribe, rate, and review our show today.

 

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Interview #39: The Comicraft of Lettering with Elephantmen Creator Richard Starkings

December 8, 2016

Today we have Richard Starkings on the show. If you don’t know Richard’s work as a letterer, editor, and writer, then I highly recommend you check out Elephantmen, his Image series that’s run for over 70 issues. He’s running is first Kickstarter right now, with the goal of raising $15,000 to create a complete 6,000 character Japanese font for lettering comics. Check it out by clicking here.

Here is his bio from Wikipedia:

Richard Starkings (born 27 January 1958) is a British font designer and comic book letterer, editor, and writer. He was one of the early pioneers of computer based comic book lettering and as a result is one of the most prolific creators in that industry.

Starkings' lettering style was originally inspired by British comic strip letterers Bill Nuttall and Tom Frame. Starkings' UK career began with lettering jobs in 2000 AD'Future Shocks and various strips in Warrior. From there he moved to Marvel UK where he lettered Zoids in Spider-Man Weekly and Transformers before becoming an editor for the company in the late 1980s. However, by the beginning of the 1990s, he devoted himself exclusively to lettering, finding work in the much larger comic book industry in the United States.

In 1992 Starkings founded Comicraft, a studio which trains and employs letterers and designers and provides "Unique Design and Fine Lettering" services for comic books from many different publishers. In the mid-1990s Comicraft, online as comicbookfonts.com began to sell their Font designs as software applications through their Active Images publishing company.

Then we talked about the problem with publishing people’s work. Richard published other people’s work back in the day and talks about the problems with putting a lot of your heart and soul into other people’s work, and not getting a piece of the pie when something gets made into a movie. Richard specifically talks about nobody being able to expect more the 35% of an overall project. That includes creators, too. I never thought about publishing that way, but it’s a very interesting thought I will definitely think about in my own business.

Probably my favorite part of our conversation dealt with conventions and making a connection with fans. Richard said that when he started he was determined to find an audience. That determination led to him going to shows, doing signings, uploading Youtube videos, and Richard is somebody that has worked with everybody. He’s a known commodity in the comic book space. He’s lettered everything. Everything you can think of there’s a good chance Richard has had a run on, and even he had to go around to shows hand selling the book one to one.

I love how he put building a brand into two parts. The first is building your world. The second is finding the audience that didn’t know that world existed. Richard told a story about how even after 70 issues, people still review volume one and say things like “I didn’t even know this comic existed”.

We also talked about the idea of making something once and selling it forever. Richard is a master at making things, and I liked that he talked about being able to sell books, and move them into movies and television. This is something nobody talks about, but it’s essential to the process of creating. You only make things once, but you sell it for the rest of your life, your kid’s life, and your ancestor’s life all the way down the line.

One of the coolest things about our conversation was when we talked about the name Elephantmen. He said something that he loves is when people look at Hip Flask, a hippo, on the cover of his book and say “that’s not an elephant”. That simple line allows him to have a conversation with his audience, and it was all built on that moment of engagement. The title sells everything about the book, and that was very important to Richard. It should be important to you as well.

It was also really interesting to hear Richard talk about his favorite creators. There is one thing that is similar among them, and that is they are all nice. The creators his loves, like Kurt Busiek, have a great team in place, trust them, and involve them in the process. Creators like that, he said, elevate the entire team around them from the editors to letters.  

One thing that Richard really believes in is creating your own stuff, as much as he enjoys working in the worlds of other people, it’s clear he LOVES the idea of creating your own stuff. He kept coming back to that over and over, even as we came around and talked about his company Comicraft, and lettering as a whole.

Lettering is about being invisible, but it’s about being very good at being invisible like Richard said. He’s been lettering for 30 years and started pen lettering back in the day. He’s lettered the Killing Joke for fuck sakes. This guy knows lettering. So much so that he created a company that creates and sells fonts to other letters.

And that’s why he was really on the show. He was on the show because he launches his first Kickstarter, where he’s trying to raise $15,000 to build a Japanese font for lettering manga. Check it out here.

What’s fascinating to me about his Kickstarter is that there is so little out there to letter comics in Japanese. It’s not that hard to see why. After all, there are 6,000 characters in Japanese, compared to 125 in English. I didn’t realize how desperately needed this font is until now. I did a quick search to find something similar, and my search didn’t turn up much. I know it’s not a sexy thing, but many this font seems awesome.

And Richard really loves the idea of it. He’s been asked by companies like Blizzard and others to letter comics in Japanese and has piecemealed it up until this point, but the idea of having a complete set of letters is desperately needed, and having this font will get you a leg up if you speak Japanese. I highly recommend you check this one out by clicking here.

If you like this episode, check out the Kickstarter by clicking here, and find Richard on Twitter @comicraft. Please also subscribe, rate and review on iTunes by clicking here.

And don't forget to check out my Kickstarter toolkit to help launch and fund your own project by clicking here

 

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Live at Loscon: You have a great idea, now what with Tony Todaro, Leslie Ann Moore, S. P. Hendrick, and Justin Robinson

December 6, 2016

This is the second of two panels I participated in at LOSCON this year. The first was a panel I moderated about editing manuscripts and how to find a good editor, which I posted last week. I didn’t moderate this panel, but it gives such excellent information that I thought it would be good to add it to the show anyway.

This panel is all about how to take your idea and put it into action. The panel is moderated by Tony Todaro, founder of the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society (www.glaws.org). Also on the panel were writers Leslie Ann Moore (leslieannmoore.com; @leslie_annmoore on twitter), Justin Robinson (www.captainsupermarket.com; @justinsrobinson twitter) and S. P. Hendrick (http://sphendrick.blogspot.com/).

Even though I moderate a lot of panels, I don’t spend a lot of time as a panelist, so it was very nice to see somebody else moderate, and Tony did a great job keeping the conversation flowing. He’s been moderating for years now, and I’ve watched him lead all sorts of discussions. He kept the conversation on point and on pace.

If you like this panel, check out the GLAWS website for a list of all their event, and see if it’s something for you. If you like this show, please head on over to iTunes by clicking here in order to rate, review and subscribe today.

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Live @ Palm Springs Comic Con: Having no Fear of the Walking Dead with Lincoln Castellanos

December 1, 2016

I was asked to participate in four panels at Palm Spring Comic Con this year. This is the second of those panels. This time with Lincoln A. Castellanos, who plays Tobias on Fear the Walking Dead. This is by far the most traditionally famous person we’ve had on the program before. Previously, we’ve had people who were well-known, even famous, in a specific field, but Lincoln is known by the general public like none of our previous guests.

If you like this show, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes. It’s the best way for us to find a bigger audience to help.

