Category Archives: Money

Presto tried to charge me $4000 for a $40 transaction!

Presto is an electronic payment system that replaces tickets, tokens, passes and cash on local transit systems in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa. It’s a little green card which you load up with digital cash to pay for your fare. Similar systems have existed in the US and Asia for many years, so we are a bit behind in Canada! In Hong Kong you can use the Octopus fare card at many convenient stores and other merchants.

I’ve never had an issue reloading the Presto card with my credit card…until last week. When I tried to load $40, the machine charged me $4000! I didn’t know what happened initially. After entering my credit card pin number, the screen flashed red and a message told me that the transaction didn’t go through and that I should check the receipt. I was expecting the receipt to tell me that my pin number was incorrect. Instead, it showed an attempted charge of $4000! My credit card company had rejected the charge automatically. Whew!

presto-warning

Since there were many receipts scattered all over the floor near the Presto machine, I guess the moral of the story is to look at your receipt! Also, checking your credit card statements once in a while is a good idea in this age of digital thefts and mistakes!

Update Jan 30/17 – I had tried to contact Presto via phone but couldn’t talk to an agent after pressing multiple menu options. In the end, the machine voice said that I had to go to a customer service desk in person. Other option was to email, which I did. Presto sent an automatic email saying they will contact me within 5 business days. Will see…

Update #2 Jan 30/17 – a Toronto Star reporter contacted me since he was curious about my receipt, so I sent him a copy of the original one for verification. Here’s the article he wrote. A few hours later Sing Tao daily rewrote the article in Chinese!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My YouTube Diary – Opening A YouTube Channel

Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.

There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.

One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!

After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is  yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.

Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:

logos

Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.

Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!

Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.

Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…

I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.

One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.

Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!

 

My YouTube Diary – How Do People Make Money?

YouTube appears to be the new gold mine of our century. Are you going to pan for gold? I am! Seriously, as much as I would love to make millions every year, I know that the people making lots of money also work very hard. We can’t see the amount of hours, money spent on equipment and sheer sweat they put in before they became a success. A little bit of gold dust would be nice, nevertheless!

Business Insider has a great article which calculates and breaks down the amount of money people earn on You Tube. PewDiePie (YouTube’s biggest star who critiques video games and makes jokes about them) supposedly pulled in revenue of $10.5M in 2014. After taxes and YouTube’s share, he may have made $4M. That is fantastic, but keep in mind he started doing this many years ago and the big payoff is only now. Another YouTube star is Michelle Phan (beauty and makeup) was calculated to have made about $150K in comparison. These stories are great, but how does one actually make money?

YouTube has ads that you see before and during video viewing. This is called “YouTube monetization.” The person who made or uploaded the video signs a digital agreement with YouTube so that ads can be placed into their videos and there is a split of roughly 50:50. The amount of money made depends on how many people watched the video and if they clicked on the ad or not. Also, longer videos have more ad placements. More details are available on this “Ad Rates Report” page about how YouTube and ads work.

Setting up a video to be monetized is not difficult at all, maybe 30 minutes, tops. However, to make any money, you need lots of eyeballs and different people to watch your video (and yes, YouTube can tell if the clicks come from the same household). Other than professional media (music videos, clips of tv shows) or cute home videos (babies, dogs, cats) which are sometimes bought by the news media; highly viewed videos are either technical (video game, makeup, space rockets, educational, amateur tv shows) or really low brow (pooping, barfing, falling).

Everything comes down to marketing. In our day and age, social media has opened the doors to people to do their own marketing instead of relying on professional companies. However, people are bombarded with marketing from all over the place, so it’s become harder to get someone’s attention. Having good content is always the most solid base for success, but if no one knows about it, then the content will become lost in cyberspace.

