Saturday, August 24, 2013

I don't need suggestions, just your likes and shares

People who read "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps" will know that when a woman starts to whine about her problems, she doesn't need solutions. She just need someone to agree with her and support her (sorry guys, you won't understand).

After posting this comic on my Facebook page, I'd been flooded with so many suggestions from readers telling me what to do and many even assured me that if I do exactly what they said, I could soar to the skies! (if it's that easy I think there'll be no more poor artists in this world!!!)
Well let me look back into the instances when I did follow people's suggestions:

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Suggestion (2007): Why don't you open a blog at wretch.cc? (a famous blogging platform in Taiwan) There are many artists drawing about their lives there. Some got so popular that publishers signed contracts with them!!!

Action: Naively opened a Chinese comic blog and persevered for 3 years. Difficult to gain resonance with local Taiwanese and many are not interested in Singapore. For example, when there's a flood, everyone was blogging about it, except ME. So it is obvious that I cannot jump into any hot topics and couldn't comment much about it. Moreover I later realised that most of my so called "fans" visited my blog in hope of a reciprocal return visit to theirs (sounds like tumblr eh? It's a lot of work to visit everyone's blog to leave comments!!!). So after 3 years, I decided to draw comics in English and move to blogspot in hope of getting more Singaporean friends to read my comics. A few Taiwanese friends followed (now disappeared though) so that's why I included a Chinese version for them. FYI, I contacted a Taiwanese publisher but was rejected. I suspect that it was because I am a foreigner and not famous enough. *see Conclusion at bottom of the post on why not Singapore local publishers back then.

Lesson: Do not go into country-specific social media platforms.
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Suggestion (2011):  Why don't you start Weibo (China's copycat of Twitter)? You know, China market is huge and I will help you share to my followers. There are also many artists that got famous there because of Weibo!!! (sounds familiar eh?, too bad I didn't learn from my previous lesson because I was too enthusiastic about opening of a new option, you can read more about this behaviour here "Predictably Irrational")

Action: Opened a Weibo account and started to update there. However, my friend didn't have a lot of followers and she didn't share all the time (too busy). Like wretch.cc, it was difficult to gain resonance with locals because our Chinese usage was different and they were not interested in Singaporeans. I also had to rebuild a new network of Weibo friends there. So after a few months of pathetic slow growth, I stopped.

Lesson: Do not go into country-specific social media platforms (again) unless you get famous people to support you.
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Suggestions (2009-2013): Why don't you try these publishers? xxx xxx xxx Oh let me introduce my friend to you, he works at xxxxx!!!

Action: Met and emailed many of them. Some ended up as an insulting session and left me demoralised/angry even more.

Lesson: Not everybody like my work as much as you do. Thankful for the recommendations but I have phobia to meet your friends or acquaintances now unless they'd seen my work and are serious about signing a contract with me.
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Suggestion (2013): Why not forget about the Chinese version and do a Japanese version instead? Why aren't you targeting the Japanese market?

Action: Contacted Japanese publishers, they are not interested because mine don't look like the type of manga or content that they can publish or serialise. Japanese jokes are also different. Anyway, I added my comics in Japanese but realised that it seems to be read by foreigners to practice their Japanese... Moreover, because everyone knows that I'm not a native, they started to pick on some words to ask if it was really correct. O-K...... so I need to spend time to double check and reply *sob* (sadly I have impulse to read and reply to every single comment)

Lesson: Need to focus on the English version and get a book out first. Confirmed that existing Japanese readers are reading my comics because of the English... Moreover, difficult to ask my professor to follow my deadlines and return the checked scripts on time. Even if I do get a Japanese publisher to publish in Japanese, the reading direction and speech balloon size would be so different that it is difficult to sell to the western market in the future.
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Suggestion (2010): Why don't you talk to MDA (Media Development Authority of Singapore)?

