You read right – Fantasyville Productions (the company I run) is working on a new horror short story collection.
My good friend Sean McGavin wrote these stories last year, and I said to him, “Holy banana pants! These stories are good! Let’s get these printed!”
I had never printed a book of prose before. And it turns out – the self-publishing world of prose? VERY different from comics. Because,
It’s tricky to find printers for these kinds of books who are NOT Amazon. And
It’s expensive to hire an editor.
I’m handling the book cover design because I designed all the covers for my books. It’s one of the skills I’m really good at, to be honest.
For an editor, I hired Melanie D., a friend of mine from college who’s very good at what she does. Shout-out to my readers who backed The Case of the Wendigo on KickStarter. They voted to have the leftover funds from that campaign go towards paying Melanie to edit this anthology. (And also go towards two different charities. More info about that can be found in this KickStarter post).
Where will this book be printed? Well, I’m going for Lulu. Unless you have a different recommendation. But when I did my research, Lulu had what I was looking for. (And I’ll go into THAT in a different post).
To say this year took me by surprise is an understatement.
My original plans – “just keep doing what I’ve been doing, but go to 10 conventions/shows, not 14” – HAD to shift hard to the left.
As it turned out, though, canceling convention season meant I could work on the following things:
I started working with these folks back in February this year. In that 10-month window of time, we’ve run a successful KickStarter, started production on a new app, and got some buzz going with Satine Phoenix, the Sirens, and a LOT of tabletop gaming companies. INCLUDING some folks connected to the Hugo Awards (but I can’t give more details). Like, holy dang.
I’m still working with the crew as the Creative Director, leading the art team while we make art for the app. It’s my first time being in charge of other artists. I’m still getting the hang of it.
In lieu of conventions, I ran livestreams. For a while, I did them every Saturday, until I burned out on the schedule. I stopped for a bit to reassess.
I dragged my feet on this decision for a while, until I couldn’t anymore. Patreon just kept on dropping pledges from patrons – often, from the high-tier patrons. And this had been a problem for OVER A YEAR. A problem where, each month, I had to reach out to patrons individually to ask them to check their information. (I had originally reached out in group messages, but a previous patron stopped pledging because they saw this as “public shaming.”)
And then, in the last month, every time I made a new post, the website would just…shut off. My internet connection worked. I could save a DRAFT of a post. But when I hit “publish,” the Patreon site would just…stop.
In short, Patreon as a system has bugs that aren’t being meaningfully addressed, and it’s aggravating myself and other people.
I made the switch to Ko-Fi recently. While it lacks some things (like scheduling posts ahead of time), it has other things Patreon does NOT have. Like more consistent payment processing. And the ability to leave a tip just once.
What’s Next, Though?
I want to continue growing the audience I have on Ko-Fi. It’s a platform with a lot of promise and I want to help it grow. A lot like what I’m doing with NeverEnding, actually.
I also want to keep going with YouTube. Livestreams, yes. But I’m THINKING about dipping my toes back in to making proper, edited videos…I just don’t like editing because I don’t have the right tools for it. So an upgrade to better video editing software is on the table.
Another thing on the table? Better audio recording set-ups. I wrapped up doing vocal tracks for a friend’s punk song and it made me realize…I miss doing audio work.
Other than that? The Legend of Jamie Roberts will keep going. CB and I are remaking some early pages of Tiny Unicorn. We’re also doing more with Tiny Unicorn (and Mr. Dino & Friends) in the near future. BreeBree Bootique is a new project I’m doing with chubby cat art (now on Instagram and RedBubble).
Keep an eye out for two new book projects that Fantasyville Productions will be releasing in the next few months. One’s a prose anthology, the other is a comics anthology.
I’ll write about those two books in the next update.
Fantasyville Productions, LLC is my business that I filed into existence back in February.
It will now be my label for the books I make and publish. In the near future I intend for Fantasyville Productions to be the publisher of fantasy-themed stories made by other creators, as well as me.
There’s also a podcast in the works, and when it’s ready to go, Fantasyville Productions will be its home.
I have realized that freelancing and having day jobs just isn’t for me. They have helped me get a financial cushion for sure! But I’m at the stage in my life where I’m ready to jump full-time into making Fantasyville Productions (meaning my comics and art) actually pay my bills and get me sandwiches.
It took me a while to realize this, but here’s the thing…
Kia (my little sister and co-creator of Seeing Him) and I are not only back to speaking with each other, but she made me realize a truth I was denying myself:
The truth is I don’t really want to freelance.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to collaborate with folks to make comics. I want to make art in collaboration with folks that resonates with an audience, and get paid for my skill.
The life of a freelancer, though, is based a LOT on multiple gigs – and not just finding multiple illustration gigs.
Freelancing is a lot of skill juggling. For example:
“Ok, Monday and Tuesday I’m cleaning these folks’ homes, Wednesday I’m drawing caricatures at this business party, Thursday and Friday I’m working behind the desk at this store, and Saturday I’m playing ukulele solos at this bar.”
I’ve never really been good at this freelancing thing. It stresses me the f@$k out.
What I AM good at, though, is making stories.
I make my own, I collaborate with folks on theirs, and I find folks to help me with mine.
I’m also very good at going to conventions and selling these stories.
And on Monday, I was talking with Kia about out respective careers, and I was asking for an outside opinion: I needed to know if I should just go full-time on my own pursuits or keep my current “day job.”
I said, “Well, back in April, I managed to make enough money through KickStarter, convention sales, and Patreon to pay off $1000 on my credit card – “
“HOLY SH*T Just do THAT,” said Kia.