One area getting some attention are toy reviews and toy unboxing (opening a toy). Since I have a child, I thought that a good start would be making videos with toys. That $10 piece of plastic I bought should be good for something after it’s been played with for 5 min, right?! Actually, I spent more than $20 on secret Lego Disney figurines because there was a frenzy at Toys R Us with moms feeling up these packages for the figure they wanted while the men shook their heads in the corner. Still, it was quite exciting to open the secret Lego Disney package on camera because I didn’t know what was in it either (felt like doing toy porn and I’m sure that’s out there too)! This is sounding pretty sad…but I’ve had too much excitement lately over a health crisis in my family, so being excited about something boring is good!

In addition, I want my son to learn Chinese, so I have asked my mom to make videos of us playing with toys in Chinese. I have had a maximum of ….wait for this…30 hits!…so far on our video of Thomas the Train counting in Cantonese. The threshold of any money being released by You Tube is $100 and given I’m at $0.02 today (videos have been up for a week), it’s going to take a while!

Since having a child is like opening a black hole near your bank account, I think doing YouTube videos for fun in hopes of earning some money is a good idea anyways. I’ll be blogging about this occasionally when I’m less depressed because I think it’s a funny thing to do. Until then, I’m calling my mom to ask her to think of more video ideas, since our video of Thomas and Mickey buying fruit was viewed as “too Asian” by a friend!

 

 

 

 

Promoting Your Free Book

Recently, a question came up on the Goodreads forum about why people hired on Fiverr usually do promos for free books?

I speculated that a lot of them will only promote “FREE” books because there are lots of lists available online that this Fiverr person can fill in forms for free promotion on your behalf.

If the book isn’t free, it is much more difficult for them to do promotions. They would actually need to take more time to contact people and convince them to do book promos.

Generally, promoting a free book by filling in forms only takes a few minutes and they don’t have to negotiate.

If you are running a promotion for your book and giving it away for free for a few days or forever, you can post the links online to various sites yourself to spread the word. Or you can hire someone to do it for $5 as well.

Here is a list of 72 sites for promoting free ebooks to get you started along with Facebook, Twitter advice::

http://www.sarkemedia.com/free-kindle…

Another one at Indies Limited:

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/book-p…

If you google “list kindle free promotion” you will find several more sites. Of course, some of the sites listed may be the same over and over again.

Good luck on your freebie campaign!

Q & A with Simon Horrocks, Third Contact Director

Happy New Year everyone!

The year 2014 is the year of the horse which means that many people will be working hard and creating new projects this year.  No exception to this is Simon Horrocks, who is not only a director; he is also a cameraman, composer, cinematographer, editor and screenwriter.  He may also be a makeup artist and gourmet chef, but I didn’t see that in the imbd credits of his new film.

We met on twitter on December 31, 2013, as he was busy spreading word his Indiegogo campaign to bring his film, “Third Contact” to CanadaThird Contact received its World Premiere at the Internationale Hofer Filmtage on 25 October, 2012 in Hof and was a successful Kickstarter campaign with 435 backers for a London BFI IMAX event.

3C screenshot 1

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time to do this quick Q & A with me.  I watched the trailer for your Indiegogo campaign and was quite intrigued as I used to work in a mental hospital and love dark films.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to create this movie after years as a professional composer?  You did some work on short films; did they serve as a catalyst for you to start working on your own film project?

I was a professional composer, writing music for TV shows such as Oprah and NBC sport, BBC daytime shows, plus the occasional Playstation game. My main passion was filmmaking. I’d wanted to be a director since before I knew what it meant. So I’d also been writing a lot, selling and optioning a few screenplays, but none of them made it into production.

I’d also been involved in a few shorts. When I fell on hard times as a composer, I had to get a ‘day job’ for the first time in 20 years, working in a cinema. But this gave me the opportunity to decide I was ready to write and direct my first feature film.

Often bad things that happen to us can be used as an opportunity to change ourselves. I took that opportunity.

In regards to your Third Contact, can you tell us a bit about the plot and themes?  

