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Heyo 2013! State of the Comic

4 Ish Good!


Happy New Year! 2012 was gone in a flash and we have a fresh new year to look forward to!

Here's a quick TL★DR version of the announcements:

- 2013 Events: No mainland events. Normal Hawaii events will continue.
- nemu*nemu and Audra will go on break for the month of January.
- There are no plans at the moment to print nemu*nemu Volume 7

My Goal for 2013: Get more readers for nemu*nemu and continue doing this as my full time job.

Help me out by:

- SHARING my nemu*nemu comics with friends & family
- CLICKING our ad links before shopping at sites like Amazon to help fund my creative efforts
- Become a Supporting Member by supporting us monthly or yearly.
- CHEERING me on my journey!

For all the juicy details, read past the cut!

First up: Planned events for 2013

Business-wise, 2012 was a tough year for nemu*nemu. Although overall sales were OK, the rising travel costs, exhibiting, and manufacturing have really whittled away at our small profit margins. We tried a variety of things to lower our costs, but the numbers just don't add up.

Additionally, the California Franchise Tax Board came after us mid-year with fees and penalties we had no idea applied to us as a partnership Limited Liability Company (LLC). This totaled over $3200 (so far), not counting the penalties accrued for 2012. I'm still somewhat sour over the whole thing, but it was a hard lesson learned. So, I'm in the process of paying off the last of it in early 2013.

What does this mean for 2013? This means I will not be returning to California for events in the foreseeable future. Hawaii events will remain unchanged (JCCH NY Ohana Fest, Kawaii Kon, MiniCon, holiday craft events, etc) and TCAF in Toronto, Canada is still on my list. However, I need to "earn" my way to TCAF in May. More on that in a bit.

Next up: January Hiatus

What does this mean?!

In short, I've been on auto-pilot for the past 4 years that I've been doing nemu*nemu as my full-time job. My schedule has been 3 comics a week since the beginning and I've done my best to stick to that. However, along the way, I've lost sight of how to keep this alive as a business.

As an all-ages comic, I've seen readers come in as children and leave as (more or less) adults in the past 7 years. Folks grow up and tastes change, and our readers come and go. The passage of time has never felt more relevant.

When each and every day becomes a race to meet the deadline, I don't have time to brainstorm, to plan, to create anything meaningful and satisfyingly -good-. I try to do it all at once and in the end, I'm not able to focus on anything. It's overwhelming... and a lot for one person to manage.

So, in short, I need a break.

Don't get me wrong, I feel incredibly uneasy about taking this break... but after burning through the daily Xmas comics and coming down with my second cold of the holiday season (amongst other persistent health issues. -grah-) and missing a week of comic updates in the aftermath, it's become quite clear to me that I can't keep going on this way.

I want to start off fresh in 2013, with new focus and renewed energy... and I need your help - but more on that in a bit...

So what about Volume 7?

The short answer is: "There are no current plans to compile and print Volume 7 at this time."

Although we've had a very successful Kickstarter run to print Volume 6, we've run into some ... problems.

We are running out of space.

Although we are low on volumes 2 and 4, we still have half our original stock of volume 5 and about 3/4ths our stock of Volume 6. With the 4 new plushy pups that we introduced for the holiday season, we are short on space. We've spread out our inventory into our families' houses and we don't have any furniture in this house aside from our work desks, dining room table, and bed. The thought of ordering another 1000-2000 books gives me a headache just thinking about the logistics of where to put them.

Time is an issue.

Piecing together a book is no small feat. Usually Scott and I work on a book for about 2-3 months to complete all comics, content, covers, and commentary, optimize it for print, edit, then design the book layout... then edit some more. All this, before it even goes to the printer.

In the past, we've worked hard to get a book printed in time for our first major event of the year -- Kawaii Kon or our April 1st anniversary (whichever came first... usually KK)... but this year, with Scott being extremely busy with his day job and me being overwhelmed with the business side of things, we decided to put the book on hold for another time.

Our distributors are not panning out...

Because we are self-published, book stores, libraries, schools, and some retail shops will not purchase books from us directly. Just to get our books into our local Barnes & Noble, we had to find a mainland distributor from a list provided by B&N's small press department. We started working with a company called The Distributors in late October 2011 and they currently carry volumes 5 and 6.

This is partially why we went with Kickstarter to help fund a run of 2000 books. By getting a larger amount of books we would be able to wholesale our books through a distributor which could then get our books into bookstores and libraries across the US. Then possibly host book signings and events. That was the plan.

