EMPTY your mind. In my case by quitting my full time job due to frustration, with no idea whatsoever of an alternative.
NURTURE a good idea. I felt I’d failed in my final year of studying Architecture to fully express my thoughts of what was wrong with our cities. These issues came flooding out once I had time to spend drinking coffee and doodling. After two weeks, my sketchbook was alive and it was fairly obvious who’s responsibility it was to keep it going.
STAY afloat. I found I could fund myself by working as a top shelf draughts-person for anyone and everyone. This allowed me to draw for similar periods.
PLAN ahead. Being an architect, I’m fully trained in the art of how to get a project from ‘A’ to ‘B’. Much of this is done with numbers and can produce some scary results. Time, money, and spacial dimensions all loomed large.
COMMIT. One day I realised that I had enough in the bank to buy enough equipment to treat myself as a professional illustrator, and finish the work. I knew it was going to be years of work, but I consciously took on the project.
ENDURE. Day in, day out. I lived alone, worked in my living room, I was even single. Many days my only chance for socialisation was to talk to my coffee waiter. I knew it was time to change cafes when the coffee arrived automatically two minutes after I arrived.
SHARE and value the feedback. Through all my various jobs, I met many people who were helpful. They had connections and made introductions enough to allow me some hope of being published one day. I began my slow training in marketing I guess.
STICK to your goal. To value feedback is not necessarily to adhere to it. Many times I greenly chose to overlook an offer or disregard the industry way something was done, but I had good reasons for doing these things. I don’t regret any of those choices.
DON’T give up. I lost count of the number of non-offers from publishers. They were all very enthusiastic, right up to the board meeting when the marketing department said, “Its astounding, but we just don’t know who to sell it to”. This eventually took its toll and I realised I’d need to find an alternative.
TAKE a break. After completing the work and doing the hard sell, even though it stalled, I felt so good that I met my partner, we had kids, and moved to the countryside. In a funny way this is what has allowed me to see the project through.
SURROUND yourself with experts. The town we moved to is overflowing with people who are doing things. Artists, business people, and even professors. All creating their own entertainment. In a small community such as this, I was buoyed back to action.
HAVE a good offer. Whilst the project had been on the shelf, the phenomenon of crowd-funding came along. I asked everybody I knew to buy a copy of my book. The important thing was that I had already executed the work, I was simply raising funds to print it. I effectively received 165 micro-loans directly from 165 customers.
TAX-persons will come. The cost of the printing is only most of the story. GST, crowd-funding fees, credit card fees, payment processing. There’s also postage, packaging, publicity and storage. These might well have killed my cash flow had I not been thinking ahead.
OFFICIAL ways are essential. Just because you’re self publishing, it doesn’t mean the result can look amateurish. You need an ISBN, a barcode, an entry in the National Library catalogue (CIP in Australia). You need to deal have sales invoices, write-offs, contacts and have clear communications. It helps to have a compatible registered business entity to run everything through, even if its back stage.
INFORM everyone. It took about 6 months to run the crowd-funding campaign, commission the print-run and launch the result. Every twist and turn along the way was announced with a message to all my supporters.
TALK talk talk. I’m now at a point where once again its all up to me. Although I’m not leaving my next illustration project by the wayside, my job description for the next year is largely that of Publisher. Any opportunity for telling people about the book is to be taken. I’m told they’ll ask, “ . . .and what’s your next project?”. After you thought all of this stuff above was so weighty, it will also be decided by whether I have a decent marketing plan : )