The Complete Creative

An Arts, Visual Arts and Books podcast
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Dirk Manning is a horror institution. He’s been touring around the Midwest for nearly a decade with his amazing horror anthology Nightmare World, and more recently his companion series Tales of Mr. Rhee. He one of the few guys I know that cons as much and as hard as me. He did 31 appearances last year to my 45, but he’s been doing it for a lot longer too, so that stamina is even more impressive. Here’s Dirk’s bio, straight from www.dirkmanning.com. DIRK MANNING is best known as the writer/creator of comic series such as TALES OF MR. RHEE (Devil’s Due) and NIGHTMARE WORLD (Image Comics/Shadowline), as well as the author of the ongoing inspirational column/book collection WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS (Caliber/Bleeding Cool). If you’ve heard of him, that’s probably why. That being said, Dirk has also written stories for other comics too, including LOVE STORIES TO DIE FOR (Image Comics/Shadowline), Riley Rossmo’s DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, and THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST (Big Dog Ink) among various other anthologies. Dirk has also written several short films for the popular YouTube horror film series BLACKBOX TV, including “The Hunger,“ in which Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite plays the villain. Dirk frequents the comic convention circuit, especially in the Midwestern section of the United States, and when not on the road he lives on the Internet and can be found online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @dirkmanning. Cthulhu is his homeboy… and no, he doesn’t wear the scarf and top hat in real life.* *When alone in his office writing, though? Every damn time. The reasons I wanted to have Dirk on the show should be obvious: He loves monsters, he makes awesome anthology books, and he gives way more than he asks. He was one of the other teachers on Tyler James’s 6-Day Kickstarter challenge with me earlier this year as one example of his generosity. The main reason I wanted him on, though, was to talk about anthologies. As you may know, I just launched a new Kickstarter a couple of days ago for my new anthology Monsters and Other Scary Shit: A monster anthology about monsters. It’s a 224-page anthology full of creators of all types jamming out about monsters. There’s cute monsters, scary monsters, sci-fi monsters, fantasy monsters, and more from creators who’ve worked on Star Wars, Transformers, Invader Zim, and more. If you haven’t yet, check it out by clicking here. For just $40 you get the hardcover delivered to your door (in the US. Intl shipping charges apply), a digital print of the cover (trust me you’re gonna want it), and a pdf/cbz of the book. There are NO ADDITIONAL CHARGES (domestically). In conjunction with the launch, we are having a bunch of amazing anthology creators on the show: Christine Hipp (Manthology, Secret Anthology), Gwendolyn Dreyer and Nicholas Doan (Monster Elementary), Amanda Meadows (Devastator Quarterly), DJ Kirkbride (Eisner Winning Popgun Anthology), Brandon Perlow (Eisner Nominated Watson and Holmes anthology), and Dirk. I wanted to have them on to ask one specific question: How do you make an awesome anthology. I asked all of them to put together a list of their five best anthology tips. The first half of the show is the same BS banter you love, and it’s followed by five specific bullet points to help you plan a better anthology. Every episode we’ll recap the five tips here. Here are Dirk’s. Select a theme. Strive for artistic diversity. Don’t have any filler story. Make sure every story is amazing. Avoid overdone twist endings. They are for children. Offer something uniquely you. We discuss the tips in detail during the show, so I hope you tune in and learn something over the campaign to help you build an amazing campaign. If you like this episode, go find dirk online @dirkmanning on Twitter and Instagram. If you dig the show, subscribe, rate, and review it today on iTunes by clicking here. And don’t forget to check out our awesome monster anthology, Monsters and Other Scary Shit, live on Kickstarter now, by clicking here.
Join Russell Nohelty (The Complete Creative) and Megan Risk (The Art of Megan E. Risk) as they chat about Dominating the convention scene and Tips to be a successful artist. By the end of this episode, you will learn as an artist how to use your creativity to be successful in a convention scene, to do what you love and be successful, and how being adaptable can help you with your career as an artist. Enjoy! ~ Megan Risk has been an art student since freshman year of High School. As a kid, she was always drawing. None of it was miraculous or evidence of her being any kind of child savant in art, but it was always very detailed and people seemed to like it. She enjoyed making things, so it worked out for everyone Then she started to understand the fundamentals and realized what she could actually do with a pencil and paper or a brush and canvas. Even clay. And it just never stopped. She wants to learn everything, knowing she never will, but as long as she’s learning SOMETHING, she is happy. In 2014, she started my creative business online where she sold hand-dyed and handspun yarn as well as crocheted items for those who don’t have time. She took drawing portrait commissions at the same time and supplemented her income while she worked as a sushi chef, which is what she originally thought she would be building a career in. She realized one day that it wasn’t. Where she has a deep respect for sushi making and working in a professional kitchen and will never forget the discipline and friends (and family) She gained along the way, every second she spent away from my artwork of the non-food kind felt like she was that much closer to shriveling up. SHE NEEDED to draw. In January 2017, Megan gave up my day job and went full time into freelance art. Her bread and butter has been conventions and it’s been an ABSOLUTE BLAST. She can’t even believe this is my life right now. ~ I sincerely hope you enjoy the interview. You can find Megan on... Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meganerisk/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeganERisk/ Website: https://www.meganrisk.com/   This is the Kickstarter she talks about for her super creepy short story art book:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marionette/marionette   ---   Connect with Russell Noheltyhttp://thecompletecreative.com/https://www.facebook.com/russellnoheltyhttp://facebook.com/thecompletecreative/https://www.instagram.com/russellnohelty/
This week on the show, we’re back at Palm Springs Comic Con for one of my favorite panels I’ve ever moderated, because I interviewed a living legend. Two living legends in fact. I was honored to moderate The Man who Created Halloween panel with Irwin Yablans, legendary producer of the film, and Shelly Saltman, who didn’t make Halloween but did help market the Birds and is a TV legend in his own right. Here’s Irwin’s bio, straight from Wikipedia: [Irwin] produced films which included Halloween (1978), Tourist Trap (1979), Roller Boogie (1979), Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979), Halloween II (1981), Hell Night(1981), Blood Beach (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Tank (1984). Since his resignation from Compass International, Yablans produced films with Charles Band such as Prison (1988). When Yablans was younger he realized he wanted to work in the movie industry by looking in one of the drive-in movie theater trash and found pieces of cut out scenes. Halloween began as an idea suggested by Yablans (entitled The Babysitter Murders), who envisioned a film about babysitters being menaced by a stalker. Carpenter took the idea and another suggestion from Yablans that it take place during Halloween and developed them into a story. Along with noted film producer and financier Moustapha Akkad, Yablans put forward $300,000 for the film's production, filming in Pasadena, California over the course of 20 days. Released in late October 1978, the film was an unprecedented success, making $70 million in its initial theatrical run, becoming the highest grossing independent film of all time until it was surpassed The Blair Witch Project, released twenty years later. Yablans and Akkad remained as executive producers after the film's sequel rights were sold to Dino De Laurentiis, the latter producing every entry in the series until his death in 2005. Yablans and Akkad, along with producer Joseph Wolf, founded the independent production and distribution studio Compass International Pictures (later Trancas International Films Ltd.) And here is Shelly’s, also from Wikipedia: Sheldon "Shelly" Arthur Saltman (born August 17, 1931 in Boston) is a promoter of major sports and entertainment events including the worldwide promotion of the Muhammad Ali / Joe Frazier heavyweight championship boxing matches, creating the Andy Williams San Diego Golf Classic, helping to arrange the independent NFL Players Association games during the 1982 NFL season Strike, and bringing cellular phone technology to the former Soviet Union. But in the eyes of the general public, he is perhaps best known as the man that Evel Knievel tried to beat to death with a baseball bat. Shelly has created, written, and produced shows for television such as Pro-Fan, Challenge of the NFL Cheerleaders (an early "reality" show), and the movie Ring of Passion about the fights between American boxer Joe Louis and German champion Max Schmeling in the years leading up to World War II. Shelly is also the author of various books including EVEL KNIEVEL ON TOUR by Sheldon Saltman with Maury Green (1977 / Dell Publishing) and FEAR NO EVEL: An Insider's Look At Hollywood as told to Thomas Lyons by Shelly Saltman (January 2007 / We Publish Books). If you are interested in listening just to Shelly, he stays pretty silent until the last 15 minutes of the episode. So if you want his opinion on why he’s terrified of ravens, what it was like going town to town promoting the Birds, or how he created Sports Goofy, then fast forward to the last 15, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning, because this is mostly about how Irwin created Halloween, filled with tons of awesome stories. Some you might know, like whose mask they used for Michael Myer’s character, and other you might not, like how they came to cast Jamie Lee Curtis in her breakthrough role. It’s not often in your life you get to share the stage with a living legend, and I don’t take it for granted. It was amazing hearing Irwin talk not just about Halloween, but how he helped invent independent movies, how movies have changed over the years, why he can’t watch horror movies now, and his #1 secret for success. Irwin and Shelly are far and away the two most successful individual people we’ve ever had on the show, and talking with them was a delight. I tried to soak up the information they gave like a sponge, and hope you will too. There is nothing like hearing how somebody sustained a career in a creative field. It gives you insights on how to build your own career and shows you a path in the darkness. Irwin also has a book, The Man who Created Halloween, which is his biography. It’s full of amazing anecdotes about how he came up inside the business, what he had to do to succeed, and how he built a career for himself. I was riveted to every page and highly recommend you checking it out by clicking here. Your copy won’t be signed like mine, but it will be filled with the same awesome knowledge. Shelly also has an amazing book called Fear No Evel: An Insiders Look at Hollywood, where he talks about promoting the legendary Ali/Frazier fights and playing tennis with Boris Yeltsin, along with the time Evel Knievel attacked him with a baseball bat. Check that one out by clicking here. It’s soon to be a major motion picture. When there is knowledge to soak up, I’m there, and both Shelly and Irwin dropped knowledge throughout. I truly enjoyed this conversation and hope you do as well. Interesting tidbit, my first management company was Trancas International, who co-produced Halloween with Irwin. Small world.  If you do, please head on over to iTunes to rate, review, and subscribe today. And if you are looking to catch up on past episode, there is no better way than through our commercial free course that captures all the Hard Lessons, Ranterludes, and Kickstarter mini-seasons from our first 100 episodes. That’s over 74 episodes and almost 9 hours of content which you can find by clicking here.
