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Author Topic: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses  (Read 12704 times)

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Offline Gar

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2010, 04:40:59 AM »
I went on extended hiatus a couple of times and lost my entire audience. It wasn't a planned thing, I was doing my Masters degree (Modern English Literature - I wrote my dissertation on Watchmen :D ) and I'd just gotten out of a bad relationship into an even worse rebound relationship. Still, I didn't update for a couple of months, restarted on a sporadic update schedule, and then stopped for another couple of months. I now have an fairly common to me, but otherwise unusual reaction when people find my strip - "Holy shit Neko the Kitty's updating again! Awesome!"  I really should advertise to that.

Oh wait, Rob was referring to the recent break. I take a week off about twice a year and it's never hurt me too badly. I recently did a guest week to break up acts 1 and 2 of the current batch of storylines I'm doing, and that worked out pretty well. Got a couple of new readers from the guest authors' audiences, and used the time to set up a fancier site. It's good to take a break once in a while, you don't want to burn out.

Here's a doodly comic I ran for a week when I lost all my art programs last year. I now keep drawing that character in the background as a 'where's Waldo' because my best friend and occasional co-writer McJefferstein hates him.

Basically as long as there's something new on the site, and they're not too long or too frequent, you can get away with taking breaks.

Personally I'd recommend cutting down on your update schedule. If you're eating into your buffer more than you're comfortable with, then that indicates that your update schedule exceeds your work capacity, and you'll burn out quick if that's the case. Try cutting down to a four update a week schedule for a while. That's still more 'on' days than 'off' days in a week, so if you upped it because you felt the 3-weekly thing was too little then that's still 'lots'. Check your stats to see which day has the lowest traffic (it's probably friday) and post a notification saying you'll be putting up one less update a week because you just can't work that fast. Your art's really good, so 5x weekly is simply an astonishing output, people will understand if you can't keep the pace up indefinitely.

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2010, 09:31:42 AM »
Well, better spend the time now then run out of buffer later.  Or do you have some alternative in mind?

Besides, are the readers that would leave because you took two weeks off really all that important to you?

Honestly, every reader is important to me. It doesn't have to be done out of malice, but there will of course be people who can drop out of a comic merely because they stop making it part of their routine. Those aren't people to cast off, if it can be avoided. Those are the ones I'm wondering about. Can you lose that crowd even in 2 weeks?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 08:13:09 PM by GroundChux »

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2010, 09:41:36 AM »
Guest week! I could have done a guest art week. That would have been really smart of me, I suppose, but it totally didn't cross my mind in time. Maybe next time - what I would really love is if I was so far along into the next season that I could give example panels that whole break, kind of like a 'trailer' for what's to come, but I'll never be THAT far ahead.

I've had a few people recommend dropping the update schedule, but I refuse to let that happen anytime soon - honestly, I've gotten to a point where I'm drawing pages twice as fast as I need to update them. The 2 month buffer I started with let me take about 2 full months off from art production during these 7 months. One time was to just not have to work on the comic at all, and another was struggling with writer's block on the script for Part Two. I had to get to a point in the script before I felt comfortable starting those pages. It also lets me take some vacations out of town, etc.

I was honestly expecting to eat up the ENTIRE buffer, so I suppose I should be happy I still have 5 of the 8 weeks left at the end of Part One. I was originally always planning on taking a couple months or so between Parts/seasons to start a new buffer from scratch, and to give the comic more of a TV show feel.

But I suppose now I'm trying to figure out if I should skip that conceit entirely and just plow through pages to keep the schedule going at all times, and if any others have done planned breaks and how it goes over. Thanks for your input, Gar! It's good to know that if it comes to it, it won't be too much of a blow (though I really have nothing planned to update during that break).

Offline Alectric

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2010, 03:47:51 PM »
Honestly, every reader is important to me. It doesn't have to be done out of malice, but there will of course be people who can drop out of a comic merely because they stop making it part of their routine. Those aren't people to cast off, if it can be avoided. Those are the ones I'm wondering about. Can you lose that crown even in 2 weeks?

