Heyo 2013! State of the Comic

Posted by Audra Furuichi on January 3, 2013 6:34 PM

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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~!

Audra


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