The 2022 State of the Weech

The 2022 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

Welcome to year five of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. This is my fourth annual State of the Weech, where I talk about how the previous year went and talk about my plans for 2022.

The most important thing I did during 2021 was improve my marketing. I’ll talk about Hazel more in a moment, but without Hazel, I went from being pleasantly surprised I sold a book to regularly selling nine books a month. I’m convinced that this path is a good one. No, it’s not a fast track, but most good things aren’t “overnight” things. Steady effort in a solid direction usually yields good results, and I’m happy with what one year or so of effort has brought.

I released Betrayed. It didn’t have the response I was hoping for, but without being able to go to conventions, it’s hard to get word out. What I know is that anyone who’s said anything about it loved it, which is encouraging.

Then there’s Hazel. Now that was a success! Currently, Hazel sells about 38 copies a month. I expect that to calm a little. I tend to sell a lot of a book early, and then things die down. However, I’d be happy if Hazel continued to move at this pace. I know Collin and I appreciate every single one of you who’ve tried it.

I managed to finish the discovery draft of Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log, and I did a read-through of 1,200 in preparation for a draft I’ll do once I get Discovered to Alpha Readers.

So those are things I have done, but now I need to repeat something I mentioned recently.

I’m still writing as much as I can, but without conventions to bolster sales, money for editors and art is a serious concern. This means I’m going to make whatever progress I can, but I don’t have any real certainty on when things will come out because that just depends on how much I can save, how much I spend in marketing, and how many sales I get. So where the past years I had some pretty solid ideas on when I’d get products out to you, I don’t have that same ability this year.

But I am still working, so allow me to tell you about those projects.

Hopefully in 2023 (but don’t quote me on it): Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. The discovery draft was OK, but it needs some work. I hope to finish the next draft in the next 100 days, which is when hopeful Alpha Readers can count on reading the early version. I do hope to get it out in 2023, but that depends on the things I mentioned above, as do the other projects.

The 1,200: I talked about this recently. I’m actually pretty proud of where that is now, but it does need some work. So each time I get a draft of Discovered done, this is the project I’ll skip to until Discovered is out. This will be the next release you can expect from me baring how long it takes to save up and what smaller projects I might get done.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is my weekly Christian Science Fiction series. It’s larger than I thought (at least this draft). It’s growing in the writing, and I’m discovery writing it, which means it’ll have plenty of kinks to work out. I don’t honestly know when I’ll finish it, but once a draft is done, it’ll take its place in line for release. You can read it now if you want. I’ll do revisions and edits on it before its published through Amazon.

Perception of War: Images of Truth: I’m honestly frustrated I haven’t found a chance to finish the discovery draft. Other projects are more urgent, but as soon as Discovered and The 1,200 are out the door, this puppy is getting some work. This is a very ambitious project, but I can get the writing done, and I plan to. Again, this project is massive! So while I’m going to work very hard on it, it’s going to take time.

New Utopia: This is another older project that’s probably been sitting in a drawer for too long. It needs love, but the the next draft of this story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), won’t be done until Discovered and The 1,200 are as far as I can get them and the Discovery Draft of Perception is done.

Mercer: Now this project could move in a lot of directions because it’s a series of shorter works. I call this Dresden meets Bones, and I love the premise and basic ideas. I haven’t really played with this much in a while, but that’s only because I owe fans of Oneiros a conclusion to their story. I’ll probably start chipping away at this once in between the above projects. So you might see Season One, Episode One before New Utopia.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: This probably the “older” project that’s farthest from being out. It’s a teen/young reader book that I think is cute, but it’ll have to wait behind those much larger projects.

I’m still working my way toward 60 sales a month. Because of Hazel, I have three averages: My total sales per month, Collin’s and my Hazel sales per month, and my non-Hazel sales per month. The goal for sales per month is still 60, and that’s always been an initial goal aimed at growing after I meet it. I lose less and less each year, and I’m hopeful I get to that first profitable year soon.

