Significant achievement in 2015 is my signing with MPH (how it came to this will be explained in another post), becoming their author and no longer self-published. I also went to Jakarta for the first time and saw my first foreign published book "Eva The Explorer", which is actually the same book as "Eva, Kopi and Matcha" but different language. My work was stolen by a Vietnamese magazine but it was eventually resolved favourably, leading to the release of of a Vietnamese version next year.
I learnt a lot about freelancing practice in 2015. It is better NOT to do a one-year project for more than 8 comic strips because it is very difficult to plan time when Clients suddenly wants the comic. Government jobs were also NOT as easy as I thought because I always had to wait for the boss to reply to the middle-man officer liaising with me. Many things get lost in translation too. There is another thing I hate about Singapore business is the practice of asking 3 quotes from different vendors to select the best/cheapest price, which is not me. I also had a so-called multi-national company who made me go through x2 one-hour phone calls, a personal trip down to their far-away factory, only to have my proposal rejected a few weeks before their supposed training date. It was strange because they were initially begging me although I was unwilling to take on and later dumped me aside after I committed so much time. I know this happens regularly in business but time is precious to me so I no longer entertain anyone from HR.
Because I could sense that all these commission work are draining me and taking time away from my comics, I started my Patreon account in March to see if fans would support me to a point that eventually I could cut off all my commission work and concentrate on my comics and work on book 2, which I hope to be all-new content. Despite having over 90,000 likes, there are only 47 patrons as of now, a handful are my personal friends. As the bulk of my fans are from Asia, my hypothesis is that such an idea of supporting your favorite artist without getting tangible thing in return is still a very novel idea.
As for my book sales, I was led to believe my fans were not supportive when the initial report came in April from my distributor, 10 months after passing my books to them. There were only around 200+ copies sold and nearly 1,000 unsold inventory. Disappointed at the dismal sale, I asked for a return of partial stock, as I managed to sell 1,000 copies on my own through talks and events. However behold! I was told 2 months later that actually my books sold well and there was barely any stock left! The explanation from my then publisher (whom I paid money to publish) was that bookstores make payment based on invoices with multiple titles attached to it, so the distributor had to estimate the sale of each title and did not expect my book to be selling so well because I was a first-time author and bookstores allocated my books to poor shelf locations. This whole thing is also a long story that I will write in-depth another day. Finally on the very last day in 2015, I received my money from the distributor, which I will use to payback a 0% interest loan I received to self-publish.
On Christmas day, I caught a bad flu and was immediately ill on that night. If you had been reading my blog for a long time, you would know my history in Japan was dotted with illness. The changing seasons in Japan had weakened my health a lot. Once I catch any cold or flu, it will put me down for several days and can take up to a month to recover. That's why I often go to my Chinese medicine physician and started doing yoga (besides to relief neck and shoulder pain from drawing). Of course, being ill for so long made me recall unhappy thoughts like "fans" not buying my books and cushions, and not supporting me on Patreon. But as I become better, I become more positive again and focus on the real fans (much lesser than what FB displays), who showed up at my events, bought my stuff and encouraged me. I also remembered my fans at Patreon, many who did not ask anything in return except for me to continue drawing, I should not disappoint them.
For 2016, I look forward to working on my book 2, as I have cleared all my commission work. I will survive mainly on my past savings, a small 1hr/week teaching stint and support from my fans at Patreon, so I hope to deliver more exclusive content to them as well. I will also try to work on more LINE stickers despite low revenue from there.
I would like to thank all my fans who had bought my book and cushions. I remember the fan who bought my A3 print, the fan who dashed down to buy the cushions first thing next day, and those that loaded a car full of cats back home. I also sincerely thank my sponsor/creditor who believed in me and funded my work to be published despite rejected by the local publisher that I thought was my only hope to be published. Lastly I want to thank my fans at Patreon, without you I couldn't have raised my commission rate gradually and cut down the quantity. Wishing you all
Happy New Year!