However, after a year of doing business with the Distributors, it was apparently clear that they were quick to receive new books and refresh their stock, but extremely slow to pay for the books sold. The have gone as far as avoiding our e-mails, phone calls, and letters from our attorney for a response.

To date, I have not been paid for any of the books we shipped to them... Grrr..

Books are a slow sell

Perhaps it's because a book is considered an investment, opposed to the instant gratification of a plush toy or trinket, they are an extremely slow seller -- particularly at events.

Over the past couple years, I've found that exhibiting at events does not necessarily bring in new readers simply though visible exposure and/or making an impression. The only time that exhibiting works is when the audience there is already familiar with your work and is actively coming to see you.

Since I am cutting back on events in 2013, it's my job to find new readers elsewhere -- which means I need to be more visible online. Which brings me to the last section~

Goals and Plans for 2013

nemu*nemu is more than just "a webcomic" -- it's my creative "umbrella" philosophy that encompasses everything I do.

In 2013 it's my goal to grow my online presence. It's not natural for me -- I'm pretty shy and awkward and often have fits of anxiety and insecurity... particularly when it comes to art and story. (much less meeting people... ^^;) But I hope in the process you grow to get to know me, and I grow to become comfortable with sharing who I am, and little by little - grow out of this shell.

All the while, In the process of meeting that goal, I hope that I can make my business sustainable. I am... optimistic. ♥

So, how can you help?

Little things help me in big ways.

Please SHARE my comic with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blog posts and of course in-person. All of these things work wonders in helping me find new readers!

I'm always thankful for the occasional "Like" and "Favorite" on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Please consider sharing our posts with your friends if you could. Sharing gets my comic shown to your friend feed and helps more people discover nemu*nemu.

Clicking on affiliate shop links in my blog posts like Amazon before you start shopping keeps nemu*nemu funded, and largely ad-free.

Becoming a Supporting Member, something new we're introducing this year, is a great way to directly support nemu*nemu. In return, you'll get access to our latest wallpapers and more features will be added in the future.

... and not to sound too self-serving, occasionally, cheer me on~! Sometimes the ether is a little too quiet and I forget there are folks who are out there who care about what I'm doing. Here are some places you can find me: Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, deviantArt, flickr ~ You probably don't have to follow me everywhere -- there's bound to be a lot of overlapping posts/information, but I'm most frequently found on twitter and our Facebook fan page. ^^

This is truly the era of change. Things that have or had worked for us in the past are no longer relevant and the real challenge is to keep adapting to whatever comes our way.

We may start off 2013 with cloudy overcast skies, but I'll keep an eye out for those bright sunny days ahead!

Happy New Year, everyone~!


Share your thoughts

51 Replies

  • Henshin Rider Anpan

    No more California events? D: Say it isn't so. Nemunemu booth was my favorite part of SDCC.

    • Audra Furuichi

      I'm so sad to say it is. T___T;; We tried hard to make things work this year, but the unexpected "LLC tax" really hit us hard.

      I'd need to grow exponentially as a business before attempting to return -- so it's completely out of the question, just a long, hard haul to get there again.

  • Our Man Horn

    We're kindred spirits, Kitsy. A lot of your concerns, struggles and philosophies are shared by Team Cool Jerk. My fractured drawing thumb is giving me a forced cartooning hiatus — which is welcome — but it's also sidelining work on other projects.

    You guys hang in there and know you're not alone in these struggles! Heck, it was good knowing *we're* not alone!

    Ganbatte kudasai!

    • Audra Furuichi

      ♥ Thanks so much Team Cool Jerk! ♥

      I'm both happy and sad to know we're in the same boat -- we all work hard to keep doing what we love and it's so easy feel alone in your struggles. It's so good to hear that there are others out there fighting the same fight as us and hanging in there.

      I hope your thumb heals up quickly and you're back to your drawing table soon! ★

  • blubloodrazberry

    kitsy, i do so hope you take care of yourself! i understand and admire your passion and dedication to your work and your art, and it only reinspires me each time, but i do worry about your health. i hope i can produce something as wonderful as you have with nemu*nemu in my future, and i'm so very glad to know someone as wonderful as you :)

  • Koiyuki

    I wish you peace and prosperity in the new year. If you're interested, I would like to work with you to create content for your brand

  • Debbie Anne Perry

    While Fluffy and Mervin certainly isn't a business for me, I can very much relate with both the desire to build an audience and to know that someone actually reads these things. I have included Nemu*Nemu on my links page at http//: as I have come to really enjoy your strip.

  • AniMatsuri

    Has the distributor actually got the books into stores?

    What do you expect from a state that literally voted themselves a tax hike in the last election? I don't even think our state would be that straight forward.

