Expectations are something that we all have. However, unless you’re an established creator, the only expectation that you should have is hearing the word “no” in its various forms.
I’m not a fan of the word, but I expect to hear it constantly. The reasoning is simple: there aren’t a lot of spaces for people on projects, and I’m at a point in my career where I’m no longer doing work for free. Not to establish myself. Not unless I want to.
The cousin of a famous pop star emailed me a few years ago, asking if I’d be interested in working with them on a comic. For free. This creator expected me to be star struck because they happened to be related to a pop star. I’m not wired that way. I turned them down flat—for a lot of reasons. (If you’re related to a pop star and they can’t see their way to giving/lending you a few hundred bucks to create a comic…why would I want to work with you?)
Why should you expect to be rejected time and again? The main reason is because we often look for work before we’re really ready to produce quality work on a consistent basis. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to your craft before you’re ready to charge people to do what you love. Then when you’re on the cusp, you’re finally ready to start doing work, sometimes you have to do it for free, or for a lower rate than you want. It isn’t about paying your dues; it’s about becoming a known quantity.
Expectations come in lots of forms. The best thing you can do for yourself is to examine what it is you expect people to do for you, while also taking an honest look at your skillset and the level of those skills. Your skillset doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’ve seen too many comics attempting to be sold where the skills just weren’t worth the cost of the book.
By putting in the hard work, you can start to expect to change that “no” into a “yes.”