Print or Web First?

I mentioned in my digital only kickstarter post that I’ve tried to experiment with Kickstarters when I can. Fame and Misfortune was one of them. After seeing webcomic after webcomic use kickstarter for finished collections, I wondered how making a comic that was print only for a year and then put online would work.

Then general/common logic of webcomics has been put it online for free and that will help build your fanbase and eventually sell collections. But in 2012, I needed a new book for cons and was busy redrawing Sorcery 101. Since I already had a fanbase from Sorcery 101, the plan was to have a comic that was print only for a year. Then when it was eventually going online, anyone who was impatient for updates could just buy the book. This was the same thought process for The Better to Find You With and for The Dead Deception which just finished getting kickstarted.

The Kickstarting part was mostly successful. The Better to Find You With was delayed because I hurt my hand. Some folks were definitely annoyed by that fact. So for The Dead Deception I did more of the book before launch than I did with Fame and Misfortune and The Better to Find You With. But overall, the trust and reliably I built with my other Kickstarters were enough to get these smaller books printed  and shipped.

But there were some long term effects that came up when I was posting those comics online. One of the easiest Patreon/Drip rewards to offer are early updates. I definitely think the book already being out is why that reward level didn’t do as well for me. A lot of my regular readers have already read the comic and new readers probably saw the pdf in the store and grabbed that rather than back my Drip.

The other downside is the comic is technically a rerun of sorts when it starts going online. If that’s the only thing going up on my website, then a decent amount of my readers got out of the habit of checking my site regularly. That means they are missing announcements and blog posts.

I’ll probably keep releasing The City Between as print first. But I think I’m just gonna try to get another comic off the ground this year. So I’m getting the best of both worlds.

Thinking of Merch

When I wrote about my con prep and display, the focus of my display was books I’ve published. While they are still what I want to focus on books, I do want to branch out. Partly because it’s always good to have a variety of income sources. Also, books are heavy and they take time to draw. There is a limit to how much I can do in a year.

This is something I’ve struggled with over the years. It’s because I make comics by thinking, would I buy this story. That doesn’t work for me when it comes to merch, because I’m not really a person who buys a lot stuff. I buy books but not much in way of accessories or figures or prints. So to be honestly I have a hard time telling what other people will buy.

I knew I didn’t want to try to make t-shirts. I did that briefly in the earlier years of Sorcery 101. The thing people don’t warn you about when it comes to shirts is you think you are making and have to keep track of product. But really you are making 5-7 products because of all the sizes. I found the shirts to be a pain to keep track off.

So with my new push for merch, I started with making a totebag. This is because I can not only sell it but also use it as a bonus for people who buy a lot of books at my table. Sorcery 101 is a book that weighs 3 pounds. If someone is buying both volumes, they usually ask if I have a bag. So it’s both working as an upsell tool and a piece of merch.  

I wanted a design that someone would buy even if they don’t know what it is connected too. Sorcery 101 was ending but I knew I was gonna make more books for The City Between. Since it was a newer series, I doubt someone would want something that was too direct a reference. I sketched out something that got the general theme of the futuristic meeting the mystical. Here’s a look:

I still wasn’t completely happy with it. After getting stuck on how to improve it, I contacted Amber at Unicorn Empire. Unicorn Empire’s designs are always amazing. I hired them to design and print totebags for me. I sent over my original design and asked if that could do something like that but better. I also sent them Fame and Misfortune and The Better to Find You With, so they knew the general theme/tone/look for the series. After some back and forth I got these:

Next I started working on an enamel pin. They are very popular right now and fairly cheap to make. Again I wanted something that stands on its own. I came up with the werewolf expert idea because werewolf are both connected to my comics but are general enough that a nonreader could pick it up. I made a few designs that were the line art which you can see here:

Then I did some color variations after picking the one I liked best.

They are selling well, so I might do a few more enamel pin designs. A few people asked for a vampire expert one in particular. Like I said, they are cheapish to get made. However, since they are popular right now, there is a lot of competition. So I want to make the designs as strong as possible.

