All of the pitches I have sent out regarding my graphic novel Adamsville have come back and it looks like the publication of the book will fall back on me. It’s been six months of work that’s gone into pitching it and all in all, (no publishing offer aside) it was a very good and exciting experience. I was able to submit to five publishers directly and the editor feedback from three of them was super encouraging. The other two I just never heard anything and got a form letter. But 3 out of 5 is pretty solid! I also tried looking for an agent, which proved to be even harder than talking with a publisher. Oddly enough.
So what I wanted to do today was talk about two things. What’s next for my project and talk about my final thoughts on this entire process.
ADAMSVILLE WEBCOMIC IS A COMING
The next thing for Adamsville is that it will be an ongoing webcomic beginning this coming Monday! It will run twice a week with updates on Monday and Wednesday It will update online for free this way for the entire duration of book 1. A lot more of that stuff will get discussed as we move forward. But I wanted to start sharing this book I am so excited about with everyone. FINALLY! lol.
THOUGHTS ON PITCHING
Guys I am mostly so grateful for this entire process. It’s been hard at times and it’s required a lot of patience. In the end I had a way I wanted to approach my work, I stuck with it and I have no regrets on any of it. Today most people just go straight to the web with their creations, and I think that’s great. I always disliked it for my projects (As I have discussed in several posts). It always felt like releasing a movie when the filming was still happening. I told myself I wanted to stick to my guns, make my book my way first and when it was all finished, I would explore all my options. Essentially I wanted to let the creative process happen before anyone publicly saw the thing. I am so looking forward to exploring the fruits of that labor and the way I want to approach webcomics. I am hoping it does well for me and hopefully many others. The great thing is as everyone is getting introduced to the series in the first book I will be busily working on book 2, away from the web. The interweb scares me.
I knew going in to this process that my chances were slim. The market for graphic novels publishing is by and large finicky right now and publishers are passing on books they otherwise like, for any number of reasons… All of which are legitimate. I always knew this was very likely where I would end up, but I wanted to try the traditional route first. With that looking like it’s not going to happen at this time I am happy to show everyone just how awesome this series is going to be. I’ve never been more excited about a project in my life and I hope you all enjoy it as well.
I’m honestly flattered the book got as far as it did without me having a literary agent, as I was able to talk with a couple of publishers who typically won’t consider you unless you have one. I hope this is a testament to the book’s quality I am about to share with you all. The next year is going to be a very fun one and I have big plans for it and the series.
Prepare yourself for conspiracy, adventure, young romance and discover all the secrets hidden in the small town of Adamsville. See you all Monday!
For those that didn’t see it, my daughter and I teamed up to make a AxeCop guest strip. Ethan recently got married and was looking for some help with guest strips. We enjoyed making this strip together and it actually lead to a lot of fun things like our Kickstarter’s io9 mention. Hope you enjoy it!
It is coming together finally, after nearly 8 months of writing treatments and notes and revising. ADAMSVILLE Book 2 (still untitled) is really cooking with gas now. The script is coming together in a hot hurry. I felt like it finally had it’s breakthrough about a month ago and the book finally felt like a narrative that worked and hit on everything I was after.
I am about 1/3 through writing the first draft and so far it’s a big book. Which has me a bit terrified. I am over 20 pages of written text so far and that’s roughly 60 pages of comics story. The issue is I am still a good clip away from the middle. I won’t be surprised if I end up with a 250 page book this next go around. I don’t know. Some serious trimming is in order. Not so much because it’s getting big, but it is because an economy in your storytelling is important. I feel there’s a lot of extra stuff in here that can be reworked.
The key with all first drafts though is to just get the thing out of your system. So I’m throwing the kitchen sink at it and more. Anything that tickles my fancy or seems like it works, I am just putting it in there. The biggest things that will shape up out of this will be theme, I believe. Just understanding what is going on and what they all want. That often, for me at least, feels like the most elusive thing in a script. But it becomes clearer the more I live in the story.
Another thing I am doing is sketching the characters. A lot. I really want to get a handle on them through repetition so that hopefully by the time I get to drawing the book, they are all looking pretty on model. It’s fun filling up a sketchbook with sketches of them all and seeing the whole cast of characters coming together.
I’m really excited for what this book will bring to the story and to readers. It’s very daunting writing a script for a book I know will take up the next 1 to 2 years of my life in production. The promise of what book 3 will bring though is spurring me on fast as ever.
On pitching news with book 1 and the series. Nothing new to report at this point. I haven’t heard any negative news, so for now that’s a positive.
While working a full time job, having a marriage and being a parent… Basically LIVING LIFE!