For those that don’t know, here is the first paragraph from his bio on Wikipedia:

Lincoln A. Castellanos is an American actor perhaps best known for his work on such television series and films as Fear the Walking Dead as Tobias, The Mentalist, and I Am Gangster.

If you want more of his credits, head on over to his IMDB page by clicking here.

On top of that, he’s an actor. This is the first time we’ve had an actor on the program and I was a bit nervous on whether all my research on how to build a creative business would translate to acting as it has to both visual arts and the written word.

Luckily, from our hour-long conversation, it seems like many of the same principles apply to acting as they do to other creative fields. It was refreshing to hear somebody in a wildly different field from mine talk about the process of building their career and hit many of the same notes as other past guests on our program.

Mainly, the idea of doing the work was something Lincoln hit on again and again. Through college, Lincoln spent his time making films and completing projects, so that when he graduated he had a demo reel full of great samples which helped him book roles.

Another thing he talked about was making yourself saleable to an agent before you ever get one. There’s a great anecdote Lincoln talks about, which basically boils down to him not being able to get an agent for years until he stopped looking for one. Once he stopped looking for an agent and started to focus on making himself marketable, an agent found him in the most unlikely of places.

I loved hearing about that because it’s something I talk about all the time. Until you are saleable, nobody is going to want to represent you. People want to represent those who can make them money. If you haven’t proven you can make somebody money, they are not likely to take you on as a client.

That is true as an artist, as a writer, and as an actor.

I hope you enjoy this one with Lincoln. If you do, make sure to find him on Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube @lincolntheactor.

And if you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes. It’s the best way for us to find a bigger audience to help.

 

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Live at Loscon: GLAWS presents How to find and work with an editor with Leslie Ann Moore and Deanna Brady

November 29, 2016

The Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society (http://www.glaws.org/) asked me to participate on two panels at LosCon this year. One of which I moderated and the other I participated as a panelist. Loscon was the first con I ever heard about when I came to LA, and I always wanted to check it out, so I’m thrilled I was finally able to get to the LAX Marriott this Thanksgiving weekend to see if for myself.

If you don't know GLAWS, they are one of the biggest writing groups on the West Coast. They host events, master classes, and conferences to help writers get ahead in their career. I've spoken at the last three of their conferences and can attest that it is a fantastic group. 

The first panel I’m sharing is the one I moderated, which was on how to know if your manuscript was done and then find an editor for it, with panelists Leslie Ann Moore (http://leslieannmoore.com/; @leslie_annmoore), a fantastic writer of many books and VP of GLAWS, and Deanna Brady (getwords@gmail.com), a wonderful editor.

This was a lot of the nitty gritty of how to edit a manuscript, and the importance of hiring an editor. I think we really hammered all of the reasons paying for an editor is one of the most important things you can do to move forward in your creative career. If you were on the fence about hiring an editor, or you wanted to know what to look for in an editor, or even if you just wanted to know how to get off the fence and write your book, this panel covers a whole lot of ground to help you on your way.

If you like this episode, please head on over to iTunes to rate, review, subscribe today.

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Kickstarting Comics and Books with Melissa Kirkman and Madeleine Holly-Rosing

November 24, 2016

Palm Springs Comic Con asked me to be involved in four panels at their November show, which I was thrilled about. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be releasing the live episodes from the event. 

The first one I am releasing is my Kickstarting Comics panel. Melissa Kirkman from Cali Comics moderated this panel, which was just me and Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Madeleine is a favorite of the show. This is her third appearance. She was also on the show here, and part of my How to Build an Audience from Scratch panel here. The was the breakout show for Cali Comics, who I've known for years and released their first slate of books at the show. You can check out their books here.  

This is the most pointed Kickstarter discussion we've had on the show, as it related specifically to comics and books. We touch on other types of crowdfunding campaigns, but 90% of this episode is about using Kickstarter for books, and specifically comics. 

Aside from just Kickstarter, we also talk about when to find a publisher, and how to find a publisher, the advantages of self-publishing, and many other topics, but Kickstarter for comics is the #1 focus. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

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Sell Your Soul: What are you trying to say?

November 22, 2016

One of the questions most often asked by customers is “what are you trying to say in your work?” and one of the most oft laid criticisms at the feet of artists is “it’s pretty, but it doesn’t have a point.” Both of these criticisms come back to a critical aspect in any art career, your point of view.

Point of view is more important than talent. I’ve seen the most technically proficient artwork in the world do nothing for audiences while a simple mixed media piece has brought them to tears due to its point of view.

Point of view is why you can tell Frank Miller’s work from Skottie Young’s, and Mike Mignola’s from Rob Liefeld’s. You might not like all of those artists, but you can tell their work apart from the pack the moment they put pen to paper. More importantly, their fans flock to their work because it speaks clearly to them.

In order to make great content, you need a strong point of view. You need a slant on the world. You need something that separates you from the rest of the creatives on the planet.  

Let’s do a thought experiment. Think about Tim Burton for a moment. Now think of the kinds of projects that would be perfect for Tim Burton’s view of the world. Can you imagine a couple?

Of course you can. His distinct style has been developed in the public zeitgeist for decades. 

That clarity of vision makes a good point of view. Tim Burton won’t be a good fit for 99.9% of movies, but point of view is not about that. Your goal is not to be on everybody’s list of candidates, it’s to be the number one candidate for the right person. Those projects you thought of, could you imagine anybody else directing them except for Tim Burton and doing as good a job? Probably not.

That is the power of a strong point of view. With a solid point of view, you don’t have to pitch yourself. Your ideal audience comes to you.

Point of view is the hardest part to nail down in a creative life because it takes life experience and practice to figure out. It’s why you need to make a lot of different things and finish them.

Once you’ve done a body of work, you can look back, think about your point of view, and figure out what it is you are trying to say. You can connect the dots much easier after completing several projects than you could before you began your work. Then, when you go to make a career, you can tell people exactly what you stand for and they can make a decision whether they want to stand with you or with somebody else.

If you don’t have a point of view, it’s a bit like making plain white socks. Nobody hates plain white socks and we all buy them, but we don’t care about what brand we buy. Most of us buy whatever’s cheapest. Every time we buy, we buy a different brand because we just don’t care about plain white socks. You don’t want to be plain white socks. 

On the other hand, a point of view is like having the brightest, pinkest, dragoniest socks on the planet. They won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but those who love bright pink dragon socks will flip their lid and buy ten pairs. They’ll look through the designer’s collection and buy up all of their stuff. They’ll sign up to receive updates for when the new dragon socks come out. Nobody has ever signed up to find out when the next pair of plain white socks launches.  That’s the power of a point of view.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a point of view yet. That’s normal when you first start out. The more you create the more connective thread you will find between your work, and the stronger your point of view will become.  One of the reasons artists become more successful later in their career is because they’ve developed a strong point of view.

If you already have created a decent body of work, it’s time to look back on it and ask yourself, what am I trying to say here?

