A Failed Movement In Three Acts

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It was interesting to see how comicsgate came and went, and how fast it went from something that was growing with momentum and then how fast it just went into contract mode. It was a leadership issue at its heart, as how leaders go so goes the movement. It’s easy to break down into its three phases as a lesson for growth and how to manage it in the future for various movements and causes:

Phase One: Identify The Problem and Raise Awareness

This was arguably the most fun time in the movement. We all had a cause together. We rallied together. The big companies are making shit books with left wing politics riddling them and we just want to buy our funny books for us and our children! It was easy at this stage. We all had very clear problems to point to, very clear solutions to propose, and it shook the industry to its core. Great youtubers like Doug Ernst, Cap’n Cummings, Weaponized Nerd Rage and Diversity & Comics did their thing, and journalists like myself and Megan Fox pushed to the mainstream what was happening and helped them grow their platforms tremendously.

It became so big the industry couldn’t ignore it and started fighting all of us, the customer base. They told us “go make your own comics” eventually after trying to blame us for their problems.

So we did.

Phase 2: Alt-Hero ushers in a revolution of crowdfunds

As it was really heating up and D&C was getting harassed at conventions, Alt-Hero was launched as an alternative to the mess of Marvel/DC. It raised $230K in september last year. This was used to launch a comics company, producing hundreds of pages of comics over the next year based on the profits from this. It was all plowed back in, Arkhaven Comics became a juggernaut where comics are nearly being released on the weekly basis just like the big companies, landing great talent like Chuck Dixon and Gary Kwapisz (and me, of course).

From its success we saw Jawbreakers boom. Other comics followed. the summer of 2018 proved to be a group of creators rising from the ashes of this destructive industry, showing there is a better way. We can stand together for books. We can produce the content and make it work. We can do everything the industry can do and better.

And then the indiegogo campaigns from the big name creators ended.

Phase 3: A movement falls to contraction and fighting

The summer high faded. The honeymoon phase is over. customers looked up, hazy eyed after staring at screens and spending $100, $200, $500 and more on comics over the summer… and they don’t have any books.

What happened?

People started to get mad. People pointed fingers at each other. Alt-Hero seemed a good target because the creators really weren’t around to put up a defense. Day in and day out became just sniping, fighting. The biggest books weren’t coming out, and it was taking forever.

The movement changed overnight from “we’re going to sell books together, make this about FUN, and laugh” to “we’re going to point fingers as to what we’re going to call the problem, we’re gonna be all about angry politics, and we’re going to try to get people NOT to buy books.”

It divided the audience, made everyone angry. There was no more to it than that. It didn’t help people sell books. A lot of small time creators who were not seeing the indiegogo returns as the bigger names got angry. They were promised a new day in comics, it didn’t come. Books started to fail in their goal, and all because the youtube crowd moved from trying to help everyone and lift all boats… to trying to protect their increasingly shrinking corner of fandom.

The Lesson

The lesson is, when you lose the fun, you lose the followers. Fun is what we’re selling. Books is what we’re selling. We’re not running for office. We’re not world leaders. We’re comic creators. That’s what we tried to tell all the big names like Mark Waid and Dan Slott — don’t block readers cuz of their politics. Don’t put middle fingers to half the country in your work. Don’t divide like this.

Unfortunately, when a couple platforms got too big, it became just that.

So i’m going to back to Making Science Fiction Fun Again. That’s why I’m here. I still see a bright future where indie can lead the way, but it’s gotta be about the books. It’s gotta be about producing them better, faster, cheaper than the competition. And that’s what I aim to do.

Why don’t you join me?

My books are going to come out on Patreon before they get released to general audiences. You’ll see what I’m up to in comics, short stories, novels all the way around. It’s going to be a crazy 2019 where I try to even double my output from this year. Join me and my friends and also come hang out in my private discord! 

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Whoops!

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I actually FORGOT to blog this morning. I’ve been getting packages out for my Flying sparks campaign. I got about 50% of the domestic trade paperbacks out yesterday and have got all the shipping ready to get the other 50% out today… then onto my far-too-long international list which is going to be a lot more complicated, but I’ll figure it out.