How to get the word out about your project So you have a project, an idea, a prototype, or a new line of business you want to get started. It’s fantastic. You know all the inner working, all the machinations, and now all you have to do is get the word out and the monies will start rolling in and piling up. For this example, I’m going to use a question a friend posed on Facebook this week. How to do you tell people that you are open for art commissions? I’m going to use this for an example, but trust me this can be used for just about any product, whether it’s art related or business related. Now, most of this is going to be about your pre-launch strategy because frankly if you set everything up right before you start than the launch is the easy part. STEP 1: Set up a Web Page. The first step to any strategy is to make sure you have a website, or at least a webpage, where people can buy the thing you are selling. Most people start posting on social media or handing out fliers before they even have an end game set up. The thing is, this is really easy. You don’t even need to use your own site (though I recommend it). You can set up a PayPal page, or an Etsy store, or a Storeenvy page. But you need to send somebody somewhere in order to complete the buying transaction. The reason I recommend using your own page is because you then have control over the layout. With any page, you want to create a sort of sales letter. These would be the reason that people should buy from YOU instead of one of the other thousand people that are doing the exact same thing. Now, you might be saying “Russell, I already have fans. They already want my stuff. I don’t need this.” To which I say that you might have fans, but very few will immediately buy from you. Those diehard fans you will probably be able to find without any other work. It’s the people on the fence that will want to see what you have to offer. Thus the web page. You are going to want to show your best work, your best art, and convince people why you are the one they want to make a commission for them. Not everybody is going to buy at first, which is why you will also need a mailing list pulldown from somewhere like Sumome or MailChimp. This is something you can only do on your own web page, but a pulldown with some free wallpaper or other free stuff will help get a base of business. These are people who aren’t ready to buy, but they are interested in what you do. STEP 2: Find where your audience is. This is going to take a little digging for some of you, but you basically want to find out where the people that want your product already are on the internet. For some people it’s Pinterest. For others it’s Snapchap. For artists, it’s surely going to be Instagram. Instagram is the best place to find people who want art, bar none. That is one of the main markets for art. So for an artist, you are going to need to set up an Instagram account and load it up with at least 20–50 images before you start pushing hard. You can find a lot of awesome hashtags like artvsartist that can help expand your intended audience. STEP 3: Set up a publishing schedule This is the last real step before you get to the selling of stuff. You want to make sure you have some content ready for these social sites, and you want to make sure you can keep creating for these sites on a regular basis. Whether it’s once a week or once a day, having a schedule is key. That schedule is going to keep people coming back to your content, and it’s going to get more people coming to your content over time as your audience grows. The more people that go to your content the higher it will rank and the more people will come to your page organically. A Note About Sales Funnels: This is all about the sales funnel. You are trying to get the most amount of people to know about you so that some of those people will like you, some of them will trust you, and then some of those will buy from you. The most people at the top of your funnel, the more people at the bottom. STEP 4: Find your ardent backers So once you have your bases set up, you want to find your most ardent backers. These are the ones you know will want some art from you. You probably already know a few of them right now. You’re probably thinking about them as you are reading this. Those are the people most likely not just to buy your work, but to talk about your work with others. And that’s what we are going for. You want people to talk about your work so other people find it. So what you do at this point is offer them a steep discount on your work as long as they refer 5–10 other people to you. STEP 4: Maintain your presence Once you have these for systems set up, it’s about maintaining them. Once you have that initial rush of people wanting your work, it’s normal for a lull to happen. It’s normal to fizzle out, but you can’t. You have to keep up your mailing list. You have to keep putting up new work. You have to keep engaging the audience. You need a top of people at the top of your funnel in order to whittle their way down to the bottom, who are the buyers. Once you get that first trickle of people coming in as new business, all you have to do is keep feeding the top of the funnel and you will get more and more. The trick is in keeping the stamina. Most people will quit in a month or two when they aren’t getting the returns they want. However, the longer you are at it, the easier it will be. The higher you will rank on platforms and search engines, and the more work you will get. And that’s how you get the word out and continue to get the word out over time. There are little tricks specific to your industry, but that’s the overall layout of how you build a social strategy. If you want to learn more about your social strategy, head on over to www.thebusinessofart.us/consultation and book a free strategy call today. And if you love our work and free stuff, we’ve just launched a new Kindle Scout today for our new book Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs. All you have to do is head over to www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com, nominate our book, and if it gets chosen for publication you get a free copy. Easy peasy!
Today on the show we have Michael J. Tanner. Michael is a writer of TV, movies, and comic books. You probably know him from his Oni Press book Junior Braves of the Apocalypse. Here’s a bio of him and his book from his website www.bymichaeltanner.com: If you like this show, please subscribe, rate, and review the episode by clicking here. Michael Tanner is a graphic novelist and writer living in the Los Angeles area. He has also been an improviser and sketch comedian, as well as food blogger back when that was a thing. The Junior Braves of Tribe 65 return from a camping trip to find swarms of bloodthirsty mutants have overrun their town, bringing death and destruction everywhere they go! With their families missing and their homes destroyed, these plucky kids must use all their scouting talents, combined smarts, and teamwork to survive the end of the world! JUNIOR BRAVES: A BRAVE IS BRAVE is the beginning of an exciting new young adult graphic novel series that is one part GOONIES and one part THE WALKING DEAD, full of zombies, adventure, and handy tips for wilderness survival! I met Michael a while ago and actually interviewed him for my first live show here. I’ll be honest, I had him on the show because of one story. It’s the story he tells about him pitching and landing Junior Braves with Oni. I won’t spoil it, but I will tell you that it’s one of the most amazing and aggravating stories I’ve ever heard. It’s quintessentially Los Angeles, and proof that you may not have to live in LA to catch a break, but it definitely helps. Michael really delved into the creative process with me, being a tv and movie writer. His story is a lot like mine. He moved to LA to work in movies and tv, then the writer’s strike happened, and he found a new love in comics. But also like me, he is format agnostic. Whether it’s tv, movies, comics, or books Michael just wants to tell a good story. And that’s where we really focused our attention in this episode. We talked a lot about structure. Being from movies and tv myself I love structure. I believe that structure is the basis for everything, and in the world of books it’s something that you don’t hear enough about. Everybody is focused on the story, but because of the nature of novels there is no formula. Movies, tv, and comics don’t have that problem. There is a strict formula wWith those formats. And knowing that formula makes it easier to live within those confines. With a book, it’s a whole different animal. If you like this show, please subscribe, rate, and review the episode by clicking here. We also talked a lot about working with a publisher or a studio. I believe that the great narrative of writers standing up to studios is a flawed one which hurts the collaborative nature of the business. I believe the Shane Blacks and Joe Eszterhases of the world do a disservice to the medium by talking about how they fight studios. While it’s important to dig your heels in, it’s equally important to understand they have financial stakes on the line and also want to make a great project. Michael related a great story he heard from an editor which boils down to them needing to love your book enough to stake $50,000+ on getting it out the door. That’s a lot of money, and it’s peanuts when compared to movies or TV. But publishers deal in volume, right? Image puts out a lot more book a year than Sony does movies. So we talked about how you can trust your publisher, and also how you can trust your artist. The bond between an artist and writer is a sacred one, and learning how to deal with the artist and make them comfortable while still giving them freedom and getting what you want is one of the tightest ropes to, walk in comics. But it’s also very easily applied to any creative endeavor. You need to be equally kind and stern. You need to give freedom and know how to reign it in to get the best result for the project. Michael is a friend of mine, and more than once we talk about my upcoming monster anthology which he’s working on with a new artist. I love how he relates working with his new artist to working with his established artist. Those sorts of dynamics make me giddy, and they are great to see. Some of the best work comes when we can trust all our collaborators. Go check out Junior Braves of the Apocalypse, Book 1 from Oni and find Michael online at www.bymichaeltanner.com or on twitter @mikeisernie. If you liked this show, please subscribe, rate, and review the episode by clicking here.
