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  • The Toughest Part About Being a Writer/Artist

    A.P. Fuchs Books
    Some books from the A.P. Fuchs library.

    Full transparency: I’ve never deliberately looked up blog topics (so far as I can recall) but for fun, this morning I decided to do that and see what’s currently out there for blogging ideas. “The Toughest Part About Being a . . .” prompt was something I came across and, maybe because I’m still groggy, resonated with me the most this fine winter morning.

    So that said, here is the toughest part about being a writer/artist as per how I feel at the moment I’m writing this:

    Getting respect.

    When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I write stories and draw, I’m met with two general responses: “Oh man, that’s so cool!” or, “That’s nice. Maybe one day you’ll get a real job instead of playing all day.” The latter isn’t explicitly stated but is certainly implied by tone, facial expression, and body language, all with an air of disappointment.

    The first crowd is, of course, the most pleasant to deal with. Their eyes light up and they smile and are genuinely happy for me. They often become my readers and usually follow up with me the next time I see them and ask how things are going and if I’m still doing it (the “still doing it” part hinting they understand it’s an unstable job but they have my back and are in my corner even if my answer is “No”).

    The second crowd is the one I don’t understand. The general formula for a working adult is you get out of bed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, then get on with your evening, which may or may not include doing more work. That’s the formula I’ve lived by my entire working life–whether working in the arts or elsewhere–and the formula every working adult I know follows. The only difference is I work from home. So when I “go to work,” my commute is measured in hallways and staircases as I make my way down to the Central’s bunker to get started. I work all day–and get paid for it–turn the computer off, then reverse my commute and wind up back upstairs with the rest of the household. But mention you write stories and draw pictures for a living and suddenly you don’t have a real job (see the “On Freelancing for a Living (This is a Job)” blog post). Upon thinking about it, it’s not even the working from home part that seems to rub people the wrong way (though this can happen). It’s the specific what I do for a living. I’ve seen firsthand where others who work from home who don’t write stories and draw pictures are met with a metaphorical handshake. Me? It’s a metaphorical hands-in-their-pockets.

    There is a disconnect that happens–usually with the older generation(s)–where, in the old days, work was something you left the house for and something you didn’t always enjoy. Work was actual work, like a chore, or work was something that demanded such a hard effort that every day ended the same when one came home: a collapse on the couch from mental and/or physical exhaustion. I believe the disconnect also happens because a lot of people tend to forget the entertainment they consume had to be created by somebody. Those books you read? Somebody took a lot of time writing them. Those comics you love? A group of people had to spend a lot of time writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, and printing them. Those movies you go to every Friday night? A whole slew of people had to go somewhere to play dress-up and pretend for a camera to tell you a story. That video game? Tons of people. Tons of artists. Even the very computer or smartphone this entry is being read on was dreamed up and sketched out by people who went to work. Somebody had to write all the code used in that phone. Somebody had to draw all those app icons. Somebody had to make science fiction science fact. Oh, and they got paid to do it because they need food and shelter, too.

    Why is my job not normally respectable? Is it the non-steady paycheck? Is it the fact I like it? Is it because I’d rather spend a third of every day enjoying myself versus dragging myself through the motions? Is it because I made up my mind and chose what I was going to do with the old statement that you can either work towards making your own dreams come true or you can work for someone else to make their dreams come true?

    Why does a lawyer get the handshake and I don’t? Why does a doctor? Or an accountant? Or a factory worker or a mechanic? Their job puts food on the table and keeps a roof over their loved ones’ heads just like mine does. My income goes towards food and bills, getting stuff for the kids and gas in the car. It buys Christmas presents and pays for date nights. It funds life just like their job funds life.

    I work. You work. We all work.

    And like I posted to social media forever ago, I want to repeat here: Everything is art. Every. Single. Thing. Creation is God’s canvas and nature is His painting. The stuff humans have made? It’s all based on someone dreaming and asking themselves, “What if . . .?” Then writing it down and drawing it out. Designing your couch is an art form. Writing the code for your car’s computer is an art form. Coming up with how to safely make a handheld drill is an art form. And so on.

    Everything is art.

    In the end, I’ve learned to live with the hits and learned my career choice will be frowned upon by others. But there are also others who don’t frown and instead smile. Those are the people who give respect. The others? I’ll still respect their work because they are my fellow human beings, and perhaps one day I’ll get the same occupational respect in return.

