Conventions from a Different Perspective: Shore Leave

Conventions from a Different Perspective: Shore Leave

Shore Leave was a few weekends ago, but I was a big backed up, and I wanted to do more than just update you on how it went (spoiler alert, it went well).

20245535_1081963961948376_2724749083115162963_nI met some great new readers.  Here’s a picture I took with a few. One was so kind, she continued to update me on where she was in the book each time I saw her. (She’d made it to Chapter 10 of Caught when I last saw her.) I’m happy to say I usually expect to sell enough books to make back what I paid for the table. This was true for Shore Leave as well. I even managed to get some autographs for my mom (she was a big Star Trek: The Next Generation fan).

I met several wonderful people at the panels I was on, two of whom (I happen to have their cards on my rat’s nest of a desk) were Kelli Fitzpatrick and Derek Tyler Attico. They weren’t the only people kind enough to let me hang with them during the panels, but I have their names handy, and I wanted to give them a shout out. Andrew Hiller was also just a few tables down from mine, and having him to chat with on occasion is always a good time. He was the one who gave me the opportunity to sit on panels he was unable to attend.

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All stock imagery from Pixabay.

I’m still working and learning when it comes to actually selling my books, but one of the things I like to do is peel back the curtain sometimes. You have to have a lot of conviction to just be a writer. Creating a book and revising it until it’s ready to publish is a mission of faith all by itself, but then putting yourself out there can be daunting. Remember, I’ve said conventions are my number one way to generate sales.

True though it may be, one still has to be willing to put himself out there again and again.  To help put it into perspective, I had a thought and acted on it (a bad habit of mine).

I decided to start tracking statistics.

I did that so people planning to do conventions knew that getting a table can work and be fun, but you have to be willing to work at it.

How I work. People are wonderful, and I think of them as compassionate people that are, at the very least, interested in the same things I’m interested in. Marketers (Steve, help me out here if I’m off) call this the funnel process, but I think of my process more like a series of doors.

Bob&Caught_Teaser Card FrontEvery person who walks by receives a little handout from me. People like cool, free things. I have cool chapter icons and covers, so I hand them out. When I do so, I simply say, “If you have a moment, I’d love to talk to you about my work.” That’s door number one.

When a person tells me they’re interested, I give them the pitch to each book. Then I tell them the sale I’m having (I always have a sale of some sort during a convention). That’s door number two.

If people like the pitch, I put whichever book in which they’re interested in their hand. That’s door number three.  If reading the first few pages doesn’t grab them, they probably say thanks but no thanks.

Every now and again, they show some level of interest. That’s usually when I direct them to door number four. I tell them about the electronic versions of my books and tell them about whatever e-sales I’m running. A great number of my online sales come from this.  I can’t get the numbers for The Journals of Bob Drifter yet, but I sold eight more copies of Caught in this manner.)  Yes, I want to make money, but what I want more is for people to like and enjoy my work. I don’t care if they buy the 99-cent (when it’s on sale) version of Caught, the free (with an credit) Audible version of Bob , or whatever. I write stories for people to enjoy, and I consider it my job to give them every option to choose from.

The thing is, it’s pretty daunting to hand out that many cards or book covers just hoping someone’s willing to give you a bit more time.

That’s when I decided to just keep count:

The first time I tracked it, I handed out seven book covers before someone listened to my pitch. The good news is, that person bought my book.

The next time, I handed out 12 bookmarks and gave five pitches before someone bought a book.  Sound pretty rough? Well, I don’t think 1-out-of-12 is all that bad myself. I’d actually be thrilled if that were the case.

broken-1739128_960_720I had to hand out 74 book covers and give 15 more pitches before I sold my next book. I won’t like folks, that was a pretty epic sledgehammer to my confidence.  I had that “I’m the nerdy kid at a junior high dance” feeling. I kept at it. Why? Well, for  one, what else was I going to do? Also, you’re going to get a lot of rejection and doubt in this field. You, frankly, need to be willing to fight through it.

The next time was a bit easier. I handed out 29 book covers and gave five pitches. Believe it or not, that fifth pitch sold two books.