This is a reprint of a podcast episode blog you can find at www.thebusinessofart.us. With my next Kickstarter starting tomorrow, I thought it would be a great time to revisit our free Kickstarter Course. This is a seven episode course to help you create, launch, fund, and distribute your Kickstarter campaign. Originally launched as a series, I thought it would be nice to combine them all together in one massive episode and post so you didn’t have to keep searching through the archives for them. If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content. Lesson 1: Validating an idea Let’s get down to it. Our first lesson is validating an idea, the initial step in any campaign.     Validating an idea is an essential component of any Kickstarter campaign, as it will tell you exactly how big your market is, and whether there is rabid interest, mild interest, or no interest in your product.     I always start my validation tests at Google, by typing in several keywords into the search engine and seeing how many results pop up. Google will tell you the amount of terms related to your search. The higher, the better.     You can also run this search by going to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and typing in your search terms to get an idea of how active and popular your search terms are with people around the world.     Then I head over to Amazon and check the rankings of products. Again, I type in some similar search terms to what I’m trying to create. Then, I click on the most popular products and see their popularity index on Amazon as a whole.     After that, I’ll know exactly how popular the product is, how likely I am to find an audience, and roughly how much I can expect to raise from on Kickstarter.     Finally, I will run similar searches on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see what hot topics there are in my category. By doing this very quick search at the beginning, I will see if somebody has already created my idea. If so, I would abandon it in most cases.  None of the above are guarantees, though. Just because there are no searches on Amazon or Google that return what you are trying to create, it’s not necessarily a bust. It just means you’ll have a longer row to hoe. Lesson 2: Finding your target audience Finding your target market, and growing it, is the best predictor of how much you are going to raise. Most people think they are going to click the launch button and magic is going to happen, but that’s just not the case. It’s a lot of hard work finding, building, and nurturing your audience.     However, if you find your target market they will tell you exactly what they need and how to build a product that suits them. They are going to be your best beta testers and your best brand ambassadors.     They are not hard to find either.    I start finding an audience before I ever leave the house my joining Reddit forums and Facebook groups. I join early and provide relevant comments and links to the members. I engage with them and find out what they are about. I truly care about what’s going on, not just as a marketing gimmick.     Then, I leave my house by finding Meetup groups in my area.While there may not be an audience for the exact product I’m trying to build near me, there is usually a group in the broad range of product class (i.e. if I’m trying to build a motorcycle motor, there is a motorcycle club even though it doesn’t specialize in repair).    I join these groups a LONG time before I finish my product, provide updates, find friends, and talk shop. Then, when my product launches I KNOW people want it because I have a community of hundreds of people that told me they want the product.    I hope that helps. Next, we talk about the best time to launch a Kickstarter product.     Lesson 3: The Best Time of Year to Launch Finding the best time to launch is one of the biggest challenges with Kickstarter. There are several factors to consider, which all starts with picking the right time of year.     Here’s the truth: launching a Kickstarter after Thanksgiving or when school isn’t in session is usually a bad idea.    Why?    Well during the summer people tend to be on vacation, so they are less present online.     During the holidays, people are thinking about spending disposal income on gifts for people…NOT a product they won’t be getting until 4–6 months down the line.     Also, during the holidays you are competing with rock bottom pricing from Amazon and other retailers.     Another traditionally bad time to launch would be right around tax time because everybody has a tax bill due so the last thing they are thinking about is purchasing new stuff.    On the flip side, right after tax season when people are flush with cash is a great time to launch a product because most people have disposable income at that point.     But that’s just one factor that goes into picking the right time. Another factor is buyer mentality. You want to hit a buyer with a product when it’s hot in their mind.    We have a free ebook that talks all about this. You can download it here. All you have to do is register for an account.    The Coolest Cooler was one of the biggest Kickstarter ever, and the creator launched his product in June (which goes against what I just said and proves there are no rules in business) when people were thinking about summertime activities.     However, did you know that he also tried launching the SAME product the previous December to disastrous results?     There are many contributing factors to that, but most experts attribute this to the idea that nobody was thinking about, or cared about coolers, in December, so nobody bought it.     Another factor is your convention season. Every industry has conventions, and it’s generally not the best idea to launch a Kickstarter during the biggest conventions because every big company is making announcements during CES and other shows.     While I do love having conventions as part of your launch strategy, I recommend smaller conventions where big companies aren’t launching competing products.    There’s just no way to compete with Samsung and Apple. They will destroy you.     The last factor I consider is to backer psychology. People buy more when they are depressed. People are the most depressed during early months of the year, less so during the summer and around holidays, then there is another uptick around Labor Day until Halloween.     If I had to pin the best time down, I would say right after the New Year until March, and September-October as long as you can delivery by Christmas, are great times to launch.    However, it may be different in your industry and it’s important to check for yourself using the factors we discussed. Lesson 4: The Most Important Part of Any Kickstarter The 99% of successful Kickstarter backer and pledge curves are the same. They are parabolas, with the beginning and end accounting for most of the backers and money raised.    You can see this by checking out campaigns on Kicktraq.     As you’ll see, there will ALWAYS be a lull in the middle of a campaign where you only have a couple of people backing a day.    I’ve only seen one campaign that was able to maintain momentum the entire campaign. This one.     If we accept that as fact, then the most important part of the Kickstarter is building for a HUGE release on the first day.     Seriously.    You need to raise 33% of your backing on the first day. If you can do that, you’re nearly guaranteed to succeed. If you can’t, your path will be much harder. If you fall below 20% on your first day, you’re in for a very long expensive haul to get your project funded. We have a free ebook that talks more about this. You can check it out here.    Having a fantastic first day means so much.    It means that your backers are going to be spreading the word about your campaign all throughout your campaign. That’s a lot of free publicity.     Additionally, it means you will show up higher on Kickstarter, you have a better chance of people seeing your campaign, and when they see your campaign they see it as a success.    People love to back a winner. If you can hit that 33% mark on the first day, people will want to back your campaign b/c success breeds more success.     Additionally, the higher your backers are at the beginning, the more people will back during the middle of your campaign. The higher your first day, the higher the minimum pledges will be in future days.     So finding those backers on day one, and telling people about the campaign, and getting as many people to back as possible is critical and you need to start early to do it. The bigger your network, the bigger your reach, and the more people you can hit on that first day.     Lesson 5: Creating Your Campaign Creating a campaign comes down to three sections: the video, the copy, and the rewards.     First and foremost, you MUST have a video. No exceptions. Almost 70% of Kickstarters without campaigns fail. That means if you don’t have a campaign video, you only have a 30% chance of succeeding.     Additionally, people want to see you in the video, because they are buying you as much as your product. On Kickstarter, you and your product are intrinsically linked.     There’s a really simple strategy for making a video. It’s three steps. An Introduction of no more than 15 seconds, then a product demo where you show the coolness of the product for no more than 1:15, and finally you coming back on camera and making a plea for no more than another minute where you talk about the history of the product and why you need backing. Keep it positive!    Total run time should be no more than 2:30! That’s two minutes and thirty seconds, not two hours. Keep it short.     Second is the campaign copy. You have to break up sections into easily digestible tidbits and assume people are going to fall off throughout reading it. Therefore, coolest thing at the top accompanied by an awesome image, then break up sections throughout the campaign to show off your product.     