    Too bad about the Vol. 7 (non)printing. That was 1/2 reason I showed up at Kawaii Kon. The other 1/2 was to pick up the lastest issue of Gordon Rider.

    That's probably one of the(few?) nice things about being a syndicated comic strip artist. Its a lot of hard work but at least distribution is the syndicator's problem.

    • Audra Furuichi

      The short answer is yes -- we've seen our books at local B&N shops. I was in the process of scheduling a book signing/event mid-2012, but it fell thru, more than twice. (Long long story.) And yes, the books have sold, and they seem to be out of stock locally. Unless there's a demand by customers, B&N won't typically restock unless requested.

      We're in the process of filing our complaint with the BBB. We'll see how it goes.

  • koukoupuffs

    Gah. Sorry to hear about all the stuff you're going through now, but it's good that you're taking a well-deserved break!

    I really do wish to see volume 7 printed one day since I adore the nemu*nemu graphic novels. *___*~

    Hopefully, I'll get to see you again at TCAF. nemu is the only reason I'd go since I don't follow any other comics. ^^; Want more Pollo~~~

    • Audra Furuichi

      Thank you~! I'm sure we'll eventually get around to printing our next book -- I just don't know when.

      I was confirmed a space at TCAF, but I'm keeping an eye out for better deals on flights before committing. They're still in the $800-900 range. =_=;; (Man, 2010 was so great with the $500 flight. :\)

  • Darryl Dote

    Not sure how to grow your online presence? LOL... coming from someone who has been following your work since the days of Prodigy and dial-up... you have an amazing talent, Audra, and I am so glad that you are getting it out there and doing it as a living! So proud of you and your successes!

    • Audra Furuichi

      ♥ Well, it's more like getting on to a greater audience's radar. We currently have an amazing group of regular readers and I'm so thankful for their support -- but I need more eyeballs reading/recognizing/recommending my work.

      But thank you~ I know you've been there since more or less from the veeeeeeeeeeery beginning of my internet days. XD

  • house_of_darkly

    Knowing when to take a break has got to be one of the more important skills of self-employment; and I think you've picked the right time, for what it's worth. I am sorry I won't get to see you guys at SDCC this year! I was trying to figure out how long I've been reading - it was at least 2008 since that's when I made that Pollo plush!

    As a random thought: maybe you could consider doing some one-shots? Perhaps doing something "different" would do you good. I love seeing your sketchbook drawings for fun and would enjoy seeing you play around a bit with style and such in a comics format.

    I dunno, just take a deep breath, take a break, and I hope that things go much better in 2013!

    • Audra Furuichi

      Incidentally, "one-shots" are a good part of my plan. After doing this for 7 years, we find we have very little sharable content. When I have to choose a single strip that characterizes my comic for say, an interview, I have a reaaally hard time making a choice -- because most are story-based.

      So one-shots, daily sketches, auto-bio blurbs, etc are all on my to-do list - just to reach that larger audience.

      2013 is really that year of trying anything and everything I haven't done/been able to do because I had been so focused on meeting those M-W-F deadlines.

  • Lee McIntosh

    Have you tried talking to the owners of touristy spots that sell Hawaii stuff that includes a book section? They might be interested in selling your books...

    • Audra Furuichi

      I haven't checked in recently -- although for a short time, we had our books at the airport bookstores.. and I believe they sold well then. (But that book shop went out of business shortly after...and we almost didn't get paid for our merchandise....)

      Early on, while we were shopping our books and merchandise to local shops and local distributors, the biggest "problem" is that our comic is not "Hawaiiana" and they didn't know how to market us. (It still makes me scratch my head to this day...)

      Although I am curious to see how receptive they would be of my work today. Might be worth giving another try.

  • Robert K. SJ-CA

    After seeing your booth for the 1st time at FanimeCon 2008, it was this posting that got my attention... ... I felt so awful about your experience that I started looking into Nemu-Nemu more and I grew fondly attached to it (Mostly Anpan)... The following year I decided to try funneling business to your booth... You & Scott seemed a bit confused by it, but I had fun doing it... Since then I have always been a supporter of Nemu-Nemu and I don't think I'm going to stop... Take a break, regain your health and your heading... As a Nemu-nemu Street Team Member, I'll be waiting (^_^)

    • Audra Furuichi

      Thanks so much Robert, you have probably been our biggest supporter and cheerleader at Fanime from the get-go~ ♥ It's folks like you that made each and every year fun and worthwhile, regardless of money made or money lost.