If I’m being honest, I’m never going to stop writing. The eight-year goal has always been more about putting in hard-charging, never-back-down energy. It’s spending money on marketing and things like that. I’m hopeful that bears some fruit, but if all I do is write and publish stories I enjoy, that’s OK. I’ll work as hard as I can, and if after eight years, I’m not earning an income, well, I’ll slow down on the costs of publishing and focus more on the writing.

It’s hard to fathom that Bob Drifter came out almost seven years ago! Man it’s been fun!

If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.

I want to finish as I always do, by praising God, and thanking Him for all of you who read and enjoy my work. I’m blessed to have anyone enjoy my books, and a lot of you are just so wonderful to me with emails and help with reviewing drafts. Thank you.

God bless you all, and thank you for another year. I hope your hear has been amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 52 by Tite Kubo

PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 52 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo growing in power, but things seem to be going astray. What are Ginjo’s true motives, and how does Tsukishima play into the equation?

Character: There is a small plot twist here that breaks from the pattern of the previous arcs. I’m not sure it’s “enough” to be satisfying to some readers, but it was at least a break from the norm. It’s hard to discuss character in this volume because there is a plot-related reason the characters frustrated me, and that’s actually good. When characters cause readers to get frustrated, it makes them read. I don’t know that I’m the best at calling out the plot twists. This one got me, and that’s to the volume’s credit.

Exposition: This area of a story sort of held steady from the previous volume as well. An average manga doesn’t typically have a lot of exposition to begin with, and this sort of fell in the “normal” range for me.

Worldbuilding: Despite similarities to the Visard arc, this volume did expand the universe and magic system of the series, and that’s always a plus. I need the right mix of character and world building to hook me, but this at least did some interesting things and took the series in a new (ish) direction.

Dialogue: It wasn’t snappy or anything spectacular, but Ichigo is a much more dramatic character than some of his contemporaries. So there is a lot more development in the dialogue than other volumes or manga. The trick here is those who love the characters will be compelled to keep reading, especially as the plot begins to turn.

Description: I’m not sure the action here is higher than other volumes, and when there isn’t much fighting going on, the panels are more simplistic. Sure, the detail is amazing, but there’s not a lot of dynamic information in them. What action sequences are there are cool.

Overall: The plot twist that came in this volume was satisfying enough for me, but it might not be enough for others. The training is cool, and the expanded data is equally interesting if not enough to stand out as an arc.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The third time)

Book Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The third time)
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This image was taken from Amazon.com for review purposes.  Featured image was taken from Fruitlesspursuits.com, no source was listed on the website.

Spoiler Free Summary: Words of Radiance is the second book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson.  My review for Book One is here. As Shallan Davar prepares to make her way to the Shattered Plains, her plan gets ruined before they even have a chance to begin. She’ll need to find her own way, and in the process, she’ll have to confront her greatest secret and her biggest lie. Meanwhile, Kaladin has escaped the oppression of the light eyes, choosing to align himself with the only honorable lighteyes in the world, maybe. The more he works with them, the more he fears what he thinks is their inevitable betrayal. Just as everything comes to a head, he discovers a plot that puts him on the wrong side of his oaths. What effect would breaking his oath have on Syl?

NOTE: This is my third (if not fourth) read of the book. I usually re-read books in a series like this before the new one comes out. I read this book again after finished Rhythm of War.

Since this is a re-read, I don’t want to give you information that I’ve already provided. That wouldn’t give you any value as a reader, so for this review, I’m going to focus on the characters. This book is already the best in the series (by a long shot). That doesn’t mean the other books aren’t good or even awesome in some cases, but it does mean this one still stands out.

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Photo by Nazrilof taken from Mr. Sanderson’s website.