So last year I finished up work on my what is my second full length graphic novel, ADAMSVILLE: THE UNKNOWNS. I began the process of working on it in July 2011 and finished December 2012. It was 155 pages long, fully colored and by the time I was done, I was exhausted! Lol. I’ve spent the last five months searching for a publishing home for the project and I’m busy writing it’s sequels. But what I hoped I would share with everyone, is how I did it. I’m finding that a lot of people are amazed I was able to pull it off with so much other stuff going on and I figured explaining it might be of use to someone out there.
1.) Preparation -
When I started this project, I actually abandoned all webcomic models for how to make a book, favoring instead to treat my book as if a publisher were paying me an advance and asking to me to make a book and turn it in complete. So I spent a lot time reading how other artists did this.
I basically said, I want to know how the most successful people in this field make their books and then work within that frame work. Kazu Kibuishi’s blog has a great archive of blog posts about his process on Amulet book 1 and I highly recommend this for an inside look at how that amazing series is made. Doug TenNapel is another artist I have mentioned often and several of the videos he’s made are very helpful too. Like this one:
Once I had done some research, I felt the best thing for me to do was:
2.) Write The Entire Script-
All artists have their own process for getting a story done and some do very well in writing it as they go. That said, that’s very tough and to expect as a new creator to handle this well is sort of difficult. Those who have done it well, have been doing it for a long time. So I decided, I would write my entire book and do my very best to have as solid a story as possible. As I would later find, I had more rewriting to do, but in the end it came through as an advantage. It took me about a month and a half to get this book written and rewritten. In all fairness, I had written previous drafts of the book that gave me a solid foundation to begin from. I write my books in screenplay format, using the free program Celtx.
3.) Plan Your Work Load -
The next step was to go through my entire script and get a sense for how long it would be by doing early thumbnail break downs. I actually follow just about the same exact process as Doug TenNapel does in the video above, taking my script and breaking the written page down into panels and page breaks. What this allowed me to do, was before I had even started penciling of thumbnailing a page, I had a good sense of how long the book was going to be. At that time it was 138 pages. This was going into August 2011, and I was two months into the process.
Once I had everything broken down into pages I could start setting a deadline and workload for myself. Now, since I wasn’t making my book online, I wasn’t interested in maintaining a update schedule, as much as I was maintaining a production schedule. To accomplish this I began a pretty crude process of breaking my work load down into steps and then determining how many steps I had to accomplish per day to meet a deadline. A single page would have 5 steps for me (thumbnails, pencils, inks, color flats and colors/letter). Eventually I created a spreadsheet based on some awesome stuff Kazu shared in his Making Comics interview with Jason Brubaker. Once you input the data into the spreadsheet, it gave me a workflow that, if I maintained, I could use to stay on track. My initial goal was be done by September 2012.
The long and short of it is, know what your workload is, set a deadline and plan accordingly.
4.) Use Your Time Wisely… And You Will Never Sleep
A big chunk of my day, around 9 hours worth, is spent at an office job. I don’t work in the art field at all, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. I brought my comic work to work with me. There are certain parts of my process I have intentionally left away from the computer so that it can travel with me and I would make use of my breaks, lunches and any other appropriate down time to work on my book. So rather surf the web, I would try and do something that got me closer to a goal I had set for myself. You have a lot more free time than you think, you just aren’t looking for it. I wrote, thumbnailed and penciled nearly my entire book just in those blocks of time alone.
Where it really grinded though was at night. I have a wife and kids and they always come first, so I made a decision early on to work late into the night once they went to bed, as much as I could. I wanted my early evening hours to be spent with them. There were many many a late nights and some can’t handle the level of sleep I was able to get by on, but even an hour or two a night after work, will make a serious dent in your production. Again, the time is there, you just have to use it. Brew a cup of coffee and get to it. Coffee powered me through many a late night. Thank you, Kureg and awesome coffee creamer.
All of that said about late nights, look after your health. Know when your body is telling you, you need a break.
5.) Help From Your Friends-
This book couldn’t have been finished as quickly as I did without some amazing help my friends and fellow creators. When I was marching in on the final third of the book I put out a simple request to see if anyone was interested in helping me do the color flats on my book and was amazed when I got such a generous response. In short, don’t be afraid to ask. People will help for all manner of reasons and if you treat them well they’ll be happy to keep helping you. This again was a principle I learned from working on Kazu’s Amulet series. He put out a simple request asking for help, and my enthusiasm lead me to work on three volumes of the book… It was a great learning experience.