Remember, this is a marketing piece, not a short story. Nobody wants to reach big paragraphs. They also don’t want to wonder what you are talking about. If it doesn’t keep them interested, they will click off.     Finally, the rewards. Rewards need to be simple, concise, and explain what people get for their pledge. They do not need fancy names, just clear concise information. Each of your rewards has a purpose and should be targeted at a specific buyer profile.    The key to a successful campaign is to make is simple, concise, and make sure you are clear about your goals. Lesson 6: Distributing Your Campaign Now you know how to validate an idea, find a target market, when to launch your campaign, what the most important part is of any Kickstarter, and how to create your Kickstarter campaign!     Now, we have to talk about getting your campaign into backer hands.This is where the rubber meets the road.     This is where most Kickstarters go bankrupt or at least end up massively in the red. That’s exactly why budgeting appropriately is so important.    Getting a high-quality project into backer’s hands is the only way you can possibly hope to build an audience for the future, and that’s the goal of Kickstarter.    If you think it’s about getting your project funded, you are WRONG.    Funding the project is a part of Kickstarter, but it’s only a part. Your goal should be building an audience so you can keep doing Kickstarters forever.     In order to do that, you need to precisely know how much it will cost to get your project into backer hands, who is going to produce your project, how you are going to distribute it, how you are going to ship it and build in contingencies. This needs to happen before you hit the launch button.     You need quotes from your fulfillment, distribution, and shipping companies before you launch, and at different levels depending on how many people back.     Additionally, you have to keep your audience updated on everything, both good and bad. Here’s the thing. In order to build an audience, you have to communicate with your audience, be honest with them, and get them their project in a timely manner. Lesson 7: Building Toward the Future When you’re talking about building to the future, you have to deliver that Kickstarter first. Not just that, but you have to over deliver. You have to add everything in your power to make people say WOW. Once they are wowed by your professionalism and quality, they are very likely to back again.     Now, once you finish your Kickstarter the first thing you need to do is find an email program like Mailchimp or Aweber and start communication with your backers on at least a monthly basis. Do not wait until your next project to keep people informed. They will forget about you.     Then, you need to start planning your next project. You are no longer a hobbyist. Once you finish your campaign and start to launch your next, you are a business. However, you can’t really go full force until after backers get their rewards. That’s it for our free Kickstarter course. I hope you learned a lot that can help you crush your next campaign. If you want even more help, I have set up a fantastic course to help you crush it on Kickstarter. Usually $197, you can get a great deal right now by heading to www.thebusinessofart.us/kickstartercourse. If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.
This past weekend I was asked to moderate a panel at Santa Clarita Valley Comic Con (http://www.scvcomiccon.com) about how to make a career as an artist with panelists JD Correa (@jdcorreasketchart on Instagram), Bobby Timony (http://www.twincomics.com: @BTimony on Twitter), and Dave Olbrich (http://spacegoatproductions.com; @DaveOlbrich on Twitter) This was a great combination of talents. Bobby works on comic books as far ranging as Monster Elementary for Space Goat and the Simpsons. JD Correa does a ton of prints and sketch covers, and Dave has worked on the publishing side for 30 years with the likes of Malibu Comics. Together, this panel combined three very different viewpoints on what it takes to make a career as an artist. This panel shows there is not one way to make it. There are tons of ways to have a sustaining and fulfilling career as an artist. At one point I ask everybody what one tip they would tell their former selves to cut a year off getting to where they are now. Their answers are both profound and funny. We also talked about how to keep getting work, how to network better, and several secrets of success. As with all my panels, I tried to give the panelists equal time, and they worked well bouncing off each other. Because their careers have been so different it was great to see the insights each person brought to the table. I learned a ton of valuable information from the panelists, but it really boiled down to two things. I would ruin what they are, but if you can just accomplish two things, as learned in this panel, you can survive as an artist. Like I say at the beginning, this isn’t about a shortcut. Being an artist is a brutal struggle. Honestly, even when you “make it” there is still massive struggle. All this panel tries to do is figure out how to cut a little bit of time off your struggling. I think we accomplished that. I hope you enjoy it.
This past weekend we were at San Fernando Valley Comic Con,and I wanted to do another live edition specifically about small cons. Whenpeople think of going to cons, they always think of big cons like San Diego orNew York, but we build a lot of our business through smaller cons. These arecons that happen at local rec centers, community centers, or comic shops even. The reason I love them personally is because they cost is somuch less and thus the pressure is off. I don’t have to worry about outlaying$500+ for a table. The table fees are usually well under $100 for a table. Manyof them are under $20, and if you do store signing you will probably findtables for free. And that means you can do what you are there to do, which isbuild an audience, and talk to fans. Because there are not thousands of peoplewalking through the hall you can have real conversations with your audience,and they build that know, like, trust with you much quicker. Do you get as manypeople, no. But it’s not always about quantity. It can be about quality too. Additionally, you don’t have to fight with hundreds of othervendors doing the exact same things as you. At these smaller cons you areusually one of a couple, if not the only person there doing what you do. Sopeople what want your kind of work are more likely to buy from you. There are also less celebrities and other big name people atthese cons, so you don’t have to fight with them for your customer’s preciousmoney. Speaking of money, it’s also much cheaper (if not free) to attend thesecons meaning the people there have more money to spend on the vendors. Small cons are a great way to build your chops and yourbrand. If you fail at these small cons, there is much less worry than failingat a big one. And you need to fail a lot before you can get good. So the morecons your do on a small level, the better. First we talked to Daniel De Sosa, who I actually met at SanFernando Valley Comic Con in November. He’s a great guy who’s been conningforever. Super talented too. You can find him at backwardsburd.com and bysearching for desosaink on facebook and Instagram. Then we talked to Lenny Romero, and awesome artist at onlyhis fifth con, so it was great to see how these small cons were helping him.You can find him on instagram @lenzations. Third, we talked to Steve Waldinger. Steve didn’t have muchof his own merch at the table, but he was sharing with the Lady Beaver. Theywere just getting started too at cons, and this was only their second show.They did Long Beach Comic Expo in February, so it was great to see themcompare. There is so much less pressure at these small shows when you don’thave much product too. You can find him on twitter and Instagram @stevewaldinger. Fourth, we talked to Erika Lipkes, the Lady Beaver herself. Shedoes zines and paintings, stickers and other awesome art. I love seeing zinepeople at cons because you don’t see them often at bigger cons. Again, thecosts are just so high there’s very little chance of making money, especiallywith the amount of time it takes to make these things by hand from scratch.However, she did Long Beach Comic Expo too, so it was nice to see her comparethe two. I loved that one of her students came to see the show too! That’s whatyou can do when the show costs very little to attend. You can find her onlineat ladybeaver.com. Finally we talked to Allen Carter. I see Allen at tons ofshows all over the place. Almost every time there is a con he’s be there. Heeven tells me about lots of cons. So it was great to hear him talk about hisbooks, trades, zines, and other work. You can find him online at the cartercomics or the figure of speech mongoose where he does a Mongoose Mondaychallenge every single week. Check it out. And that’s it. I really appreciate everybody taking a coupleminutes to talk to me. Small cons are so important. The people are nice andgracious, and it’s nice to have sometimes 10 minute conversations with a singlefan.  
Today we talked to Dan Shaefer, storyboard artist on Grimm. He's worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, James Bond Jr., and hundreds of other projects in comics, TV, movies, and more. He has the type of career most artists dream about, and I wanted to see how he got it. Boy did he tell me.
Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com. These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today. Today’s tip is to consider your category carefully. Some categories have a much more active community than others. Tech, design, and comics have very active communities. Publishing does not. You want to make sure you get a sense of the community before you choose the category and subcategory of your project. That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com. If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.  
Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com. These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today. Today’s tip is to model success there are hundreds of successful campaigns in your category. Look through them all and find the points of commonality between them. Make sure to take note of the words they use, the imagery, and the reward levels that are consistent among the highest performers. Then, you can model that in your own campaign for the highest chance of success. That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com. If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.  
Monica Leonelle is a force of nature. I heard about her before I ever booked her on the show, and then I kept hearing about her well after I booked her. She’s an author and speaker. She writes fiction and non-fiction books but is probably best known for her Growth Hacking for Storytellers series, one that I was told to buy over and over again in the past couple of months. Here’s a bio, straight from her site, www.proseonfire.com: Monica Leonelle was born in Germany and spent her childhood jet-setting around the world with her American parents. Her travels include most of the United States and Europe, as well as Guam, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines. She started publishing independently in 2009 and has since published over half a million words of fiction spread across four series, Socialpunk, Waters Dark and Deep, Emma + Elsie, and Stars and Shadows. In 2014, she published 8 books and one short story. She writes about indie publishing at ProseOnFire.com. Her most recent non-fiction book, Write Better, Faster, has earned raving reviews from the independent publishing community for going deeper than anyone else into the topic of writing speed. She currently averages around 3,000 words per hour and writes 25,000+ words per week (most weeks). Before becoming an independent author, Monica led digital marketing efforts at Inc. 100 companies like Hansen’s Natural and Braintree. Monica is a lifetime member of Sigma Pi Sigma honor fraternity and was a 2007 Chicago Business Fellow, graduating with an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business at 25 years old. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Physics from Truman State University. She’s been an avid blogger of marketing and business trends since 2007. Her ideas have been featured in AdAge, The Huffington Post, the AMEX OpenForum, GigaOm, Mashable, Social Media Today, and the Christian Science Monitor. In 2009, she was named one of the top 25 Tweeters in the city of Chicago by ChicagoNow, a subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune. Listen to this episode if you want to learn: How to get in alignment with your audience How to win the CPC game How to protect yourself from rising ad costs How to build a value ladder Why writing is marketing And so much more. If you liked this episode, please check out Monica’s new site www.theworldneedsyourbook.com. I’m so excited for the next chapter in Monica’s journey. You can also find her on all the usual platforms @monicaleonelle. If you like this show, please rate, review, and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. And if you want to learn all about making more money as an artist, you can get the first chapter of my new book for free at www.gosellyoursoul.com. Other episodes you will like if you like this: Angela Lauria Jasmine Sandler Alex Echols Dave Lukas Jeff Goins Cory Huff  
Today we have a very special episode. We are going to talk about the reasons the Kickstarter didn’t go as well as we would have liked. If you like this episode, please go rate, review, and subscribe to it on itunes by clicking here. I know some of you are thinking "What the heck? Your Kickstarter funded and you are complaining? I would kill for $2,000 on a project!" I hear your concerns, but we expected to raise about $5,000 on this campaign and I've successfully run three before. Besides, we can always get better. This is me trying to get getting.   Before we get to the 13 reasons that I think the Kickstarter failed to live up to it’s potential, let us say the good stuff. We funded! Yay! We raised $2162 from 65 backers to make this project a reality. I love you all for backing. It’s because of our amazing fans that we were able to fund at all. Here’s the thing. You helped us fund DESPITE our bumbling of this campaign. I mean we had 13 days where we raised $0. That’s horrible! I’ve never had a campaign go more than 1 day without funding at least $1. We also raised from 65 people, which is under half our lowest total backers from the past three campaigns. However, we funded! Now, let’s look at the ways we could have done better, because even though our campaign funding goal was $2,000 we thought that $5,000 was absolutely within our grasp. I just ran a Kickstarter in February, which ended in March. Starting a new campaign in April is just too soon. I mean it’s too soon by a long shot. I would say you need at least 6 months between campaigns if you are looking to raise money. Now, you can do smaller campaigns quicker as long as you don’t care about raising a lot, or anything. The Kickstarter platform is to fund projects that need funding, and if you use it too much you are going to dry up the well. That doesn’t mean you can’t launch other products between those times, I just wouldn’t recommend using Kickstarter.   We didn’t do anything stuff like in the past campaigns. Kickstarter campaigns should be events. Books can launch on any platform, including Amazon. Kickstarter should feel like a convention experience online. There should be exclusives, and it should feel like everybody is working together to make something cool. This campaign was just a kind of flat campaign, minus the awesome artist doing some new promo images throughout.   Product-market fit with our own expertise.   None of us were kid’s book people and we weren’t active in parenting groups. I thought my market and audience would want the kid’s book just because they had kids, but that was not a valid assumption. We should have made a plan to get into parenting groups and start talking the book up for a month before the campaign at LEAST. Luckily we got pulled over the finish line by you awesome supporters.   We didn’t have a promotional plan. Honestly, my promotional plan was email our backers and they would support. Luckily they did enough to push us over the finish line, but that is absolutely not enough. It was my own hubris to think I didn’t have to push as much as other projects. Time of year. We talk about this in our Free Kickstarter Course episode about The Best Time of Year to Launch, but April is a dead zone. I can’t really blame this b/c I’ve seen a couple of Kickstarter in mine and other spaces KILL it. However, April is traditionally a terrible time to launch a product.   The rewards were overpriced. The paperback probably should have been a $15 product instead of $20. The hardcover should have been $20-25 instead of $30. Even though I did my comps, talked to my audience, and found that $20 was acceptable, it was clearly at the high end of acceptable. I mean we sell paperback trades of comics for $20. In fact, I’m going to have to give more free stuff to people to make myself feel better about charging $20. I just don’t think that the value was there for $20. You have to listen to your gut.   I should not have been running the one running this campaign. I am not one of the creators of the book. I am the publisher. So often people asked me why I was running the campaign instead of them. For sure I will not be doing that again. I see why other publishers don’t run their own campaigns. People buy from the creators.   Children’s books are an ephemeral product and impulse buy. People need to touch and feel kid’s books. They need to see them in the marketplace and get recommendations from other people. None of us are known as kid’s book people. Even though the parent buys the book, the kid has to have a reaction to it. Without seeing that reaction, I can imagine many people were turned off.   The subject matter turned some people off.I knew that this would be a niche book. Lots of parents don’t like The Gas We Pass or other books like that. We are hoping it does well with comic people at cons.   The book wasn’t genre and it had nothing that would be a big draw. People like genre books online. If you make an apocalypse book you will sell big numbers, or a fantasy book. If the book has a public domain character or animals it will sell. You need to have something to ground the audience to make them understand what you are selling. Without that it’s a much harder sell that most people won’t back.   I should have had a prototype before the book launched. All our books are done before launch, but for this I really needed a prototype. The video probably should have included a kid being read the book to judge reaction, or it should have had us reading the book to the audience. That would have helped so much.   We didn’t update enough or involve the people that did back the book. Successful Kickstarters average 11 updates a campaign. We didn’t come close to that. You have to keep your audience engaged throughout the experience.   The category we picked isn’t one known for big audiences. Publishing isn’t a category lots of people browse through to find new stuff. People in the community don’t really use Kickstarter as their discovery vehicle of choice. Comics, films, and others do have a large community of people discovering their book, but not the publishing category.   So there you have it. 13 reasons why our Kickstarter didn’t perform up to our standards. Remember, we are so appreciative to all of you who supported. We are always looking to do better next time. If you like this episode, please go rate, review, and subscribe to it on itunes by clicking here.