    Author’s note: This article isn’t about complaining. It’s pointing out a disconnect that some people seem to have and is hopefully encouraging to those who might be in the same boat.


  • Creator Breakfast with G.M.B. Chomichuk and Jonathan Ball (Publishing Business)

    Publishing venture sketch by G.M.B. Chomichuk
    Publishing Model Visual Documentation by G.M.B. Chomichuk

    This morning I once again met with writer/artist G.M.B. Chomichuk and writer/editor Jonathan Ball at Clementine Cafe in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. On top of the outstanding fried chicken on toast I had for breakfast, we got to work talking about the publishing business.

    See, I have a major advantage over other writers: I’m tapped into both the book publishing world and the comic book publishing world. While there are similarities in the overall business side of things, there are distinct differences and, I believe, it’s a merge of these two models that are the future of publishing.

    What’s happening in the book publishing world at present is an old archaic system at war with the new digital paradigm. While some adaptations have been made, for the most part book publishing is operating on an out-of-date system that doesn’t work in today’s reading climate which is why most writers cannot make a living from their craft. What compounds the problem are publishers–big and small–stuck in the old way of doing things and writers who don’t want to do anything but write. This is a major problem that hurts both publishers, creators, and readers.

    Ground was gained this morning in coming up with a new way of doing things that merges the best of the book publishing world and that of the comics publishing industry while setting aside dated systems that hinder bringing books and comics to the reader. Some of the ideas put forth were new (to me) and others were in line with the bomb that went off when my workload exploded.

    The above photo–a visual documentation of our little meeting created by G.M.B. Chomichuk–shows how three creators think when hashing out how to create a publishing system that benefits both the creator and reader. Yes, the image is hard to follow without explanation, but will serve as a future reference point for a venture that was brought up during the meeting (details still to be ironed out).

    The main goal with these meetings outside of spending time with friends is to learn something new, have discussion, and then apply those lessons to see what works and what doesn’t.

    In the end, it was a productive morning and one that will stew in my brain for a while as I retool things over here.

    (Please also see my first entry about my breakfast with these two creators by going here.)


  • Blogging Topics: Open Call to Readers (Talk to Me)

    This entry is an open call to my readers to comment below or send in an email (apfuchs at gmail dot com) or PM me via one of my social channels regarding what blogging topics and/or interests they’d like to see here on the blog. While I usually march to my own drummer, this open call is intended to invite you, dear reader, to have a voice and let me know what you’d like me to cover. Any topic is fine, more or less. (Few restrictions, namely politics and/or comments on the climate thereof.) Likewise, if you have a question for me in general, I’ll add it a Q & A document so I can answer it and post it here.

    Please also feel free to share what you’d like to see here at Canister X in general (i.e. more photos, certain articles, etc).

    I look forward to hearing your ideas.

    – APF

    Ps. A new video was added to Axiom-man TV today on YouTube. You can view it by going here.


  • On Freelancing for a Living (This is a Job)

    Though this demands a full article, here is the brief version on creative freelancing for a living.

    It’s a job. A fun one, but a job. The common misconception people have of those working from home is that it’s all playtime and games, sleeping in and working here and there. This isn’t true. During the day, home becomes my workplace. There is a start-of-work time and an end-of-work time. (Except during deadline season, then it’s work until it’s done.) I have clients who have me on the clock. I have personal projects on the clock. Everything is scheduled. If I don’t adhere to the schedule, I lose the job with a client and/or I lose income generated from regularly releasing books. I have my Patreon to attend to with hard-earned money being spent by people who have trusted me with it in exchange for entertaining them. I have a career built on a reputation and if I wreck that reputation, I can’t get it back. This is all taken very seriously. My career is zero without my readers and clients. My ability to eat rests on ensuring they are treated well and quality work is being brought to them.

    While working at home has some advantages like not needing to commute or not needing to pack a lunch, or endless coffee and the ability to vape inside, it’s still treated like an out-of-home job. It has to be. I’m working whether I feel like it or not. I’m putting the time in whether I feel like it or not. This idea that working from home isn’t the same as a “real” job needs to stop. What is a job? It’s a task(s) you do in exchange for something. It’s a task(s) you’re depended upon to do. Any freelancer who knows their next meal is dependent on getting the job done knows this.

    Thought I’d clear the air.