Average it up and it took me about 31 book marks and seven pitches to generate one sale.   I don’t know what other authors do (and I’d be curious to hear about it in the comments below), but that’s actually a pretty good day for me. I would have done much better had I not left about 20 editions of Caught on the convention floor at AwesomeCon. (Just left them there. I completely forgot them.) For one, Caught was much more in demand at Shore Leave than it was at AwesomeCon (different audience). Also, bundling my two books as a deal tends to generate a few extra sales. Learning that made me want to crawl in a hole and cry for a while, but I had things to do.

I don’t consider myself super aggressive or even remotely aggressive. I try to be friendly, and I only communicate with people I think are at least willing to talk to me. My point is, you have to put yourself out there. I don’t think of it as 116 people didn’t want my book. That sort of thinking is poisonous. I considered each person I spoke to a new acquaintance made. Each sale was a victory in and of itself. If those sales result in good reviews, that’s all the more awesome sauce for my cool-guy taco.

music-545770_960_720So if you’re at an event, and you start to feel like that poor junior high kid who bought a brand new pocket protector just for this dance, get out on the floor and shake your tail feathers. Remember you love what you do, and you like people. The ones who get up and dance with you will be all the more special for it.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Cover Art: The Approaching 2nd Edition and Segments of Bob Drifter

Cover Art: The Approaching 2nd Edition and Segments of Bob Drifter

I’ve been so excited to show you all these images. But first! A bit of back story!

A long time ago, in a desert far, far away…

A pair of friends met at a young age. One was named Matthew, the other Collin. Their friendship flourished over comic books (X-Force in particular). As they grew closer, they shared their dreams. One wanted to be a writer; the other wanted to be an artist.

Time passed, and they were separated, but they never forgot each other. Collin grew up to be an amazing artist for video games, and he even published a few comic books. When Matthew realized he was going to publish, he knew who he wanted to do his cover art.

A brief message over Social Media, and the friends were thick as thieves creating the work they’d dreamed of creating since they were kids. They’d stayed in touch, so when Matthew decided he wanted to re-release his first novel, he returned the the artist he’d first talked about working with so long ago…

Ok, seriously, that’s just about how it went. That said, I reached out to Collin because I believe in consistency. I knew I was going to re-release Bob in a few ways. The first would be the second edition of the complete novel. I also knew I was going to release each part (Bob is composed of three very distinct parts) to allow people to read smaller chunks with less immediate financial obligation. Collin was so gracious. You see, he’s getting ready to get married, and he somehow squirreled enough time between wedding plans and home renovation projects to create these new covers for the electronic segments of Bob’s little journey.

I’m proud to present them to you. (NOTE: These images are intellectual property of M.L.S. Weech. Any reuse or distribution of these images without his consent is in violation of his rights.)

AnUnusualOccupation
Cover for An Unusual Occupation. Art by Collin Fogel.

The first part (for those who haven’t already read the book) is titled An Unusual Occupation. This is a bit of an homage to a popular book that inspired this one. I’m honored to say some have compared the two books quite favorably. This moment, like the image for the complete edition’s cover, is subtle but important. It’s a moment of choice for Bob. Collin did a great job of showing that conflict.

 

BobsGreatestMistake
The cover art for Bob’s Greatest Mistake. Cover art by Collin Fogel.

 

Isn’t this one awesome?! Collin busted his tail on here trying to recreate this scene, which is the climactic end to the second part of the book. I especially love the blacksoul leaping from Grimm’s cloak.

SomethingAlwaysRemains
The Cover for Something Always Remains. Cover art by Collin Fogel.

I really struggled between a few scenes here. But I felt that the final conflict between Bob and Grimm was just too good to pass up. This final showdown had a ton of buildup, so I felt it was right that this encounter be how the last chapter is presented. The detail here is awesome, and the sense of motion is perfect.

I can’t honestly express how happy I am with these covers. The manuscript is with Sara, my wonderful and overworked editor. I’m hoping to have it back from her by late August. Then it’s up to me to format and get it turned in ASAP. I’d like to get this done by November. That feels like an ambitious but achievable goal.  I’ll keep you all updated on that progress.