Action: Went down to their office to tell them I wanted to do comics. But was told about their budget cuts. No help offered. I was on my own. Read more on my blog post back then.

Lesson: Need to talk to the right people at the right time. It seems that they are pouring the money back now, 3 years later.
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Suggestion (2011): Why don't you talk to NAC (National Arts Council)?

Action: Emailed and was told that I need a completed prototype before applying.

Lesson: Eat shit while writing my book. Or find a job without overtime so I can do the book at night.
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Other common suggestions that I will now tell you now why it will not work:

Suggestion: Why don't you do Kickstarter?
Answer: It's only for US/UK residents.

Suggestion: Then what about Indiegogo (like kickstarter)?
Answer: I'd been selling on eBay actively during 2001-2002. I understand perfectly the immense amount of time required to email to clients, package for shipment, write the labels, deliver to post office, etc. Moreover, they also take a cut in the funding and some money will be lost somewhere in currency exchanges. And btw, where the hell am I gonna store 500-1000 copies!? I'll do ebook and on-demand-print.

Suggestion: Why not work as an assistant for a professional comic artist in Japan? I know xxxx who did that and came out with her own book later.
Answer: Let's see, assistants in Japan work long hours with very little pay, that's why they have to do other part-time jobs to sustain a living. Ok, I'm over 30, with a fine art bachelor degree, an MBA and teaching experience. Seriously, I do not need to sell my soul to become an assistant to learn the art of manga. Give me the chance 15 years ago and I might have done it.

Suggestion: Draw celebrities and get celebrity endorsement
Answer: I did once before and let's just say, I ended up with fans asking me for more (without paying) and asking me to join their fanclub. Their idol didn't share my work but left a comment at my blog post. Let's just say stars are very busy people, let me know if you want to help me pay for their endorsement :D

Suggestion: Why don't you read XXXX? It's about xxxxx, you should definitely read it.
Answer: So many titles had been suggested to me that I think I could just keep on reading all of them and not draw for the rest of my life...
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- Conclusion -

I'd spent years reading books on self-publishing, writing a good story, business, marketing, branding, ebook selling etc. And wrote my MBA thesis to recommend a business plan and marketing strategy for my comics. I have everything already researched and analysed. However, like everyone else, I get easily distracted and tempted by other options that seem promising. Sadly, they did not work, so I get very upset and emotional.

You may be wondering why I didn't find Singapore local publishers? Aha~ It was very difficult before I came to Japan because everyone knows that local work do not sell well and the last thing a publisher wants is inventory unsold. But now, with some government funding back to the publishing industry, it should be promising again to talk to them when I go home. The only concern is my frequent negative portrayal of Singaporean culture (that I hoped to bring attention to).

So from now on, I will concentrate on English version and aim to get a book out by my 33th birthday on May, 2014.

Your greatest gift to me is to LIKE and SHARE my damn comics to your friends. Many Thanks :)


16 comments:

  1. Can't help but laugh at the last drawing. HAHAHA i will have the same look if they ask me to have at last 100k likes O_O

    I love your comics and I hope one day your dreams will come true!! :):) Please keep it up!!! :):)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thank you very very much for your support!!!! :DDDDD

      Delete
  2. Wow, you are working really hard! ^__^
    I'm impressed and I wish you all the best.

    As for Facebook Likes, why don't you invest some money?
    You can use Facebook ads so people will like your page!
    No fake people, you can choose who will see the ad, so that only people who might be interested in your comics will see them. You can filter from which country the people should be, age, interests, language, hobbies etc.!
    It doesn't cost much and you can determine how much money you want to spend per day. Even 50yen per day will work out eventually! :)

    If you want to gain something, you also need to invest something first.

    Good luck! ^^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they increased the cost recently so I don't want to pay for that...
      One of the artists paid for his ad and gained 10k likes, but I find the reader engagement very low.

      Delete
  3. so are you going to draw a picture asking for 100k likes or a kitten will die somewhere?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What has it got to do with dead kitten?