  • Coming Up for Air – Work Updates

    This week’s newsletter, first draft.

    Writing this to “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. A classic song with profound meaning.

    The last book I published was the tenth-anniversary edition of Axiom-man. That was way back in October of 2016. Unless you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, The Canister X Transmission, then it might seem like I haven’t done anything since.

    The opposite is true. It’s just that nothing’s out yet. However, 2017 will see an avalanche of releases because the following are written and are awaiting production. I just need to write one more book, then away we go.

    1) Secret Project No. 1 (Newsletter readers know the title)
    2) Secret Project No. 2 (Newsletter readers know the title)
    3) Flash Attack: Thrilling Stories of Terror, Adventure, and Intrigue
    4) The Canister X Transmission: Year Three

    The publishing order has yet to be determined, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to do.

    Also written is Secret Project No. 3, a prestige-format comic book, and the graphic novel Fox, which has been in the thumbnailing stage since time immemorial.

    There are a couple of more projects close to completion, but I’ll save those for another time. Point is, 2017 is going to be a big year and it’s going to start happening soon.

    Okay, that’s enough for now. Heading back down into the mines. I’ve found a tunnel I wasn’t expecting and need to explore it.


  • Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm Kickstarter Update

    Axiom-man Kickstarter Card
    Featured: Original 4×6 hand-painted Axiom-man card by Justin Shauf, available as an add-on to the Kickstarter.

    Update on the Axiom-man/Auroraman: Frozen Storm Kickstarter:

    Jeff Burton and I are amazed at how much support this project has received. Not only are we closing in on a third funded, but the indie superhero community is behind us in helping get not just the Frozen Storm novel out, but also Auroraman No. 1 (which features a mini-comic at the end that leads into Frozen Storm). We want to thank each and every one of you who has contributed in bringing these projects to life in some way, whether that’s through pledging or social media shares or spreading the word through some other means.

    Jeff and I both believe it’s important to bring more Canadian superhero adventures to readers, and doing this Kickstarter is a way in which to accomplish that. As of this writing, there are 26 days left to go. Please take a moment and check out the Kickstarter page for the awesome rewards and tiers this campaign has to offer. Please also consider supporting these projects. Making comics and books is an expensive endeavor and we want to make sure all those we have on board creating the comic and book get properly compensated for their time and effort.

    Thank you again to everyone who’s gotten behind us on this. You’re in for a super treat once the rewards start shipping because there’s not only the exciting comic and book, but original art, toys, collectibles, and more.

    See you on the Prairies.


  • Why You Need a Newsletter

    The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    The Collected Editions of The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    This article was originally published November 28, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    The Internet is a painfully crowded place, especially these days. I remember in the late nineties when the Web was starting to take shape. There were some basic websites and, well, that was about it. Communication on-line was pretty much email. Now look at us—everyone’s on-line, we’re all shouting, and social media is the main form of communication.

    Unfortunately, there’s just too many people and these days, with every one and their monkey writing a book, there’s too many authors and it’s near impossible to get noticed. Sure, it happens, and some authors build a sizable and—keyword: pragmatic—social following, but for the most part, many struggle in this area.

    Newsletters bypass all the number games associated with social media, the whole like-for-like and I-follow-you-you-follow-me tactics, and all the rest. (Which are pretty much useless because those are about quantity not quality.)

    Productive numbers are where it’s at and newsletters, by their very opt-in nature, cater to that. Do you want to know who is truly invested in what you do? Start a newsletter.

    It’s focused marketing: sending out communication and information to people who have chosen to hear what you have to say. Actually, I don’t even like to use the word “marketing” in this case because that totally devalues the point of a newsletter, which is connecting with readers who genuinely care about you in return.

    Look at the word itself: newsletter. It’s a letter, not a brochure.

    Sure, your newsletter numbers might be smaller than your Facebook likes, but they’re quality numbers, which have more value than just a high like count. The people who have chosen to receive a newsletter from you are the same people who are more likely to get a copy of your book because a genuine interest in you has already taken place.

    There are so many ways to go about doing a newsletter, some of which are:

    ▪ The Plain Jane promo newsletter.

    This is the kind that only goes out when an author has a new release. It’s not about communicating with the reader, but simply selling to them. I find these shallow; see the newsletter work breakdown above.

    ▪ The monthly update newsletter.

