Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Easy Answers, Easy Errors

From this recent post:

How To Make a Living With Webcomics
by Joey Manley
So this is a quick post, because the answer is far simpler than you may have heard. There are two steps, and only two steps.
1. Make a great comic.
2. Make it very popular.

That's the essence of the post. The rest is mostly about how simple it all is and how anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't get it.
I tried starting a discussion on the original thread, but it was selectively deleted and closed. An email went unanswered. I got a lecture for not being civil enough.

What do you think? Is it all so easy?

If Joey didn't excuse himself abruptly, I'd pose some questions:

Who slaves away at a comic without thinking it is great?
Who can conceive a great comic in advance of creating it?
Who can return with an improved effort if they don't subject themselves to critical analysis?
Is greatness better measured by popularity or loyalty?
How do you know it's great? Who tells you? How do I speak to this person?

As for popularity:

If the comic is great, will it become popular, or are there other things required?
Do great comics ever fail to become popular? Can we identify any?
Do any particular strategies make a great comic popular?
What role do popular comics play in deciding what other comics become popular?
Can we write a great comic for any demographic and become popular, or must we target our audience?
Does advertising work?
Is it better to dominate a niche or share a pie?
Where does the "making a living part" come in?
Are some comics more likely to make a living than others, even if they are equally popular?
Which matters more: profits, or profitability?
How's your own business coming along? And your comic -- you do have one?

Across any field, gurus who tell you how simple something is tend to outsell those who tell you how to do it. Those who tell you how to do it tend to outsell those who show you how to do it. But when it comes to outcomes, those who have been shown are the most likely to succeed.

The "easy sell" guys get most of the failures, and the mentors produce most of the successes. But people threatened with failure will open their wallets to save their prospects, while those good enough to become apprentices can often succeed on their own.

I am reminded of those ads offering to teach you French in 14 days. Yes, after two weeks you've learned some words and phrases, and technically, you are speaking French.

But you are a fool if you think you've mastered anything, except to regard oversimplifications with suspicion.