6.) Have A Support Group-
I owe a lot to my amazing comics friends. I have an amazingly talented group of friends I’ve made online and in real life and we would often go late into the night together as we worked on our projects. Skype and Google Hangouts allowed us to conference call with each other and screen share.. generally allowing us to work TOGETHER on our deadlines and projects. Having their encouragement, kept me going more than the coffee did, almost every night.
Lastly, my wife, Viviane has given me the most support in this venture. She sacrificed many a night with me to support my dream of making this book and often gave me a swift kick in the pants when I wanted to be lazy and not work. A supportive significant other,if you have one, goes a long, long way.
I hope this was helpful to some of you out there. There is a lot more to be said and I have said it throughout the year of process posts I have done chronicling my adventure towards finishing this book. Right now I am still awaiting final answers from a couple publishers regarding my book and I will have a lot more to say on that process once I’ve finished going through it!
Take care and as my friend Will Terrell says: Keep Smiling!
To celebrate Free Comic Book Day, I am giving away some free PDFs of books I made in the past. I hope you all enjoy them! They are listed for free so you can just put $0 in the amount field. If you want to give any money for them, please feel free to do so! You’ll make my artist self super happy!
Hello one and all… Time for another Adamsville update in which… I don’t have much new to report! Honestly you guys this is the dead zone. I actually have a bit of withdrawal going on. I got so used to my life being consumed by producing this book that having to sort of wait this all out is just so odd to me now. It was nice to have a few months off to rest a bit more, but I have stayed pretty busy between commissions and working on the project I am currently Kickstarting: THE DRAGON BOOK AND OTHER STORIES.
At the moment I am currenly waiting to see what one publisher wants to do with the book and looking to see if there are any other avenues for me outside of self-publishing. I want to talk much more about everything, but I feel like that’s a more appropriate conversation once it’s all played itself out. The hard part is that it really could take months more for me to hear something back, or I could get an e-mail this afternoon. I have no idea. I’ve been told though that a fast response is generally a negative one, so maybe I should be thankful at this point?! This sort of suspense can kill a man! Lol.
I decided what’s best is to throw myself full on into writing the second book and just keep plowing along. No matter what I want to finish this series and not fall too far behind my internal goals of finishing each volume within a year and half of each other.
Writing has gone slowly on book 2. When I made the decision to make this series a trilogy (orginally I thought it could go on much longer) it meant speeding up certain parts of the storyline and character develoment. Trying to make that happen without it feeling forced was hard, but I think I pushed through that wall finally and things are moving along well. The book centers itself around that most time endured tradition of the school dance and getting all of that right has been difficult. I have also been watching a lot of dance movies like this one:
and this one:
No judgies on the movies. I gotta do what I gotta do to get my research on. Mostly these were the ones on Netflix so I watched them. But what it reminded me of is just how insanely crazy the whole dance experience is for kids. So much is wrapped up in them. I’m really looking forward to having fun with that dynamic.
As many of you know I am pretty big process junkie. I find a lot of efficiency comes from having a solid process in place. As I have been writing this book my current process is actually a pretty easy one. I set a timer and write for 30 minutes, bascially every day. I can get a lot done in that amount of time and with all of the other things I am juggling right now that is about all I can take on. My hope is one way or another to finish the script, be penciling pages and making the next book by July, whether I know what is happening with a publisher or not. We’ll see what happens there. I’m so anxious to be back to making this book though.
Well the Kickstarter project that I have been mentioning here and there on my Twitter has finally gone live. I am super excited about this. It’s something that has been in the works for about a year now. My daughter and I have been making a book together now for some time as just something to do together on the weekends. It was a blast. We were going to have a small number of copies off for us around the house.
But then a bigger idea came into my mind. I have been wanting for some time to go out to children’s hospitals and give them books for kids and talk with schools and libraries about storytelling. I figured why not combine this goal with the book my daughter and I made. And that’s what this Kickstarter is all about.
The Kickstarter is designed to fund our first print run of books for shipping and fulfilling pledges to our backers. But with the funds I want to print as many copies of the books as I can and give whatever I have left over after reward fulfillments to kids everywhere in hospitals libraries and schools.
I have started to talk with some local places and once everything is printed and all rewards taken care of I will begin setting up times to visit and share this book with the kids there. How far this goes, locally and everywhere else, depends on how successful the campaign is. This is something I hope to do a lot of fun things with, beyond this book. I hope you will take a look at this campaign and consider pledging to get your copy of the book and help me get it out to as many awesome kids as I can!
Few movies have had the impact on me as Jurassic Park did when I was a kid. I think I am not alone in this sentiment by any stretch. I made an appreciation comic about it. I hope you all can get a chance to go see this amazing movie again in the theaters.