It’s been crazy burning the candle at both ends packing books all night, shipping in the morning,working during the day, still getting writing done, but we’re making it work!

Another thing I’ve been working on is getting my short story collection ready. I’m waiting on an introduction from a great friend, but the edits are done on the stories, I’ve written brief blurbs on how the stories came to be individually, and we’re ready to go as soon as that’s in. I teased the cover of the book on Monday on social media, but it’s here if you missed it:

The book will be available for Patreon supporters FIRST, which should be in the next couple of days, and then we’ll put it up for general release probably around Black Friday or the next week so everyone can get a copy for the holidays. The back cover is going to feature the best blurbs from industry authors who have given their testimonials about me, such as:

“Tiresome and insulting,” – John Scalzi
“Boorish.” – J. Michael Straczynski

“I don’t like you. Go away.” – Ethan Van Sciver.”

“A septic diaper.” – Chuck Wendig

And more! It’ll be a great piece for your shelf because of that and this beautiful, triggery cover.

Get in on Patreon now to make sure you get yours early. We have fun stories in here including one co-written with S. Misanthrope — was we’ve been teasing on our Lunch Stream for weeks. It’s HILARIOUS.

Contents:

“Forging Babel” – Never Before Released

“The Equality Engine” – Only seen on Patreon

“Love IRL” – Only seen on Patreon, one of my most popular stories

“Altered Program” – Sequel to Love IRL, only seen on Patreon

“Project Scarecrow” – From Uprising Review flash fiction

“The Last Blitzkrieg” – Only seen on Patreon

“Compassion” – From the To Be Men anthology (prequel short to my NanoTemplars series coming in 2019)

“The Romance Chip” – From the out of print Irony of Survival anthology – not seen since 2016

“Starlin” – Only seen on Patreon

“Unsafe (in) Space” (ft. S.Misanthrope) – Never Before Released

“Lost And Found” – From A Fistful Of Credits Anthology (Sequel is out in Luck Is Not A Factor)

“Winning Is What We Do” – from MAGA 2020

“Clean Up Call” – Flash Fiction from the Captain Is Dead Board Game

“Gravity Of The Game” – First time this extremely popular novella is in print!

It’s a ton of content so I’m excited to bring this to you!

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An Interview With an IDF Soldier

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Very excited for the Lunch Stream as we have Yakov Merkin, an IDF soldier who has firsthand experience on what it’s like in Israeli existence. He’s also got a great military science fiction series Galaxy Ascendant and we’ll ask him how his military life informs his writing!  Make sure to like and subscribe cuz it boosts our channel!

 

 

 

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Two Face Finally Came For Me

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It’s been a proxy war for the last 2 months. Ethan Van Sciver — aka Two Face — said platitudes to me for awhile, while he had private chats where he sent people both after me, and he was even so paranoid to think that people were “spying” on my behalf.

This is what happens when someone who’s ill-equipped to lead gets tapped as a leader. Ethan is an artist, used to solitary work, he’s not a person to redefine and change an industry. It’s a personality type, and it was pretty obvious to most of us that comicsgate was going to implode when he grew his audience — not because of comics — but because of bashing Star Wars. A crowd that didn’t care about the products came on, threw money at him and others, and because of the dollar amounts coming in, people thought this was going to be a great ride and hitched their horses.

I’m one of the very fortunate few who was able to run 2 successful crowdfunds with very little help from EVS. My first book, Flying Sparks, I can trace $3-5K of the $31,000+ total to the youtubers promoting it. about 15-20%. A chunk, but not a deal killer. On The Ember War, we’re at $24,000 without a single one of the YouTubers supporting it, mentioning it, or saying anything about me except for negative comments. So I have my own fanbase, which is the good news.

