It has been a while since I have done a yearly recap. Traditionally I post these on my Facebook account. Considering many, if not all, of the changes coming reflect my website, I felt it best to post here. Be forewarned…this is lengthy. But I have also highlighted some key areas if you wish to jump straight to it.
Feel free to jump ahead for the highlights:
In January 2023 I started my Incredibly Strange & Completely Random Holidays Vella on Amazon. At the time, I hadn’t thought out the scale of that task. I intended to merely highlight a few holidays every week. I ended up publishing a minimum of 5 episodes per week in addition to my other serial novels and Art History 101 Vella. I’m surprised that I was even able to add new Slaughterhouse short stories somewhere in there.
It was an extremely productive year ending with approximately 392 total episodes across all stories. This, of course, does not count the movie reviews & book reviews I post on my Entertainment blogs, nor does it count the miscellaneous blog posts here.
Now, to some authors that are able to work full time at this gig, that may seem small. However, this writer also has a full-time job, and writing, since it doesn’t pay much, is merely a part time job for me. But I digress.
In October I was faced with a choice of adding in the yearly Inktober challenge. For those that don’t know, the challenge is for artists to complete one ink drawing per day for the month of October. That challenge is labor intensive and difficult to manage with my full-time job without counting any writing.
I was hesitant. And the question that plagued me leading up to the challenge was, which do I choose? Art or writing? Followed by, can I do both?
I do love a challenge and my overactive planning brain took over. I devised a plan, and I am happy to announce I completed the challenge without interrupting my aggressive publishing schedule.
Doing so also made me realize how much I have missed my art.
In the past, while I focused on building my art career, my writing took the backseat. When Amazon announced their new platform Kindle Vella a couple of years ago and I was given an invitation to participate in the beta program, I jumped at the opportunity. At the time, I had been distancing myself from commissions, and jumping through the many hoops for art shows, and began to focus on art for me. It was perfect timing to switch gears and try my hand at writing again. And it was the first time I ever received decent earnings for my writing. Much like I had with my art many years prior, the two switched places as my writing took center stage.
Now, as my return on investment into my writing is dwindling as more authors have joined the Vella format and my earnings have decreased, I am faced with the eternal question on how to supplement my income and continue to focus on my creative endeavors. I am a realist and history has proven I may never be able to live off the proceeds of my creative ventures, but I also need the income to pay my bills. I am trying desperately to not return to retail for a second job to supplement my income. And returning to management for a higher paying full-time job really just depresses me.
If you have made it this far, thank you for investing your time in reading this. I know how valuable time is and the fact that you are devoting some of yours to me is appreciated more than you may realize.
If I were to name a skill that I have that is also my superpower, it would be that I am an over-thinker. I may live each moment in the present but when it comes to certain things, especially concerning my art and writing, I have already mapped out the future. This future is ever changing, evolving as it should, based on decisions we make and also circumstances out of our control. Business plans, though they are a wonderful tool, need to be adjusted constantly. Marketing trends change at the drop of a hat. And the way technology is advancing, you would need to be a psychic to predict anything with certainty.
I have seen the end of Vella. Not as a platform, mind you. But the end of the beta program. I am extremely excited for this platform to open wide to all countries. I have many followers that have been unable to read any of the posts I have made because the platform simply is not available to them. And once this platform goes wide, the bonuses we have been receiving will dwindle if not vanish altogether. I’m sure something will probably exist for the top 250 and Amazon may determine an additional reward for those authors.
But I am not one of those authors. So, I must prepare for the inevitable. And this means that I need to make more changes.
And I hate changes.
But I am excited for some of the ones I have devised. And 2024 will begin to usher in many of these changes. I do hope you will stick around and see them through.
I am not one to make resolutions. Not in the traditional sense that people make at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. But I do see the value of solving a problem and determining a new strategy to overcome it. Process improvements are something I have been doing for my full-time job for decades. If I can do them for other businesses, why not mine?
Many years ago, on deviantArt I posted my first Revelations + Resolutions = Revolutions post. At that time, I was also faced with many extreme changes. I have made similar ones yearly as I approach the new year, but none have felt as extreme as the ones I am facing. I have been juggling way too much and have not had the opportunity to implement all of them at once as I would have liked. Of course, that may have been extreme and a gradual roll out is better all things considered. If you continue reading, I am going to lay out some of the changes I hope to make reality in 2024.
I started offering prints through deviantArt several decades ago. They have since changed their policies and I have not upgraded my account so my shop is in limbo apparently.
I then tried and loved (at the time) Cafe Press. A few things fell apart but suffice to say I am fighting to have that store taken down. But that’s another story.
I was using Society6 and have loved their print-on-demand quality. The profit margin was fair to artists, and I supported them. When I changed my name, I had issues with them and had to take my old store down completely to build a new one. They have also changed their structure, and I will no longer be doing business with them.
Instead, I am working on providing prints directly through my site. I’ve been behind on doing this, but it is a priority for me.
Many creatives use other websites to support themselves by gathering patrons for their work. There are countless subscription plans for serial novels as well. I do accept donations and have for several years as I have many followers who wish to support me but just aren’t willing or able to purchase something from me. I have funded most, if not all, of the equipment I use through these donations and am eternally grateful for every cent. Through donations I have been able to purchase a professional easel, proper lighting, a drawing table, new camera, canvases, paintbrushes, and paint. Proceeds & donations for my writing go towards paying for my Wi-Fi and many living expenses.
It took me a long time to be able to accept help from others, but I learned that many people want to help. They often just don’t know how.
I will continue to offer the ability for one-time donations. I am also going to begin offering monthly subscriptions for patrons. I will keep the amounts low. Similar to Patreon and its ilk, I will be setting up content patterned specifically to the tier you choose. I never expect anything entirely for free and hope to offer you a little something in return. There will be more details on this later.
I started this in October. I was hesitant. Would anyone really want to read what I have to offer? And just what exactly could I offer?
One of the main features of Vella that I like is the opportunity to read the first three episodes for free. It gives the reader a chance to try out the story prior to buying it. And I thought, why not do that on my website?
For the past three months I have written one short story broken down in parts for my subscribers. Before I posted the first part, I had a thought: This would be available on the website open to all viewers. And, though my intention was to write simple spooky bedtime stories I realized that it may not be a great idea. We live in an age where information is accessed by people of all ages and many unsupervised. And what is tame to me, may not be considered as such to someone else. While I do not support censorship in any way, I do support placing content warnings.
Horror is the largest content warning there is. But I also understand the visibility purposes of a simple blog post. So, I created my first pricing plan, albeit a free one, to create a “wall” that will prevent the wrong person stumbling across my stories. Hence the birth of my Exclusive Content.
For those that don’t want to read these short stories, I am also including other random bits throughout the month. Incredibly Strange & Completely Random Holidays really was a testament to the random bits of trivia I like to explore. I may begin sprinkling a few of these throughout the year. I will also continue to share my gluten-free recipes and offer some behind-the-scenes info about me and my journey.
In ending, I want to thank everyone always for your continued support. 2024 is just another year. But it is also one that I am looking forward to and hope you will be just as excited about the changes as I am!