Please offer your opinions of these below. I’d like to know what those who’ve read the book think. I’m absolutely in love with these covers, and I hope you all love them too.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!

It Was Indeed an Awesome Con!
Me Panel AwesomeCon 2017
This is me speaking at my panel on the pitfalls of self publishing. Photo by Peggy Trujillo.

I’ve had a few days to rest (at least a little), and I think I’ll be back to work in another day or two. It won’t be long at all before my next event, which is Shore Leave. I’ve just learned bout some more opportunities coming my way, so stay tuned for that. With that said, I wanted to give you all a bit more insight as to how AwesomeCon went.

First off, some special thanks.  The first must be my helpers. They get the chance to attend the event and have some fun, but they have to help me sell books and give me periodic breaks. Events like this take a ton out of me as it is, and I wouldn’t be able to do them without help, so I’d like to offer special thanks to Peggy Trujillo and Keith Simmons.   They made it so I could step away when I wanted. They made it so I could attend my panel (more on that later), and they made it possible for me to check a few items off the bucket list (yes, more on that later, too).  A note about Keith, turns out, his cosplay costume was well liked by the AwesomeCon folks. He made their list of favorite costumes.

Next I’d like to thank Andrew Hiller.  He actually joined me at my table this year. Teaming up with him gave me another person to talk to. I’ve read A Halo of Mushrooms, and A Climbing Stock is on my TBR. It was a pleasure working with him, and I want to make sure I say thanks for sending some traffic my way and keeping me company.

EACopen_AwesomeCon 2017
E.A. Copen speaks about self publishing during the first day of AwesomeCon 2017. Photo by Peggy Trujillo. 

Last, but in no way the least, is the new group of friends I made during my panel. I didn’t have anyone to be on my panel with me, and I truly wanted those in attendance to get the most out of the experience. So I approached a group near my table and asked if they’d care to join me.  They call themselves the Awethors, which is a clever name if I do say so myself.  They were a super group of people to meet.  Jeffery Cook, D.R. Perry, and E.A. Copen were fantastic additions to the panel, and they made it a huge success.  I had several people come up to me and tell me they loved it. I owe that success to them.  Thank you all for joining me.

For those interested in the marketing side of things, this is the spot you should be interested in. Jeffery wrote a book called, “Working the Table, An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.” I can’t wait to dig into that. I brought around 300 business cards, 75 bookmarks and a ton of QR-Code cards I’d made a while back. I should have brought more of the bookmarks and business cards. I ran out of those on the first day, and I think they were effective. All told, I sold about 10 more books than I’ve ever sold. Caught finally gained some traction, and I’m hoping readers start posting reviews soon. I’m also nearly sold out of soft-cover editions of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’m proud of the fact that I sold enough product to make up the table, gas, new books (sorry, TBR pile), and parking. By any standard, that’s a success. I’ll admit I didn’t reach my super goal, but I’d still call that weekend a success.

Me AwesomeCon 2017I think my favorite part of the event was having people approach me and tell me how much they liked my work. I posted about that earlier, but I can’t say enough what it means to me for people to show their appreciation.  A lot of those conversations gave me some much needed motivation to stay true to my dream and keep at it. It’s amazing to think anyone would take time out of their day to stop by and just say they liked my books. Thank you!

A note on the value of reviews: I had a large number of people who spoke to me about my book. They took a night to think on it and then came back. A lot of them said my reviews on Goodreads  made a convincing argument to try my books. I’d like to thank those who reviewed my books. I’d be ever so grateful to anyone else who’s read my work to do the same. They really do matter. If you hated them or loved them, there is no such thing as a bad review in my eyes.

Me and my signed comic
This puppy is going on the wall in my office (if I ever unpack). 

