Showing posts with label Business and Marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business and Marketing. Show all posts

Monday, May 6, 2019

Book Launch and Signing at Kinokuniya, Takashimaya Singapore (4 May 2019)

It was great to be back at Kinokuniya again. They had been hosting all my book launches these past 5 years.

Initially I had a presentation showing some slides about the making of the book, but because I brought a no-brand adapter to try out with my iPad, it failed to work on that day. But nevertheless since I only planned to talk for max. 10min (it cannot be too long because there's still a demo, Q&A and book signing back to back with another artist), so I already prepared another version without the slides in case the adapter didn't work. But you bet I will be bringing my thumb drive and purchasing Apple-original adapters if it is a 30min long talk session!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Interview with editor of ONE PIECE, Mr. Kohei Onishi

I had a rare opportunity to interview Mr. Kohei Onishi 大西 恒平, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Shueisha Weekly Shonen Jump during the preview of the "Hello, ONE PIECE" exhibition. He is the 5th editor in charge of ONE PIECE since 2007 and has also worked as an editor before for various popular Shonen Jump titles like Gintama, Naruto, Death Note and Hikaru no Go.
(Photo from right: Mr. Onishi, my assistant, me)

The interview was originally conducted in Japanese with a translator.

Q1: Besides Malaysia and Singapore, will you be having the exhibition at other countries after this?
The exhibition will also be held in 6 cities in China, including Chengdu and Shenzhen.

Q2: What is the key to running a long series like One Piece?
Initially Oda-sensei was only planning to run the series for 10 years, but now it is already running for over 20 years. Shōnen Jump has a 20-page deadline every week so it is extremely tedious for the artist to keep up, especially for 20 years! Therefore to achieve such a long running series, Oda-sensei must work throughout the nights and that is only possible by having a strong passion of what he wants to draw.

(We are amazed! 😮💦)

Q3: Do the editors affect the storyline too? To what extent is the influence?
The major outline and the small details in the weekly stories are all written by Oda-sensei. The editor is more like an advisor, such as when Oda-sensei wants to introduce a new character, I will advise if that is a good time or not. There is a meeting with Oda-sensei every week to discuss about the story or new character and the longest conversation we ever had was 12 hours long! But usually it’s just 4 hours.

Q4: Do you also include discussion about the anime as well?
Yes, we will also discuss about the animation and movie contents. When Oda-sensei has opinions, he will let me know and I will relay them to the production companies.

Q5: For foreigners outside of Japan, what would it take to be able to get published in JUMP? Or become an assistant to your artists like Oda-sensei? 😬
JUMP has an award for the work submitted to the publisher and there is an increasing number of entries from foreigners. In fact, there is a Korean artist serialising with us now. As for becoming an assistant, of course he/she must come to Japan and reside in Japan first, as well as able to speak Japanese because he/she would have to work closely with the artist. Needless to say, the applicant must be very good at drawing pictures.

Q6: How do they apply as assistants, do they submit their work to the publisher first?
Yes, they have to apply to the publisher and Oda-sensei will check if the work is good enough. Then Oda-sensei will provide a sample and ask the applicant to draw this kind of picture as a test.

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And that is all for the interview!

I hope my readers learnt more about the making of a successful manga series such as ONE PIECE and the important role of comic editors. Be sure to check out the exhibition and my previous blog entry about it!

"Hello, ONE PIECE"exhibition
The Maritime Experiential Museum (RWS)
Now till 1 Jan 2019
Ticket price: $15 (includes entry to museum)
To purchase online: https://www.rwsentosa.com/en/shows-and-events/hello-one-piece-exhibition

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Buying my domain from hugedomains

I created my Facebook page on dec 2010 but only decided to register my domain evacomics.com in 2013. But alas, I was too late and it was already hijacked by Hugedomains :(

As you can see, they hijacked the domain I wanted to register in late 2012, during the time when my comics were going viral. I forgot how much they were selling my domain but it was later put up for sale at a whopping US$2650!!!

I think it wasn't worth to buy and bought a local domain name "www.eva.sg"  instead. For the next 5 years I did not think of buying back my domain until I started wondering... why a few of my artist friends could get commission work from overseas clients but I'm kinda stuck with local clients.

