This isn’t Hamilton fanfic. This is what happens when there is Hamilton fanfic in a world where ghosts gain or lose power based solely on “how well and widely they are remembered”, and takes place in that oddly physical limbo between life and whatever comes next as seen in A Girl and Her Fed.
Part Eighty Kabillion in my ongoing series: What Is This Thing? What Can I Do With This Thing? and How Can I Make This Thing Better?
It’s Monday! I’m paying bills! I’m organizing my schedule! I’m drawing pictures of
penises in tiny hats happy kittens playing with bits of string. Let’s throw some of these deadlines out there and see where they stick:
Novels & Stories
The soft release date for STATE MACHINE, the third Rachel Peng book, is on or around May 4th. I’ll do a firm release date when the cover art is finalized.
The soft release date for GREEK KEY, the first Hope Blackwell book, is on or around June 15th.
It’s looking like the third tier on my Patreon will be met sometime within the next few months, so after I get the Kickstarter nailed down, I’ll start working on Joshsmut again.
I have a story about Ami the Assassin out on spec to a sci-fi publisher. I should hear back within the next month whether they’ll take it. If they pass, I’ll put it up for sale in the store.
This thing, guys, this thing… I don’t even…
LEAGUE NIGHT and COME BOWLING WITH ME have already been sent out. Backers who bought the challenge coins (and nothing else) have already received them.
As for the rest… Okay, I need to speak generally here, as I have prepaid a Supplier and don’t want what I say to backfire on me (read: Sucker! Your money is MINE FOREVER), but there is a certain level of irony to needing to take out a loan to finish fulfilling a Kickstarter. There’s yet another level of irony to paying a Supplier to do work that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself, but they do it so poorly that you then have to do it yourself anyhow. I’m drawing a second mini-comic for all backers who also bought a copy of ZOO STORY as an apology for the delay.
I’m aiming to have the audiobook of DIGITAL DIVIDE finished and shipped to backers before the third Rachel Peng book hits, so this will be on or around May 1st.
As for final product shipping, we’re headed back to the studio soon to finish recording MAKER SPACE. Once I’ve completed the digital edits, I can put everything in the mail and ship it all out. I don’t have a firm deadline on when this will happen.
GIMME BOOK 2014 is over, and all books have been shipped. Except for the person who sent me this:
I’m thinking of changing the fourth tier from “Get rid of ads on the website” to “Make the Wedding Story.” I’ve had the script Pat and Hope’s wedding finished for years, and I’ve never had the time to draw it. I’d give this project priority status in the Neverending Queue if the fourth tier is met.
Also, my ad company changed hands recently, and they’ve stopped a lot of the nonsense that made me want to ditch them. They’ve added an auto-report feature where I can report a problematic ad and it’s removed immediately. If you ever see any ads with malware or are triggering (e.g.: sexist, racist, etc.), let me know and I can get them pulled.
This blog will begin updating soon, as: (1) we’ve done the math, and we’ve accepted that we’re trapped in this Amityville horror and can’t afford to move; and (2) the financial cost of the foundation repairs we’re going to do this month would buy a very nice car. We’re talking a fine German engineering level of “nice”.
I approve. I am in favor of Spring.
I live in the United States –North Carolina, to be specific– and am a one-woman show. Each day, I get up and put in 8 to 14 hours on various projects. Comics, short stories, novels, products… I do all of my own shipping. I answer emails (poorly, and usually in batches when I finally get a spare hour). I’m trying to salvage a simple Kickstarter that went so far off of the rails that I’ve had to start building new rails. You want to see me juggle plates? I will try to juggle plates! And then I will need new plates.
In other words, I’m exactly like every single other independent businessperson working for themselves in the creative economy. Sure, the tasks change: maybe you make music instead of comics, or put out .pdfs of knitting patterns instead of novels. Regardless of the flavor, we all put in the long, long hours because we love what we do.
(Lord knows it’s not for the money. This has been my first year as an independent full-time creator, and it’s been ridiculously rough. Sometimes I’ll search online just to learn what a dental hygienist or an actuary makes, and sigh.)
But as of December 30th, I’m making minimum wage for a typical 8-hour workday. In North Carolina, this works out to $7.25 an hour. That was my benchmark for whether or not I can (airquotes) make it (/airquotes) as an independent creator. I gave myself a year to see if I could do it. And I can! Woo hoo!
Here, I’ll save you the math: this works out to $290 a week, $1160 a month, and $13920 a year. Also, this does not include overtime. If I work over 8 hours a day, it’s unpaid labor.
