“Decrypting Rita is that rarest and most refreshing of things: a science–fiction story that feels like it comes from the future.” – Phil Foglio

“Deliriously confusing and addictive… It’s kind of wonderful.” – Peter  Watts

“Seriously folks, if you haven’t looked at Decrypting Rita yet you really ought to. Innovative, fresh, interesting, and it does my head in.” – Charlie Stross

The comic I spent four and half years on is finally ready to go to print. You know what that means in this day and age: KICKSTARTER. And you know what to do with a Kickstarter for stuff you like: reblog, post to social media, tell your favorite news aggregators about it, whatever. Or back it, that’s great too. <3

getting down from a duck

A question I see a lot of creators asking is “how do I promote my Patreon”. Or “how do I promote my Kickstarter”.

And, well, it just reminds me of the old joke: “How do you get down from an elephant?” “You don’t. You get down from a duck.”

The duck to a fund-raising campaign’s elephant is your own site. With your own work on it. For free. Find a way to carve out time and energy to make your thing, post it all online. And when you post it, make sure that there’s a link to that Patreon right next to it, every time. And make sure that when Kickstarter time comes around, you add a prominent link to that as well.

And put some money into advertising your thing. Promote that. Buy ads in places people who’ll like your thing seem likely to hang out. Use your analytics to figure out which ads do best – not just in terms of people clicking on them, but in terms of people clicking on them and hanging around to look at a decent chunk of your thing. Give your thing away as you build an audience of people who like your thing, then give them a chance to start paying for it. Some of them will. And some of them will promote it for you. Some will even do both.

It’s when I say “give your thing away for free” that people balk. They view every person who consumes the whole thing as a lost sale, and want to lock the whole thing behind paywalls. That works fine when you’re a big name who a lot of people will buy a new thing from sight unseen, sure. But it doesn’t work for you. Not when you’re a beginner. Reproducing your thing on the net is free. Embrace this; give it away. And politely ask that people who’ve read a lot of it consider paying you something, or spreading the word. Everyone who tells their friends about this cool thing they read for free? They’re providing value to you, right there: advertising.

I’m not gonna lie. It takes time to do this. A few years. I’ve been doing this with Rita for four and a half years now and it’s just barely starting to pay the bills. But I’ve found it a hell of a lot easier to repeatedly get down from a duck than to try to get down from an elephant right off the bat; the Kickstarter for the first volume of Rita made its goal in one weekend because I’d already built an audience for it.

(Of course, there is an elephant in the room here: your thing has to be good enough for people to want to pay you for it. That’s another matter entirely. If you’re building your craft at making your thing at the same time you’re gathering an audience, it’ll take longer than if your craft is already pro-level, like mine was when I started drawing Rita..)


Rita 2 is here and it looks fine.

It took me a little while to actually feel any emotions about this fact. I felt oddly empty about this accomplishment. In part because I’d just had this exchange on DA’s forums:

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.14.18PM


It’s just another step on the path. I’m not even done with volume 2; I need to ship out about half of the 400 books now cluttering up my studio. And when that’s done I’ve got to finish drawing volume 3, hope it doesn’t turn into volumes 3 and 4, and kickstart, print and ship that one. Maybe when that’s over I’ll feel finished. Maybe I won’t until I put out the omnibus.

I will probably express some happiness tonight at the cartoonist meetup, though. And at the release party we’ve been talking about maybe having at Phoenix. I dunno. There’s an emotion hanging over my right shoulder, just outside my peripheral vision, and I can’t catch sight of it no matter how I twist and turn. I’ll have to lay in wait and catch it unawares, I guess.

I should buy a postage printer.

A Kickstarter tip.

When ramping up to a Kickstarter campaign, and while running it, back a few other projects. Nothing crazy, you don’t need more than the “give me the thing you’re making” level. Some in the same territory and scope as your project, some a bit outside.

This will get you cool stuff, of course. But just as importantly it will give you a sense of proportion. You’ll have irregular updates from other people about their troubles fabbing umpty-leven programmable rave bracelets, discovering that they left out a page when they assembled the book, finding a glaring typo in the middle of their cool poster, realizing they undercalculated international shipping costs on their book, etc, etc.

If everything about your project goes off without a hitch, you get to feel ahead of the game. If things go awry you’ll feel like less of a dolt when you see other project’s delays. And their updates will remind you how long it’s been since YOUR last update.

limits as a selling point

So I was reading the Kickstarter pitch for a pretty-looking game. I was being tempted, but a little iffy, until I got to the last question at the bottom of the page:

OMGee What are your stretch goals?!

There are ways to do stretch goals that don’t affect the timeline of the deliverable, and we’re looking into those, should interest arise. We don’t believe in artificially increasing the scope or timeline of the project just because there’s a small chance that we might receive a butt-load of money through Kickstarter. We want to be very careful about any stretch goals, should that become a thing in the future. We’re building a game of a certain size, scope, and with a specific core vision that we’re proud of and insanely passionate about, and keeping to that is numero uno in our mind.