The film is about a psychotherapist who has lost faith in the world, but when disaster strikes, he uses it as an opportunity to rejuvenate himself and embarks on an obsessive investigation into the mysterious deaths of two patients.

Although the film is part scifi, exploring philosophical implications of ideas in quantum physics, its also a love story and a story about madness, depression, obsession, regret, loss. So I believe we can all connect with these themes.

The interesting things is, although it might be considered an ‘arthouse’ film, I’ve found people who don’t normally watch those kind of films get something from Third Contact that they weren’t expecting.

How was this story inspired?  Did it take long to write?

It was inspired from what one critic described as a ‘goldmine of ideas’. I had already worked on a script back in 2006-7 using the idea of quantum suicide. So I approached the subject again, but in a different way. I wrote the first draft in about a month or so, then had my filmmaker friend, Verity (who I met working at the cinema), read the script and give me notes.

I wanted Verity to help because she is a very unique and talented filmmaker, who I knew would be sympathetic to the work. I knew she wouldn’t impose any screenwriting rules, she would just assess it as a story. So after about 3 drafts and 6-7 month, I was ready to make the film.

When did you first learn about the idea of quantum suicide and why is this so intriguing?

I read an article about it around 2005, while I was looking into various quantum mechanics ideas. It had such a striking name, I had to find out more. The idea of subjective-immortality was very interesting, and I thought about this idea for a long time. It certainly changed the way I saw the universe and life in general.

I think a lot of current ‘scifi’ stories are basically future tech stories, which are old stories dressed up in fancy new clothes. Star wars and the current Star Trek films, for example, are basic action films with laser guns and spaceships.

I like my stories, and particularly scifi, to be thought-provoking. And subjective-immortality is certainly that. I could probably make films for the rest of my life on that one subject and never fully explore it.

How many people or countries have seen this film and are you happy with their reaction? 

While we were running the kickstarter, we realised we were now selling the film to the entire planet, as this was the way crowdfundng via the internet works. So we realised we couldn’t just focus on a UK premiere as the main attraction, it had to be a global premiere.

We decided to broadcast the film live over the internet, simultaneously with the film showing in the BFI IMAX, and hold the Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theatre and the online audience via a twitter feed we projected up onto the big screen.

The premiere was seen in 22 different countries by almost 1000 people, including the 300 or so in the theatre.

The reaction was amazing. Better than we ever dreamed of. So many people not only expressed their love for the film but returned days later to say the film had stayed with them.

Filmmaking is very expensive, how did you fund this movie and did you ever think about making it commercial via film festivals or selling the script?  Is script querying similar to novel querying, taking many years to find an agent?

Filmmaking doesn’t have to be expensive. The budget for Third Contact was £4000, which included the cost of buying the camera and the mic. Anyone can pick up a camera and make a feature film. But it will require a huge amount of effort, dedication and people putting their time in for the love of the project.

Someone came up to me after the IMAX premiere and told me I should make the film more commercial, if I wanted a career. I said – we just hired the biggest, most prestigious cinema in the UK and made a profit, outselling all the other shows on the night combined (we are talking films made for $100m +) – the film is commercial. He had to agree.

You have to remember, nobody knows anything. How many publishers turned down Harry Potter? Presumably, because they thought it wasn’t commercial. The idea that Harry Potter isn’t commercial is an absurdity to us now, but for how long did Rowling have to listen to that?

I don’t know anything about getting a novel published, but I did have a screenwriting agent in LA for about a year. From that experience, I realised I didn’t want to be anybody’s writer. I wanted to develop my own vision, and that could only happen outside the industry. The industry are too scared to take risks on anything. If they’re too scared to take a risk on Harry Potter, you know they are really incredibly conservative.

Either that, or its an elitist club, where everyone is doing each other favours. Which means that if you don’t have the right friends, or are not very good at making the right friends, you have no career.