Kaladin really steals the show here. This is supposed to be Shallan’s book, but for her, this is just the book where I stopped being so annoyed by her. Oddly, some will say Kaladin starts to annoy them in the future books (and I can’t really blame them), but not here. This book is where Kaladin becomes a beloved mainstay character. In fact, for those who feel the later books sort of let them down, I’d argue this book and how Kal progresses is exactly why people are willing to endure Kal’s struggles with him. I’ll talk more about those issues in the future reviews for the next books. For now, I want to express what a great story this was for him.

Kaladin, in this story, is a hero who doesn’t trust his good fortune, and with good reason. Every time he’s done something amazing in the past, he’s had that taken from him and been sent lower than he’d ever been. So how can he not be in a position where he doubts? This journey of a man who doesn’t trust his good fortune is unique because that fear of falling or losing is real despite not being the most overt threat one could see. Indeed most stories would have an identified villain who is in fact trying to take everything from the hero. Not so in this tale.

Shallan however, starts every bit as annoying as she was in Way of Kings. In that book, she pointedly felt like the expositional character. “Oh no, here comes Shallan and another lecture on the economics of Roshar!” However, this story gives us more on Shallan. While she’s still absolutely the characterization of Roshar, its history, and its economics, she’s also a character in her own right. Her history is compelling, and that builds sympathy.

Then we have Adolin, who I will never forget because I get so frustrated with people who do. Adolin doesn’t come into his full potential until the fourth book, but right about here is where we see him start to exist as more than a foil to Dalinar, and Sanderson openly admitted Adolin got more screen time to play that role. In this story, we start to see Adolin as more of an individual. As his goals and earnest charm start becoming clearer, he starts being a more beloved character. After this many reads of the saga, I might actually think he’s my favorite in the who series (though let’s see how Kaladin goes in Book 5). He’s certainly in contention at the moment, and that affection is born here. Adolin should be an arrogant jerk who is only after a new fling and another fight, but that’s just not how it goes. Sure, there’s a duel here where Kaladin get’s an awesome hero moment, but Adolin is all the more impressive because it’s all just him.

This book is the best book in the series because it’s the book that focuses most on the characters reaching their potential. This book shines because the characters grown and evolve, ending with them in a better place. I think the third book falls short because the characters regress. As an overall series, characters need to regress. However, seeing Kaladin regress as far as he does and Shallan do something relatively similar is actually a pretty big letdown because this book ends in a spot where we feel those characters should start to shine. That doesn’t make the future books bad, but it does explain why some may resent them and why this book stands out so well.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month for September! Keep Voting for October!

Announcing the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month for September! Keep Voting for October!

Greetings all,

We’re steadily moving toward naming the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year. We have a winner for September, and we’re getting the roster for October’s poll together.

Let’s start by naming the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month for September. The winner is …

I really thought The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston was a super strong and energetic cover. Congrats to Johnston, and good luck in the 2021 poll.

We’re also making a lot of progress in October’s matchups. We have a winner for Week 2, which is …

Gutter Mage by J.S. Kelley was just such a classic cover with beautiful color. It was a close call between a few covers, but this unique style and design stood out.

You can vote for Week 3’s cover here.

I’d be grateful if you’d stop by my YouTube Channel and giving it a like and subscribe. It gets the covers out there and helps add voters to the contest.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Clara’s Diary by Angelique S. Anderson

Book Review: Clara’s Diary by Angelique S. Anderson

Spoiler free summary: In Clara’s Diary by Angelique S. Anderson, Detective Desmond is a man haunted by the death of his daughter. When a new case lands on his desk that is disturbingly similar to his daughter’s death, Desmond is plunged (OK, I’m going to take this pun for all it’s worth), into a mystery that ties to the strange octopus people who live in this steampunk world. On such person, Sadie, helps Desmond, and her past is the key to all of Desmond’s questions.

