delphina2k has been sending out Kickstarter rewards, and I just got my volume 1 of Sombulus in the mail the other day!
The book’s actually a bit bigger than what I was picturing, nice large page size. Delphina revised some of the story and art to make part 1 a smoother reading experience, and I had fun spotting some of the changes here and there. I think the revisions made this story arc even better. I’m already looking forward to a volume 2 kickstarter!
Oh, and look at the little Swinson she drew on my shipping label, oh my gosh :o
So dranxis brings up an excellent point that I’ve been meaning to talk about again now that Sombulus Book 1 is available in my store (Get a PDF for $5 or a book for $19.95!) In February, I re-released the whole Tirani Arc of Sombulus with some pretty big edits to snip out unnecessary plot strands and make the characterization stronger. I wrote more here about what I did, but the short version is, I cut a full 30 pages of content and actually made my readers happier for it.
When you draw or write your very first webcomic series, you walk a weird tightrope. The regular practice of cranking out pages makes us better writers and artists, but that always means we start with our weakest foot forward. But editing is a skill that writers of nearly every kind practice, and the fact that we don’t even think about it in webcomics (or sometimes actively discourage it) is a problem. There are comics that tell you to start on page 200 because “that’s when it gets good”, and before these edits, mine was one of them.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of filing away the first arc as a “bonus story” and guiding people to a different start point. Or just writing your first series off as “the price of learning” and doing better on the next one. But let’s say you are interested in getting and keeping new readers for your current story, and it’s a long sprawling epic you’ve worked on for 4+ years. I’m going to give you permission here and now to do these things:
- If something doesn’t make sense to your readers, you are allowed to simplify your story, shorten/remove the scene, and cut/combine characters until it does. I don’t care if you’re merging an entire family into a single character or 100 pages into 10.
- If it doesn’t get your message across (or tells someone an entirely opposite story), you are allowed to change it.
- You are allowed to do these things even if you’ve posted them on the internet somewhere and a lot of people have read them. (…but maybe dedicate a post to saying what you’ve changed and why for your readers.)
- Any content you cut as a result of this was NOT a waste of your time. You needed it to build your skills, you needed it to see what worked and what didn’t. Be proud of it. It was important and it did its job and now it is done. Now do YOUR job and cut it without shame or hesitation.
- And here’s the really important one: If you find the process of editing is stunting the process of creating new content or making all your readers angry, that means you need more practice. And like anything you need to practice? Don’t give up! Try editing smaller pieces first and work up to it, and getting peers you respect to give feedback privately before you make it live. Or building a large enough buffer to give your pages an editing pass before it goes live. But please don’t believe that “the past needs to stay in the past so you can move forward”, because this story WILL have no future if the beginning is nailing you to bland characters and plotpoints that don’t engage your readers.
The Moko Expedition has an excellent episode about how to recognize when you need to simplify your writing. Good editing is well worth the time and effort, and editing after the fact is SO MUCH EASIER to do with a web-based story than just about any other kind. And yet, many long-running webcomic creators won’t consider it, but struggle to grow their story and audience for years, and that’s just heartbreaking for everyone. So please don’t be afraid: editing is your friend!