Film festivals work exactly the same way; the major ones do, anyway. Its all about who you know and if you send your film in blindly with the submission fee, you are essentially paying for your own rejection letter. How many of the films which are programmed do you think paid the submission fee?

So, if you don’t have the right friends, be prepared to fight to get noticed. Give it everything, if you really believe in what you are doing. Ignore the naysayers.

What are the steps from script to actually finishing a film?  Did it take a long time?

It took roughly 3 years from writing the first word to finishing the final edit. The steps are long, partly because I was teaching myself how to do things as I went. I’d never shot a film before, so I had to learn how to use a camera. I’d never edited a film before, so I had to learn. Which means re-doing things again and again, to get it right.

We re-wrote the music score 3 or 4 times to get it right. This is very time-consuming.

Do you have any advice for budding film makers?  Would you recommend they try crowd funding?

You don’t need money to make a film. You do need money to promote a film and get it seen. Having said that, crowdfunding is there, and if you show you are committed, people will back you. Filmmaking is about your audience.

If you don’t have an audience, there’s no point making a film. Crowdfunding is a way to engage your audience and involve them in what you are doing. Its a fantastic opportunity to develop your filmmaking voice with your fans, who will be cheering on your risk-taking rather than throwing a wet towel over it, like the industry will.

Will your next film project be a dark story or something lighter? 

I don’t set out to make something dark. I write stories I’m inspired by and passionate about. I personally don’t enjoy ‘happy ending’ films, or films which try to force a positive message on you, because I think it’s a lie. Nothing ends neatly and ‘happily ever after’. Life is messy, complex, bittersweet.

The ‘heroes journey’ template which Hollywood, and supposedly ‘commercial’ cinema, follows slavishly is incredibly patronising to it’s audience. Its saying you are too stupid to deal with any complex reflection of reality, so its going to be simplified for you.

I personally believe its possible to reflect reality and entertain people without patronising them. Why do Shakespeare’s plays still hold up 400 years later? Why do Dickens’ stories still draw big audiences? Because they are gripping stories which reflect the complexity of life.

Back to Third Contact, can you give us a final pitch on how awesome it would be for the audience if they contribute to your campaign?  What are the goodies they receive?

We find ourselves in a position with Third Contact where audiences love the film, but the industry are refusing to take a risk with it. So we have developed a new way of showing this film in cinemas.

We are using our own ‘cinema on demand’ method, using the IndieGoGo.com platform. If you would like to see this film in one of the cinemas listed, you need to make it happen. If we don’t get enough seat reservations, by the events deadline, the show will not go ahead.

For the shows in Canada, you can pledge for a seat for $10. There are other options as well, such as a signed poster of a CD of the original score, or the official Third Contact t-shirt. You can add these for a little extra contribution, which will help us reach the target, so we can then go ahead and hire the cinemas.

If we don’t reach the target, IndieGoGo will refund you. But we hope it won’t come to that. By reserving your seat, you are helping independent cinema to develop its own voice, away from the risk-free industry.

If this works for us, other indie filmmakers will be able to follow us, so you will be reinvigorating cinema and encouraging filmmakers to come up with fresh ideas, by getting involved and supporting us.

Have a great New Year and may 2014 be the best year yet for Third Contact!  Please have a look at his link to his Indigogo campaigns happening all over the place for this film and hopefully it will be showing in a local theatre new you.  The links below are for his campaigns if you want to see something thought provoking!

January 30 – Cube Cinema, Bristol

February 12 – The Cinema Museum, London

February 18 – Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford

February 22 – Central Kino in Berlin

February 24 – Rio Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

February 26 – Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa, Canada

February 28 – Carlton Cinema, Toronto, Canada

March 6 – Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle

March 7 – Late Show at The Sheffield Showroom

March 12 – The Forum, Norwich

Third Contact Poster (small)

Making your own virtual mixed tape to share

While reading tons of articles on how to make a successful kickstarter, I stumbled across a link for 8tracks.  Someone mentioned that this was an awesome way to share your music with the world.  8tracks is a site where you can upload your music and make a virtual mixed tape to share with the world!  Or like in the old days, you can use it to woo a beloved.  Uploading and listening is free!