I did not think my comics were very local and half of it should be relatable to everyone around the world. I wouldn't say my skill is fantastic but it is not too bad neither. So I began wondering, could it be the domain name? Could it be because of the .sg at the end of my domain that made my website look suspicious? So the only way to find out was to buy it back and try out.

Of course, I wouldn't buy without trying to bargain first so I tried to offer US$1500 but it was rejected as the price was too low... so I tried $2400... and it was accepted 😭 I reluctantly made the payment and received the login details for my domain on namebright the next day. I logged in and successfully changed the nameservers but it seems that because the domain was newly transferred over, I couldn't transfer it out to my regular domain registrar.

I hope my investment was worth it.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

OMG it is the end of 2017

There is only one word to describe my 2017: TIRED!

There were some unexpected overseas trips (both personal and business) and several invitations to give talks at various festivals because of my new book. I also setup booths at two major conventions (STGCC and AFA) and two small fairs in schools. Because of that, Monday comic strips had been affected and progress of my 4th book slowed down.

Sadly, after 3 years since my first book, revenue from the books remained modest and I now don't find it worth while to continue after my 4th book unless all sales are taken care of by the publisher. Or I just do an ebook version. This means I won't be buying back my own books to sell at conventions and gift shops anymore. Currently I still have a lot leftover at home and won't be restocking after I clear them all. Besides spending several months making the book itself, I found myself trapped in the selling of my books after it's published. Because my royalties are in depreciating ringgit, I figured it was better to buy back my own books to sell in Singapore. I rented booths, asked retail shops for orders, arranged logistics, generated marketing materials, gave many talks and demo, chased and still chasing payments. The books I had to store and carry increased and I had reached my limit...

Despite my effort to push sales, there is still lack of support from local bookstores. Only books about the late Mr. Lee and anything political would be given prime shelf locations. For the rest like mine, they either refuse to order, or order in very small quantities and tuck them into spaces that are either a few inches from the floor or ceiling (true story). You may say you no longer buy books from the bookstores that don't carry my books, but they are still located at convenient locations. Certain bookstores have their own exclusive titles or imprint and it seems that they want to protect their market share by not ordering my books :(

The fortunate thing is I didn't have to depend on book sales to make ends meet. For some strange good luck I had been having consistent commissioned work to draw comics for organizations and companies. I also conducted a short comic drawing course at a primary school. Support from my Patreon had also been rather consistent. Book sales was an added bonus and I cleared the 5-digit loan I took to self publish back in 2014.

Moving ahead in 2018... I am working on my 4th book with a US publisher about traveling to Tokyo. If I can finish by end of April (*gulp), it will be released in Fall 2019. So you would have to bear with me the B&W Monday comic strips till I finish that book. Luckily the royalties will be in USD and would be sold at bookstores worldwide, including Japan and US (YEAH!). Finally I won't need to depend on local bookstores and market. You can catch the work in progress sometimes on my Instagram stories.

You may ask what about ebooks? Well FYI all 3 books have ebook versions now: Kindle, Google Play Books, iBooks, Kobo, and eSentral. But sales are generally quite pathetic, like only a few are sold in several months. The reality is it only makes good money if your hardcopy is a best seller (like 1,000 copies sold within a week or month). Or you make something with sex and violence, or about cats... ...

I'm not sure what I'll do after I finish 4th book, but definitely not the same as what I have done before.  I'm not going to buy back my books to sell in bulk anymore. Although I'm not in a festive mood to say Happy New Year, but I'll say "THANK GOODNESS EVERYBODY SURVIVED!" May 2018 be better for all of us!

Special thanks to all my patrons at https://www.patreon.com/evacomics

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Evacomics at Xiamen International Animation Festival 2017

One of my acquaintance was an organiser for an animation festival in China, so I was invited to represent Singapore for their IP business matching and exhibition.