I’ve also been thinking of designing some mugs. But I’m not sure how to reliably ship them places. I’ll probably do some more digging into how to handle something that could break during shipping.

Digital Only Kickstarter

I’m an early Kickstarter adopter. I was the 3rd person to do a comic related kickstarter. While, using kickstarter for preorders has become pretty standard, in my 15 kickstarters I’ve tried to experiment a little. Like my Sorcery 101 books came out the usually kickstarter preorder system, but the City Between books funded books that aren’t done. My newest experiment was doing a kickstarter that is all digital.

There are a few digital only kickstarters in categories outside the comic section. Like it makes sense for a video game to be digital rewards only. But there haven’t been many digital comic kickstarters. There were some help me start my webcomic kickstarters like Lexy’s Cloud Factory. The closest to what I wanted to try was Fresh Romance, which is an anthology with big names attached. Even then they still sold some physical rewards like postcards.

When Kara Leopard and I started talking about [Super]Natural Attraction, we pitched it a few places first and didn’t get much a response. I suggested we try doing a kickstarter that was all digital. The goal would cover our page rates, some promo costs, hiring an editor, and kickstarter fees.

So how did it differ from other kickstarters I’ve done?

The big one is no shipping definitely made fulfillment a lot easier and cheaper. People don’t realize how pricey shipping can get. For Better to Find You With, shipping cost a little over $1700. Sorcery 101 vol 1, shipping cost 2700. And for volume 2, shipping cost 3600. So having no shipping definitely kept our goal small. Once we had everything done, I just had to send each backer a download link through their kickstarter messages.

Thing of rewards was harder. I couldn’t go to my standards of giant comic packs and original art. Sure, we could have made some postcards or pins but sending those out would defeat the point of the no shipping Kickstarter. Wallpapers was a easy one to think of as were Kara’s commissions. Whitney Cogar, our colorist, agreed to make a coloring tutorial and I put together a development PDF. Other comics have had success with cameos so I thought that would be a good fit too.

But promo became a lot harder. While, being fully digital cut down our expenses, people do like stuff. Having a digital only kickstarter didn’t generate as much autobuzz as my other kickstarters. Usually my kickstarters make ⅓ of their funding in the first 3 days, ⅓ in the middle, and ⅓ in the last 3 days. This kickstarter didn’t get that big immediate surge, I usually expect. I had to work harder to promote [Super]Natural Attraction. But that seemed like a fair trade off for not having to ship something. It turned out to be a good thing that we were only funding a 22 page chapter at a time. We probably wouldn’t have made goal if we had shot for 100 page book.

I’ve done two other digital only kickstarters. One didn’t have a video and was only up for a week. The other was a sequel to [Super]Natural Attraction. After the second [Super]Natural Attraction, I talked to Kara and we agreed that the pay out for [Super]Natural Attraction isn’t quite what we hoped. Mostly because making the video takes so much time. We are currently testing it out as a Patreon/Drip exclusive comic to see if works as a draw on those. I’m not against doing another digital only kickstarter, but I think I’ll only use it for small on shots. As an ongoing, I don’t think [Super]Natural Attraction is cut out to be funded this way.

Goals for the year 2017 vs 2018

Last year I did a blog post that compared my goals for 2017 to what I actually achieved. It’s a good way to kick off the year and get back into the groove of writing these business behind the scenes. So to start with let’s look at where the money came from in 2017 compared to 2018.

Here’s 2017 graph telling me where the money is coming from.

And here’s 2018.


Conventions are still a big part of my income. Like I said last year, they wear me out a lot because of travel.  I went into 2018 with the goal to make the same amount at cons total but have it be a smaller piece of the pie. Sales at cons are up and the pie piece is a little smaller but not as small as I’d like. So at least for the foreseeable future I’m still gonna be going to a lot of conventions. My plan for 2019 right now is to set my own hours. Part of why cons take so much out of me is the hours keep getting longer and longer. Having to be on from 10-8 is rough. Then add being at the table early for set up before the show opens means I’m working usually 11 hours straight at conventions. From now on, the show starts at noon for me. I can be better rested, well fed, and can maybe go running before the show.