Many of these guys do not, however. They’re stuck. This youtube money was never going to last forever. The whole premise was based on outrage, not actual products, and so these guys have to perpetually stoke outrage — at Vox Day, at me, at Miss Sashi, at smaller creators (Ethan dedicated several shows to attacking a guy who had an indiegogo with less than 20 backers because he spoke ill of EVS), at fans even — who I won’t name to protect them.  They’re using the same tactics as the pros at Marvel/DC that they were originally mocking to get big.

Ethan finally came out and said he didn’t like me over the weekend, told me to “go away”, as if I didn’t have any part of this movement before he even showed up. The hubris in that statement and resentment shows that he blames me for his crumbling empire, even though I have little to do with him (I’ve not been around his youtube crew at all for 2 months now!). Last night, he escalated attacks by coming after someone for following me on Twitter, accusing him of being a “Jon del Arroz acolyte” and promptly blocking him.

He knows he’s messed up, but instead of patching up the situation and working together to build something, he’s going to keep escalating and doubling down, because he can’t admit that this was too big of an animal to wield. Imagine a world where he would have focused on Cyberfrog getting done on time instead of on youtube… we’d probably be having a different conversation right now.

I’d only been kind to Ethan. I wrote him up in the Federalist, promoted him, backed his going-to-be-late comic book, helped prop him up along the way because he claimed he was a Trump supporter and trying to build something new out of the ashes of the industry. But I always got the sense he didn’t like me from day one, and I couldn’t understand why. I think there’s a couple of reasons for it: 1. I can’t be controlled, I have my own thoughts and he didn’t want folk around him who wouldn’t just toe the line and make him feel good and 2. because I’m a writer, and there’s a rivalry between artists like him and writers that date back to the Image Comics early days. Those guys and the people who followed them have an “art is everything” mentality with comics, and when they see a good writer it actually plays to their insecurities cuz they know they can’t put together as good a story as someone like me.

Regardless of the reasons, it’s out in the open now. He can’t be Two Face about me any longer and put on the smiles on one side of the face, while trying to have his sycophants destroy me from the other.  It’s good. I’m going to keep writing, keep making comics and keep winning. I hope the guys who followed him through this thinking there’s a money train don’t dig themselves into too deep of a hole.

My writing wins awards and is a #1 Amazon Bestseller. It all starts in For Steam And Country, my steampunk novel which launched my career and got me the readers that will follow me to whatever I write (and I love you for it!). Check it out here. 

 

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The Culture War Landscape Is Changing

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Over the weekend, we watched as those who built their youtube brands up on being culture warriors and proceeded to turn around and do to right wing comic creators exactly what those in the mainstream, leftist industry did, turn on the movement they helped grow and cultivate. They washed their hands of what they created because too many people were questioning their motives and the way they were going about ostracizing conservatives.

The result was a movement unified. A group of people who are really int this for changing the dynamic of comics and not for political litmus testing against conservatives. We’ve seen that before, we know how it ends, and it’s ugly.

I find myself energized and vindicated by this move, as I’ve stood tall with my resolve saying I will not apologize for being a conservative, I will not apologize for being a Christian. I’m going to continue to make books and comics the way I want to and no one can stop that.

My game plan has been the same for awhile and is as follows:

I still plan on releasing more pages of comics in 2019 than anyone else. I put every dollar I made right back into art and production so I can keep this going cuz I wasn’t in it for hanging on youtube, I was in it for trying to get to a point where I can put out comics monthly like the big boys.

It’s gonna take a lot of work, but we will get there as we’re putting together infrastructure to make it easier to produce and ship.

Either way, I have a lot of content to produce and a lot on my plate. I’m relying on Patreon backers to some extent so make sure to check out my patreon and get early access to books, comics, and short stories as they get released.

 

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20Books Final Takeaways

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What a great conference! I’ve rarely felt so energized about writing as I have these last couple of days. What it comes down to is what I’ve always been saying: write more, and become a master of advertising. Those two things are all anyone needs for success.

It may seem a daunting task, but there’s courses out there on marketing. There’s a lot that can be done and anyone can really do it. It’ just a question on if you have a will and a drive to.

