Business Development Step 1: Identify; Column Three of Three

A column article by: Ace Masters

It is 9:30 P.M. on Sunday night, and I am finally sitting down to write this column, the third and final column of the Business Steps Columns. It is a little past due, and is scheduled to be published online this coming Wednesday, October 5th. And it will be.

The reason I am writing this later than planned is due to a couple of projects I am working on. The biggest project, and the one taking up most of my time, is a short film I will be making (directing, writing and producing) this week. This short (Did I Do Good?) has dominated most of my life for the past few months.

I'm sure someone out there is thinking, "It's just a short film. It can't be that hard." (Wrong. Trust me.) You might be surprised to learn that as much pre-production work is necessary for a short film as there is for an episode of a television series, or, occasionally, a feature film. Even as much work that can go into the development and pre-production of a single comic book.

With that blatant segue out of the way, another project that has dominated my time is a fantasy comic book one-shot, Dragon's Spear, a prequel to a longer series called War Spear.(Imagine that! A prequel done first!) I received the excellent page seven of Dragon's Spear from my artist, Malacai, mere moments before I sat down to write.

Why am I mentioning all of this here? Shameless Plugs? Sure. But I also want to illustrate this point, because one of the most important factors of going into business for yourself is time management. Time management is essential, especially when you are busy. As you see, I am busy, but I made time in my busy schedule to sit down and write this column.

There are two types of people, those who are too busy to do things, and those who are busy, but make time to do things and fit things into their busy schedule.

Which of these do you think are more likely to be successful? Which would you rather be?

This is not unrelated to the next two things to identify:

              1. What needs to be identified?
              2. What are comics?
              3. Why are you doing comics?
              4. What is your motivation?
              5. What is your goal?
              6. What type of comics?

Now, time to dive into the big finale! And the good news is, these are the two easiest to identify.

Identify - 5. What is your goal?

What is/are your goal(s)? Do you want to change comics (the whole "Revolutionize" thing again)? Do you want to make (or at least try to make) a living out of what you want to do? Do you want to make a successful comic that will lead to a film deal? Or maybe your goal is simple: just do comics.

Whatever your goal is, it is neither right nor wrong. While I may personally disagree with the idea of only doing a comic book with the specific goal of getting a film deal on the grounds that it's detrimental to the comic book industry, it clutters the marketplace, and it does not add to the growth or evolution of the industry, it is by no means wrong.

Your goal is your goal.

Or maybe you have multiple goals. You want to create comics because you love comics but you also would like, or love, to see it on the big screen one day and work toward that goal as well. Nothing is wrong with that; I have tried (and still am trying) to do just that.

It is when you start to look at the business side where goals become tricky. At some point, especially when you try to find investors, you need to separate your personal/professional goals and your business goals.

Your Business Goals should always be the continued growth of your company. No matter how you word it, "Growth" should always be the goal. And by "investors," I don’t mean family or friends that will "chip in money" to help. I mean people who see value in what you are planning, will put money into the project, and will expect a return for their investment.

These investors more often than not don’t care about your personal goals. They care about what your company is going to do, how it is going to do it and what kind of ROI (Return on Investment) they can get.

The Business Goal is otherwise called a Mission Statement.

The following was, and is, the Mission Statement for Masterpiece Comics:


              Diversity. Intelligence. Quality. Variety.

              Those are the words that set the foundation for MASTERPIECE COMICS.

              Diversity in the line of titles we will produce, style and creators.

              Intelligence: Stories will never be "Dumbed-down," no matter what type of story or audience the story is for.

              Quality: MASTERPIECE COMICS will always strive to do the best quality titles that we can produce.

              Variety: Action, conspiracy, comedy, drama, fantasy, horror, thriller, sci-fi, super-hero and all genres in-between are ripe for publication through MASTERPIECE COMICS.

The goal is to make MASTERPIECE COMICS a successful and long lasting company. This will hopefully be accomplished with a strong business plan, good promotional plan and respect for potential audiences.

*** (end mission statement) ***

This mission statement speaks to the growth of my company, something investors will want to hear. At the same time, the way I worded the mission statement spoke to my own goals as well as the company's goals, but not in such a way that they overwhelmed the statement or became too personal.

Identify - 6. What type of comics?

The easiest thing to identify has been left for last. What type of comics? If you are like me the answer is one word: All. If so, I love your ambition and am behind you full force.

Type can sometimes mean format (monthly series, limited or mini-series, one-shots or graphic novels) but not in this case. (Leave format at the door.) By type I mean genre. Genre is: super-hero, sci-fi, horror, paranormal, mystery and everything in between.

If your love is super-heroes, then do it! Dive in without remorse, but make sure you know the rules. Same thing with sci-fi, horror and the others: dive in, but make sure you know the rules. Why? Use the rules to set the foundation for your stories -- then shatter them!

So, what now? You’ve identified the six things and have completed the first Business Development Step. The answer is up to you: stop, or continue on.

I’m continuing on.

This time I won’t leave you with a Burning Thought or Question, but something a little different. Take my last three columns and read them together, then identify all six things for yourself.

Make this list, print it out and keep it. You will need it in the future.

Any time you doubt yourself -- any time you think you might not make it -- look at the list. It should be all you need.



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