Freelance/publisher payments

So this category is basically covering all the money I got from publishers/companies this year. It includes some freelance editing I did for Iron Circus Comics, my advance for Jose Pimenta and I’s Know Not What We May Be, my advance for The Stone King, a work for hire writing gig, and some odds and ends. I predicted this piece would be bigger in 2018 and I was right. I want to keep growing this section. I’m doing more editing for Iron Circus Comics already. That combined with royalties from Iron Circus reprinting Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales means it will at least have somethings coming it. I got a few pitches out the door too. So fingers crossed that this will keep getting bigger.

Ad Money/Comixology

I have the least control of either of these categories. Both are down in 2018. I think ComiXology is down because I didn’t put any new self-published stuff up there this year. All my self published stuff got delayed. So I’m only just now adding new titles to my comixology store. Hopefully, my comixology sales will go up now that The Stone King is out.

Ads on the other hand are still heading downward. I’m at this point just hoping my Drip picks up so I can ditch ads all at once.

Patreon/Drip/My Store

My new store seems to be working well. Even though site sales are a small piece of the pie, they did go up a significant amount. This is especially good because, well, I forgot to update it for roughly a year. This year I’m gonna try to keep it up to date and hope that lets it continue to grow.

As for Patreon/Drip. That went down. A lot of the things I tried to get newer patreons didn’t really work. Switching to Drip gave me an end of the year boost. But that founding period was a one time boost. I can’t do it again in 2019. I’m trying to think of new ideas to get people over there. The big one is I’m considering making my newest comic be Drip exclusive. But right now it would be hard to navigate a comic on Drip or Patreon.

Pitching Misfits of Avalon

This month I’m gonna talk about pitching. I will do more than one post on this topic because pitching something work for hire like Buffy was very different from posting something creator owned.

So Misfits of Avalon was a bit looser than other pitches I’ve done because I had already worked with Dark Horse Comics. So they already knew my art and writing. So these were the only images I sent them.

They’re very rough and if I were sending it to someone else I would have sent them something more refined. In fact, I’m currently working on a pitch that has 4 sample pages, a cover, and a whole mess of concept art. But the important bit of the pitch was the cover letter and synopsis. It’s basically 3 parts.

PART 1: The plan and goals of the series. 

This is where I told Dark Horse what I wanted to do with Misfits and why I think it would sell and who it was the target audience. This is what I wrote:

Misfits of Avalon is a magical-girl graphic-novel series with an Arthurian twist: Four misfit teens find themselves empowered with aspects of the Irish goddess Morrigan, and are soon fighting to defeat King Arthur, reborn with sinister purpose. But as they struggle to get the hang of their powers and learn to work as a team, they’re faced with a still greater challenge: the discovery that they may not be the good guys in this story.

Magical-girl manga has seen a resurgence in visibility and popularity thanks to the recent re-release of Sailor Moon; the art style and connection to King Arthur and Western myths extend Misfits of Avalon’s appeal beyond core manga fans. As a webcomic creator, I’d like to bring in new readers and appeal to my existing fanbase by serializing each volume on my website daily and then taking it down once the books are released.

Misfits of Avalon is currently slated to be three volumes, each about 150-200 pages.

Here you can see I gave Darkhorse the basic run down in one or two sentences. I also explained why now was a good time to get Misfits out in the world and who I think it would appeal to and why it will sell. Here is also where I told them I want it to go online first. I also told them how long Misfits is.

PART 2: Plot Synopsis 

With the businessy side of things out of the way I told them want Misfits is about in more detail. Here:


The first book is split into 4 chapters, each from the point of view of one of the girls.

