Lots going on, with some projects for clients on the tail-end of completion, Project Rebuild in full swing, and working on other projects both in terms of on-line content and for hardcopy books and comics. While this week seemed full on the onset, the load is already beginning to lighten due to tying up some things yesterday. I figured out on the weekend why things have seemed hectic: Project Rebirth. When Project Rebirth started in the fall, it was a project that had a lot of moving parts and a lot of little tasks associated with it so each day I was doing a plethora of things to get my career running again. Now, and I’m fairly sure I’ve previously mentioned, my workflow is shifting to fewer things in the day because those fewer things take more time. In the end, this switch-up in working is a welcome one because I nearly crashed prior to the Holidays with juggling so many things.
Anyway, adjustments made. Focus change pleasant.
Speaking of focus and zeroing in, today I posted a couple of pages to Patreon of pencils from Secret Project No. 3, showing what these things look like before they’re ever printed in comic book form. Go here to check it out and read past patron-only blog posts, essays, a serial novel, and more.
I’ve officially entered that season where I’m gearing up for the Holidays. And I know I’m gearing up for the Holidays because I’ve hit my wall after four months of going hard trying to rebuild my career after being ill for so long. Next week is Christmas week and I’m taking the week off effective Sunday. Daily blog posts are still planned as is the newsletter. If you’re a Patreon subscriber, the behind-the-scenes tier airs next week. But that’s pretty much it for me for the Holidays. I’ll be back in full swing the week after.
Also, I have a Christmas thing planned for both Patreon and this blog (both different special Christmas things), so make sure you’re hooked up to All Things A.P. Fuchs before next week rolls around so you get everything.
In the end, this break is needed. I plan to read, sleep, watch a little TV, and eat and visit.
Ps. Today on my Patreon page was a Patron-first Announcement revealing the real title of Project Jackass. As a patron, you get project reveal news before anyone else. Subscribe today for as little as a buck to make sure you’re always in the loop. (Other things like an ongoing serial novel, bonus posts, and more should keep you busy between Patron-first Announcements.)
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:
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.
It’s important for every creator to make a schedule for their creative time. The idea of “creating when inspired” or “in the mood” doesn’t work. (Been there, done that.) Not very long ago I was mocked on-line for suggesting a creative schedule to someone who was having trouble creating. The answer I proposed to their problem was to treat it like a job and just do it. Most seasoned creators will tell you that you have to create whether you feel like it or not if you want a career in this business.
The formula is simple: Approach this casually, you’ll get casual results. Approach this diligently, you’ll get diligent results.
There is no way around this. And, usually, once you get going on a project after deciding to start working, the project starts to flow on its own anyway.
Schedule out your time. Schedule out your projects.
It’s worth taking the time to do this step. In fact, it actually saves you time later in a multitude of ways.
On September 14, 2019, I launched my first Patreon page. It was a thrilling day and one filled with hope and excitement. Sure, part of the reason to create the page was to supplement my writing and drawing income, but, having been part of Web culture since close to the beginning of my career (circa 2000), it was an opportunity for me to create a place on the Web to share cool stuff with people in a kind of “club” format.
See, I have this problem of creating a ton of stuff for free and putting in on the Web whether via this blog or social media. As of today’s date, I’m on here blogging articles, essays, and musings Monday to Friday, my free weekly newsletter goes out on Saturdays, I started up a YouTube channel again, and I’m doing Inktober and sharing those sketches on social media (see the icons on the right). I enjoy entertaining people and, if I was in a place where money was no object, I’d gladly share all my work for free. But I can’t. I need to eat, need to buy supplies, need to cover costs, etc. so I have no choice but to charge for my work hence adding Patreon as part of my platform.
If there is one major aspect of Patreon I truly enjoy, it is the idea of having a special place on the Web where people use a key (money) to unlock a door (my Patreon) to get stuff only available on the other side of that door. It’s an opportunity for me to virtually sit down with a group of people several times a month and go, “Look what I made. Hope it entertains you. Hope it educates you.” Almost like show-and-tell but, hopefully, much more entertaining. And, in the end, that’s what Patreon stands for for me: My patrons. They’re a special group of people who were willing to shell out a few beans to help a northern jackass like myself keep making entertainment for them and others.
