Such An Awesome 2019! (convention)

Such An Awesome 2019! (convention)

Greetings all,

AwesomeConSo we got some rest, and boy did we need it. AwesomeCon 2019 was such a wonderful, huge event. As usual, I wanted to take a moment and give you some insight as to how things went.

Last year ended on a high note. We had always planned to slow way down this year to get life figured out and write some more books. The wonderful thing is I honestly thought, “Well that was just an amazing success, but no way do I do that sort of stuff again.”

Well, I didn’t.  In terms of books sold, I did even better. I sold fifty one books! I don’t remember the count from Baltimore Comic Con, but I remember it being in the forties.

The first thing I need to do is praise God for such an amazing blessing! Through four years of work, I’m seeing progress in this business venture, and all things come through him.

The next thing I need to do is thank all of you! If you stopped by and picked up one (or a few) copies of my work, you’ve helped my dream come true. I hope you enjoy the stories. I hope reading them makes you that much more excited for the things I’m working on next.

This wasn’t just a fun day for me though. Steve D’Adamo was right there with me, and he sold copies of his book, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. He even posted a blog about his side of things.

So I won’t go over information he covered because I frankly want you to read his blog. But I do have some additional insights.

  1. How I measure “success.”

D5nXJwSWAAAHwLwI ran into another author who was a bit upset that sales weren’t there. Now, some authors measure success in terms of profit. I’m not one of those. Even with multiple books, I still don’t have enough products to expect to actually profit. I “made” $289. That’s fantastic. It’s certainly way more than I normally make. It paid for my table ($273.35 for badges and table), but I spent $456.66 ordering books, so I actually lost $441.01. That might lead to a lot of sad faces and discouraged hopeful authors. First, AwesomeCon is a huge event with pretty expensive artist alley tables.  I don’t go to AwesomeCon to make money. I got to AwesomeCon to have fun and meet people. I got to meet new readers who I hope will become loyal readers. My two of my three most loyal readers were all people I met at AwesomeCon. So yeah, I lost money up front, but those people buy my books I later release, even if they wait to do so at the next AwesomeCon.

So I told the author I mentioned above, “I already know I’m going to lose money here. I don’t count success by dollars made. I count it by books sold.” Fifty one is a new record. So I see this event as a huge success.

How could I have done better? Well, I’m still not used to having so many books.  I ordered twenty copies of each of my longer works (Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter), and I ordered thirty copies each of my shorter works (Repressed & Sojourn in Captivity (paperback) and The Power of Words).  I only sold more than half of one of those. So I just ordered too many books.  If I’d only ordered half of those numbers, I still would have lost $213 (or so), but that’s expected at an event where I still have a very limited number of things for people to buy. This is something I’m going to try to adjust. At Shore Leave, I intend to sell prints as well. It’s a low-up-front cost item that will help me diversify what people can come to my table to purchase. I’ll also be able to bundle them and increase deals for potential customers.

Now, Shore Leave is much less expensive to attend. I clearly don’t need to order more books. I took that money I earned from AwesomeCon to pay for my table. If I sell all of those books, I’ll make back that table. Mathematically, I will still have lost $100-something, but I’ll have that many more books out there for people to read, (hopefully) enjoy, (hopefully) review, and (hopefully) recommend to a friend.  

2.  Try new things:

caught-front-cover
This cover gets a lot of looks, so I’m going to try and sell prints of it.

As I mentioned above, I’m always looking to try new things. My biggest mission is to provide low-cost (both to me and the potential customer) products to purchase. Bookmarks did not work. They make great hand outs, but people just don’t want to pay for those. So I looked around and realized that there are a lot of artists in artist alley (go figure). So the new plan is to commission art based on my books to sell prints of at conventions. I don’t expect to do as well as people who sell cool pictures of trademarked characters, but I’m not touching that. But if someone looks at a really awesome picture of Caden or Elele, they may want to buy it. They may want to know about the character. This may work; it may not work at all. The point is you have to diversify your options. Not everyone reads. Most people who go to conventions buy art from someone. Why not art based on my books? Plus, it gets Carlos and Collin some attention. Also, I’m sharing profits with them so I don’t pay up front. It’s a risk on their end, but it’s an investment of time for the potential to profit money.