The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character: In terms of the standard measurements of character (sympathy, competence, proactivity), these characters are ok. I think the reason they suffer is they have odd bouts of incompetence in situations their characters should be the most confident. At every point there should be tension, there’s a brief conversation, and the conflict is resolved in an unfortunately boring way. What could have been a very compelling factor in this relationship ark felt cast aside because the author had a clear idea where they were supposed to end. The problem is, the end is supposed to be a conclusion of a journey, not an objective that denies any twists and turns because the end is more important, and that’s what I think happened here. Desmond is supposed to be this “Sherlock-like” detective (and that is a challenge as well), and the first thing he does is completely wreck a crime scene he probably shouldn’t have been in to begin with. Those little inconsistencies undercut what was actually a pretty charming story.

Exposition: This was actually pretty good. Sure, we have the inevitable dialogue world history, but how else is the reader going to learn about these octopus-human hybrids? So while there were parts that were a bit dumpy is some places, it wasn’t an amount that I didn’t expect. Could it have been better? Yes. Was it so bad it ruined the story? No.

Worldbuilding: This is probably the strength of the story. It has a bit of the same feel as Carnival Row (without the constant sex, which I appreciated). We have this species of sentient beings that are in this world and that world has origins (which are actually pretty important to the plot). The presence of the wordlbuilding was great. The execution is probably what held this story back for me. If you can fast-forward or skip the spicy scenes and focus on the world building of Carnival Row, you see what that show did well that this book didn’t do so well. However, I still feel this book is better because the content is much more appropriate. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t analyze the storytelling aspects of the two. Diary gives us the history and scope of this world through exposition hidden in dialogue. This story would have been better served if we saw this world expand. Yes, it would have expanded the size of the novel, but I don’t mind that much.

Dialogue: So the portions of dialogue that were clearly there to provide exposition through the character’s point of view do drag the story down, but the dialogue is actually pretty charming. Sadie shines in this regard. It’s clever, and the characters have unique voices. The conversations between Desmond and Sadie were a big part of what kept me reading. (I always finish a book, even if I hate it, but reading this book wasn’t nearly as difficult as some others.)

This author portrait was taken from her Amazon author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: I wonder if any steampunk fans have read this story. You see, I expected much more description here than I got. Steampunk is all about the gadgets and romanticism of a period that wasn’t actually so romantic. Yet this story was pretty sparse. Sure, it had description, and I didn’t personally feel like I was missing out. But a part of me was mentally prepared for these huge blocks of description that just weren’t in this story. I don’t know if that’s common or not. This is probably the second or third steampunk book I’ve read. I think it was better than one, and a little less fun than the other (coming in a future review). So while I didn’t have a problem with the lack of description, I only call it a lack because of what I expected. My question for steampunk fans is: How much description do you expect in a steampunk story?

Overall: The story is charming in its presentation, but it really falls short as a mystery because it was either super predictable or super convoluted. The author didn’t do herself any favors because we always got a giant block of dialogue-hidden exposition right before the “reveal.” That really spoiled it. Instead of sprinkling clues along the way for the reader to gobble up, the author smashed us over the head with a giant sign that (metaphorically) read “You need to know this before you read the next part!” This is a story that I still liked because the characters were actually adorable, but if you love mystery, you’ll feel differently.

Thanks for reading,

Matt





Week 2 of the 2021 M.L.S. Weech October Book Cover of the Moth Is Live!

Week 2 of the 2021 M.L.S. Weech October Book Cover of the Moth Is Live!

Greetings all,

Before we get started, please take a moment to vote for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech September Book Cover of the Month right here.

We’re moving along in our October contest, and we have seven new covers to choose from. Let’s announce the winner for Week 1, which is …

You Give Magic A Bad Name by Ty Burson was a great cover with amazing light. This will kick off all the book covers for October.

You can vote for your favorite cover for this week right here.

I’d appreciate it if you stopped by my YouTube channel and gave it a like and subscribe. It really helps me support the authors and covers, and it helps me.

Book Review: White Sand Volume 3 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 3 By Brandon Sanderson

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand Volume 3 by Brandon Sanderson, everything comes to a head as Kenton fights for the title of Lord Mastrell. He must earn the respect of his peers, preserve his guild, and discover the reason for the murder of his clan.