The convention wasn’t 100 percent business. Last year, I made it a point to meet Summer Glau.  This year I had a chance to meet someone who was fundamental to my dream to become a writer. If I’m being honest, Stan Lee was far too busy to do much more than sign a comic, but this Uncanny X-Men #101 is right up there with my signed copy of The White Dragon. I honestly only need one more autograph to have my own personal Rushmore of authors (ok, look, Tolstoy would be on that list, but I don’t think that’s in the cards). I didn’t pay for the photo or any of the events, but having that signature on my favorite comic ever is really special, and I’m glad I got the chance to do that.

 

It feels weird. This post is under 1,000 words, but I feel like I only scratched the surface. I wish I could talk about every conversation and every cool thing I saw, but there’s just too many. All I can do is say it really was a great time, and I can’t wait for next year!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Some Things for which to be Grateful

Some Things for which to be Grateful
Me AwesomeCon 2017
These two came by to tell me they loved The Journals of Bob Drifter. They also wanted a sequel. While that’s not currently a plan, I did tell them there will be a book they might want to pay close attention to coming in 2019.

I’m spending a few days recovering from a productive, enjoyable, and exhausting AwesomeCon.  I’ll post more about the event later (probably next week). But since I post something every Wednesday and Saturday, I thought I’d share some achievements and milestones with you all.

The first is how successful AwesomeCon was as a whole. I met a lot of new friends. I had several readers approach me (more on that later) to tell me they liked my work, and I sold a solid number of books.  Thus far for yours truly, if I had trouble making back what I paid to have the table. I’m not consistently earning back that money plus a little extra, which I plan to use to order more books for the next event. This would have been enough of a blessing by itself, but my week has only gotten better.

I can say with pride that I now have 300 followers! Raven and Beez was my 300th follower, and I’m always overjoyed when people think enough of my goings on that they let me bombard their WordPress reader with my thoughts. The fact that I’m slowly growing followers is a motivating thing. There’s a lot of perseverance required in this line of work. It’s an evolutionary process, requiring years to build an audience and establish a rapport with true fans.  I’m simply amazed I’ve  come this far, even acknowledging how much farther I have to go.  I want  you all to know how much I appreciate you. I hope my blogs and post are useful and entertaining.

2017-02-23-bob-drifter-coverThe last thing I wanted to share with you all was a very special 5-star review for The Journals of Bob Drifter.  I was at AwesomeCon during a particularly slow hour when a woman approached me to tell me how much she enjoyed the book. Cathey was so emphatic in her praise that I didn’t really know how to react. You always hope for someone to like your work, but before she even posted this review, I genuinely felt how much she loved it. That sort of moment is what makes a lot of late hours and months of bad sales seem worth it. Just coming up and telling me what she thought was a supremely inspirational moment for me. That review just sort of enchanted the euphoria to another level.  Cathey, if you’re reading this, I can’t put into words what that meant to me. I give you my word that I’ll always push myself to tell compelling, powerful stories. I hope to introduce you to characters that are as inspirational as they are emotional.  Thank you.  I make that same promise to all of you.

As happy as I am, I will need a bit more time to recover and get back into routine. I’m still waiting on the editor to get back to me with Sojourn in Captivity and then the second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter. I’ve started an outline for a short story revolving around Kaitlyn from Caught. I have a very ambitious goal for 2019, and I’ll have to get to work if I want to meet it.  So I’ll rest up a few days and then charge forward.  I want you all to know how much I value your comments, likes and questions. Every email or message I get is precious to me.  Thank you all and thank you for reading.

Matt

 

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

The Con of Awesome! What I’m up to this weekend!

13260113_808371919307583_171282834181363032_nHappy AwesomeCon everyone! So this convention has a special place in my heart. They were the first large con to contact me and invite me to their event. I’ve had a panel there every year (like last year) since I became published, and I have one this year as well.  I always look forward to this convention, and I’m excited about what I have going on this year.