(Did you know that an actuary can earn upwards of $250,000 a year?)
One of my steadiest sources of income are digital downloads. These are amazing! I create a product, bundle it in a handy downloadable file, stick it in my store, and forget about it. I don’t have to invest in maintaining an inventory or shipping. It’s an up-front investment of my time that can pay out again and again. Combined with Patreon*, digital downloads are a major component of my earnings.
are were also the best way for me to reach international readers. I no longer offer shipping anywhere other than within the United States. I will ship overseas when asked, but nothing turns a potential customer away more quickly than seeing that the shipping and handling on an item exceeds the cost of the item itself. There are no barriers to digital downloads.
Well, not until January 1, 2015.
I wrote about VAT-MOSS a month ago, when I first learned that new tax regulations would target digital products in the European Union. These taxes are… complicated. The stupid-short version is that taxes are based on where the customer is at the moment of purchase. Not where I, the seller, live and/or work. Not where the customer lives. It’s determined by the location of the customer when they decide to purchase a digital product.
I’ve been watching the subsequent VAT-MOSS clusterfuck like a dog watching that last pizza crust on the plate —Where’s it gonna go? How’s it gonna land? Will I be quick enough to take advantage of it?– and I’ve been hoping that the EU would simply decide to postpone the VAT-MOSS rollout for creators making less than X-Amount for another year. Since those supervising VAT-MOSS at the EU seemed surprised to learn that independent creators across the entire freakin’ planet had never even heard of this new legislation until it gained traction in social media, I felt that this wasn’t an unrealistic expectation. Allowing a one-year exemption for small independent creators would give everybody time to sort out the mess and prepare for the next stage in the creative economy.
As of December 29th, it appears that VAT-MOSS will roll out as scheduled.
There have been some minor changes to cushion the blow for small businesses, but these aren’t substantial and will have no significant effect on me. (I should point out that while the article I just referenced says “non-EU sellers are probably safe if they ignore [VAT-MOSS taxes]”, the breakdown from the gov.uk website states that “Businesses outside the EU (for example, the USA) that supply digital services to consumers in one or more EU member state are also affected by the changes,” and I’m gonna go with that one, thanks.)
So, I’m disabling digital downloads from my store to EU customers. This won’t involve much, since I use Big Cartel/Pulley as my shopping cart system and they are awesome. I change a setting, and EU customers no longer have the option of buying my digital products directly from me. Sorry, guys. I don’t want to be a dick. I’ll make sure you have access to these items through third-party vendors, Patreon, and by giving them to you free of charge when all else fails.
Finally, I don’t think this is a death knell for me as an independent creator. I was lucky enough to squeak in under the wire. But if 2015 were my make-or-break year… Well. It’s not. I got lucky. My sympathies to those who have to make major changes to their stores, or who have to abandon their creative pursuits altogether.
(I should tie all of this together with another joke about becoming an actuary, but that’s in poor taste when peoples’ livelihoods are a’splodin’ all over the world.)
*I should note that my Patreon has been lurking in the $750 range until mid-December, and the Spirit of My Readers are FREAKIN’ AWESOME! recently tipped it over the top.
ETA (5:15pm): Big Cartel also has a tax setting, and is aware of the VAT-MOSS changes. They are looking into workarounds so they can collect and report tax directly, but it will take time.
Planning out the next couple of months, and thought you might like a glimpse of the schedule.
I try to do comic-related charitable donations, and this year I’m redoing the Mangina Kaiju slapdash art for a print. I thought long and hard about which charity should get the donations. Ideally, it’d be a women’s-centered organization, but there’s this thing called the Internet in which every single decision you make is dissected down to its bones and found lacking, and I didn’t want to promote any Stupid (e.g.: implying women are monsters, implying men are monsters, implying the female reproductive system shall rise from the sea and throttle us all and aaaaaah!). So all proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. Fuck Alzheimer’s.
Also, Halloween is coming up. I try to do some sort of art pinup. This year, I’m thinking some members of the comic’s cast dressed as characters from Penny Dreadful, but I’m still open to suggestions.
The third Rachel Peng novel has a title, and the cover art is in draft stage.
I’m still playing around with the idea of releasing a Hope Blackwell novel at the same time. These books would deal with one or two of the same plot elements and events would align chronologically, but from the perspectives of Rachel (no ghosts) and Hope (all of the ghosts, oh God so many ghosts). With Patreon as a supplemental salary, it is more likely that I can afford to take the time to do this than it was a few months ago. However, this would push the release of both books back until mid-2015.