Character: I appreciated Kenton’s progression here as a rebellious son to one who better understands his father. That might even be my favorite part of this trilogy, but that’s actually a bad thing. The final fight was pretty cool. I’ll mention more about that below. I think I saw a bit more development from some of the other characters, but my issue is with one of the side characters. He has a pretty big shift in the story, and I didn’t really feel like it was natural. He had a very minor role though (in a manner of speaking), so it didn’t have that big of an impact on my opinion. It was just something worth noting.

Exposition: I think this is where the exposition was the roughest. There was a lot of data to share, and it either came up in exposition/narrative boxes or in dialogue that was a bit more Scooby Doo than I would have liked (see below).

Worldbuilding: Most of the worldbuilding was established in the previous volume. There’s a bit of a reveal here that I thought was interesting, and the political reveal (which is an aspect of worldbuilding) was believable if not satisfying.

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This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: So the aforementioned Scooby Doo. There really was a scene here were the Kenton calls someone out, and the guy gives a speech very akin to a villain’s Scooby Doo speech. The only thing missing was, ” … and I would have gotten away with it, too.” That one scene was certainly a bit corny, but the bulk of the dialogue was crisp and witty. It might have been enough to bring the quality down a few pegs, but it didn’t ruin the whole story.

Description: This was probably the place where the graphic novel adaptation was at its best. Sure, there were other scenes that looked cool to see in the other volumes, but the pace and style of this final volume. That fight was cool to watch, and the scenery and scope was brought to life as well.

Overall: I think I’m being unfair, but I can’t help it. I’m used to epic storylines with vivid description that lets me play the movie in my head. I’m used to prose and style that pull me along. I’m used to deeper plots that let me get to know a character, and this format just doesn’t allow for that. But, if I were being fair, I wouldn’t have bought this graphic novel if it wasn’t Sanderson and Cosmere, so I wanted something that felt like one of the other Cosmere books. Maybe I just wish it was a longer series. Maybe I wish the plot wasn’t centered around political intrigue (the assassins and sand magic were tertiary devices at most). It’s not a bad story; it’s just not what I love about Sanderson’s other work. I think fans of the Cosmere should still pick it up to know what happened and get to know the magic system, but it’s not his strongest story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt





Book Review: White Sand Volume 2 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 2 By Brandon Sanderson
The cover image for this graphic novel was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand Volume 2 by Brandon Sanderson, Kenton ends up Lord Mastrell by default, but the Sand Masters who are left aren’t necessarily fully supportive of him. The ruling council is out to end the guild. Oh, and did we mention the assassins? The only person he can trust (if only a little) i s Khriss, a visiter from the dark side of the planet who has her own goals. Can these two work together to save the Sand Masters guild?

Character: Kenton’s growth here is more as a leader and a negotiator, but the man who strove to earn his father’s respect is starting to see his father in a different light. I stand behind what I said in last week’s post, but character growth is definitely something we see here. Not only does Kenton grow as a character, but his journey as the Lord Mastrell causes him to grow in literal power as well. This is one of the strengths of the trilogy.

Exposition: I feel more or less the same about the exposition in this volume that I felt for the previous. The exposition blocks were more scene and background portions of exposition. The story moved fine, but it didn’t pull me along.

Worldbuilding: The worldbuilding picks up in this volume. It’s more political than any other aspect of worldbuilding, but there is some development in the magic system. That’s probably the part that interested me the most. I have to say it wasn’t quite as prominent as I’d have liked, but it was enough to keep me interested in a story that more politically driven than by mystery or action.

Dialogue: Once more the graphic novel format allows Sanderson’s typically witty dialogue to shine. It also helps drive the plot even if it’s harder to hide the expositional dumps that are normal in dialogue. The story is at it’s best when Khriss and Kenton are talking, though there are some other conversations that stand out.