 

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Interview #38: The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink

November 17, 2016

This week on the show we have Sheri Fink. She’s an inspirational speaker and writer I met at Los Angeles Comic Con, and a fantastic interview.

If you like this show, please rate, review and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

Don’t take my word for it though. Here is her massive bio straight from www.sherifink.com

Sheri Fink is an inspirational speaker, a #1 best-selling, award-winning author, and the creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” inspirational brand.

She creates books, products, and experiences that inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem. All 5 of her children’s books were #1 best-sellers, including The Little Rose which was a #1 Amazon Best-seller for over 60 weeks, became the #1 Top-Rated Children’s eBook on Amazon, and was adapted into a stage play.

Sheri has expanded her brand with books, live experiences, beauty items, and music all designed to create magical experiences for her Fans. Sheri became a #1 best-selling recording artist on Amazon with the 2014 release of her first inspirational album, Love Notes.

Frequently asked about the secret to her success, Sheri released her daily practices that enable her to achieve her dreams in My Bliss Book, a daily journal designed to help you create more magic, passion, and aliveness in your life while achieving your dreams.

In 2013, CBS Los Angeles selected her as one of the top 3 authors in her local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Sheri’s books have been honored with several awards including 3 gold medals in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards, and is a recipient of the prestigious Gold Mom’s Choice Award honoring the best in family friendly entertainment.

Sheri was honored with the 2013 Extraordinary Inspiration Award for her long-lasting commitment to spreading inspirational messages of hope and self-esteem through her books, her moving life story, and her brand.

In the words of Jack Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul and New York Times Best-selling author of The Success Principles, “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink children’s brand is an excellent resource for award-winning and quality children’s books that encourage actions of tolerance, acceptance, and, perhaps the hardest lesson to be learned of all, staying true to the core of one’s self.”

Sheri is an empowering speaker who shares her strategies on overcoming adversity and living life with passion and aliveness as well as her inspirational journey. Her talks focus on authenticity, confidence, and personal empowerment. In addition, Sheri speaks to elementary school students about the importance of kindness, what it takes to be a successful author, and the behind-the-scenes of transforming an idea into a book.

Sheri has spoken to and inspired thousands of people throughout North America including events for PBS, Barnes and Noble at The Grove, USC, and UCLA, corporations including Macy’s and California Pizza Kitchen, and has keynoted for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Southern California Writers Conference, the American Association of University Women, and the South Bay Women’s Conference. View testimonials of Sheri’s motivational speaking.

Sheri and her books have been featured in hundreds of articles, programs, websites, and shows, including on NBC’s The 10! Show, CBS Los Angeles, The Huffington Post, Life After 50 Magazine, The Good Life with VeegMama, and Publishers Weekly. Sheri has appeared on the cover of several magazines along with feature articles that inspire readers to believe in themselves and take inspired action to transform their lives.

Sheri has been honored to participate in pop culture events including Comic-Con, the MTV Movie Awards, the Primetime Emmy Awards, Book Expo America, and the People’s Choice Awards.

Sheri is proud to serve as a spokesperson for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), a non-profit organization that provides free books to underprivileged elementary school students, and to volunteer in the Pediatric ICU at Children’s Hospital.

In addition, she is a founding member of the Evolutionary Business Council, an international, invitation-only council of speakers and influencers dedicated to teaching the principles of success in order to make the world a better place, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Sheri’s newest adventure is a contemporary romance. She was inspired to write Cake in Bed, her debut novel, to empower women to be their authentic selves and to not settle for less than they deserve in life or in love, because everyone deserves to have their cake and eat it too … preferably in bed!

I didn’t know what to think of Sheri when I met her at Los Angeles Comic-con, clad in a Harley Quinn outfit, but she immediately impressed me. The fact that she friended me on Facebook before I could add her was even a better indication of her legitimacy, but then I saw her website and it blew me away.

I loved talked to Sheri because she perfectly balanced the whimsy and inspiration that pumps you up with the tactical and practical information that can help get you to the next level. The thing that really resonated with me from our conversation was the idea of becoming a magnet for the right people.

Right now Wannabe Press and this show are working very hard to push our message to as many people as possible, but her message was to create a brand where the right people find you. It’s not easy to do, but I’ve been working very hard over the past year to magnetize ourselves to the right people, so Sheri’s message really hit home. Make sure to check her out on Instagram or twitter @Sheri_Fink.

I hope you enjoy this one with Sheri Fink. If you do, please rate, review and subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

 

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Sell Your Soul: Dealing with Criticism

November 15, 2016

Whenever somebody creates, there will always be critics. Most of those critics will be people you don’t know, and that will be hard enough. However, some of those critics may be your family or even your friends. It’s incredibly hard to continue going in the face of intense criticism, especially from people you love.

Even to this day, I take criticism 100 times harder than I do praise. Nice things roll off my back, but no matter how many people praise my work, if even one person criticizes it my entire day is ruined.

And that’s massive improvement!

It used to be that my entire month was ruined. Then I cut it down to my entire week and I eventually got that down to a single day.

I’ve gotten exceedingly good at dealing with criticism, but it took a lot of work. There are several tricks that I learned in my career that allow me to keep going even in the face of extreme criticism and negativity.

  1. Surround yourself with positivity. The first step in being able to survive criticism is to surround yourself with other people who are as crazy as you, who believe in you, and are working toward the same goal as you. For work to be good it can’t be for everybody. Work without a point of view doesn’t resonate, and if you have a point of view some people won’t agree with it. That’s natural, but it’s incredibly important to have some people who believe in your point of view if you want the energy to keep going.
  2. Cut out negative people. There are certain people in your life you can’t cut out, such as family members. However, we can mostly silence them by unfollowing their profiles on social media and being around them as little as possible. This doesn’t mean cut out people because they raise valid and helpful criticisms. These are spiteful and negative people we are talking about here. There is a big difference from somebody giving constructive criticism of your work and somebody that is just negative to be hurtful.
  3. Don’t rely on others for validation. Part of why we create is so other people can experience what we do, and on some level love it. However, there is a difference between wanting other people to experience your work and needing them to like it in order to validate your creation. Relying on other people for validation means that if they don’t like it, you won’t do it. That is a very negative viewpoint and it has stopped thousands of talented artists. If you can validate yourself, then criticism with sting and rejection will hurt, but you will still be able to move on from it.
  4. Understand that showing your work brings more positive than negative. Most artists hole up in their studios unable to show their work for fear of criticism. However, the positives of showing work far outweigh the negatives. Even if your work gets a universally bad reaction, if you ask the right questions then you can understand why it was reviled and improve for next time. That’s never the case, though. You will be able to find some people that like your work, and if you can find those people it will give you the strength to carry on. Each time you release a piece more and more of those quality people will find your work, and you will be able to build a following. The more positive reinforcement you receive, the more likely you are to continue.
  5. Know that because one person didn’t like your work doesn’t mean everybody won’t like it. One person is only one person in a world of 7 billion people. For every person that dislikes your work, there is probably one that loves it. If you focus your efforts on finding those people that love it and away from people that don’t, you will be better able to survive criticism.
  6. It’s usually not personal. Just because people don’t like your work, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. I have plenty of friends who don’t get my work, don’t buy my work, and don’t care about my work. That’s okay. Those people can still love me without financially supporting me, just like I love them without supporting their work as an accountant or lawyer or whatever they do. Sometimes it is personal, and those people need to be taken out of your life, but usually criticism or lack of interest has nothing to do with you as a person.