And, after two Kickstarter campaigns of my own, that sold me.

Plan out the thing you want to make, estimate how much time and money it’ll take to make it. If you make a ton more money, then wow! You made a lot of money! Now deliver that thing, and go have a party. Start planning your next thing, and know that you can do a bigger idea if you want to – and that you can spend more time playing around until you get the next thing right, because you’re still coasting on the profits of the last one.

I’ve been moving away from the BONUS THINGS! and STRETCH GOALS! model in my own campaigns. I think these guys just solidified it – the Kickstarter for Rita 3 will have no extra tchotchkes, and the only stretch goals will be “reprint volume 1 and 2”.

Who knows, I may change my tune when one of the stretch-goal-laden projects finally makes its way to my hands – when you’re doing an AAA-scope game, things are no doubt shaped differently. But I don’t think I’ll adopt that model any time soon. I just want to make my comics.

(Ultimately it didn’t sell me, as I only found out about this campaign after it was over. But whatever.)

Kickstarter 100%

So the Kickstarter for Rita 2 funded tonight while I was kicking back and playing Saint's Row 4. I feel pretty good about this; it took me a little less than half the campaign to make what it took me a whole month to sllloooowwly crawl up to last time. I've got a few stretch goals but I'm really just gonna let it be for a few days, and spend time working on the last couple pages of the comic and some short story side things. (Backup for P, SP collab(s), HM/DA proposal, maybe some lingering commissions even, those would be nice to get out of the way for once and for all)

I'd sent out a few more publicity requests; those will probably show up in the next week if at all, and we'll see how much of a boost they give me. KickTraq is currently projecting a final range between 10k-17k, really anywhere in there would be pretty amazing but enough to print it is all I wanted. More will be lagniappe.

I'm glad to be able to stop worrying about it, really. I don't like who I kinda have to turn into during a Kickstarter campaign. Now I can go back to being this relatively quiet lady who draws comics.

a lesson for future shipping endeavors

When drawing stuff in books, separate them into piles based on reward tiers when you draw them, rather than going through them and separating them when you’re filling envelopes. Durh.

I now have a box that is 1/3 empty of books. It used to be full of books. And a pile of envelopes that I’ll take out tomorrow. See, when I got up this morning, I was like “oh god it is a fucking mess in here I need to PUT SOME STUFF AWAY”. So I filed a few loose sketchbooks. And then I realized that no small part of the clutter was all the mailing envelopes and books that need to go out, so I started putting labels on envelopes and putting books in them. In my bathrobe, with Ministry blaring.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a pile of books to the post office. It depends on what the weather’s like.

other lessons learnt: next time, make the mid-level backer rewards stuff that are the same size as the book, or smaller, so I don’t have to worry about putting ’em into bigger envelopes. Still gotta go get some paper to print all those prints out on, too.

too slow a day, even if it is a weekend

I woke up at around 4AM from a dream. I didn’t note down much, except that it involved Nick and I in some kind of post-apocalypse scenario, and he was talking about making a game based on this sitcom about a robot. Suddenly, the dream just… stopped very distinctly, and I was awake. Weird. I puttered around the net with the iPad for a while, then went back to sleep.

When I got up, I had a real hard time getting started. Maybe I’m all tired from getting the fourth chunk of my tattoo done yesterday? I figure having four needles being repeatedly jammed into your skin for a couple hours is going to annoy your body some, I dunno. I didn’t have a headache so I don’t think it was a hangover from the beer over dinner last night. For whatever reason, I just lounged around all day until my mother called to tell me that she’s back in her place in New Orleans, with power restored a little earlier in the day.

I talked to her about bits of stuff, and asked her to please send me a photo of her for the sponsor page of the Rita book (yes, she’s one of them). She’d replied to the original request with something like “You know what I look like!” – which I do, but not well enough to feel like I can knock out a decent portrait of her without reference! She suggested that I just look in the mirror and add a few decades, and I was like, no, really, I don’t think either of us will like how that comes out, please send me a photo. We tried to dig up a picture from the webpage of an organization whose board of directors she’s on, but they just have a text list now.

Thinking about that made me decide to get things ready for doing those drawings, as I’d been hoping to do today. So I went through my e-mail, found all the pictures people sent me, and dropped them into an Illustrator document next to their names. One other person hadn’t sent any that I could find, but luckily I’m friended to her on Facebook and snagged her profile pics to work fro. There’s going to end up being three drawings of people’s furry characters in here, and I’m fine with that!

I figure that now that I’m actually pondering work, finally, instead of lying around with the iPad and the internet, I may as well grab the computer, go out somewhere, and try to get some of these things drawn. If not today then they’re certainly at the top of the task list for tomorrow.