Be warned, I was extremely frustrated with the uploading process and it turns out you can only upload 2 composer tracks per mix.  Also, it will reject any tracks with no identification data, such as .wma rips from a cd.  Although I listen to tons of Final Fantasy background music, because they were by the same composer, I could only share 2 songs in my mix.

Overall, it was fun to make something to share, so I put together music I listened to when I wrote The Undead Sorceress.  It’s all instrumental music because it helps me with writing.  When I listen to songs with people singing I start typing what they’re singing instead, so it’s terrible for my writing process.  The tracks are from Ashes of Time (movie), Game of Thrones (tv), Rurouni Kenshin (anime) and Final Fantasy (game).

Some of the music (Rurouni Kenshin) is a bit tense because these tracks were inspirational for writing sword fighting scenes.  I remember making a cd for someone with these tracks for her family’s restaurant thinking it sounded very Asian, but she said her customers would choke on the food because the music was so nerve wracking.

Please have a listen, click on album cover below and enjoy!

(Instructions – click link and press “play arrow”!  http://8tracks.com/jfgarrard/undead-sorceress-mix)

lp mix

 

The Undead Sorceress Mix List (31 min)

1. Ashes of Time, Yo Yo Ma, Ashes of Time Redux (movie)
2. Main Title, Ramin Djawadi, Game of Thrones (tv)
3. Liberi Fatali, Nobuo Uematsu, Finaly Fantasy VIII (game)
4. Hitenmitsurugiryu – Amakakeruryu No Hirameki, Noriyuki Asakura, Rurouni Kenshin (anime)
5. The Will, Samurai X Rurouni Kenshin movie, Taku Iwasaki (anime)
6. The Last Wolf Suite – Shishio Makoto No Kumikyoku, Noriyuki Asakura, Rurouni Kenshin (anime)
7. Blue Fields, Shinko Ogata, Final Fantasy VIII (game)
8. In Memories: A Boy Meets the Man, Samurai X Rurouni Kenshin movie, Taku Iwasaki (anime)

 

Conversing with a Manga Artist Part 1

Originally I contacted Eri-chan because I wanted some manga style portraits and was collecting quotes.  I narrowed it down to a few artists and chose her because her style looked the most professional out of all the portfolios I looked at.  Her art can be seen here at https://eribloodberry.blogspot.com or http://www.erikatsuona.deviantart.com .

Eri-chan is from the Philippines and she is a young independent manga artist.  She currently has several projects on the go at once so she is a busy woman!  She is also very brave as she is involved with cosplay activities which I often want to do, but I feel too old…

Eri1

Hi Eri-Chan, thank you first of all helping me out with my project.  It’s been a blast and a lot of fun.   So can you tell me a bit about your background and how you became a manga artist?  What inspired you to become one?

Thanks, Jean~ I had fun drawing your characters as well. You have such a very nice imagination to come up with such interesting and diverse characters. 😀

About your question, I was originally in college, taking up Hotel and Restaurant Management. I felt that it wasn’t for me, and that it’s just not what I wanted to do. I’ve been living alone since I was 12 (so that makes it 8 years ago), and been paying for my studies since then, and happiness means everything to me. So I dropped school and worked as a call center agent as I tried to rebuild my first love, which is anime and manga art. When I’ve got the beginning equipment I needed to start as an artist, I left my (really toxic) job and stayed home to draw all day for people who found my art fascinating for their projects. It was something I really liked doing, although I tend to get picky with the projects’ genre, since my style most likely suit shojo and love stories. I never really imagined myself doing this when I was a little girl, I mostly thought of myself as someone who might be a businesswoman in the future, but I guess it’s just that this was what I loved doing, and I love seeing my completed works.