I have been taking commissions since I was out of college nearly eight years ago and it is one of the more interesting experiences you can navigate. It has it’s ups and downs and the allure of how you can make more money can cause you do to things that may not be the best thing in the world for yourself. So I wanted to compile a small guide to the artist on some of the things I have learned while doing this and hopefully spare you all some potential pitfalls.So here we go!
What To Seek Commissions On
So you’re all excited to get out there with your sweet artist skills and make some money doing what you love. Then you get that first client, and they want you to draw some sea horse wearing a dress and dancing Gangnam Style… You’re left wondering is this what you signed up for? Well the answer is actually very simply, maybe it is! That’s for you to decide what kind of work you will and won’t take on. Maybe nautical creatures dressed like people and rocking a sweet dance are what you want to do! You like eccentric stuff, but the point would be that you WANT to do that kind of work. If you don’t like that sort of project my advice to you is to avoid it. Plainly stated: Try to only take on work that you are truly excited about. There’s nothing wrong with telling a potential client you’re not right for the job.
This should seem simple but it’s not. Often we’re so excited someone wants to pay us to make art that we take whatever crazy comes your way, whether you like the project or not. This can really ruin the enjoyment and, honestly, the relationship you have with your client. They’ve come to you for help, if you can’t give it your all and have as much passion about it as the person paying you, it will show up in your work and will very likely hurt you in the long term. So don’t be afraid to turn down work if you aren’t interested. It’s fine, more work is out there. Take on commissions that you love! The great thing is over time, more work in the field you are interested in will come your way as you build a portfolio, because of your brand.
It’s All About The Money
One of the hardest things for people to gage is how much should they charge for their work. I wish it were simple, but it just isn’t and I won’t pretend it to be. The best thing is to consider two things:
What is your time worth? The safest place I have found in my determination of my pricing is to ask what is the hourly wage I feel comfortable with earning and then I estimate the time I suspect it will take me to finish it. That is what I qoute to a client. And you’ll have to figure out what price point is actually generating work for you. If you are higly priced, you may not get much work and in the early days of your freelance career, quanitity with quality makes a huge difference in building your brand and network of patrons. So ask yourself this question about how much you feel your time is worth, use common sense and go from there.
Who is your client? One of the things with price is try to make things uniform, but that doesn’t always make sense. If your client is a person wanting something for their living room as opposed to a major company wanting your work, there should be a price difference. A large company stands to profit from your work much more than an individual and its OK to change your commission expectations based on the client. Be fair and considerate… Not greedy. And if in the end you can’t get a price you are happy with, best not to take the project.
Pricing your work is a tough one, so research as much as you can online and arrive at something you are happy with.
Treat Every Commission Like It’s The Most Important One You Have Ever Received. EVERY ONE OF THEM!
This principle has become my most prized commission tip and I try to live it out every single time. Your client deserves your best work, period. If you feel like they didn’t pay you much and you skimp on your product then that’s not very professional. If you agree to a project it deserves all of your effort. Put everything you have into every job. You know why? Because that level of professionalism permeates through your projects and when your clients get MORE than they paid for, bigger projects and clients will come your way. Gauranteed.
Think about it: Someone has paid you to make a piece of art for them. You accept it but you are kind of unhappy about the project (it’s not a project you love) and you feel like they didn’t pay you as much as you would have liked (you didn’t gage your price level well). Your client shows up to pick up their art and its subpar, uninspired work. That won’t get legs and work for you in getting your next client. Give it your all. Everytime.
Never Let Your Client Leave With A Bad Taste In Their Mouth
Sometimes, things don’t go as smoothly as you would like in the completion process of a painting and when they see it for the first time. You can tell they are unhappy with something. Maybe they say it, maybe they don’t. Nothing is worse to me than completing a project, handing it off to my client and just knowing they are not 100% happy with what they received.
Now you can’t make everyone happy and sometimes that is what it is. But often there’s something you can do about it. And you should. Sometimes it means doing additional adjustments, and if you can, you should do them without charging extra (you should be building adjustments into your process and pricing anyways).
Smile. Be professional. Work Your Butt Off.
A Word On Problematic Clients
These are rare thankfully. Sometimes you have someone who is just rude. Nothing you do makes them happy. They try and skimp you on price, whatever. If these things happen, it’s OK to let that person go. Do your best to help them leave you on good terms and move on to the next client. If they return you can politely decline.
I hope this is helpful to everyone. I know this is a big topic, but I would love to answer questions or hear advice from you all about freelance stuff. I’m still learning, but this is the best of what I got !