    Typically something sent out once a month, this is the newsletter where the author says what’s going on with them, where what project is at in the production process and to promote a book(s) or event or something.

    ▪ The weekly newsletter.

    My personal favorite and the kind I run, which I’ll get to in a moment. The weekly version can be like the monthly one, just sent out weekly. Or it can be about creating a dialogue with the readers and talking points of interest, usually to do with writing or books or entertainment.

    My weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission—presently in its second year—has four main points: writing/publishing/marketing tip of the week; book/comic spotlight from my catalog; creator spotlight focusing on indie and mainstream creators who’ve impacted my career; rant of the week, which is basically a positive or negative thing depending on what’s been heavily on my mind for the past seven days.

    I also offer a free thriller e-novelette download if you sign up.

    The benefits:

    ▪ regular connection with readers who actually want to hear from you
    ▪ exercise in self-discipline to maintain the newsletter schedule, which then trains you to keep deadlines for other projects like, um, your books
    ▪ an opportunity to market work to readers without spamming, which can lead to sales options outside of the usual channels
    ▪ a chance to encourage and inspire others

    Ultimately, newsletters make the on-line world a smaller place and, frankly, in today’s obscenely overcrowded rat race society, it’s sorely needed. It’s a chance to quiet down, meet with a reader, and open up about what’s going on on your end. And you’d be surprised. Readers respond to newsletters with their thoughts, questions and more.

    Beats an overcrowded social media channel any day.


  • What is Coming Up in 2017

    A.P. Fuchs 2017

    I commit to nothing.

    Bwahahaha.

    Post over.

    Kidding.

    However, I meant the above: I commit to nothing.

    Instead of doing the usual writer shtick of announcing what projects are coming out and when, I’m simply going to announce them as I complete them.

    There are only three confirmed titles coming from me in 2017 thus far. They have already been announced on this blog, but I will mention them again and mention why I know they are guaranteed to be released.

    The Canister X Transmission: Year Three – This is being written week-to-week and, like Years One and Two, the collections have been published within a couple of months of that newsletter’s year having ended.

    Untitled Flash Fiction Collection – This is part of the Year Three experience, so each week a new piece of flash fiction is sent out to readers. A total of 60 pieces of flash fiction will comprise this collection–52 from the weekly newsletter, a 53rd from the collected edition of the newsletter–and the remainder to be written afterward.

    Axiom-man and Auroraman: Frozen Storm – This is a novel I will be writing for a kickstarter project that begins in March. Since it’s being kickstarted, and assuming Auroraman creator Jeff Burton and I hit our goal, this book will be published on time for backers.

    Regarding Secret Project No. 1 and Secret Project No. 3–projects mentioned in my newsletter–they will be announced upon completion. What about Secret Project No. 2, you ask? Since it ties directly into Secret Project No. 1, I can’t say anything about it just yet.

    As for other works in various stages of finishing, same deal: they will be announced upon completion.

    Commit to nothing.

    I have also restructured my 2017 on-line marketing efforts and just today finished automating the whole year. There will be some manual posts but the rest will be the social media bots doing my bidding.

    Your best bet in keeping up-to-date on things is by regularly checking this blog or subscribing to my newsletter.

    Have a safe and Happy New Year.

    See you in 2017.


  • Why You Should Stop Selling Your Book (and Do Something Better)

    Getting Down and Digital DrivethruThis article was originally published July 7, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    Now, repeat after me: selling your book is bad.

    Very bad.

    “Wait . . . what?” you say. “If I don’t sell my book, who’s going to read it? Isn’t selling my book and making money what authors are supposed to do after publication?”

    I don’t know. Is it?

    If you want to ensure your book won’t sell, sell your book.

    Here’s what I mean:

    The on-line world is loaded with authors whining and begging people to, “Buy my book!” They form groups on Facebook, which amount to nothing more than broke writers marketing their books to other broke writers. They tweet purchase links all day and hit up social networks with ads . . . then cry at night because it did absolutely nothing for them.

    How do you get a following these days with everyone and their dog writing a book, publishing it and calling themselves an author?

    Or how does someone who starts from scratch come out of nowhere and move copies of their work without shoving it in people’s faces? (And we’ve all seen them: those authors whom we’ve never heard of move a gazillion copies.)