For me, this means really upping my game on Amazon ads, fixing my descriptions on my books in conjunction with those, working with Facebook ads, and trying to double my productivity next year.

I’m about 2 scenes from wrapping up the second book in a science fiction trilogy I intend on launching next year. I’ve got a couple of such trilogies in the pipeline as well as several great comics. We’ll see how it goes!

For now, check out my Patreon. That’s where I’ll be launching stuff including full first drafts of books to my top tier backers. Check it out here.

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20Books Day 2

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I think my highlight of my day was getting lunch with Jay Allan, one of the best Military Science Fiction writers in the field. He was extremely gracious and let me hammer him with marketing questions the whole time. Super great guy.

Other than that, I think Dean Wesley Smith’s talk was probably the most motivational. For those who don’t know, he is MR PULP SPEED. he writes books so fast he probably wrote two in the time it’s taken you to read this short of a blog so far. He hammered the pulp mindset of releasing books fast, just writing, trusting your creative vision. Don’t WORRY if it’s too over the top, just have fun with it and go. And that’s the way to keep yourself motivated, keep yourself doing anything — I think this goes for writing, or anything for that matter. If you just trust your instincts and have fun, you’ll be far more productive in all your endeavors in life, no matter what it is.

There was a nice amazon marketing course in the afternoon that delved into facebook ads and the like. It was a little surface level and fast and I’d like a little more in depth. Maybe I’ll hunt the guy down and get some good info from him before the course is over.

3– support the blog, youtube, books, short stories. There’s gonna be a lot of content dropping this month so you’ll want to get in now!

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#20BooksTo50K

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Sorry about the lack of blog yesterday. Flew out to Las Vegas on Monday night and had to rush to the conference early… and then didn’t have wifi at the conference to post. I’m actually at my hotel right now to write this, running late for day two.

But day one was jam packed with excellent tips and tricks for people interested in the BUSINESS of being an indie writer. There’s a lot more to it than it looks like from ad buys to different content management that folk may not see behind the scenes. I go into it sometimes.

My main takeaway from the conference yesterday was their dissecting of book blurbs by different authors. And my takeaway was I can do better on my amazon blurbs. I’m going to be spending the next couple of days rewriting those but I’ll pass on the basic formula they were saying is gold at the conference for those interested as writers:

HOOK

Introduce Character

Follow character’s emotional journey

Raise the stakes

Leave the readers wanting more

Ask for the sale.

I may do a periscope stream on this at some point later to explain why this is crucial and why so many amazon listings make a miss here. Here’s a quick one I did for For Steam And Country as a result of this. I haven’t changed it on amazon yet (this may not be my final wording) so you can compare my current to what’s here: 

The Baron’s airship will fly again. 

Zaira Von Monocle could never live up to the epic adventures of her dead father. Rather than follow in the footsteps of the man who abandoned her, she’s resigned to living a quiet life alone on a farm. Her ordinary world shatters when she inherits her father’s airship, The Liliana.

War looms over the horizon, as the the Wyranth empire invade  Zaira’s village in search of her airship, the deadliest weapon Rislandia’s ever produced. Zaira is forced to abandon her home in service of king and country, when she discovers and incredible military secret—her father might still be alive.

Can Zaira take command of the Liliana and rescue the great Baron Von Monocle? Find out by reading For Steam And Country, the first book in this #1 Bestselling YA Steampunk Series and CLFA Book of the Year Award winner!

 

 

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On Movements and Moving On

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I have a lot of stuff I want to say, but unfortunately I’m on the move today, headed to the 20BooksTo50K conference in Las Vegas, a conference solely about indie marketing and business building. The real deal.

All I can say is– stay strong. You know in your hearts what is right and where to go. There’s a lot more world out there and we can learn from our mistakes together and build something even better on the next go around. Never give up, never surrender. The culture war was never going to be easy.

For now make sure to check out my Patreon. I’m putting together short stories, comics, novels, drafts, all sorts of content. I just posted an exclusive Flying Sparks update yesterday for all subscribers. Check it out here.

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