It is always hard to deal with criticism no matter your age or success level. These tricks have worked for me only because I was willing to get out into the world and try things.

That’s the most important part of dealing with criticism, you need to get out into the world and show your work to people because it’s in the showing that you build a thick skin and develop the resilience to carry on.

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Live @ LACC: How to Build an Audience even if you don’t have a product…yet

November 10, 2016

This is the second live episode I recorded straight from the How to Build an Audience even if you don’t have a product…yet panel I moderated at Los Angeles Comic Con.

For this panel, we had Bryant Dillon (www.fanbasepress.com; @comicbookslayer on Twitter, Joie Foster (www.heyjoiecomics; @joieart on twitter, Mom (www.momcomics.org; @momcomics on twitter), Lynly Forrest (www.hexcomix.com; @hexcomix on twitter) and Neo Edmund (www.neoedmund.com; @neoedmund1 on twitter).

Each and every member of this panel have launched products successfully in different ways, and it was a treat to hear them all talk about their experiences. Bryant through founding a press website. Mom through founding a community. Neo through networking and social media. Lynly through shows. Joie through connections.

I loved hearing each of their experiences and how unique they were. However, it ended up at the same place as before. Don’t be a dick and make sure your networking game is strong.

I hope you enjoy this one live from Los Angeles Comic Con. If you do, please rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

And if you are trying to build your own audience, join our mailing list and you’ll get a free ebook on How to Build Your Audience from Scratch. Click here and sign up today. 

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Sell Your Soul: Luck is being prepared when opportunity presents itself

November 8, 2016

You won’t get your big break before your time. This is an unfortunate truth of being a creative. It doesn’t matter who you know until you are good enough to create mind-blowing content nobody is going to hire you.

So many creatives believe that meeting Stan Lee or Steven Spielberg will change their lives. The thing is that it just might. It might change your life, but not until you are ready for it. If you meet Steven Spielberg and hand him your piece of garbage short film, he’s not going to care.

If you meet Steven Spielberg with your earth-shattering movie, he might take notice. He might not, but he might if you catch him on just the right day. But that chance meeting is luck. You have no control over luck. What you have control over is your preparation.

If you prepare properly, opportunities will present themselves. If you put yourself in the right situations opportunities will happen. If you are prepared, then you will be able to make the most of those opportunities. The right opportunities can take years to cultivate, like pulling on a rubber band. As you pull back the tension grows and grows. The harder you pull on the band, the more force it has when you finally release it. 

The trick is to find these opportunities before you are ready and cultivate them until the tension is so tight that releasing it will send your career to the stratosphere. This is possible even if you are at the beginning of your career and haven’t created anything of import yet.

So how do we do that?  

There’s an old saying among creatives: good, nice and on time. You have to be two in order to succeed. If you are nice and on time, you don’t have to be that good. If you are good and nice, you don’t have to be on time. If you are good and on time, you don’t have to be that nice.

So it follows that if you want to find opportunities, you have to master two of those qualities.

At the beginning of your career, you aren’t very good; at least not comparatively to where you will be in the future. The only two things you have control over are being nice and on time. If you can master those two, opportunities will present themselves if you put yourself in the right situations.

The nicer you are and the more on-time, the more people will want to work with you. Then, your good will grows among those who matter to your career. In time, you will learn to be good, even great, at creating things. Then, you will have all three and be unstoppable.

I call this the holy trinity of success. If you can start out just being on time and nice, people will want to help you. If you keep working at your craft, you will eventually get good. If you can be good, nice, and on time, there will be no stopping you.

It’s important to note that when you get your opportunities by being nice and on time, these will be lower end opportunities. They won’t be hiring you into your dream career. They will be using you for grunt work.

If you can just do that work with a smile, you will build up so much trust with people they will assuredly want to help you at the opportune moment. You don’t want to ask for that help until you are ready. However, when you can create great content it will be a no-brainer for them to work with you because they know you are already a pleasure. 

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Live @ LACC: Kickstarter vs. Self-funding with DJ Kirkbride and Mike Wellman

November 3, 2016

Last weekend I put together two panels for Los Angeles Comic Con. The first one I’ll post next week, but the last panel I put together was a rematch of the epic Self-Funding vs. Kickstarter panel Mike Wellman (co-creator of Guns A’ Blazin’; @macafro on twitter) and I had at Long Beach Comic Con. Usually, I don’t rehash old panels without getting new guests, but since this had a boxing feel, it only made sense to do a rematch.

While this was a very similar feel to our first panel, which you can listen to by clicking here, there was a lot of new information that we gave this time that we didn’t dive into last time. The questions that DJ Kirkbride (co-creator of the Biggest Bang and Amelia Cole; Eisner award winner for Popgun; @djkirkbride on twitter) asked were much different than the ones that Mary Bellamy asked in our first encounter.

We aren’t going to do this panel a third time, at least not for a while, but the combination of these two panels should give you all the information you need in order to figure out whether crowdfunding is right for you. What's great is we rambled about completely different stuff than we did last time, so between the two panels you get a really complete and robust picture of the indie creator landscape. 

I really appreciate how thorough Mike is in his points and how DJ kept us on track. Both of them truly cared about the topic and I appreciate that. 

If you want to get more information on crowdfunding, I’ve made a resource that contains everything I’ve ever written on the subject from podcast episodes to blog posts and I’ve even linked every Kickstarter campaign I’ve ever run. You can find my Kickstarter Toolkit by clicking here.

If you like this show, please rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes by clicking here, or by finding us on Stitcher or anywhere you get your podcasts. 

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Sell Your Soul: Don’t make your dream project first

November 1, 2016

There is a burning desire inside all of us to create amazing, earth shattering projects. Almost everybody has their ideal project, something they’ve been burning to do since they were children; something that will set the world on fire. Whenever I meet somebody like that, and they are at the beginning of their career, I tell them the same thing; wait.

Don’t do that dream project first. Wait until you are ready. Fail on smaller projects you don’t care about. Fail where it doesn’t matter. Fail where you don’t have a massive emotional stake in what you are making. Don’t fail on the project that sets your soul on fire.