But those are the readers that don't comment or purchase anything or provide any sort of benefit to you.  If they decide they don't want to read your comic anymore, it's their loss, not yours.  Or do you feel your worth as a webcomic author is only held by the sheer number of readers you have, rather than their devotion or involvement?

But yeah, a guest week would be a good idea too.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 03:49:59 PM by Alectric »

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2010, 08:21:46 PM »
But those are the readers that don't comment or purchase anything or provide any sort of benefit to you.  If they decide they don't want to read your comic anymore, it's their loss, not yours.  Or do you feel your worth as a webcomic author is only held by the sheer number of readers you have, rather than their devotion or involvement?

But yeah, a guest week would be a good idea too.

I'm honestly not into that kind of more stand-off-ish relationship with an audience. The fact that these people are reading is a benefit for me, because it means my story is reaching more people. I'm not about to start asking "what have you done for me lately?". Each person I'm cool with getting rid of because they're not involved means they'll NEVER get involved. Each person I try to keep means that's one more person who could eventually get involved.

I get "Long time reader, first time commenter" comments pretty often. I'd hate to think I didn't want them around because 4 months ago they weren't getting involved.

Offline Rob

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2010, 08:56:25 PM »
But those are the readers that don't comment or purchase anything or provide any sort of benefit to you.  If they decide they don't want to read your comic anymore, it's their loss, not yours.  Or do you feel your worth as a webcomic author is only held by the sheer number of readers you have, rather than their devotion or involvement?

But yeah, a guest week would be a good idea too.

I'm honestly not into that kind of more stand-off-ish relationship with an audience. The fact that these people are reading is a benefit for me, because it means my story is reaching more people. I'm not about to start asking "what have you done for me lately?". Each person I'm cool with getting rid of because they're not involved means they'll NEVER get involved. Each person I try to keep means that's one more person who could eventually get involved.

I get "Long time reader, first time commenter" comments pretty often. I'd hate to think I didn't want them around because 4 months ago they weren't getting involved.

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Offline Alectric

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2010, 11:45:46 PM »
I see your point, but I still don't think you should run yourself ragged just to make sure you don't lose a few readers.  You're probably going to lose some readers every now and then no matter what you do, and you have to accept that if you want to stay sane, or even just continue to actually enjoy making your webcomic.

And how exactly is your comic supposed to affect people?  Does it have some sort of agenda?  Because otherwise it's just about the sheer number of readers, which I personally think shouldn't be placed above the quality of the readership, so to speak.

You might choose to strain yourself in order to keep updates continuous, so as not to lose any readers, but you comic may very well suffer for it, and the enjoyment that people get from it overall would weaken.  It's a tradeoff, and it all depends on what you value most.

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2010, 12:51:49 AM »
I see your point, but I still don't think you should run yourself ragged just to make sure you don't lose a few readers.  You're probably going to lose some readers every now and then no matter what you do, and you have to accept that if you want to stay sane, or even just continue to actually enjoy making your webcomic.

You might choose to strain yourself in order to keep updates continuous, so as not to lose any readers, but you comic may very well suffer for it, and the enjoyment that people get from it overall would weaken.  It's a tradeoff, and it all depends on what you value most.

Heh, I appreciate the concern, but I haven't mentioned anything about burning out or having quality issues. I was asking about experience with taking planned breaks in a schedule.

Offline Gar

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2010, 04:00:38 AM »
Well when's your planned break coming up if you're looking for guest strips? I'm going on vacation soon so I might not be able to do anything myself, but I can post something up in the 'classifieds' section of webcomics.com for you if you're not a member there, and I have an idea for something I can do if there's time.

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2010, 10:02:44 AM »
That's really cool of you to offer, Gar! Thank you.

It's possibly coming up in under 2 weeks, which is way too short for me to both get art and organize a way to put it all together. I wouldn't necessarily ask for strips, I'd probably try to get drawings, and then I'd have to figure out a way to NOT put it into the regular comic rotation, because ultimately I wouldn't want to interrupt the archive.