Evacomics at AFA 2017 (C3AFA)

This year's Anime Festival Asia is quite different because the Creators Hub is tucked away at a corner. In the past, it's located at the back of the hall along with the commercial booths.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Evacomics at STGCC 2017

My latest book "Eva, Kopi and Matcha 2.0" (aka. EKM2.0) made it on time for STGCC (Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention) this year so I rented a expensive booth table there. Because of that, I was also invited to be in a panel to talk about the local comics scene along with Dan Wong (A Good Citizen), Derrick Chew (DCWJ) and WaHa (CDS).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Evacomics as VIP at Comic Fiesta, KL 2016

It was my privilege to be invited as guest speaker for Comic Fiesta! I had an event on Saturday so I could only join the convention on Sunday.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Evacomics at EOY Cosplay Festival 2016

Because I thought I wasn't getting a booth at AFA, I applied for a booth at EOY. When I first came back from Japan, I was offered a table to sell my artwork so I was interested to know if it's going to be different after 3 years. (Blogged about it here)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Evacomics at AFA 2016 (Anime Festival Asia AFASG)

I initially thought that I wasn't going to get a booth but I guess someone withdrew on the last minute so I was able to squeeze in!!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 3

Some people asked me if I earn more from selling books myself or at bookstores. Although I earn less selling at bookstores per book, but if it sells well, there is a chance of getting it recognised and moved to better shelf locations where more people will notice it. There's also a misunderstanding that once a book is published, it can be found all over the world, but it really depends on the foreign bookstore's order and whether or not the distributor can send the books overseas. At the end of the day somebody has to pay for the shipping first...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 2

So actually when I first made them, there were 100 pcs only and it was easy to clear. I also found them adorable. But when the second batch of 500pcs came I went crazy and didn't want to see them anymore... It was a storage and logistics nightmare. I had to collect them from my fan's office, then consolidate with the books from another place before transporting them over to the retail shop warehouse. Each trip had to be well-coordinated to save on the uber/grabtaxi ride and reduce the number of cats I had to keep in my room (my sister/owner doesn't like me put anything outside of my room). The cats were stored in those dubious looking rucksacks that makes the drivers suspicious if I was transporting a dead body or something heavy and illegal...

Finally after more than a year... they are getting sold out on my side and left with stock at the retail stores :))))
One of the frustration was when I had plenty of stock, I had to beg people to buy... but once I was left with a few or sold out, many people would come and wonder if they could buy it... ... This happens every single time when I have booth...  (=___________=);;



It has been tough doing books but whenever I see people excited or happy reading them I feel satisfied. Unfortunately bookstores big and small had not been supportive due to priorities given to their own in-house exclusive comic books. So although I have many fans telling me they liked the second book better, the sales return had not been great to pay off for the 7-8 months of hard work.

The  traditional sales route is hindered by bookstore politics and I can't be buying back hundreds of books for each new release and trolleying them around to sell... Both my mind and body will be drained and this not only affects my health, but also my creative work. Therefore the 3rd book will be done differently to minimise the financial risk. Yes, I'm planning it to be done via crowd-funding and will start working on the book early next year, hope everyone will support!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 1

Here are a few comic strips to let readers understand what actually goes behind the scenes. Like other Asian parents, mine also discourages me from doing my comics seeing how unstable my income is and hope that I quit soon and go back to a full-time job...

When I had a full-time job, I always buy branded leather bags and could afford to go high tea. But as an entrepreneur selling own books and goods, I had to take a huge pay cut and buy plastic bags for my booths. Frankly speaking I don't miss the branded bags because the cost of maintainence (from the mold) is too high!

A certain frustration I shared with other comic artists is that when our "fans" requested us to make certain goods, we thought that they will buy when we make it. But after we make it, they DON'T! Then we have to spend a lot of time and effort (not forgetting storage too) to sell the products. So it's likely I won't be having anymore toys and shirts in the future unless a retail store is willing to partner with me to take care of the storage and logistics.

So yes, that is the end of part1. Hope you sort of get the idea about the behind of scenes of what we do so please support my upcoming events and online shop, thank you! (Oh yes and Patreon too for exclusive look at my sketches)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Talk and Signing at Kinokuniya, Takashimaya (24 Sep 2016)

I was very happy to return to Kinokuniya again after 2 years at its new location! I reached there early to display my prize giveaway: Matcha cat cushion and sticker sheets. Some of my friends reached there early so I asked them to help me take some photos and do FB Live video broadcast later.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Should you self-publish or sign on with a publisher

(Left: My first book that I self-published, right: my second book with a publisher)

Many budding authors feedback to me that they found my article: "9 Important Lessons learnt on self-publishing in Singapore" very useful, so I am writing another one for authors who are wondering if they should self-publish or sign a contract with a publisher. After experiencing both sides, I would like to put together the pro and con of each side and share with you what I went through so you can decide for yourself which path to take.