Why?

Well, there are a couple reasons.

1. You aren’t skilled enough to make the project you want to make yet. You have a long way to go before you can make something amazing, and until you can make something amazing it’s useless to try to make your dream project. Making smaller projects will help you hone your craft until you are ready for your massive epic.

2. You can’t mount a massive project because you don’t have the cash. Because you are at the beginning of your career, you don’t have the ability to find the kind of money necessary to make your dream project with your dream team. Instead, you should be making small projects you can fund, and over time you will be able to fund bigger and bigger projects. Eventually, you will be able to mount that dream project.

3. You don’t have the clout to make your dream project happen. Usually dream projects involve massive scale and scope, something that requires people to buy into your dream. Because you don’t have a track record, you can’t convince anybody of import to do anything with you. Instead, focus on building up your career so that people will want to work with you. You build your career through smaller projects and finishing things.

A great example of this is my friend David Lawson Jr. Dave and I met years ago when I was the director of photography on a short film he was producing called Silent Lucidity. This wasn’t a big project. It was all set in one room and dealt with a guy slowly going insane as he tried to break the world record for sleep deprivation.

It was a small project. I think we shot it over one weekend. But he finished it.

Then we lost touch for a few years. When we finally reconnected in LA, he made a name for himself making incrementally bigger and bigger projects until he was able to fund the kinds of projects he wanted to make. But he didn’t make that dream project first. He made a solid project he could fund and then kept getting bigger opportunities as he proved himself.

This is the ideal way to build a career, through incrementally bigger projects. More often than not, though, creatives end up abandoning careers because they can’t get their dream project created right out of the gate. They push and push and push to get that dream project done, and at the end of the day it just doesn’t happen. They spend so much time, energy, and effort on creating one project, that they burn out.

Meanwhile, other people are creating, failing, iterating, and improving, while the person that tries to create their dream project first stays still. Remember, we improve from the finishing of things.

This is not me saying don’t ever work on your dream project. It’s saying that you should build up to it. Just like buying a starter home is not the end goal of home ownership, your first project isn’t the end goal of a creative career. You need to build up cash deposits and momentum to buy that dream home. If you buy it too early, then it turns from a dream into a nightmare.

The same way with your dream project.

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Interview #37: What to do in the First Second of your career with Gina Gagliano

October 27, 2016

This week on the show we have Gina Gagliano from First Second books, a fine purveyor of graphic novels for every reader.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on your favorite podcast app, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or others. It matters more than you will ever know.

First Second has one of the best FAQs out there as far as engaging with their audience and building a unique brand identity. I recommend you check it out, but here is a sampling of what they are about from http://www.firstsecondbooks.com:

What does :01 mean?

Is it first? Or second?
 First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh.
 Pressing the reset button. A clean slate. A fresh start.
 Everything begins with the First Second. . .

FOR THE SCIENCE MINDED:

the first second

Imagine shrinking a proton down to a billionth of its normal size… Now pack into that tiny, tiny space about an ounce of matter. Bang. You are ready to start a universe.

And so from nothing, our universe begins.

In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively second (a second that many cosmologists will devote careers to shaving into ever-finer wafers) is produced gravity and the other forces that govern physics…

A fraction of a moment after the dawn of creation, the universe underwent a sudden dramatic expansion. It inflated — in effect ran away with itself, doubling in size every 10(-34) seconds. The whole episode may have lasted no more than 10 (-30) seconds — that’s one million million million million millionths of a second — but it changed the universe from something you could hold in your hand to something at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times bigger. Inflation theory explains the ripples and eddies that make our universe possible. Without it, there would be no clumps of matter and thus no stars, just drifting gas and everlasting darkness.

— From Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything

I think that’s a brilliant way to build empathy with the right readers. It shows the kind of personality behind the books, and more importantly the personality behind the people behind the books.

We talked about that a little bit with Gina, but more importantly we talked about things that we’ve never talked about before. Most of our guests are indie, and First Second is certainly not that. They are owned by Macmillan, a giant in the publishing space. Even though they are small, they have the support of a massive brand behind them.

That’s what made my conversation with Gina so interesting. She was able to talk from a much wider and more longitudinal view of many, many projects. She talked about the three-year time horizon from signing an author to having a book come out. For most people in the indie world, that is an insane length of time.

First second does that several dozen times a year. So they have to think in the short and long term. First Second also has one of the most extensive networks of bookstore and library distribution, if not the biggest, of any guest we’ve had so far, so it was nice to talk about how to plan for that kind of growth. Gina talked about the shows she attends and the strategy she used to make each of them a success.

But we talked about so much more than just shows. Gina laid out a sample plan for how she brings a book to market. I think only Colleen Dunn Bates was so thorough in her episode. Listening to both in tandem would be a great idea. You can find Colleen’s episode here.

Gina went step by step through her entire marketing plan, and how to dissect the best methods for your book launch even if you don’t have a publisher. It was fascinating to listen to her break that down, and also break down the different target markets for books.

This is something I struggled with all year, but haven’t articulated on the podcast, so I’m glad she did. The world is not just split up into adult, YA, and kids. There are many gradations that must be met when you are planning your marketing. Nearly every age gets split into its own category, and the marketing changes depending on the target market.

That’s one of the main reasons why Wannabe Press abandoned the children’s market. It was just too much work to segment our small market in so small a way. It didn’t work for us. This is one of the most important concepts you need to understand before developing a marketing plan. Where is your market?

I really enjoyed this episode with Gina and she dropped knowledge bombs galore. If you want to learn more about First Second, check them out online at www.firstsecondbooks.com or on twitter @01firstsecond.

If you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it on your favorite podcast app, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or others. It matters more than you will ever know.

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Sell your Soul: You suck at first and that’s okay

October 25, 2016

Ira Glass has one of my favorite quotes of all time. I thought about butchering it through paraphrase, but instead I will provide it here in its entirety, even though it’s long. It’s just that awesome.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

This is a very Ira Glass way of saying you suck when you start out, but you shouldn’t let it stop you. The sucking is what stops lots of talented artists from continuing on to greatness. Most people will try something for a while, get bummed out that their work is crappy, and just give up. What they put on the page just isn’t what they see in their mind’s eye.

I have a secret for you.

I’m an excellent writer and I know tons of amazing creatives, yet none of us can get on the page what we see in our mind’s eye either. All we can do is get as close as possible.

The flat out honest truth is that you aren’t very good when you begin and that’s okay. Nobody is very good when they start out. Stephen King, Picasso, and Beethoven sucked when they first sat down to fulfill their greatness. Some people advance quicker than others, but we all start out sucking. It’s only through practice and determination that we become great.

