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Coming Up Short on Your Goals…Now What?

| January 2, 2012 | 6 Comments

The New Year is upon us.  

The holiday season is over, and the reflecting on past goals and setting of future goals season is upon us.

As you know by now, I am a HUGE proponent of goal setting.  And if you’ve been with ComixTribe since our launch a year ago on January 1st, 2011 you know I’ve written plenty on the subject.

My inaugural Comix Counsel post was titled “Revisiting Past Goals” and I think every bit of advice in that article is just as valid now as it was a year ago when I wrote it.  Give it a quick read and let me know if you agree.

I practiced what I preached and in this very column last year, I set three ambitious personal goals for 2011 for my comics business, and several of you joined me in setting goals of your own in the comments section of that article.  This column is where I get to be frank and forthright with you fine folks (got bit by the alliteration bug…sorry), so hear, on the last day of 2011, I’d like to share how I did:

I came up short.  

My goals for 2011 were the following:

  • Write 220 pages of comic script.
  • Net $1,532 in profit from my comic business.
  • Triple my network of contacts in comics (creators, editors, publishers, columnists, readers.)

I came up short in each goal by a good margin.  Let me take a quick look at each:

Write 220 pages of comic script.

A quick tally of my work for the year shows that I wrote a grand total of 137 pages of comic script in 2011, which is only 62% of my stated goal.  The breakdown of my scripting is as follows:

– THE RED TEN #1-3 (72 pages)
– EPIC #2 (22 pages)
– TEARS of the DRAGON (32 pages)
– Unannounced Zombie Anthology (8 pages)
– Unannounced Mini-Series (3 pages)

Most of these pages are still just in script form, and in art production now.

Net $1,532 in profit from my comic business.

This one was the biggest whiff.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a great year of operation for my business. My total sales revenue for 2011 was up 41% from 2010, and convention sales more than doubled.  Alas, my expenses more than kept pace with revenue. Multiple projects, working with talented pros, going to higher priced conventions, and doing larger print runs add up quickly. I ended 2011 about $500 in the red.

Triple my network of contacts in comics (creators, editors, publishers, columnists, readers.)

I’m pretty happy with my performance here, as I feel like I definitely have expanded my network in comics, although I probably didn’t triple it.  I more or less doubled my number of Twitter followers, and as you can see by checking out the TRENCHES archive, most of those columns came from new friends in the business.  The 500% growth of the 30 Characters Challenge this year is the one above and beyond example of exceeding a goal.  And NOT listed above (but should have been) is my networking with retailers, which has been a great, unexpected surprise of 2011.

Okay, so I came up short…why?

Basically, other stuff came up.

I certainly put in a solid year’s worth of work.  But a whole lot of what I spent my time doing this year had nothing to do with the above goals.  There were pages to be lettered, commissions to be drawn, conventions to attend, articles to be written, layouts and pencils to critique, talent to recruit, and on and on and on.

The 220 pages a year goal was one that was certainly attainable…however, I decided that getting ahead of artists on scripts was less important than other things I wanted to get done. Given that at year’s end, I’m still a full issue of scripting ahead of my artist collaborators on all of my projects, I’m okay with not hitting this one.

Likewise, as I mentioned above, I’m fine with my achievement in networking this year. The measuring aspect of “tripling ones contacts” was always a little dicey…so perhaps that wasn’t a well-stated goal to begin with.

So, really, it’s the profitability goal that is the only one that I see as a clear failure.

For this one, all I can say is the obvious…it’s damn hard to make money in independent comics.  (Of course, if you read some of the blogs, tweets, etc. of many working pros, it seems it’s damn hard to make money in mainstream comics as well these days.)

Looking over my expense reports for the year, I don’t see much waste there.  The fact is, nearly every dime spent went directly into the business…into coloring or inking or printing or web-hosting. There were a few conventions that weren’t worth the investment, and a few places I could tighten the belt on, but mostly, I spent what needed to be spent to be in this game.

What now?

Now…time to set new goals.

(Not surprised, are you?)

Nope, I believe in the goal setting process.  So whether I came up short or exceeded this year’s goals by a mile, you better believe I’d be back at it, setting new ones for 2012.)

