Petty Dreadful Progress: Deciding on a Workflow/Update Schedule
Now the “it’s complicated” news:
It took a lot longer to finish this page than I had anticipated. The original idea was to execute this story the way I did the Boulder & Fleet mini-comic last year: fast and loose, not spending more than 3 or so hours on each page. But as I worked on the pages I realized that I wasn’t happy with how they were turning out. When I slowed down and really focused on making the page the best it could be, I was much, much happier.
This will make a weekly schedule a huge challenge. I’ve got my day job as a comics teacher, and my role as organizer of Kids Read Comics is rapidly kicking into high gear. Then there’s the efforts I’m pumping into the comics initiatives at the Ann Arbor District Library, and my work at Lean Into Art. I’m also working on some freelance comics projects right now. I’m busy. I don’t know if I have much more than 3 hours per week to put into a new book.
So I stopped and asked myself what’s the point of sharing a web comic that if it’s not being updated regularly? I can pretty much rule out any chances of building an audience or turning it into a business for myself, right? An audience only shows up for the quick sharable laugh like they find on many strip-comics sites. It’s common wisdom that regular updates are essential.
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak takes his time with his pages, and is enjoying a healthy and supportive constituency. But it’s foolishness to compare myself to anyone in this business, as there’s no “tried and true” pre-packaged method to making a living at this comics jazz. We all have to find our own way. Still, it’s useful to look at what others are doing to inform our choices.
With channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc, you have a good argument why one might not need an update schedule. You can just notify everyone when there’s something worth looking at on the site. I’ve made that argument myself on the various podcasts I’ve been on. I can try that!
But still! Gotta build an audience and monetize it! If the comic doesn’t update regularly, or if time stretches on too long between updates, you’ll never make it! You lose the game! I need to find a way to speed up the work and get it in front of people pronto!
But then I remembered something a friend once told me when I was rambling on and on about an approach to making a self-publishing comics business on the web. He stopped me dead in my tracks by saying “You do know your first priority is to make a great comic, right?”
Remembering that helped put everything into focus for me, and I found myself calming the heck down. Let’s just make a good comic and see what happens. However long it takes. And since I’m not under contract with any publishing agencies for this comic, I can share as much of the progress as I want. I like sharing this process/thinking stuff, so maybe that’s the point of putting it online. Maybe I’ll figure out the money stuff, maybe I won’t. But the first order of business is making a comic that I’m crazy about.
I’m going to work out a schedule starting with 3 hours/week where I’ll get done whatever I can on the comic. I’ll stream it live either on Google Plus or Justin.tv (watch here or my Twitter for updates on that). If I find more time, awesome. But at least I’ll chip away at this thing until it’s done.