Beyond awesome. Simply beyond awesome. I’m eating so much crow about this, and it is delicious crow! You were right, I was wrong, and I hope you’re happy!
Now, what to do with all of these collected dick jokes? I want to release the older, stale ones that Patreon supporters have already seen to encourage newcomers to become supporters themselves. I’m leaning towards a Tumblr account that receives a huge batch update of dick jokes every three months or so, but I’m open to suggestions. My rationale for using a Tumblr is that it’s got zero overhead, requires minimum time investment, and gets massive traffic and reblogs. Any other ideas?
Digital Divide is done, but Maker Space is still in recording phase. Summer was a rough time for my family, and also for the woman who is doing the reading for the audiobooks. We’re likely going to resume recording on Maker Space later this month.
I’m arting all of the arts on the other Kickstarter gifts, so hopefully I can get these out in one large push.
Several generous people purchased extra copies of Digital Divide and Maker Space and told me to donate these to readers in need. I’d like to do something nice, but the usual “Retweet this to be entered in my contest!” is both annoying and dull. How about a Post-It contest? Write GIMME BOOK! on a Post-It and send in a photograph of where you stuck it… I dunno. That’s the best I’ve got right now.
I Know I’m Forgetting Something
I know I’m forgetting something.
I’m Totally Forgetting Something
Yeah, I’m aware.
Seriously, This Is Going To Bug Me All Day
I’m just gonna hit Publish now, okay?
I must have missed a form or a checkbox or something, as I’ve been setting up a live Patreon account. And by “live,” I mean “I thought it was a hidden draft but no, apparently anyone on earth can drop in and see that I’ve just entered OH HELL in the Describe Your Project section and $10 PLACEHOLDER BALLS for most of the Goals.
The campaign is now live. Which is ahead of my original timeline, but, you know. Placeholder balls.
I’m excited about the monthly $5 tier, which gives me the opportunity to do Literal Dick Jokes. I didn’t want to put this particular image on the Patreon page, but someone asked me a while back where the dick jokes had gone and I was… Inspired?
The perfectly clean dick joke delights me. For $5 a month, a Patreon supporter gets one of these Crude Humor(tm) doodles every morning. It might not always be a happy penis, mind! I’m looking forward to serving as the scribe who chronicled the slow but violent deterioration of the unhappy friendship of Richard Dickerson and Martha Von Vagerton.
I really need to go work on a comic. Please stop starting fires, Internet!
It looks as though I’ll be starting a Patreon campaign soon, which I said I wouldn’t do until everyone and their sister had one, and since everyone and their sister now has one, I should really get my butt in gear. This means planning bonuses to entice readers to donate. Here are a few ideas I’ve been playing around with…
The Return of the Joshsmut
Josh has been married eight times (Mare was both Wife Three and Wife Eight… Look, they’re complicated), so there are seven novellas left in the series. I’d love to do these as some sort of serialized incentive program for Patreon donors, then turn these serials into a finished product for everybody.
The Disasterhouse Blog
This house, man. Today–this very afternoon!!!–a structural engineer will conduct an assessment of what must be done to keep the southern side of the house from collapsing. Guys, this house is literally falling down and the problems keep getting worse. We’re also trapped in it due to financial reasons: what was supposed to be an investment in cute structurally-sound fixer-upper has become a freakin’ nightmare. And we’re forced to live in it!So you can forgive me if I load up the home blog, look at all of the topics that would make a great (for you) update, and think, “NOPE.”
In addition to updating that blog at least once a week, Brown and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast. Or, as he says, “I will happily argue with you in public if it means I get to review new tools.” Patreon donors would have access to this podcast before it goes live.
Speedy has over fifty kids throughout the United States, and will soon have a couple hundred more in Australia. None of his offspring can talk, and they aren’t quite as bright as he is, but they still have human-level intelligence. I’ve wanted to do a simple one-panel inkwash comic featuring four of these young koalas on Tumblr for ages… Think Chopping Block, only cuter and much, much darker. Patreon donors would have access to each comic before it goes live.
I dunno. What do you want from me?
None of this will happen immediately. Kickstarter fulfillment takes priority, and I need to also finish the thank-you gift for people who bought the serialized version of Digital Divide before it went live. Which was over a year ago and… ugh. Anyhow. In my opinion, it’s dickish to ask for more money before fulfilling prior obligations, so I’m at least going to get the bonus gift, the Digital Divide audiobook, and League Night (the .pdf of the Kickstarter bonus story) sent out before putting up a Patreon campaign.
Thank you for reading. Please enjoy these owls.