“The great thing about looking back at past goals, whether you achieved them or not, is that as clichéd as it may be, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

I wrote that last year, and I still believe it.

So, please, if you have the time, let me know how you did on your goals this year. Did you meet or exceed them?  Did you come up short by a mile?  More importantly, what are you taking away from the process this year?  Let me know in the comments below.

And join me on Monday to see my new goals for 2012 and to share yours!

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at

Comments (6)

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  1. Emily Gillis says:

    My goals for 2011 were to not miss an update of my main comic, do a specified number of pages for a side project, table at SPX, and start earning an income with my main comic. I only hit one of my goals (to table as SPX). I did do better with updating my comic than the year before, but I was far from consistent. The side project came to a screeching halt due to conflicts of opinion. As for making money, I technically did start earning money from sales and advertising, however, much like your predicament, expenses outweighed profit.

    • Tyler James says:

      Hmmm…sounds like, on the whole, you made some strong progress, Emily.

      Seriously, the transition from doing comics for fun to starting to monetize is a big first step, and I’m sure you’ll see growth in that area in 2012.

      Good work and keep going!

  2. Geoff W says:

    My 2012 goal is the same as my ’11 goal. Finish my comic book! Although realistically I would be happy with getting 50 more pages done

    • geoffw says:

      if I were to make my goals a little more specif and include deadlines, I would say finish formatting/editing my script by feb1. do 5 pages of layouts a week (finishing by mid march. paint 2-4 pages a week for the rest of the year (which would mean I would have painted 74 pages by the end of the year) which would be very close to finished.

  3. John Lees says:

    In response to the column at this time last year Tyler wrote about setting goals for 2011, I came up with 3. Here’s what they were, and how I did:

    I almost nailed this one. I did complete scripting The Standard, finishing the 6th issue in January. I did get the first issue totally finished – art, colors, letters – and printed, but didn’t quite make it for 28th April. Instead, it was released early May. I also managed to get issue #2 out in the summer. I did succeed in selling the book, not just digitally and via IndyPlanet, but getting it into 3 comic shops in Glasgow. Even better, I was able to attend my first events as a pro, first small comic fairs in Glasgow, then best of all, visiting New York to work the ComixTribe table at New York Comic Con. So, for the most part, I went beyond my hopes and expectations for this particular goal.

    This is probably the one I did the most for this year. I took my personal blog – – and changed it from a more nebulous home of TV reviews, comic reviews and general commentary to a place that really placed a strong focus on reviewing creator-owned work. I knew I was making a kind of impact when creators started messaging me, requesting that I review their comics. I then took it to the next level by pairing up with ComixTribe, serialising the reviews from my blog on this larger platform in the shape of the Creator-Owned Zone. From there, the occasional review request morphed into a hefty backlog of reviews that has kept me going through the whole year. I do review every comic I get, or at least try to, and try to put some time and effort into writing something reasonably in-depth. I think of how I feel when I submit my comic for review, and the kind of attention I’d like people to pay to my comic. It’s also been of significant benefit to me, as it’s opened my eyes to some great books and creators that I may otherwise not have discovered.

    There were points when I thought this was going to be right down to the wire, but in the end, I wrote 214 pages of comic script in 2011. Though, to put that in perspective, in the end, only about 136 of those pages are ones that either have or are soon going to be put into actual development. Though most of the rest are ones I could very well revisit later.

    So, I succeeded in achieving my goals for 2011. In 2012, perhaps I should be more ambitious in the goals I set for myself. I’ll need to start thinking!

  4. Tyler good job. Reaching for your goals. Vince McMahon of the WWE said the first big Wrestlemania’s never made him any money. But they pushed the brand forward. That is what you are doing. Comix Tribe is more valuable than $1500 this year, so I would say you hit that goal in assets even if you didn’t hit it in cash.

    From last year’s post:

    1. Teach 50 people how to get work in comics.

    2. Teach 2 people how to make money making comics.


    1. Taught 6 people how to get work in comics.

    2. Taught 1 person how to make money making comics.

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