This is the end of the show. No fanfare. No beautiful words. Just a whisper as we head off into the ether.  RIP The Business of Art.  If you like free things, you can get the first chapter of Sell Your Soul: How to Build your Creative Career on Bookfunnel now at www.gosellyoursoul.com Don’t forget to join our Facebook group at www.writingandsellingcommunity.com if you want to keep the conversation going.  If you are feeling generous, leave us a review on iTunes at www.thebusinessofart.us/iTunes If I’m up to it, I’ll be back with something new next week. If not…well there are things to put up. I’m prepared for the end. See you in the ether.  Russell 
Itunes Stitcher Podbean This week I still can't even with things. I'm just...numb to it all.  So…I again just didn’t have time to record a new thing. Instead, I’m sharing the audio from a live video I did on my Facebook group page, Authors and Creators Making Money Selling Books. Facebook group link In this live video, I do a deep dive into giveaways, since I'm running my second one...and it's WAY more successful than the first one already! Check it out! Giveaway link This time I took my own advice and gave something more people would want, but still niche enough to define my audience.  If you like it, maybe join the group. Or don’t. If you like free things, you can get the first chapter of Sell Your Soul: How to Build your Creative Career on Bookfunnel now at www.gosellyoursoul.com Don’t forget to join our Facebook group at www.writingandsellingcommunity.com If you are feeling generous, leave us a review on iTunes at www.thebusinessofart.us/iTunes If I'm up to it, I'll be back with something new next week. If not...well there are things to put up. I'm prepared for the end.  Recommended episodes: Dealing with Criticism The Biggest Lie we Tell Ourselves when we're just starting out Make it Once. Sell it Forever. You suck at first…and that’s okay Finish things
We talked earlier this week about how to market yourself as an exhibitor, but there’s a big pool of people who go to cons as attendees that are trying to market themselves as well. That’s how most of us start. I don’t know many people who start going to cons as exhibitors right off the bat. Why would you? That’s a big investment without any product. Almost everybody I’ve ever met started by going to cons, then went to more cons, then started exhibiting. When you are at the beginning of your career, there is nothing better than going to cons to get access to your favorite creators and authors. If you like this podcast, please subscribe to us on iTunes, stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. We really appreciate your support. However, there is etiquette behind marketing yourself as an attendee just like there is in marketing yourself as an exhibitor. Almost everybody at a con is willing to take a couple of minutes to talk with you, but if you want to get the most from your favorite creators, here are a couple tips to maximize your experience. 1. Buy something from their table. Some creators make 50% or more of their income from a few shows a year. In order for them to maximize their revenue, they need to sell books. If you are sitting by their table, people will be less likely to stop by their booth. So every minute you take of their time costs money. Which is fine. We all expect questions to be asked, but if you like the creators, buy something from their table. I always tell people that $20 buys five minutes of my undivided attention. When I was attending cons I made sure to bring $200 to buy time from people I respected. I wanted to make a good impression, and it stuck. 2. Ask intelligent questions about their work. I know it’s a silly thing, but us creators will bend over backward for our fans. If you’ve read our work, let us know before you ask us questions. If you do that, you will get much more out of the creators than if you just start pelting them with questions. But more importantly, don’t just say you like their work, ask them a question about why they did something. Everybody says “I like your work” if you can say “I really liked when you did X, what was the reason behind that?” It’s going to make you stand out from the crowd. 3. Have something to give us, but understand we probably won’t be able to look at it until after the con. I love getting hand-outs and books from people. I really read everything that people give me. However, it’s hard for me to read it at that moment. Here’s why. We are tired. We are fried. We are in sales mode. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. It’s hard to think. Giving notes is a part of my brain that just doesn’t function at shows. However, if I tell you to email me later, I mean it. But just make sure that your leave behind is the best representation of your work possible. 4. Ask to get in touch after the con, and then do it! I tell everybody that comes to my table that I really want them to email me after shows. I tell them all the time that I’ll answer questions and comments. Do you know how many people take me up on that offer? Nobody. I’ve maybe received 10 emails this year out of the thousand people I’ve given that offer. If you are a creator and somebody tells you to get in touch with them…do it! Get their contact information, tuck it away, then wait a couple of weeks, and then email your questions. I can only devote a couple minutes to somebody at a show, but after a show I can give much more. Plus, I can really think about the answers to your questions. If you actually take the initiative and email these people back, they will notice. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them. 5. If you have a project and you want to pitch somebody, make sure you have a budget and plan in place when you talk to them. Cons are great places to meet people who can move your career along. Many people will try to find artists and writers at cons to work on their project. Just remember we are very busy and tired. We can’t keep straight everything about your project, so it’s up to you to be succinct, have a budget in mind, and do the leg work. 6. If you want to talk with a person more, scope out the hip after hour spots. Every con has a bar where people go after the event to get a drink. If you can figure out the spot you can scope it out and talk to the artists and authors when they are comfortable, instead of in the hustle and bustle of a con. Just remember to be considerate if they are in the middle of a conversation. 7. Follow them on social media before the con and start engaging with them. This is a big one. The most points of contact you can have with somebody before an event, the most likely they are to remember you. So start early. Favorite things they say on social media. Tweet at them. Be engaged. 8. The more times you see a person at cons, the more serious they will take you. You can see this in your own life. The more often you see a person the more you like them. If I see you at cons for a couple years and then I see you tabling your own stuff, guess what? I’m going to take you more seriously than the first time I saw you. So just remember that these things build over time. The more often you can see somebody and show improvement, the more you respect you will get with that person. If you follow these few tips, you are going to have a much better time meeting up with your favorite creators and making an impression. I hope you learned something. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to us on iTunes, stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app. We really appreciate your support. And if you want to move from an attendee to an exhibitor, make sure to book your free strategy call today by clicking here.
This week is another live episode, this time from the Comic Creator Conference at Long Beach Comic Expo. I know it feels like I’ve done a ton of live shows recently, but I have such a backlog of amazing panels that I want to get them out while they’re still relevant. Usually I like to toggle through interviews, live shows, and lessons, but with the anthology interview series blocking out seven weeks, I stockpiled a bunch of these episodes, and there are STILL MORE! I know I still owe you an episode on the Kickstarter, but I want to make sure to collect all my thoughts, and that I’m feeling well, before I dig in to unpack that massive undertaking. This panel is all about the Politics of Partnership. I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate one of the coolest, most epic panels of my entire career at this show, including a funny story that shows how a career can come full circle in just a few years. I won’t spoil it, but it involves being fired from Boom! While Mark Waid was the CCO. This amazing panel is filled with fantastic guests. Here’s the panel description, straight from the C3 website. Working with a creative team on an independent title or through a major publisher can come with questions of ownership and percentages. Mark Waid, Dean Haspiel and Amy Reeder discuss how to navigate these waters and negotiate the best deal for all parties involved. We were also joined on the panel by Brandon Montclare, Amy’s partner on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and Rocket Girl. Between all the panelists involved, we had dozens of years of experience in both good and bad partnerships. They dropped knowledge bombs galore. Hope you enjoy it. If you did, let the panelists know on Twitter or Facebook. If you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review by clicking here. And if you are an author or creator, looking to make more money selling books, I highly recommend our new Facebook group, Authors and Creators Making Money Selling Books. It’s no promo, just awesome content. Join now by clicking here.    
This is it. The first new episode of my podcast in two years. I have been so anxious for the past couple of months waiting to officially launch this baby, and now it is up and out into the world. The response has been incredible for even the replays we’ve put out the last couple of weeks, but now this is the real deal, and I wanted to do something special for my first show back. I wanted to do an episode that explains my journey over the past couple of years, and why I’m bringing the show back now. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle, because I was rather definitive when I walked away from it in 2017, so bringing it back is a BIG THING for me. I don’t dwell on a lot of regret in my life, but I have always regretted giving up this show. In many ways, it’s the only thing I’ve ever regretted in my creative life. In order to help me along in this episode, I brought in my good good friend, Tyler James from the Comixlaunch podcast. He’s a wonderful interviewer and a great friend. I couldn’t think of a person who I would rather have interview me, as he has interviewed me for his show more than anybody else. Next week, we have my first new guest in two years, Marv Wolfman, creator of the Teen Titans, and a legendary writer, who has had more characters developed for the screen from his work than anybody in comics except for Stan Lee. But for now, I hope you enjoy this episode. If you do, please head on over to www.thecompletecreative.com and check out everything else I have to offer on the site. And please rate, review, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app today, on the right-hand side of the website. You can find me on Twitter (@russellnohelty), Facebook (@russellnohelty), or Instagram (@russellnohelty). Please also subscribe to the Comixlaunch podcast, and find Tyler on Twitter (@tylerjamescomic) or Comixlaunch on Facebook (@comixlaunch) to tell him how much you enjoyed the show.