      I'm so thankful to have you as an (official) nemu*nemu Street Team member, and more importantly, as a friend. ♥

  • LuckyStar7

    If you get the time/funds, could you make a trip down here to Kentucky? It's just a suggestion; you don't have to do it if you don't want to. Sometime in the next few years works for me, and even if it doesn't happen, I will continue to be a loyal reader.
    Love this lots, LuckyStar7

  • pollofan72

    audra, you ish aweshome!

  • Botcha Duck

    Audra, I just have to say that u r a HUGE inspiration! I have lived in Hawaii my WHOLE life and have always thought that if I am to do something I have to leave. Go somewhere, anywhere to actually do something meaningful! I was super surprised when I heard you worked and lived in/at Hawaii! You where here, doing something amazing! Thank you for your amazing art and inspiration! Sorry times r tough! But I know 1 day everything will be shuper!

    • Audra Furuichi

      Aw~ Thank you! Being from and living in Hawaii certainly doesn't make things easier, that's for sure! But it is possible to make things work with a little ingenuity and creative thinking... and planning ahead does help a lot too. XD;

  • Jonny

    Love nemu*nemu, becoming a supporting member and wishing you the best! Just one thing:

    "Clicking on affiliate shop links in my blog posts like Amazon before you start shopping keeps nemu*nemu funded, and largely ad-free."

    What does this mean? Where are these links?

    • Audra Furuichi

      This is the way it works:

      You can find affiliate links in 2 main ways:

      ★ I sometimes create blog posts where I recommend/review items. I usually highlight those items as text links to online shops where you can purchase them yourself if interested.

      ★ We have a large banner ad under the comic that goes to Amazon. (You may not see if it you have an ad-blocker on your browser)

      When you click on those links, it will track your purchases at sites like Amazon and send us a tiny percentage of your total purchase.

      You don't have to buy the items I recommend/list - just the act of clicking the banner or link before heading to the site will link your purchase to our account. ♥

  • meragold

    I must have been reading this for more than 2 years, oh gosh you are my favourite online webcomic and I loved meeting you guys in Toronto a while back!! I wish you the bestbestest of luck, I'll try my best to make everyone I know hear of this comic.

  • ella&nemu

    Audra,your comic ish best ella&nemu ever read![and the olny!]I wish you good luck!<3 ella&nemu;]

  • J.Hawkeye

    Take all the time you need. I'll be sharing the link. And no matter what, I'm still a fan.

  • Hoopajoo

    I have never wanted a month to be over this badly before. T-T

  • Avatar

    I've been enjoying the sketches on Instagram. Hang in there and I hope to see more comics as soon as you can!

  • Nick Martin

    Found you yesterday through your guest strip on "Girls With Slingshots" and read all the strips from beginning to end today. I look forward to seeing more in February. This is one of the very few web comics I will gladly support financially. Keep up the good work. As a father (and new grandfather) it's refreshing to find something I have no problems sharing with my children. Best of luck in 2013!

  • Nick Campbell

    I have a few questions that you may or may not know the answer to.

    Would the bookstores carry you if UPS or Amazon were your distributor and handled your fulfillment?

    Would price changes help alleviate some of the problems (I'm thinking digital because they seem low)?

    • Audra Furuichi

      Getting books into the bookstore is a little more complicated than just sending them books. This is why many of them require you to go thru a business called a "distributor". This business will carry many book titles, so instead of say, Barnes & Noble dealing with hundreds of people with separate accounts, they only have to deal with a few business fulfilling their orders.

      • Nick Campbell

        It was more of asking what type of distribution do you need?

        UPS would simply be fulfillment, but I thought Amazon still had their distributor service for independent publishers. I don't see it though. Which leaves the traditionals like Diamond.

        BTW, if BBB doesn't do much, you may need to go through small claims. I think the Consumer Protection Agency provides resources that may help you with that.

        • Audra Furuichi

          Well, the point of finding (our) distributor was to get our books into B&N. They have a specific list of distributors they use. I figured if I could get my books in that way, other businesses like schools, libraries, and smaller bookshops could effectively get our books that way too. (Since my biggest hurdle is affordable shipping from Hawaii.)

          Things are still up in the air with the BBB - I guess we'll see how things turn out soon-ish.

  • Amanda

    I found several places here that allow public posting for flyers- I will be making it my mission to post as many of the street team flyers as I can once the weather gets better. Currently it's pouring freezing rain here- Which would make the posters look nice with a layer of ice, but no one could pull off the little tabby to take the information with them.

    Everything will plan out though in the end. You got a lot of loving and devoted friends and fans that will see you through this.

  • S

    what's your instagram? I wanna make sure i'm up to date with your amazing comics.