      Delete
  4. Hahahaha! Im also in my 30s and still figuring out but you at least have been trying all venues (at least U taken action, im currently still MIAing). I only noe i will keep drawing even nothing comes out of it, its a passion i guess. Im sure U will strike it out soon~~~ I do agree we have to face the reality 1 way or another, but will we really give it up??? Hehehe!
    Hope U will cheer up soon~~ Jia you jia you yah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you huicomics! Where are you procrastinating btw?
      I have an impression that you're in the states or something :P

      Delete
    2. Noooo~~~ im actually from our Motherland and currently still residing there~~ hahaha!

      Delete
    3. EH!!!
      Our Motherland is the best place to procrastinate XD

      Delete
  5. Hey at least you answer the comments, I know its hard work and its really cool ^_^
    You have my like and I will start sharing more.

    I really admire your perseverance.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I feel you are being very rude by refusing any advice. Be humble, there are people out there that might be willing to help you expecting nothing in return.

    And to be honest... your comics suck (no insult intended). You don't have a strong product that many people would be willing to spend money on it. You have to improve it... a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The world could be a better place without people like you.

      Delete
  7. Here is a whole load of unsolicited suggestion...hahaha.

    1) Daily updates? I know you are currently doing weekly updates and that it is hard work to finish the artwork for one strip, so this might not actually be feasible. The idea is that daily updates could probably get you more likes on Facebook. It would be cool if reading your comics could become part of the daily routine for your readers. I'm sure you know of many fb pages that resort to sharing funny photos from all over the internet to maintain interest in their page while their followers wait for updates. I also know you are not willing to do that just to garner likes, thus my suggestion.

    To make it easier, you could have weekly themes so that you can actually draw everything at once. With one idea, you can come up with 7 different variations for the week. Since colouring is going to be hard work, perhaps you can consider b&w strips for weekdays and coloured ones for weekends (like newspapers?). Just wanted to throw this idea out there (if somebody haven't already mentioned it).

    2) I was very impressed with the artwork for the strips that you did for your wretch page. Have you considered actually trying to come up with a story? I would think you're actually good enough to draw an entire manga series by yourself. Of course, a good story would actually be more important. Maybe you can try to do a short story, or....

    3) Work towards publishing an illustration book? Sometimes I enjoy reading through books like 150cm Life by Takagi Naoko, or 恋爱ing by Sana. I don't actually consider those comics, they illustrate aspects of their lives following a common theme and I find it interesting enough to actually want to spend money on it. 恋爱ing was so funny that after reading a borrowed copy from the library, I actually went out to buy a copy. 150cm Life itself had a title intriguing enough for me to want to buy it and read the contents. The thing about these books are that they are internationally attractive, because it is easy to relate to them no matter where you are from.

    I'm done with the suggestions, I'll leave an honest thought to end off. I am not likely to be willing to buy a published work if I know it can be found online for free. Personally, I would be more willing to spend on the works I mentioned in point 2 and 3.

    Jiayou! I hope your dream to get published comes true soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Violet!

      Thank you for your "unsolicited suggestions" XD

      1) I also thought about daily updates, but it is very difficult to produce comics everyday since I have to do other things during the day and make a living TT

      2) Actually the artwork that I used to do at wretch is better (imo) than what I do now. I think I had more energy back then and did life drawing often because I was teaching. I hadn't done that for like 3.5 years now and so I kept my drawing skills up by drawing comics, but it's different. I tried to do short stories... but... didn't work out (maybe wrong target market too or not enough fans, not sure).

      3) Actually those are considered as comic books, but because these are unique to Asia, the west hasn't got a category name for it yet. I intend to introduce such style to English speaking world. And yes, I did consider to do something like that, that's why I did this series: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/evacomics&category_id=12762871
      But like I said, it didn't work out... and I wasn't sure why....maybe like I said, wrong target market, wrong language? not enough fans?

      Delete

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