This week on the show we have Tim Powers, Philip K. Dick award-winning science fiction and fantasy author of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace and On Stranger Tides. I met Tim at Loscon and he made an offhand comment about how nobody should ever self-publish their book. I asked him to come on the show and make his case, and he agreed! This is his bio, straight from Wikipedia: Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers (born February 29, 1952)[1] is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides served as inspiration for the Monkey Island franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbeanfilm. Most of Powers' novels are "secret histories". He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters. Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2000 novel Declare, he stated,[2] "I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all." Tim has been a published writer for a long time, and I really enjoyed his perspective on writing. Even though I don’t agree that there is never a reason to self-publish. He laid out his case very well for why somebody should look for a publisher, and even how to do it. I really enjoyed toward the end of the interview when he went through the step by step process for how to get a book published. It was a brilliant strategy, and even though he’s not a marketing person he clearly has some marketing in him because it’s genius in its simplicity. I also really liked what he said about how to find an agent. Yes, he went through the exact process you should use to find an agent toward the end of the interview and it was great. There is a secret piece of the puzzle you need before getting an agent interested, and the way he talks about it is just fantastic. The four publishers he talked about in this interview that accept unsolicited manuscripts are Tor, Daw, Baen, and Ace. I know I’m going to look into them and if you have a qualifying book then you should too. If you liked this episode, please head on over to Tim’s Facebook page and website to say thanks. If you like the show, please head on over to iTunes. Rate, review, and subscribe today. If you want to check out my Kickstarter Toolkit, the free resource I designed to help you launch your own project, filled with everything I’ve ever said about Kickstarter on my blog and podcast, click here.
This week on the show we have Tim Powers, Philip K. Dick award-winning science fiction and fantasy author of Dinner at Deviant’s Palace and On Stranger Tides. I met Tim at Loscon and he made an offhand comment about how nobody should ever self-publish their book. I asked him to come on the show and make his case, and he agreed! This is his bio, straight from Wikipedia: Timothy Thomas ”Tim“ Powers (born February 29, 1952)[1] is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides served as inspiration for the Monkey Island franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbeanfilm. Most of Powers’ novels are “secret histories“. He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters. Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2000 novel Declare, he stated,[2] “I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.” Tim has been a published writer for a long time, and I really enjoyed his perspective on writing. Even though I don’t agree that there is never a reason to self-publish. He laid out his case very well for why somebody should look for a publisher, and even how to do it. I really enjoyed toward the end of the interview when he went through the step by step process for how to get a book published. It was a brilliant strategy, and even though he’s not a marketing person he clearly has some marketing in him because it’s genius in its simplicity. I also really liked what he said about how to find an agent. Yes, he went through the exact process you should use to find an agent toward the end of the interview and it was great. There is a secret piece of the puzzle you need before getting an agent interested, and the way he talks about it is just fantastic. The four publishers he talked about in this interview that accept unsolicited manuscripts are Tor, Daw, Baen, and Ace. I know I’m going to look into them and if you have a qualifying book then you should too. If you liked this episode, please head on over to Tim’s Facebook page and website to say thanks. If you like the show, please head on over to iTunes. Rate, review, and subscribe today. If you want to check out my Kickstarter Toolkit, the free resource I designed to help you launch your own project, filled with everything I’ve ever said about Kickstarter on my blog and podcast, click here.
This week on the show I’m excited to have Hope Larson as a guest. Hope is the current writer for Batgirl, but I know her from her amazing work on Chiggers, Compass South, and the A Wrinkle in Time graphic novel, along with having the most reasonably priced original art I’ve ever seen. I picked up three of her original pieces at ComicART two years ago for $25. Here is here bio, from Wikipedia: While Larson was still in college, Scott McCloud took an interest in her illustrations, encouraging her to create comics. Soon after, she was invited to the webcomics anthology site Girlamatic and produced her first professional comic, a web serial entitled I Was There & Just Returned.[4] Afterward, Larson concentrated on a number of small, handmade minicomics, combining her interests in comics, screenprinting, and bookmaking. She contributed to comics anthologies Flight, True Porn 2, and You Ain't No Dancer, while working on a web-serialized graphic novel, Salamander Dream. This eventually became her first full-length book, published by AdHouse Books in September 2005; she moved to Oni Press for her second graphic novel, Gray Horses (released March 2006). In 2006, Larson signed a two-book contract with New York publishing house Simon & Schuster. The first book under this deal, Chiggers (released June 18, 2008, under the Atheneum Books Ginee Seo imprint), is a graphic novel about "nerdy teenaged girls" who meet at summer camp. Chiggers is intended for a 9- to 12-year-old audience.[5] March 26, 2016, It was announced she would be the new writer for DC Comics Batgirl A run that saw the character go on a backpacking trip through China on a voyage of self-discovery. In addition to comics, Larson has worked as a freelance illustrator for various clients, including the New York Times. She has also worked as a letterer on such books as Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's Local. Hope is awesome, and another in a truly small amount of comic book creators I’ve had on the show which has been published by traditional publishing houses AND mainstream comic book publishers. Listen to this episode is you want to know: How to learn to write better as an artist, even if you are self-taught The But…Therefore strategy made famous by Trey Parker and Matt Stone from South Park (listen to the original by clicking here) What Hope would tell little Hope about pitching to editors How to sustainably build a career (newsflash: it’s hard) The ins and out of publishing contracts, like what does being paid in thirds mean and how do you earn out The difference between mainstream publishers and direct market ones If you like this episode, head on over to Twitter @hopelarson or Instagram @despairlarson, and check out her slow-updating webcomic at solocomic.net. And if you haven’t checked out Compass South, pick it up here, and make sure to also buy her new book Knife’s Edge by clicking here. I loved Compass South and can’t wait for my copy of Knife’s Edge! If you like this show, please rate, review, and subscribe today by clicking here. And if you want to make more money selling your books, join our free Facebook group by clicking here.    
If you like this podcast, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. It's the best way to help us grow.  Sometimes you have to jump even if you don’t have a parachute. I know because it’s happening to me right now. If you’ve been listening to the show then you know we are profitable, even if barely so, but it’s been a struggle to get through most months because our production costs are so high. Right now we are paying $6/book and selling them for 1 for $20, 2 for $30, or 3 for $40 at shows. If you look at that profit margin, it’s not very good. Max we are making 3.5x our margins. Since we have con costs and operational costs, or profit was non-existent even if we sold a TON of books. A good, nice, healthy profit margin is 10x production costs. If you can 10x production costs, you are going to be able to make a decent profit after operational costs, at least at scale. Scale is when you grow your business over time. That growth is scaling your business. So long story short, we had to make a change. A big change. If we are going to be successful, we had to somehow find a way to either charge more for books, make them for less, or both. In order to do that, we had to order a mass quantity of books. See, short run books are expensive. However, if you can order more books then you can get that cost down significantly. We found a printer who can do that. We found a printer who can get Hardcover book costs down to $3/unit AND we can sell those hardcovers for 1 for $30 or 2 for $40 at shows. So now we are spending less per book AND charging more for them. That’s a twofer! But in order to do that we need to spend THOUSANDS of dollars more than we have right now. We already talked about our profit margin being razor thin, and this dips us far into the red. Far enough into the red we can’t even see black anymore. We can’t afford it, but we had to do it. We have to do it if we want our business to succeed. Any business hits this moment at least once if not several times. In order to scale even a creative business, you need to take risks. Now, if this doesn’t pay off I’ll have several thousand books and a huge debt. But for me that’s worth it at this moment because I sell a lot of books at cons and I know if I can charge more and pay less then I will be able to make more money at shows. If I can make more money at shows, I will be able to move from slim profit to healthy profit, and instead of teetering we can grow. But it’s a risk. A calculated risk but a risk none the less. Is it time for you to take a risk? I don’t know. I can’t say. I would love to talk with you about it through our new FREE strategy calls @ thebusinessofart.us/consultation though. I will say that saying you don’t have money isn’t an excuse, because no business ever has money. Every business is funneling their money into growing their business whether they make $2 of $2 billion. There are so many ways to take calculated risks. Some risks are worth it, and others aren’t. It’s tough to know the difference, because even the best risks can fail while even the worse can pay off. The trick is in talking the most risks with the best chances of paying off, because over time they will work out more than taking gambles. If you like this episode, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. It's the best way to help us grow. 