In part 1 Morgan is approached by a talking black dog named Urien, who tells her she is destinyed to fight the enemies of Avalon. While trying to get away from the dog, she runs into her frenmey Effie. Urien then recurtes Effie as well, just as a stone suit of armor attacks the park. The two girls have their first test and bickering between them almost causes their defeat.

Part 2

Morgan and Effie are give a mission from Urien to investgate a string of fires in a gated community. Happy for the reason to class, the girls are happy to get to work. However, sleath is not their strength and they must soon run from security. They discover a goth girl named Kimber is behind the fires. Morgan and Effie insult Kimber for being “just a kid” and a fight breaks out. Urien breaks up the fight by recuiting Kimber to the team. Security then arrives and arrests Morgan and Effie for trespassing.

Part 3

Part 3 starts with the newly formed trio losing a fight to a stone knight. They are saved at the last mintue by a mysterious figure. Urien scolds them for their bicking and lack of focus, before sending them to examine a monster at the parks lake. There they battle the Lady of the Lake and are forced to retreat. The myterious figure then returns and reveals herself to be the 4th member of the team, Rae. Rae formualates a plan, so when working together they easily win the day.

Part 4

The girls investgate some Arthurian legends based on a guess Rae has about the enemy. They then head to the park where all the battles have taken place and find a tunnel that has because closed to the public. Inside the tunnel they fight more stone knights until they face their leader, King Arthur. While fighting King Arthur, their hostility to each other is their downfall. King Arthur colaspes the cave so the girls can’t find him again, forcing the girls to flee.

Book 2 would focus on the girls improving their team work and going against their new found foe King Arthur. Meanwhile, Morgan begins a romance with a boy she meets named Lucius, only to discover at the end of the book he is King Arthur.

Book 3 Morgan uses her connection to Lucius to discover King Arthur’s plan, to release Merlin back into the world and reestablish Camelot. They girls arrive too late however and then engage in an epic battle with the newly released wizard.

As you can see book 1 is the most detailed run down. That is because Book 1 would be started on immediately. So they needed to know what to expect and how much I’ll stick to those details. Book 2 and 3 were more far off and could change as things get refined so I kept that as broad strokes. Most importantly I told them the end. I eventually changed the end to something that worked better with the story as a whole, but publishers need to know you have an end when looking at pitches.

PART 3: The cast

This is basically what it looks like on the tin. I told Darkhorse who all the important players in the book were and what they would be like. Here is what I wrote:

Morgan is the leader of the team. She’s a sarcastic tomboy with a grudge against the world. Her outfit is themed after a raven and her powers are all wind based. Morgan’s good at most things that aren’t school. Because of this she’s got a rivalary with pretty much her only friend Effie.

Effie is a cocky flirty girl. She is always decked out to look her best in her unique glam rock style. So much to Effie’s disappointment her armor is themed after a cow and her powers are earth based. She’s usually overshadowed by Morgan in most of her life and wants to prove she’s as good as she thinks she is.

Kimber is the youngest member of the team and is full of disaffected scorn She wants to fight bordom more and evil. Her armor is wolf themed and her powers are fire based.

Rae is the most pleasant of the team. She’s smart and polite. The few times she’s making sure the team stays on focus. Her armor is eel themed and she has water based powers.

Urien is a black talking dog sent to guide the girls. He can take a human form when needed. He’s eternally frustrated and grumpy because of what’s he’s been given to work with.

Lucius/King Arthur is good natured goof ball. He wants to do the right thing and make people happy.

If I didn’t know Dark Horse I would have told them who I was and why this book is similar to their other books. It’s important to be familiar with the publisher you are submitting too.

In Summary:

I didn’t get a whole lot of feedback during the pitching process except that there was a brief discussion about if Misfits should be in color. The answer ended up being no because of the cost of paying a colorist (I didn’t want to color it).

Anyone who is reading both this and Misfits of Avalon can see I changed stuff between the pitch and the final book. But those changes were made while the book was already picked up and didn’t effect the pitch.