My dad used to be an assistant comic book artist during his teenage years. He was my first idol when it comes to art, and he taught me the basics when it comes to drawing. My dad was a kinda boastful guy, and at first I just wanted to prove him that I can do better than him… and suddenly I just got hooked with drawing. I fell in love with seeing what I created, and that wonderful feeling of “Oh god… I made this artwork?!Wow.”, because honestly, up to now, I still can’t believe that I can draw like this. 😀 So yeah, my dad was pretty much mostly the one who inspired me. 

I don’t really know how to draw, seriously, but I love anime very much. When I was in my first year in High School, there was this girl classmate of mine who draws anime really, really great and I was so amazed that I asked her to teach me how to draw. She said no in a really disrespectful way, and I got kind of pissed off and frustrated. Back then, I drew like a 5 year old! I know how to draw some forms, but it was like a kid’s drawing compared to this classmate of mine. That summer break, I locked myself in my room with a cheap book on how to draw manga that I bought, and practiced day and night while watching animes. I guess that was the time that I started to learn and improve. I was driven by frustration and the will to draw better that that girl who embarrassed me. When classes started again, she was very surprised by the improvement. I continued drawing during classes and my spare time (eventually got better than that girl, haha), until the only thing that’s driving me to draw is my love for what I’m doing itself, and my love for the characters that I draw. 🙂

Is it difficult to be a freelancer?  I mean, lots of people dream about being their own boss!  Although most of the time I saw my husband filling creating lots of paperwork (taxes, invoices, etc) when he was freelancing…

Yeah, it’s pretty difficult, especially when people don’t really acknowledge that you actually work. In my case, my relatives think that I’m just playing around. I’m still young, after all. The most difficult part for me, I guess, is when clients undervalue your art for something cheap and “just a drawing”. I put my heart to what I do, and it really hurts me when people don’t give enough credit to the work. It’s like being stabbed face-to-face.

Another thing is marketing yourself. There are LOADS of great artists in the Philippines, and most are being overshadowed by the popular mainstream ones. Finding a place where you can find clients who may be interested to have you illustrate their story is a bit of a problem, especially for a young, starting up artist like me.If we put up a blog or site, exposure is a bit slow. So we tend to go to freelancing sites like Fiverr, of which even though it kinda lowers the value of the artworks, the exposure to possible clients is good.

Do you usually draw manga for Asian countries?  Or is there demand in other countries?  Also, do the publications do well?

Most of my clients are from America, Europe and Australia. 🙂 There are just so many talented writers there, and they all want to see their works fleshed out in a Japanese-style manga. I don’t have many Asian clients at the moment, and here in the Philippines, the manga industry and publications is just starting up. Most of the few manga being published are cheesy love stories, so I guess it might take a little more time and market tests before other genres make it big here. 

Continues onto Part 2…

Where to find high quality & free stock art

During school, the best activities were art activities for me as I’m a very visual person.  Like all nerds, I loved school projects and having the excuse to design things.  Fast forward, now I find myself needing stock art to put on the blog or just designing things for fun.  Some of the sites even lets you use the art for commercial use (business cards, book covers, cds, etc) but there are limitations, so read the license carefully if you are heading down that road.

The best sites I’ve found for amazing quality clipart are listed below.  They are sponsored by companies who hope that you will eventually buy some stock art from them and I’ve done that before.  It’s astounding what is available for use, they are truly beautiful graphics which would take me hours to do myself!

How to download & use files:

1) When you click on any site, either use the categories to find what you want or do a search.

2) Usually they want you to open a free account, which is the price of admission.

3) Pick what file format you want (jpeg or eps) and save to your folder on your computer.