Today on the show we have another crossover episode, and with it a new format; the Roundtable. Man, new formats are kind of becoming our thing in the recent past, huh? We had Tyler James on to do a two-part episodes with his Comixlaunch show, and how we have on Martin Dunn to do a crossover with his show I Make Comics. Martin is a comic creator who has been through the trenches as an artist, too. He’s written for IDW, Hashtag, and his own company CAE, and inked for both DC and Dark Horse books, among many others. Seriously, his Comic Vine resume is hefty. Here is the first part of his it, straight from Comic Vine. Martin Dunn is a comic book Creator/Writer/Artist as well as a webcaster and Convention Panelist, from Tampa, Florida. He currently acts as Chief Creative Officer of CAE Studios. He has done work for CAE Studios, IDW Publishing, Hashtag Comics, Creature Entertainment and more. His body of work includes his creator-owned properties 'Joshua Black', 'Project: A.P.E.X.', '#IFightGhosts', and 'FETCH: An Odyssey'. as well as work on the Hashtag Comics series 'Carpe Noctem', and IDW Publishing's 'Star Mage' and 'White Chapel'. This wasn’t much of an interview in the traditional sense, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t packed with value bombs. Martin has been around the block and back when it comes to making comics, and he’s definitely a lifer at this point. We talked a lot about what makes a lifer in this episodes, and it comes down to making it past that extinction point where others give up. If you can push through that pain and make it out the other side a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you. This episode was more like a roundtable of two people who have been around the block talking about comics. It reminded me of a panel I did with Lee Kohse at Anime California about how to make it as an artist. There wasn’t a lot of structure, but there was a ton of value. Similarly, this episode didn’t have any real structure to it, and there really wasn’t a moderator. Instead, it was just two guys talking about cool stuff. We riffed off each other about making comics, conventions, and why you should always be nice to each other. This is one of the longer episodes I’ve recorded recently, and it was nice not to be confined to the hour space I’ve been stuck with for the past year. I’m enjoying having a more free flowing experience to talk with people for longer or shorter than usual, but let’s be honest it’s always longer. If you liked this episode, you should head on over to Martin’s website @ www.caestudios.com or find him on twitter @mdunn82. If you are new to this show, head on over to www.thebusinessofart.us to rate, review, and subscribe today. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content. If you want to connect with me, I’m on twitter @russellnohelty.
I was asked to participate in four panels at Palm Spring Comic Con this year. This is the second of those panels. This time with Lincoln A. Castellanos, who plays Tobias on Fear the Walking Dead. This is by far the most traditionally famous person we’ve had on the program before. Previously, we’ve had people who were well-known, even famous, in a specific field, but Lincoln is known by the general public like none of our previous guests. If you like this show, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes. It’s the best way for us to find a bigger audience to help. For those that don’t know, here is the first paragraph from his bio on Wikipedia: Lincoln A. Castellanos is an American actor perhaps best known for his work on such television series and films as Fear the Walking Dead as Tobias, The Mentalist, and I Am Gangster. If you want more of his credits, head on over to his IMDB page by clicking here. On top of that, he’s an actor. This is the first time we’ve had an actor on the program and I was a bit nervous on whether all my research on how to build a creative business would translate to acting as it has to both visual arts and the written word. Luckily, from our hour-long conversation, it seems like many of the same principles apply to acting as they do to other creative fields. It was refreshing to hear somebody in a wildly different field from mine talk about the process of building their career and hit many of the same notes as other past guests on our program. Mainly, the idea of doing the work was something Lincoln hit on again and again. Through college, Lincoln spent his time making films and completing projects, so that when he graduated he had a demo reel full of great samples which helped him book roles. Another thing he talked about was making yourself saleable to an agent before you ever get one. There’s a great anecdote Lincoln talks about, which basically boils down to him not being able to get an agent for years until he stopped looking for one. Once he stopped looking for an agent and started to focus on making himself marketable, an agent found him in the most unlikely of places. I loved hearing about that because it’s something I talk about all the time. Until you are saleable, nobody is going to want to represent you. People want to represent those who can make them money. If you haven’t proven you can make somebody money, they are not likely to take you on as a client. That is true as an artist, as a writer, and as an actor. I hope you enjoy this one with Lincoln. If you do, make sure to find him on Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube @lincolntheactor. And if you liked this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes. It’s the best way for us to find a bigger audience to help.  
Today on the show we have Christie Shinn. Christie is a fantastic artist. Her books are weird and wonderful. Don't forget to subscribe and rate on itunes! She has worked on ‘DISintegrate’, ‘Caligula’ and San Diego Comic-Con 2015 story ‘Today’ in Bare Bones publication ‘Pocket Book Heroes’, Self-Published - ‘Sepulchre’ and ‘Personal Monsters: A Compendium of Monstrosities of Personality for San Diego Comic-Con 2015’. Cover for 'Kickstarter for the Independent Creator' for M. Holly-Rosing. *http://www.horatorastudios.com/#!artist-cv/c21xa She is also experienced in video games, fashion, beauty, web, and tech. She’s really built a really cool career and I had her on to talk about it. Boy did she make an amazing guest. In fact, everything she said in about the first minute of the podcast framed the whole conversation we had. She talked about pushing and pulling work, cutting people out of her life, and putting work out there even if it scares you. We started by talking about what pushing vs. pulling work meant and how it leads to people’s success. Christies believes that even though you don’t have to be as passionate about client work as your own personal work, you will always work better on things that you are passionate about. If you aren’t passionate, then the work shows. Don't forget to subscribe and rate on itunes! I had this similar experience with a recent book I wrote. I wasn’t 100% behind is, and it showed in the work. It also took me forever to finish the book. I’m used to 5-10k words in a day once I get going, and I was lucky to do 1k, and that was pulling teeth. Christie puts a big premium on working with somebody she can collaborate with. She wants to be able to communicate with them and feel heard. This is so important even if you are paying an artist. It’s not just your project anymore. You are paying for their experience and knowledge as much as their artistic ability. So it’s bad business to discount it or treat them just as a contractor. You also risk turning off the artist if you don’t involve them in the collaboration. Especially on a long term project this is critical. You need the buy-in of everybody if you want to have amazing output. We also talked about putting stuff out there even if it scares you. I loved when Christie talked about being miserable not putting stuff out there, so she decided it was better to just put it out there because she couldn’t be worse than miserable.   But the crux of our conversation was on cutting people out of your life and the power of positive thinking. This is not a mindset show, but mindset has so much to do with business. If you keep negative people in your life, it will lead you into a spiral of negativity. You will think your work sucks, and stop putting new stuff out. However, if you surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and raise you up, that leads to good things happening. We talked specifically about shows, where thinking about the positive always leads to more sales. If you think about how you aren’t making any money, less people will come to your table, and you won’t be as engaging to them, and they will walk away, and you will make less money. However, if you are instead focused on the positive and how you are talking to people that are responding to your work, you will end up making more because your passion shows through. I tabled next to Christie @ Zinemelt in March, and I can tell you she was hustling. She put books in people’s hands and smiled as they asked her questions. She seems so interested in what they had to say, and at the end of the day people bought her stuff. I love this mindset shift, and it’s one I use all the time being a relentlessly negative. Focusing on the people that respond to your book, and nurturing those, is such a great way to have more fun. But cutting negative people out isn’t easy. It’s even less easy to see yourself in that negative light, especially when we start out. When we start out, we are naturally going to attract people who think we can’t do things. In fact, most of your friends will think you are crazy, especially if they have stable jobs with stable incomes. There will be some of them that even resent you for showing them there is another way. However, there will be people you have unbridled encouragement. They will buy your projects, but more importantly they will be cheerleaders. Those are the people you need to gravitate toward, because as artists we are full of self-doubt. If we allow those negative people to get into our lives, we will be in a spiral of self-hatred that will lead us to having worse or no output. However, if we focus on the positive people then we will be encouraged to make more because they will think we can do anything. Christie’s book Personal Monsters was her attempt to cut these negative people out of her lives, and I encourage you to check it out. Christie also told me about the quarter system, which I loved. The basic idea is that 25% of people will love you, 25% will grow to love you, 25% will like you and grow to hate you, and 25% of people will just hate you off the bat. So it doesn’t make sense to focus on the last 50%, when there is 50% who love the heck out of your work. This is definitely the most “self-helpy” episode we’ve ever done, but this mindset shift is sooo important. Check out Christie’s website @ http://www.horatorastudios.com/ or follow her on Instagram or twitter @horatorastudios. Enjoy the show! Don't forget to subscribe and rate on itunes!
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Podcast Details

Started
Feb 2nd, 2016
Latest Episode
Mar 24th, 2020
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
207
Avg. Episode Length
39 minutes
Explicit
Yes

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