First, I’ll have a partner in crime.  Fellow author Andrew Hiller will be with me at the booth, he’s joined forces with me. I read A Halo of Mushrooms, and posted my review here.  It’ll be nice to have someone to sit with and talk about writing with all day.  Andrew and I will be at table P19.

caught-front-coverNext, I’d like to announce a few sales. To celebrate this event, Caught will be on sale for 99 cents from now until the 19th. If you were waiting on a deal, this is your chance. Outside of the electronic universe, the hard cover for The Journals of Bob Drifter will be reduced to $30. The soft cover will be down to $20.  Caught will be it’s regular price of $9.99, but if you haven’t had a chance to grab any autographs from me, I’m bundling the books.  You can buy Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter together for a total of $25 (with a soft cover of Bob, $35 for the hard cover and Caught). I wanted to re-release Bob before this, but it’s my own fault for giving my editor two books to edit at the same time (I’m selfish really). So reducing the price to Bob is the least I can do for those readers who want to try out my work.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be hosting a panel (actually it’ll be more of a Q & A).  It’s about the Pitfalls of Unwary Self Publishers. That’s scheduled for 5:30 June 16 in room 154.  I hope to see you all there!

AwesomeCon runs from June 16-18.  Doors open at noon Friday and close for another year at 5 p.m. Sunday.

I think that’s about it. I’m looking forward to a great weekend, and I hope to see you all there!

Thanks of reading,

Matt

Another Draft Done: A Sojourn in Captivity Update

Another Draft Done: A Sojourn in Captivity Update

Greetings all!

early-seferamI’m home on vacation, which for me means I get to spend way more time on writing.  I was making good progress on Sojourn in Captivity already, and now I’m happy to report the fourth (of five) draft is done! I want to take another moment to thank my beta readers. Your feedback helped make this a much stronger story, and I was pleased with it before I sent it out.  Now it’s back to the editor for the copy-editing pass. The story is what it is, now we’re making sure the writing is as strong as it can be. That’ll be the last draft before I add a bit of information (a forward) to it and send it off to the Slush Brain’s honorable captain.

This also gives me a chance to put out a few other updates.

First, I’m happy to announce I did manage to get another event lined up. I went to Shore Leave a few years back, and I confirmed a few months ago that I’m heading that way again.

Speaking of conventions, at last year’s AwesomeCon, I had the chance to talk about the pitfalls of self publishing. I’ll be doing that panel again. This one is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, June 16. It was a fun panel to do last year, and I have more information this year.

Sojourn isn’t the only project I’ve sent to my editor. I’ve re-designed The Journals of Bob Drifter, and I sent that PDF her way for a quick proofread before I re-release that. I would have loved for that book to be re-released before AwesomeCon, but it’s not not logistically possible.  Still, it will be re-released this year, and doing so will allow me a lot more freedom with that title (not to mention a lower (I’m not sure how much) cover price).

shipfighterNow that I’m not bring so much mental energy on Sojourn, I can turn my attention back to Images of Truth the actual first complete novel in the Perception of War saga. (Sojourn is simply a prequel novella.)

I want to finish Images of Truth (I was halfway done when I switched gears for Sojourn) before I put my full attention on the Oneiros log. I’ve started (and even nearly finished) an outline for a novella featuring Kaitlyn. Then it’s full steam ahead on the rest of the trilogy.

I’m a guy who needs something to look at when his eyes start to cross, so I’ll be working on a draft of 1,200 (another project that should be coming your way in the not too distant future). It’s still my ambitious hope to dedicate the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 to writing and conventions and then release a minimum of six projects in 2019. That would be three Oneiros books, 1,200, and a few from a new series I plan to start. I have a bunch of other drafts too, but those projects are much larger. My hope is this new series will keep good product from a common universe coming, which will then give me more time to finish those larger products (New Utopia and Perception of War) the way they’re meant to be finished.

I want to thank all of you who read my blog (and of course my books)! Your support really means the world to me. I’m putting a lot into 2019, hoping that will be “my year” more or less. Your support always makes it easier to sit down with the lap top.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Another 5-Star review for Bob Drifter!

Another 5-Star review for Bob Drifter!

2017-02-23-bob-drifter-coverI always love feedback. It’s even more awesome when the reader enjoys my work.  I just wanted to share this 5-star review for The Journals of Bob Drifter. Writing is pretty much a war of dedication and attrition. Reviews like this help keep a writer going.  You can read this newest one here.