It’s important not to compare yourself to other artists who are further ahead on their journey than you. You don’t see the thousands of hours it took them to master their craft. All you see is the end result.

If you want to feel better about your own art, go and google your favorite artist and check out some of their first work. I’m not talking about first published work. I’m talking about the first work they ever posted online. Most of them forget about the first art they posted and never take it down. There are also whole threads on Twitter and Reddit where artists show their first works and how they’ve improved.

It’s startling how crappy your favorite artist was even a few years before they broke into the mainstream.

They sucked too, just like everybody does at first, but that didn’t stop them. They kept going. They completed projects. They finished things. They learned. They improved. And then they broke through. In that order.

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Interview #36: Becoming one of the Pros with Steve Stormeon

October 21, 2016

Welcome back Wannabe and Creators. Today on the show we have SteveStormeon, creator of the Pros and co-founder of Giles Corey Press.

I hope you enjoy this one with Steve. If you do, please head on over to iTunes,Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe, rate, and review us today. It takes just a couple seconds and helps more than you will ever know.

Here’s his bio straight from his website at www.stevestormoen.com.

It might sound ridiculous in a world holding seven billion humans on it, but I do still believe that we all change the world. We can’t help but change the world; we change it just by showing up.
The trick, I think, is to make sure your change is something you can be proud of. I’m trying.

And here is the bio for his publishing company, Giles Corey Press, straight fromwww.moreweight.net.

Giles Corey Press is a purveyor of fine fiction for the anarchist community. We create, print, and distribute works that in the mode of the best storytellers pass on history, feed our imagination, and create new myths while deconstructing the old. Our theory of change is that fiction is a collective practice — an exchange of stories, visions, and dreams — that builds community through conversation and empathy.

We are three friends hailing from a small town surrounded by a military base on three sides and a prison on the fourth, with a Walmart in the middle. We are each pursuing our Thing while trying to make it straddle the precarity of late capitalism and our spiritual belief in anarchism.

If you can’t guess, Steve is a political activist who has worked with non-profits most of his adult life. Even though we tried to avoid it, our political proclivities came out a couple of times. With the election so close and Steve being the kind of person that he is, we just couldn’t help ourselves, but we always tried to keep it short.

Otherwise, Steve talked a lot about creating SMART goals, how passion influences everything he does, the importance of having a plan, and knowing what you want to say before you create something. I love that Steve creates work with a purpose because that’s what we try to do at Wannabe Press. One of our important tenets is “entertainment with a point”, and that’s also something that Steve takes to heart.

Additionally, I love that he called his book a “ball of weird”, which is something that I’m going to use from now on.

I hope you enjoy this one with Steve. If you do, please head on over to iTunes,Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe, rate, and review us today. It takes just a couple seconds and helps more than you will ever know.

If you are considering your own Kickstarter, I created a Crush it on Kickstartercourse which is everything you need to know to create, launch, and fund your Kickstarter. If you click here, you can get the whole course for just $7.

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Sell Your Soul: Finish Things

October 18, 2016

When people ask me how I got to the place I am today, I often tell that it’s because I finished things. I finished novels. I finished graphic novels. I finished comic books. I finished podcasts. I finished nearly everything I set my mind out to do.

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Even when I didn’t like something, I still finished it. Why? Because it is in the finishing of something that learning happens. It’s not in the starting something. This is because it is very easy to take something to 90% completed. You can begin a novel today and have it finished in a couple of weeks if you are only concerned about a first draft.

However, for writing the true mastery is in the editing. It’s in discovering how everything fits together to make a cohesive story. Those synapses in your brain only fire once you have completed the first draft and started synthesizing all that gooey information into something that makes sense.

The same thing is true in all forms of art. It’s not hard to create a sculpture form that looks vaguely like a person and give up. It’s not hard to draw a sketch, or doodle in a sketch book. Those skills are found in many people. However, developing that raw form into a finished product is where the skill comes in.

And that first finished product is going to be awful, but you will learn so much about technique that your next finished product will be better. You will only get better with each successive finished project, and faster as well. That is the irony of finishing things. While it might take you 10 hours to finish a crappy art print today, next year, after finishing dozens of them, you might be able to crank out a masterpiece in only a couple of hours.

In finishing projects, you will strengthen the connective tissue in your brain that helps you figure out the whys and hows behind things not working, and that’s when you start leveling up quickly.

As you complete projects your respect in the creative community grows, as does your skill. By completing a project, you are seen as somebody that finishes things, and that is a rare quality. In finishing things, you start believing in yourself more as well.

The more projects you finish, the more professional you will become. The mark of an amateur is starting things. The mark of a professional is finishing them.

If you like this episode, please subscribe to our mailing list at www.thebusinessofart.us. Additionally, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on iTunesStitcher, or anywhere you download your podcasts. 

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Live @ APE: How to Build an Audience from Stratch with Gwendolyn Dreyer and Norm Harper

October 13, 2016

This past week I put together another How to Build an Audience from Scratch panel for Alternative Press Expo 2016. While this is the same title as my panel from Long Beach Comic Con, I promise the information is very different. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could do this panel 20 times a year and get different information from every single one.

Of course, that’s because I keep mixing up the panelist. This time we have Gwendolyn Dreyer, business manager of editor of Monster Elementary (www.monsterelementary.com; @monsterelem on twitter), and Norm Harper, publisher of Karate Petshop (www.karatepetshop.com; @karatepetshop on twitter).

I specifically brought in Norm and Gwen because they are very different than my last panelists. Norm is a new publisher who has been in business for only one year. So we talked about how he is going about building an audience from scratch right now, today. His insights are very different than Gwen’s, who has been working on Monster Elementary for several years. Since she is not a publisher, her insights come from a singular product point of view. While they have multiple volumes of Monster Elementary, they are focused on a single product instead of a line of products.

Both Norm and Gwen gave fantastic insights on what they would do if they could wipe the slate clean and start again. Our conversation was very focused on new creators getting started today, but the tactics, tips, and strategies we talk about can be used for anybody at any stage of their career.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Gwen and Norm!

 

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Sell Your Soul: Make it Once. Sell it Forever.

October 11, 2016

Perhaps the most important concept when it comes to the idea of making great content is that you only have to make the content once, but you have the ability to sell it forever.

This is antithetical to the mindset of most creators, who try to find the cheapest way to make something so they can save a bit of money in the short run, foregoing the prospect of selling it for the next decade.

This is a dangerous mindset. Short term planning is only part of the equation of building a career. The true value of creating things is in the long term ability to sell it for the next thousand years.

Take something like Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s famous book was released in 1865. I have read that book multiple times in my life and owned several editions, yet I was born over 100 years from its release. It’s produced so well that it’s still printing money for publishers over a century later. That is the power of making the best product you can and then selling it forever.

Another example from the consumer product space would be the Big Mac from McDonald’s. The Big Mac was created in 1967, and is still sold to this day with the same “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun”.