I'll have to think about how to handle this better for the end of Part Two!

Offline Rob

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2010, 10:17:48 AM »
I can't tell you much about planned breaks but unplanned ones are catastrophic. Poorly handled they can set you right back to zero. Trust me I know. I think of all the people I've ever seen take breaks Gar's way was one of the best. Many bigger webcomics simply interrupt the continuity whenever they get busy and jam in some guest strips. Which is great if you're the one doing the guest strip. But the fans aren't crazy about it.

Gar, doing it right in a break with the story lines and well planned out and not taking too long a break I suspect was one of the smoothest ever. It really seemed to work.

In my opinion.

Your comic reminds me a lot of Gibson's "Pictures of You." Seems to have a similar tone I guess. You're spinning a tale about a world I'm completely unfamiliar with and somewhat uncomfortable in (chain smoking hard core lesbians are not something I spend a whole lot of time contemplating). Yet you've created some engaging characters with some very honest narrative. I have to say I really think you've got an excellent story on your hands there and it will just be a matter of time before you find your audience. Managing breaks and stuff are important at this stage in your audience building. Don't screw it up.

;)

Offline Alectric

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2010, 11:20:13 AM »
Heh, I appreciate the concern, but I haven't mentioned anything about burning out or having quality issues. I was asking about experience with taking planned breaks in a schedule.

Running out of buffer is burning out.  Using fewer panels in every update, something you've made a note of on your site, is a quality issue.  But it seems I'm giving unsollicited advice, so feel free to ignore me. :P

Offline Gar

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2010, 02:44:22 PM »
In another case of the author taking after their characters, your last post was a little ambiguous  :P. I mentioned you were looking for guest art in the webcomics.com classifieds. I can retract the request if you like, you  might not get any bites off it anyway.

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2010, 09:33:47 PM »
In another case of the author taking after their characters, your last post was a little ambiguous  :P. I mentioned you were looking for guest art in the webcomics.com classifieds. I can retract the request if you like, you  might not get any bites off it anyway.

You are totally correct. That was pretty ambiguous. Sorry about that.

I meant that I was probably too late at this point to really pull off a guest schedule properly, especially with me being out of town for most of next week. And that I really need to plan for this properly NEXT time. Make more of an actual event out of it. My nose is often too far down into working on the pages to spend any time on things outside of just producing the comic.

I don't know if it's worth pulling the classified. Worst case scenario is I don't get to put something together in time, and instead I give people their own spots in the blogs. Or I suppose worst case is no one replies, heh.

That was really nice of you to do, though. So thank you. :)

Offline GroundChux

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - Excuses Excuses
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2010, 09:38:34 PM »
Heh, I appreciate the concern, but I haven't mentioned anything about burning out or having quality issues. I was asking about experience with taking planned breaks in a schedule.

Running out of buffer is burning out.  Using fewer panels in every update, something you've made a note of on your site, is a quality issue.  But it seems I'm giving unsollicited advice, so feel free to ignore me. :P

I think we've just got different definitions on what those terms mean!

I started with 8 weeks of buffer in January, and I'm at 5 weeks now. That's not at all what I would say is burning out. That's three weeks lost over the course of 9 months, including even a few months of me not actively producing pages (and then catching up). Burning out to me is when you get to a point where you can't work on something anymore because you've fried yourself on it.

And I don't think fewer panels is a quality issue. It's the nature of the beast in how I'm updating. I'm giving half-page updates each day. Sometimes that means that half-page is actually a quiet subtle moment that's all art and no story. That's just the way it's going to happen sometimes, and while I can worry about that, it's something that's going to happen and I don't want to change the flow of the story to adjust into daily updates. What you're suggesting is that it's more of a quantity issue, and giving more panels doesn't necessarily mean a better quality story or experience.

Honestly if I could do a full page each and every day I would, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. Still need to work my day job, heh.