Because holy banana pants, she helped me realize that at the rate I’m at now – and the rate I’ve been at for the last year – I’m making more doing my comics than I am working at a “day job.”
(It doesn’t really help much that the only “day jobs” available to me around here are part-time, minimum wage jobs.)
The truth, though, was that I was second-guessing my own ability to make Fantasyville Productions, LLC a feasible full-time endeavor.
I have realized that, especially in the last year, I’m second-guessing myself WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.
I think, too, at a deep level I fear failure. “Yeah we all do,” you might say, but for me it’s different…
I grew up in a family where my mom and dad ran and owned their own business. However, if dad was employed elsewhere, the business would slump. If the business was ok, dad was unemployed. As mom often said, if both dad and the business did well, things would have been a lot better.
When my parents got divorced, mom then got the business. But through a combination of encroaching competitors (coughWalMartcough), the death of one of our suppliers, and just plain old sexism against a single mom running a business and raising 3 kids on her own, the business closed before I was 13 years old.
I saw that failure early, and it left an impression on me that instilled in me the Voice of Professional Doubt.
The Voice of Professional Doubt is the voice in my head that says things like:
“This business will never get off the ground. Keep your day job.”
“You need this day job. Your fantasy business won’t pay all of the bills.”
“You will never have a good day job and a thriving side business if you live here.”
I have realized that by listening to this voice, I was suffocating Fantasyville Productions. I was denying this creation the chance to grow into something that could not only pay for itself, but pay me.
I’m not saying, “Quit your day job and do your own thing!”
Everyone’s situation is different. If you have a side gig, it may not be ready to support you full-time yet.
But Fantasyville Productions is ready to support me. So I need to be ready to support it.
I took a mini-vacation (or “staycation,” since I didn’t travel) from Sunday to Wednesday. During that time, I meditated on these fears, realized what I was doing to sabotage myself, and made vows to myself to make this thing work.
Today, I’ve been working on comics I’m making for clients, plus I finished a new Mr. Dino print, AND I emailed a handful of zine distributors asking if they would like to carry any of my work.
I also heard back from Genghis Con – I’ll be exhibiting there again this year!
I hope to keep this momentum going! I want Fantasyville Productions to succeed! I want more and more people to have my comics in their hands and my art in their hearts.
Fantasyville Productions is something I’ve talked about with patrons on Patreon but I don’t think I’ve discussed it here. Basically it’s this: I wanted to file Fantasyville Productions, LLC into existence because my business has grown enough that I need to separate my personal and business information and finances. Plus, my goal is to grow Fantasyville Productions, LLC into a viable small-press publisher and distributor. I admit, it’s mostly because I DON’T want to deal with Diamond. I have no positive experiences with them so far, at least on the retail-end. I don’t think Fantasyville Productions would get so big that it would compete with Diamond, but I’m not ruling the possibility out either. I have accepted that the world is weird.
So – I filed Fantasyville Productions, LLC into existence earlier this month. Today I FINALLY got my EIN, which will help me set up a separate checking account for the business. #adulting.
This might sound boring to you, but I’m genuinely excited that Fantasyville Productions, LLC is now a thing!
PART 2 – CONVENTIONS
Currently I’m gearing up for Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo in Parkersburg, WV. If you’re going, I have a freebie for you (more info in this link). Things are printed and ready to go, and I have an artist buddy I’m crashing with for the weekend. Thank you, Kampie, for being so awesome! The plan is to go down Friday night, that way I don’t have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn Saturday for set-up.
While this is going on, I’m doing what I can to get ready for Awesome Con in Washington, DC at the end of March/beginning of April. I’ve never been to this show but I know it’s huge. Like, possibly bigger than Phoenix Comic Con huge. I haven’t been to a show this big (as a seller) in five years. And I’m terrified that I won’t be able to have enough for the show! But I can’t really order excess stock on books until after Classic Plastics. May grace give me patience.
There’s a couple of other shows between the two that I MIGHT go to, but the appearances will be related to the comic shop I work with now, not to sell my work. I’m already booked for Rathacon, 3 Rivers Comic Con, and Parkersburg Pop Con, though. Working to get back into more of the shows that I went to last year.
PART WHAT – MONSTER MADNESS
You know how March is typically March Madness for basketball? Well, I’m doing Monster Madness and drawing monsters. This’ll be like what I did for Witches: The Sketchbook – drawing a new sketch every day as an art challenge, and posting those sketches on my Facebook and Tumblr pages. Then I’ll be compiling them into a book.
Also…(I can’t believe I’m writing this) I might finally buckle down and get an Instagram. I’m still on the fence about it, so leave your most convincing arguments about whether I should join or not in the comments below. If I join, some of the first sketches will be Monster Madness-related.
PART THING – THE LEGEND OF JAMIE ROBERTS
The Legend of Jamie Roberts WILL be happening. The goal is to get the story’s script complete this summer, and then start drawing pages in the fall and winter.
Why the wait? Well, The KickStarter campaign for The Case of the Wendigo raised enough money to make the comic short story Dance Around the Maypole. So that story will take priority. That and, well, the script for The Legend of Jamie Roberts is still being worked on. It’s in the final draft phase! But still.
OK THAT’S IT FOR NOW.
I may be able to squeeze a video update after this blog post. Don’t hold your breath.
Thank you for reading, and for your support! Hope to see you at Classic Plastics this weekend.
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. That sassy teapot was found at some mall in Phoenix, AZ back in 2013/2014. You’re welcome.