McDonald’s spent millions of dollars testing, researching, and perfecting the Big Mac, and it only cost a couple of bucks to buy.

Why would they do that? Because of long-term planning.

That an initial investment of millions has led to billions of income in the ensuing decades since its release. They wouldn’t have created the Big Mac if they only thought in the short term, they knew investing in a slamming product could pay off forever.

That should be the philosophy we taking with our own content. Creators that cheap out on hiring artists, or book covers, or paper stock for their prints, or website design will always have trouble selling their content comparatively to those who don’t, and in the end they would not have saved much money, at least in the long run.

Let me give you an example with some hard numbers. If you don’t like hard numbers, just skip to the next section now.

The difference in paying an artist $50 and $100 a page in the short term is the difference of a few thousand dollars. On a 100-page book, the cost of a $50/pg artist is $5,000. The cost of a $100/pg artist is $10,000.

Upfront that seems like a huge difference, and initially it is. But that is short term thinking.

You see, the $100/pg artist will usually increase your sales by 10 times. So if that $50/pg artist can sell 100 books for you a year, the $100/pg artist can return 1,000 books a year.

On a $10 book, in one year that would be $1,000 of revenue versus $10,000 in revenue. Which means after one year on the market, the $100 artist has paid for themselves while the $50 artist still needs to recoup $4,000 to make your investment worthwhile and earn out of what you paid them.

That’s a dramatic difference, but on an even longer term time horizon there is an even more dramatic difference.

If we plot these two books out for ten years, the $100 artist has returned $100,000 on 10,000 sales while the $50 artist has only returned $10,000 on 1,000 sales.

Yes, they both have earned out, but the $100 artist cost you $1 per unit sold ($10,000 initial investment/10,000 units sold) while the $50 artist cost you $5 per book sold ($5,000 initial investment/1,000 units sold).

Isn't that incredible?

The more expensive artist is actually 5x cheaper on the long term time horizon than the cheaper one, which is something Marvel learned decades ago.

Now, I’m not saying every artist is worth their price, or that you can expect to get 10x more from every book you do, and you should certainly price compare everything, but I will say that the difference in sales is astounding when you invest in your product up front.

You see it with prints, and blog posts, and sculptures too. If you spend a little bit of time and effort investing in your product on the front end, your payoff can be dramatic. 

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Live @ SCVCC - How to Make a Career as an Artist with Dave Olbrich, Bobby Timony, and JD Correa

October 6, 2016

This past weekend I was asked to moderate a panel at Santa Clarita Valley Comic Con (http://www.scvcomiccon.com) about how to make a career as an artist with panelists JD Correa (@jdcorreasketchart on Instagram), Bobby Timony (http://www.twincomics.com: @BTimony on Twitter), and Dave Olbrich (http://spacegoatproductions.com; @DaveOlbrich on Twitter)

This was a great combination of talents. Bobby works on comic books as far ranging as Monster Elementary for Space Goat and the Simpsons. JD Correa does a ton of prints and sketch covers, and Dave has worked on the publishing side for 30 years with the likes of Malibu Comics. Together, this panel combined three very different viewpoints on what it takes to make a career as an artist.

This panel shows there is not one way to make it. There are tons of ways to have a sustaining and fulfilling career as an artist. At one point I ask everybody what one tip they would tell their former selves to cut a year off getting to where they are now. Their answers are both profound and funny.

We also talked about how to keep getting work, how to network better, and several secrets of success. As with all my panels, I tried to give the panelists equal time, and they worked well bouncing off each other. Because their careers have been so different it was great to see the insights each person brought to the table.

I learned a ton of valuable information from the panelists, but it really boiled down to two things. I would ruin what they are, but if you can just accomplish two things, as learned in this panel, you can survive as an artist.

Like I say at the beginning, this isn’t about a shortcut. Being an artist is a brutal struggle. Honestly, even when you “make it” there is still massive struggle. All this panel tries to do is figure out how to cut a little bit of time off your struggling.

I think we accomplished that. I hope you enjoy it.

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Sell your Soul: What Kind of Creative Do you Want to Be?

October 4, 2016

The first thing we must do to develop a successful career as a creative is to ask ourselves what kind of creative interests we want to pursue. This is called strategic planning. I know it sounds like a stuffy business term, but let me give you an example of why strategic planning is critically important to your career.

When I first launched Wannabe Press, I spent the first 14 months after its inception working inside my business, doing all of the day to day work to keep my business afloat. I didn’t worry about building for the future. I didn’t worry about branding. I didn’t worry about my ideal client. All I worried about was the next sale. And that is really unsatisfying. By November of 2015, I was floundering. There was very little growth in my business month over month and I was going crazy from stress.

That’s because I didn’t know what was going on in my business. I had no idea what was working in my creative life. I didn’t know why people were buying my books or even who was buying them. I just knew they were being bought. It felt like I learned nothing and was no closer to being successful than the day I launched.      

So what did I do?

I took the month of December 2015 off from my company. That might sound like a luxury, but I was willing to risk one month of sales to figure out what made my business function. I knew I didn’t want to stay floundering in my business, and the only way for it to grow was to discover what was going wrong and what I was doing right. I learned so much in that month about what worked and didn’t that by January I was chomping at the bit to get back to Wannabe Press.  

I went back to work in January implementing all the systems and hypotheses I discovered in December, fine tuning them, and building a brand identity. By February, we came out of the gate with a redesign and massive momentum. We more than double our growth year over year, and our audience exploded. Because of our new mascot, banners, and cohesive brand, people recognized us show after show and we were able to continue that conversation online. More importantly, we were able to target our message to the exact right people instead of shouting into the ether.

Did all of our assumptions work? No. Some of them crashed and burned. A couple blew up in my face. However, being able to start with a hypothesis allowed us to test to see if those assumptions were valid

In the same way, you need to start with assumptions about your career. You need hypotheses about what you want to do and where you want to go. They don’t need to be right. You could start out trying to be a cartoonist and realize you hate it, but it’s important that you have an initial hypothesis. Only then can you work toward testing that hypothesis. Without one, you are left sitting on the sidelines flailing in the dark.

So how do we start with our strategic planning? It’s as simple as asking a couple of questions:

1.       What creative field do you want to pursue? If you are on the fence, choose one field to start. Remember, we are just building a hypothesis here. You might hate the work you do after testing it, but at least then you will be able to cut something off your list. When narrowing your focus, cutting something off a list is often as important as finding your ideal career path out of the gate.

2.       What is your ideal company to work for in your chosen field? Even if you want to work freelance and build your own thing, it’s important to answer this question because it will give you a company structure and audience to emulate. One of the most important pieces of advice I ever got in business was to model success. Successful companies spend millions of dollars on marketing. With a little time investment, you can see exactly what works for their business. Those same strategies can work for you too, with none of the capital investment.