4) Open in your graphics program or put into any office software program for use (eg. microsoft office)

pixelbay

 Pixelbay –  high quality photos and stock art

stockex

Stock exchange – another site for high quality photos and stock art

free v

Free Vector art and graphics archive – gorgeous vector art for every project possible and divided into categories!  I didn’t realize that you can download pre-made infographics which look really slick.

v open stock

Vector Open Stock – only click in the middle area if you want free vectors.  It gets confusing when top and bottom bars appear and they link to other sites.

How to apply for a copyright in Canada

Recently, I was thinking, if I’m going to blow my money travelling to one con, it would be in San Diego.  So I contacted them to ask about getting a small press table.  It turns out there is a “jury” that decides on who gets these tables and you have to send in one publication with copyright dates 2013-2014 in order to quality for a 2014 table. So I started looking into how to apply for copyrights in Canada.

Definition of copyright from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office:

“Copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form.”

This copyright registration protects your work internationally, so it doesn’t matter which country you file it in.  You only do it once and you own the copyright for as long as you live, then 50 years after you die the copyright expires.  When you create a piece of work, you automatically own the copyright, but registering offers more protection legally.

1) Go to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website

You will find information on how to copyright things ranging from a book, poem, painting, musical score, performer’s performance and computer program.  There is a guide with basic information available which goes through the terminology and instructions.

Suprisingly, you don’t have to send in a copy of what you are copyrighting or even pictures.

This is why people keep giving me advice that before the book is published, you should print and send a copy of the manuscript to yourself via courier and then not open it.  This archived manuscript will be opened in court if anyone tries to say that your work belongs to them and sues you for the copyright.

2) Call them if you have questions

Hours 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
Phone 1-866-997-1936

My question: If I want to do a book of concept art with different pieces from my artists, do I have to copyright each piece of art in the book?

Answer: No, you do not have to copyright each piece of art.  Once you assemble the compilation and you copyright the whole thing, each piece of art can be used separately and the copyright still belongs to you.

3) Register the copyright…wait, you can’t just register!  Turns out you have to go to the Industry Canada website and open a free account there before you can do anything.

I was fretting about this one.  As an individual can I really go onto Industry Canada and register an account?  I started emailing my entrepreneurial Viking husband who told me to stop emailing him for advice as he was busy.  So I took the plunge and went into the system…

And I discovered that yes, anyone can just apply for an Industry Canada account.  In fact, they didn’t even ask for a business registration number or anything.  In general, the books will be published under my husband’s company.  To be honest, I’m too lazy to incorporate myself (registering a business, opening a business account and dreaded tax documentation)…hopefully he won’t divorce me if things go really well with the books and I’ll be ok!

4)  OK, let’s register this book!

Back to Canadian Intellectual Property Office website – you click on the “forms” page and “copyright” to access the registration forms, pay fees via credit card.  You can do it cheaper online or mail it in via a paper pdf form.

Fees when paid online is $50 Cdn or $65 Cdn via paperwork.

I looked at the US Copyright Office as well and their fee was only $35USD.  But everything else such as getting a paper copy of the copyright was super expensive, so I suppose there is a trade off…

Forging ahead, I discovered that you can only copyright something 3 months ahead of time.  Or you can copyright something unpublished, but there was no Q & A about what happens if you do publish it.

In the end I took a break here – since San Diego needs to see a copyright number in the book with a date, this is something I can’t provide until Jan 2014 or Feb 2014 at the earliest.  The deadline for table registration was Oct 2013.

So I’ll copyright the book next year and try to get a table in the future when I have more books to sell.

The idea of going to San Diego scares me a bit too, considering their attendance is about 130,000 – it’s a lot of free stuff you have to give away for promotion!  I worry about people coming up to the booth and then complaining they didn’t get a freebie…sigh…not selling any books would probably be just as embarressing as well.

Ramping up for self publishing!

I was a shark in my last life, as I can’t sit still on any project…Agents and publishers only take 1% of the pile of stuff they get, so I think I will have to go the self-publishing route as my multicultural vampire book query has received multiple rejection letters. Apparently there are too many vampire books on the market right now.