Self Publishing
Pro:

  • You can control everything from the content to the pricing of your book.
  • Higher profit margin if your book cost is low.
  • Retain full copyright to sell to other publishers in various countries, including selling on Amazon.com and publish in any eBook format.

Con:

  • You bear the cost of all production, including reprints.
  • You have to store the rest of the books that your distributor did not take and try your blardy best to clear them.
  • Distributor may under-estimate your sales and it is up to you to check stock at each bookstore chain and pester them relentlessly for payment. Yes, that includes countless emails, messages and phone calls over several months before they give in and have your money back (usually more than a year had passed).
  • Unless you are a celebrity or have a proven track record of darn good sales, your book will most likely be placed somewhere at the bottom of a god-knows-where shelf.


Signing with a Publisher
Pro:

  • You do not have to pay for anything to get your book published.
  • You do not have to store any books, unless you buy back at a discounted rate from publisher to sell on your own.
  • You may receive an advance royalty so you can stop starving...
  • Someone will chase the distributor for payment so you can stop hunting them down on your own.
  • A better image because publishers do not take in any work. Your work has to be good enough for them to invest in the time and money.
  • Your book may have a better shelf placement if your publisher has a good relationship with the bookstore. There are cases where books just flew off the shelf because they were placed in prime locations (such as cover facing up at eye-level, or at the "Top Recommendation" shelves).
  • Somebody to blame if there is a spelling or grammar mistake...

Con:

  • Depending on your publisher, you may have very little say over what to include or exclude in your book. 
  • Surrender of partial/full rights (depending on contract and negotiation). Most publishers will demand worldwide or exclusive rights to your book whenever they can. Sometimes exclusive contracts work well as the publisher and bookstore do their best to sell your books by placing them at prime locations, which means a higher chance of selling out. However sometimes it may backfire if there is a foreign publisher interested to translate your work but you already signed off all the rights to your original publisher. 
  • Low returns per book sold. Royalty rate can be anywhere between 6-10%. This means if your book is priced at $15, you only earn $1.50 when a book is sold. So if you sold 2,000 copies, you only get back $3,000 for that several months of hard work. Payout of royalties only happen once a year so remember to get an Advance before you turn into a skeleton.

Conclusion
We usually choose self-publish if no publishers are interested, or we want to retain full rights and control over our creative work. Some publishers are well connected and may get you to appear at certain fairs or festivals. But if you are equally well-connected, this will not matter much.

The main advantage of going into an exclusive contract with a publisher is that they and the bookstores will work together to place your books in extremely good shelf locations. I have seen many authors with lesser FB Likes than mine but sold more than 10,000 copies (yes, much more than mine), just because their books are placed at eye-catching places.

However, if you are expecting future growth to global audience, this contract will backfire because you won't be able to sign contracts with foreign publishers yourself and publish eBooks in Kindle or iBook format. You will also be unable to sell your own books during conventions. Therefore you might want to negotiate with your publisher to sign into a non-exclusive contract whereby they have exclusive rights to certain countries/region and you have the freedom to sell to the rest of the world or in other eBook format. Of course, if you don't intend to sell your own goods (together with your book), or if you don't mind giving up your creative freedom and don't want to deal with any book sales, then going exclusive may be right for you.

I hope my article had been useful to any aspiring and budding authors/artists out there. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will usually reply within a day or two. Good luck! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Eva Goes Solo book signing trip to KL 10-11 Sep 2016

Day One: 
Cooler Lumpur Festival
I was honoured to be invited to this independent literature festival for a panel discussion with famous Malaysian comic artist and doodler Chee Ming Boey. I also got to meet my publisher and editor for the first time!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Patreon goal finally reached after more than a year, although for one day only

After relentless whining about the lack of support for artists and my expensive monthly medical fees, a friend decided to pledge and encouraged me to finish my second book earlier. And because it was my birthday month, a fan increased her pledge to $10 for this month only, hence for the first time in more than a year,
I finally reached the goal of US$600/month!!!
\(≧▽≦)丿♪\(≧▽≦)丿♪\(≧▽≦)丿♪ 
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...

#supportlocal ?

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.

Conclusion

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!
In case you don't know what is Patreon, it is something like Kickstarter, but it works more like a paid subscription. You can just pledge from $1/month and you can...
  • ... 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!

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