This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: I felt like this volume was oddly (strangely) segmented. The idea may have been to weave the political intrigue alongside the assassin plot. So there were some incredible skirmish panels, but there weren’t the fight scenes that normally carry a graphic novel. So it’s good art that lacked the truly epic imagery that we normally find in these limited series.

Overall: This was a setup volume, and I think most trilogies would have this same style, so you can’t really hold it against this particular story. It sets up the drama and establishes a bit of mystery. I still affirm this story would be far better in a longer medium, but it’s an interesting story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: White Sand Volume 1 By Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: White Sand Volume 1 By Brandon Sanderson

Spoiler free summary: In White Sand by Brandon Sanderson, Kenton aspires to be a master, but he’s barely able to control on stream of sand. That doesn’t stop him from taking on a challenge only a master could overcome. No test, however, can prepare him for the events of the future. His guild is devastated by betrayal and murder, and Kenton must rise up despite his lack of power.

Character: Kenton is a fine enough character. I like his drive and effort. The most interesting part of this book is that Kenton is weak. Most stories reveal a main character who discovers a great power. Kenton is probably the best part of the story.

Exposition: So it’s here that I’ll I’m not a fan of the graphic novel format for Sanderson. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it since I finished reading it a few months ago, and I can’t really identify it except this: the graphic novel deprives a reader of Sanderson’s prose and perspective. So while the story was ok, it lacked the life Sanderson writes with even with the quality of the art. The story didn’t drag, but neither was I pulled along the way I was with nearly every other Sanderson book. Yes, I’ll probably check out Dark One, but I was surprised to realize how much I missed Sanderson’s writing.

Worldbuilding: This is a strength of Sanderson’s, and lack of prose didn’t diminish that. The world is interesting. The way the magic system works within the society is interesting. I feel like this got right what Elantris didn’t do so well for me. I am of the opinion that Taldain has a much bugger role to play in the Cosmere than it currently has, so I may think more highly of some aspects of White Sand’s worldbuilding than is justified, but at its worst, the story’s worldbuilding is comparable to most Sanderson stories.

Dialogue: Where I really missed his prose in some areas, I think the graphic novel adaptation did Sanderson’s dialogue justice. The characters were unique. The conversations weren’t just vaguely hidden expositional blocks. The dialogue was even charming in some places.

This portrait of Mr. Sanderson was taken from his About page on his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: This was the other area I felt hurt the story for me at least in regard to Sanderson. Sure, the art was well done, and it was cool to see the power work in a visual format, but I felt like my imagination was deprived of its ability to visualize the story. It’s kind of unfair to say about the format, but it is how I felt. I think another aspect was actually how there weren’t a lot of fights. White Sand is more of a political drama than an adventure story. It has fight scenes, but they aren’t what drive the story, so a graphic novel loses some power without a lot if great fights to give it that cinematic feeling.

Overall: I’m glad I read it, and it was an OK story, but I hope Sanderson doesn’t release that much stuff (especially Cosmere stuff) in an exclusive graphic novel format. The story doesn’t have the same power it would have in a fully fleshed out Sanderson book. However, I’d take a graphic novel version as opposed to nothing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Vote for the Week 2 September Book Cover of the Month

Vote for the Week 2 September Book Cover of the Month

Greetings all,

Before we talk about September, please know that the voting for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech August Book Cover of the Month is still live. As I type this, we have a tie, so your vote really matters. Please take a moment to vote.

With that said, we’re already working our way through September. We have a new winning cover to announce and seven new covers to choose from.

The winner for September Week 1 is …

The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett was not actually my favorite in the last seven, but Brett is a wonderful author, so I’m glad this got the victory. The framing is solid, and the art style is unique, so those are points in the column, too. Prince is the first book to make it to the September poll.

You can vote for Week 2’s cover right here.

I’d appreciate it if you took a moment to visit my YouTube channel and give it a like and a follow. It’s a way to support me and watch me talk about these covers for a few minutes.

Thanks for watching,

Matt