I was hoping for a happy ending to avoid self-publishing as it is a very expensive endeavor to undertake! You have to do everything from hiring an editor, to doing the marketing, to creating the print book and ebook.

It feels like I’ve stepped into a tornado! I know, I should think about things as I need to cross the bridge…but I’m the type to scope out the bridge ahead of time and consider the different possibilities before I cross the bridge!

(Think I’m also feeling super hyper on this Chinese medicine stuff. Can’t sleep properly because I feel too awake all the time. Will have to tell doctor when I see him next…)

Come rain or shine, The Undead Sorceress: Book 1 of the International House of Vampires will be available May 2014.

The next steps I need to do over an 8 month period I’ve scheduled for myself to make this book happen:

1) Find editors who offer consultation services, ask for quotes from different editors

2) The editor quotes determine how much money I should try to raise from Kickstarter to cover some project costs

3) Running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds – write and rewrite text for campaign page, shoot and reshoot video to explain the project and why I need the $$, look around other people’s pages/videos and decide what incentives to entice future investors in the project (aka what carrots should I offer?)

4) Learn video software properly to add close captioning, splitting scenes and not to overuse special effects as my first video made my producer friend nauseous

5) Follow up with artists I’ve hired to do artwork for Kickstarter campaign. Have 3 of them on hand, hoping one of them will give me some drawings to buy from them! Got a 4th artist name, will wait a few weeks before I overdo it with asking artists for stuff…they need time to ‘create’

6) Start looking at books on my bookshelf to determine size of paperback I want to make.

7) One editor who wrote back said that I used 2 spaces between sentences instead of 1 – which led me on a route to read about formatting stuff for printing. OMG! Have to destroy all formatting and start over…after editing is done.

8) Found out I shouldn’t think about pretty text for the first letter of each chapter or life will become more difficult. But I want pretty text, so when I reach that point I will have to decide what to do.

9) Decide if I should hire someone to format for print book, Amazon e-book and Smashwords e-books. They all have different formatting rules = pain in the butt.

10) Can’t make the cover for printing until I know how many damn pages the print book is, as this will determine the size of the spine which affects front and back covers. So I have to wait on this one. If it is too complicated to make, will have to hire someone to do it for me.

11) Upload book into print book and e-book formats, look at proofs (print book could take a few weeks to receive in mail) and make sure things look ok. If something goes wrong, start over with formatting.

12) Amazon and Smashwords have different programs you can take part in. For Amazon, to get into publishing catalogues, it’s an extra $25 USD per year and then there is some Kindle borrowing program thing.

13) Then there is the issue of different ISBN numbers. Print and e-books have to have different numbers. I can also apply for my own ISBN for more control or just get a free one from Amazon or Smashwords…decisions, decisions…

14) Look for tax forms. Eventually if I make more than $10 profit I will have to ask Amazon or Smashwords to send me a letter to vouch that I’m not American. Then I have to contact IRS and ask them for a special number to avoid paying US taxes which are automatically taken off all book sales through Amazon and Smashwords.

15) For the book launch, I have been talking to a convention I volunteer at annually in May, so this is my drop dead date to have everything done by then. Hopefully they will let me do a panel on vampires, do a book reading and throw a party there. After confirmation of permission, need to think about banners, what to give away, food to bring, etc.

16) Once Kickstarter campaign and convention confirms things are a green light, start emailing, blogging, posting a link with details to people. This is where you find out how many friends you actually have and if you have to depend on the kindness of strangers to make things happen!

17) Keep blogging, posting when I don’t have a headache!

There is a wedding in between all this in Korea, so a few weeks is a write off as I travel. Or maybe I can do research on stuff for the next book! My end goal is to break even in regards to expenses, although time is net negative! But if this all works out, maybe I can end up with a series that gives me some money to buy a few cups of coffee every year!