I finally reached the goal of US$600/month!!!
But after one day, a fan lowered his pledge for June...
... anyway, at least all patrons are still around!!!
It has not been easy and many times I was disappointed because although I have 96,000 likes on FB and 5,400 followers on Instagram, I have less than 60 patrons supporting me. Which made me wonder WHY??? Sometimes I post about my disappointment on FB, but I would get random readers telling me to stop posting such demoralising posts, so I only post my comics nowadays...
When my first book was published in 2014, I had around 48,000 likes but sales was slow. I had to spend an entire year renting stalls and doing talks to push my book and finally clear all 3,000 of my first print. I almost had to beg people to buy a copy from me sometimes. I was (and still) in debt for borrowing money to self-publish the book. But luckily I paid off most of it already and it's interest-free with no due date. No thanks to local publisher who rejected my work and no thanks to local chain bookstore for placing my books in horrible locations. Also no thanks to local distributor who gave me a wrong estimation of sales and delayed my payment. That's why I'm now with a Malaysian publisher, who had seen that my books were actually doing quite well despite being a first-time author. Although royalties will be paid in deflating ringgit, at least I can use it to buy back stock to sell at local conventions... and I'm happy I do not have to fork out the money or do crowd-funding for the second book, which I think is tough in Asian market + logistics nightmare.
Followers on FB and Instagram are not as loyal as those following bloggers and Youtubers
I had conversations with other artists and bloggers and we noticed that people who follow on FB and Instagram are generally more casual and do not have such a strong bonding with the artist/creator. For example there are some youtubers who published their own comic books and they sold very well despite looking very amateurish. Meanwhile professionals like us had to struggle or make great efforts to sell our books. When we have products, people are extremely critical about it (such as my 3D printed toy). Perhaps because YouTube makes you feel as if you know the creators personally and hence a closer bond and level of support. Also when you read a blog regularly or visit a Youtube channel, you are searching for its content actively, whereas on FB and Instagram is spoon-feeding into your newsfeed and everything disappears as you scroll. Although I have been updating new comics every Monday, many told me they haven't seen my new comics and I had to tell them to check out my timeline or blog. There is a setting to see my posts first, but I think many do not know about it.
Asians are practical and not used to the patron and crowdfunding culture
The idea of being a patron of the arts and crowdfunding are all from the West, maybe because they are more developed in terms of culture and economy. After all, you can only do art after your basic needs are solved. Disposable income in SE Asia, where majority of my readers come from, are still very low. The exception is Singapore, which is considered a very rich country by our neighbours, but Singaporeans generally still prefer to buy something practical that they can use instead of supporting something intangible, like art.
After many months of trying to get more patrons, I finally relented to the fact that it's not going to grow much. FB has skewed its algorithm such that my Monday comic strips are receiving lesser and lesser organic reach because they want us to pay. I still leave my Patreon link on every comic that I post but it seems pretty useless. Most people in Asia are still not willing to support creators that make free content for everybody. So I'm going to explore other sources of income after I finish my second book and pray that my new products will sell well.
Although I don't have many fans, I'm glad I have some that are extremely supportive. Thank you all for buying my books, goods and supporting me on Patreon! See you real soon at end of the year conventions after my second book is out!
- ... have all your comments, questions and messages personally answered by me.
- ... download 3 short manga stories, with each more than 30 pages long in English, Chinese and Japanese languages! (Japanese language not available with the last story)
- ... your name included in my new book if you are still pledging when I submit my manuscript to publisher!
- ...access to my sketches and work in progress when you pledge US$5 or more a month!