    To build a following, marketing your book will get you nowhere. Sure, you might catch a few sales and feel like a success story all your own—and rightly you should, to be honest—but to keep those sales going and to build a readership, you need to switch up your game plan.

    You need to start marketing yourself.

    Some people call this branding. What are we? Cattle? I don’t want a brand for my books. I don’t want my books to be what I’m known for. I want me to be what I’m known for. When I’m dead and gone, that’s the thing that matters, not how many books I sold.

    Stop chasing the almighty dollar and start chasing the reader.

    You don’t want to be known as that distant author behind a desk somewhere. You don’t want to be that high-and-lofty literary guest at some convention. You want to be that down-to-earth extra awesome person who’s a familiar face at shows and signings. You want to be that friendly and approachable on-line personality who’s a class act and is genuinely interested in interacting with their readers.

    “But all I want to do is write!”

    Then get out of the business, frankly. Or, if you must write, then don’t publish. As much as I’m an art-first-money-later guy, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to make a few bucks off what I do. The motivation to make cash isn’t to be rich, though. I don’t care about that stuff. I just want to make enough to live on. But I can’t do that selling my book. I have to sell me.

    Let me break it down for you in really simple terms:

    When you first started writing, you went through a lot of trial and error and a lot of drafts. As you wrote a few books, you noticed your style started changing and at one point you reached that magical book where everything was different and you found your voice. Since then, your voice has been your style. Writing is easier, editing is easier, coming up with stories is easier, too.

    This applies to your marketing efforts. You need to find your voice. You can’t just be another author spamming the world. There are ads everywhere for everything. People ignore that stuff. But they don’t tune out unique voices . . . especially if that voice has something of value to say. This is how followings are made and grown. You become known as the author “who’s like that.” Not the author “who’s like so-and-so . . . and a million others.”

    I’ve been publishing since 2003, and indie publishing since 2004. I’ve seen it all. People have come and gone. There’s been successes and failures. Ups and downs. Yet there is one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of it: the authors who found their marketing voice are the ones who are still doing well today, who have a following, and have cultivated loyal readers based on who they are and not just their work.

    To be clear, I’m not diminishing the importance of putting out good books. Sometimes that can indeed be enough to build a readership (i.e. it initiates word-of-mouth, etc.). But if you’re an author lost to the din of the flooded publishing world, writing a damn good book is probably not going to cut it. You need to get yourself out there and expose yourself to readers by showing them who you are behind the page.

    Some writers niche themselves and become known for a certain thing or a certain personality. Others are more broad-brush. Whatever the case, simply blasting ads everywhere isn’t going to do anything for you. But if you meet people, whether on-line or off-, and not just use it as a means to pitch them your book, you’ll be surprised at how many copies you’ll move.

    Put the people first, your book/comic/whatever second. This is so important. This about reputation and, at least for me, I never, ever buy books from people who blatantly shove it in my face. I don’t care how good the cover is or what the synopsis is about. As a reader, I want to be cared for. I want to know this isn’t just a money game to the writer.

    Art first, book(s) second.

    And if you’ve somehow missed the point of everything above, all I’m saying is be yourself, share yourself, then share info about your book after that.

    Connect with readers first, then point them to the page.

    We good?


  • The Canister X Transmission: Year One


    Begin transmission . . .

    Running weekly from May 2014 to May 2015, The Canister X Transmission was sent via email to readers worldwide.

    Serving as a source of inspiration for writers and artists everywhere, its impact was made known by the replies sent to A.P. Fuchs’s inbox week-to-week.

    The newsletter covered four main topics:

    The Creative Thought of the Week, in which Fuchs added his two cents on the ups and downs of being a writer, staying motivated, advice and encouragement, and other topics that were part and parcel of making up stories for a living.

    Work Updates, in which readers were informed of works-in-progress and where what stood on the publishing schedule.

    Fanboy News, in which was relayed something of interest from the world of pop culture.

    Marketing/Publishing Tip of the Week, in which ideas and strategies were conveyed to further one’s reach with their books and comics, and were also advised of some of the traps to avoid.

    Exclusive to this collection is a special Issue Zero newsletter unavailable anywhere else.

    Welcome to The Canister X Transmission: Year One

    Available as a paperback at:

    Amazon.com
    Amazon.ca
    Amazon.co.uk
    Barnes and Noble

    Available as an eBook at:

    Amazon Kindle
    Drivethru Fiction
    Smashwords