3.       Who is your favorite creative in your chosen field? This can be any creative you admire, but it needs to be in the chosen creative field you want to pursue. They don’t have to work for your ideal company, but they shouldn’t hate that company either. Then, you can emulate and model the career path they took and use it as a guide.

4.       If you were to pursue this field, where would you want to be in 5 years? In 3 years? In 1 year? In 6 months? In 3 months? In 1 month?  In 1 week? People over overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in five years. However, both short term and long term planning are incredibly important to your success. Short term planning gives you an immediate goal which is attainable. Long term planning gives you a vision for the future.

Now that you have those four questions answered, hang them over your desk, bed, or somewhere else that you can easily see them every day. You should be able to look at your long term goals and short term goals constantly and either validate them or realize your assumptions were incorrect.

If they were incorrect, that’s okay. You can always revise your plan midstream. Don’t do it every day, though. Make sure to only revise your plan when you’ve hit those benchmarks of 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and one year.

You should have at least one hour of strategic planning time built into every week. You should also have a longer strategy session every three months, about half a day, in order to reevaluate the assumptions you made from the previous quarter, reinforce or change your assumptions for the next quarter, and change your strategic plan as necessary.

Every year you should have an even longer session to analyze your entire year and plan for the next one. This is a living, breathing document and if it no longer fits with your goals, then it’s okay to start again. 

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Live @ LBCC: How to Build an Audience from Scratch with Barbra J Dillon, Nick Marino, and Madeleine Holly Rosing

September 30, 2016

How to Build an Audience from Scratch is the third and final panel I was on at Long Beach Comic-Con. I feel like I had the complete experience this year. I hosted a workshop, moderated a panel, and was a featured guest on a panel.

This is the panel that I moderated with Barbra Dillon from Fanbase Press (http://www.fanbasepress.com, @barbrajdillon on Twitter), Nick Marino from Holy F*ck (http://holyfckcomic.tumblr.com, @nickmarino on Twitter), and Madeleine Holly-Rosing from Boston Metaphysical Society (http://bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com, @mhollyrosing on Twitter)

Both Barbra and Madeleine have been on the show before. You can listen to Barbra by clicking here, and Madeleine by clicking here. Someday soon I hope to get Nick on too. Stay tuned for that.

I worked very hard to find panelists for this panel that had varying experiences building their audiences. Barbra’s Fanbase Press is both a publishing company and a member of the comic press. Madeleine built her audience through self-publishing and Kickstarter. Nick built his audience through zines and working with publishers.

Each of them has a unique point of view that can help you get to the next level. Our focus truly was how to build an audience from scratch. So often these panels fail to deliver actionable advice for the attendees. This isn’t one of those panels. We gave very specific instructions on how to build that audience, how to talk to the press, and how to present yourself at shows.

Even if you are not outgoing like me, you can find something in this panel which can help you succeed. I hope you enjoy it.

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Episode 35 - Going from a Stray to Working for Marvel with Sean Izaakse

September 29, 2016

Today on the show we have Sean Izaakse (pronounced Issacs). Sean is the co-creator of Stray from Action Labs. He also drew on the Pathfinder series for Dynamite. Recently, he was hired for two issues on Thunderbolts from Marvel.

If you like this episode, please subscribe today on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Even though the audio was janky, Sean was a fantastic guest. What I loved most about his interview is how he planned his career one step at a time with the end goal in mind. He knew he wanted to draw comics, but couldn’t make that happen while working a shitty job. So he made a plan to get a better job so he had more time for his art. That led him to become a graphic designer, which wasn’t his passion but still utilized his skill set.

What I wanted to crack with this interview was how he went from South Africa to Marvel. I am fascinated by people who can make it in the business from a remote location. Even though there is a comics scene in South Africa, it certainly it’s LA or New York. I love how Sean talked about growing his career over time. He talked about how your first 1,000 pages are shit and you have to get through them as fast as possible so that you can do good work.

I heard a similar statistic when I was coming up as a screenwriter. People told me the first ten scripts are garbage, so my goal became cranking out ten of my best scripts as quickly as possible. I don’t know if 1,000 pages is the right number for artists, but the 10 script mark was certainly the breaking point for me to learn what I was doing.

There is a concept of niceness that Sean brought up too that I want to touch on. Sean got his job on Thunderbolts from working with Jim Zub, who we just had on the show in the last interview. You can listen to that by clicking here.

He echoed what Jim talked about regarding niceness. Sean treated people like a human for a long time before he got his breaks, but because people wanted to work with him and he did good work, things started to happen for him. You never know where those breaks will come, and Sean talked about how editors from small projects went on to bigger companies, and thought of him because they liked working with him. I just can’t overstate how critical that is for your success. The old adage of nice, on time, and good has shifted. Now you have to be all three.

This was a fascinating look into an artist’s brain who knew where he wanted to be and plotted out how to get there. Hearing how Sean plotted from CD store to graphic designer, to Marvel was a joy to hear and I know you will get a ton out of it too.

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Enjoy the episode.

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Live @ LBCC: Kickstarter vs. Self-funding with Mary Bellamy and Mike Wellman

September 28, 2016

I had three panels at LBCC this year, and I’m bringing them all to The Business of Art so that the people who didn’t get a chance to be there can enjoy it too. There were tons of exhibitors on the floor and Wannabe that live outside of Los Angeles, or were too busy, that didn’t have a chance to get to the panel and this information is just too good not to share.

If you were at Long Beach, the Kickstarter vs. Self-funding panel was the one you were most likely to see since it was in the big Rumble Room instead of the Creator’s Lab. It was packed with people who wanted to see the advantages of each, and boy did Mike Wellman, Mary Bellamy, and I deliver.

Mike Wellman co-owns the Comic Bug comic book stores in Los Angeles and is the creator of several books, most notably Guns A’ Blazin’ (www.thecomicbug.com; @macafro on twitter). Mary Bellamy is a creator who draws and writes the Zorilita brand (www.marybellamy.com; @zorilita on Twitter), along with working for publishers on things like My Little Pony, among others.

Mary moderated the discussion between Mike and I. She did a great job reigning us in when we got off track. I was surprised at where the discussion took us, and we covered a wide range of topics about the benefits of self-funding, the pride you feel when you make a book from scratch and release it wide, and why Mike won’t ever use Kickstarter. We also talked about how to start getting data, building a business, and letting people in on the process with Kickstarter.

Nobody can ever get me to turn my back on Kickstarter. More than being the reason I even have a business, they are the way I learned how to run a business. They were the educational platform that taught me the mechanics of everything that I do with this podcast now. However, this panel gave me a fascinating insight why somebody would choose the self-funding route when it comes to both creating content and selling it.

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