(Side note to explain what creators mean when they say buying their work or supporting their Patreon enables them to keep creating. They are not saying that without the support they can no longer create. A creator creates and always will. Just how it is. What they are saying is your support buys them the greatest and most precious of all commodities: Time. Time is the most valuable thing on the planet. Once a moment passes, it’s gone forever. No going back. No storing it up. It’s not even in abundant supply because we all die. If a creator spends their time doing everything but creating–I’m talking surviving life stuff not blowing hours on social media–then we’d have no entertainment. By supporting a creator, you’re filling up their Time Bank Account instead of them spending their Time Dollars on things that hinder the hours needed to create something. Even if ten hours a week can be supplemented, if the creator is responsible, they now have ten extra hours to make stuff for you. It’s win-win on both ends.)
I’m only about a month into my Patreon journey. It’s been wonderful so far and I look forward to the days that are scheduled to upload new content. Right now, a new chapter of my creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, airs every two weeks (a new chapter went up today). On the off weeks, I put up essays on the creative industry and also treat patrons to behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Central. Of course, there are also extra blog posts for everyone as well as patron-first announcements where my patrons receive news before the general public. I’m still finding my footing regarding what else to offer. I have a plan for an ongoing special something for patrons but it’s not ready yet. Perhaps in the New Year, perhaps sooner. Regardless, I’m pleased with my current offerings and am excited to share more as time goes on.
My patrons are my special group. They are those who’ve gone the extra mile by way of monthly support, and for that I am grateful. I want to publicly thank them here and I want to offer a thanks to future patrons as well.
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.
Usually, I have a mental road map as to where things are going with my career, projects on the docket, and other things that need tending to. Using this foreknowledge, I try and automate as much of it as I can, then clear off the small tasks so I can then work on the bigger projects. For me, this has been a good method to get time working for me instead of me trying to find the time to get it all done.
And, of course, setting up a planned chunk of time to be offline also helps because the Net’s rabbit hole is deep and addictive.
Presently, there are things that are on my “looking ahead” agenda, things in motion, all to be revealed and/or released in due time.
This entry was prompted because I’ve come across it more than once. Three times, to be exact, so I figure it’s worth blogging about–
Authors and starting their own publishing company.
This is the approach to publishing I strongly advocate in Getting Down and Digital: How to Self-publish Your Book. It’s my opinion that taking the time to set up a publishing business the proper way opens doors to taking your self-publishing career in multiple positive directions, on-line and off-.
However, on three separate occasions I’ve seen authors simply “start companies,” that is, just making up a business name and start and/or plan to publish under it without registering it through the proper channels.
While the nuances of business start-up rules vary country to country, state to state, province to province, if a person wants to start a company, there is a certain way to go about it because each industry functions on different rules of trade and sales depending on where you live.
When I started Coscom Entertainment and any if its imprints, I had to go to the Companies Office downtown, fill out paperwork, explain what my business was and pay a fee. This was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
I know from speaking with other Canadian and US publishers that they, too, had to go through a formal procedure to get their company up and running.
But I have also seen authors pull a company out of thin air and aim to start using it. I don’t know if this is simply because they don’t know any better or if it’s because of all the Kindle talk that people think all areas of publishing are free and one can do whatever they want when it comes to it. Or maybe, like most writers and artists, money is hard to come by so they want to do things as cheaply as possible and free is about as cheap as it gets. Perhaps it’s the Internet mentality because a lot of people view the Web as a “place to get stuff free” so why not start up a company for free, too? The problem with this kind of free is it’s unethical. Why create the groundwork of your career on something that’s wrong? It’ll only lead to problems down the road.
The publishing industry is changing, this is true, and things are not what they used to be–and this extends past the whole eBook thing–but other things have remained, and that is the need to properly start a business if setting up a publishing house is part of your self-publishing plan.
If you’re not sure what to do, pull out your phone book and look up your local Companies Office. Tell them what you plan on doing–publish books–and they’ll let you know what you need to do so that if your business is ever looked into, you can produce the proper paperwork that states you are allowed to run your business whether out of your home or an outside office. Likewise, when it comes tax time and you claim your writing income, claiming it under a company might work to your advantage in terms of write-offs. Talk to an accountant about this as the rules vary place to place.
In the end, if you wish to self-publish via your own imprint, part of the deal is registering that imprint with the proper authorities.
Start your career on the right foot. It can only payoff in the end.