On Business: When To Give Up

By | Monday, October 17, 2016 Leave a Comment
Let's say you come up with this idea for a project. Some story that you become very passionate about telling because you haven't seen anything quite like it before. You pull together whatever resources you have access to and, to the best of your ability, produce your comic. Maybe you launch it as a webcomic, maybe you try self-publishing, maybe you shop it around to established publishers. Doesn't matter. The point is that you put tons of work into it, and you develop and polish it until you think it's as good as you can make it. Maybe you had to hire and artist or a letterer or whatever, but you're done with the whole story and you think it looks great.

Then you put it out into the world, and do your best to promote it, and the response is... nothing. No one is flocking it to it, so it's not an overnight success and no one is laughing at it/you so it's not an unmitigated failure either. You get a few people who drop you some kind notes, and maybe they chuck a few bucks your way, but it just doesn't take off like you'd hoped. It's not a bad comic; it's just not one that really excites people.

"OK," you think, "maybe the timing was off. Maybe it's just not the right marketplace for this story just now."

So you go on to produce another story. Again, you put your heart and soul into it. Maybe you try a slightly different approach, marketing-wise. Same result. Even when you go out of your way to solicit feedback, you don't get anything substantive. "Yeah, it's good. Solid work. I don't what I could tell you to really improve on it though."

So you try again. And again. And again. And each time, you get some modest praise, and gain maybe a few more fans, but nothing earth shattering. And maybe you even get to the point where your work is financially self-sustaining. Maybe not lucrative, but enough that you can squeak by.

The question I have, then, is: is it worth making sure your older works remain viable? Is it worth your effort to maintain dedicated marketing pages on your website for them, and making sure the books remain available for sale even if it's print-on-demand effort? I mean, the general idea, I think, is to set up enough decent-selling work that you can get a series of small-to-modest sales over the course of years. You might only sell one book of each title a month, but with enough different books out, that's enough to earn a living on.

So does it make sense to take one of those works that's a bit older and never sold as well, and continue to put effort into ensuring that it remains as a possible revenue stream? At what point does it take too much effort to keep updating the work relative to how much money you make on it?
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