3.  Sharing is great!

D5Ht92lX4AI4_7MI’ve shared a table before, but I didn’t know how to do it. I’d read both of Andrew’s books (I shared a table with him a few times), but he’d only read one of mine. Also, we thought of our one table as two tables rather than thinking of the table as ours. This might have been something I did wrong. I’m not saying we didn’t try to help each other out, but we were still pitching our stuff more individually.  Steve knew all my pitches for all my books. He understood my work, and he knew how I was marketing. We talked before hand. We also pitched what was right for the reader. If someone said they liked traditional fantasy, I put Steve’s book in his hand. Steve must have sold at least three of my books. I might have sold as many of his. We amplified one another. Now, Andrew is wonderful, and he worked hard for each other. I just lacked the understanding of how sharing a table really works. This is something I really want to continue to try. It brings the up-front costs down for each of us, and it really works when you’re selling the books people want.  In fact, during AwesomeCon, I actually told a reader I probably don’t have a books she likes (she’s a fan of Terry Pratchett). I directed her straight to Andrew’s work. I told her, you’ll love him.

So those are a few insights. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier. It took Julie and I a week to recover. We were so exhausted, but we had so much fun.

If you were one of the people I met at the event, thank you so much for giving our work a try. We truly hope you enjoy the books.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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Great News: Consistent Results Are Awesome!

Great News: Consistent Results Are Awesome!

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverGreetings all,

Last week was Bob’s fourth birthday, and I did another giveaway.  Even though I didn’t do nearly as much social media work, I’m still thrilled to announce the book had 1,151 downloads! It’s just a humbling, amazing blessing.

The biggest chunk of that came via marketing through BookGorilla.com. On both days I had a campaign through them, I had more than 700 downloads. Whatever else happens, it’s  a great way to get books into readers’ hands.

I’m still hoping to gain reviews for both Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter, but it’s still very early in that regard.

However, the immediate results were still fantastic.  Like Caught, Bob made it all the way to number three in its category.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 3.25.41 PM.pngFirst, I can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve shown me! It’s overwhelming to see so many people out there showing any interest in my books. Now I can honestly say there are thousands of copies of these books out there, and I can’t repay you all for such kindness. All I can do is try to keep working on compelling stories, which I am doing at as we speak.

While I’m waiting for reviews for Caught and Bob, I did get this very kind five-star review for The Power of Words, so the good news just keeps on coming.

ElelefinalI could spend hours typing up various ways to say thanks, but it wouldn’t be enough. What I can say is I’m working hard to give you more content. I’m more than halfway through the discovery draft of Betrayed: Book Two of the Oneiros Log. Sojourn in Captivity will be available by April 1, and I’m trying to get it up for preorder by the 15 (might not get that). The flip book featuring Sojourn and Repressed is also under development. Every solid campaign or kind review just inspires me to work that much harder. Even the not-so-kind reviews motivate me to improve my craft and take that criticism into consideration. I hope you like I’ve written so far, and I can’t wait to show you what’s coming!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

Greetings all,

CoverLayoutIn my last post I mentioned a bit about how Repressed had a solid start.  So I thought I’d try to keep the momentum going while sharing some insight for those trying to get their journey as authors started.

Social media posts and word of mouth helped me get my third-most pre-sales ever. Before anyone start to think I’m quitting my day job, I had eight pre-sales.  The Power of Words had the most ever (17). Caught came in second (13).  This might seem terrible to some. It sure didn’t feel like much to me, but those numbers compare pretty favorable to a number of the authors I speak to on a regular basis. Some of them are stable, full-time authors.  It’s certainly not a ton compared to those best sellers, but at the level I’m currently climbing toward, it’s a good place. People, especially new authors, should focus on goals and those goals should be based on data and expectations established by people in a similar situation. If I compare myself to Brandon Sanderson, I’m going to cry and never write again. However, if I keep my eyes on people with a similar number of titles released, in a similar genre, and with a similar marketing budget, I notice that I’m doing well, and that’s my point here.

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 12.00.09 AM.pngThe other thing I’m happy to say is that Repressed’s ranking in it’s category,  Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Bullying.  I don’t exactly remember how high Caught got, but Repressed was pretty great.  This title made it as high as #38 on the best-seller list and is still in the top 300.  I’m particularly happy that I stayed in the top 100 for its entire first week.

How’d I do it? Well, married life is still something I’m adjusting too. I only had time for social media efforts. I posted probably once every other day. I used hashtags to draw interest and little tag lines. I made sure the cover was everywhere too.

kaitlynFor my next title (Sojurn in Captivity is coming in April!), I expect to have my newsletter back up and running. I intend to run a FB cover reveal as well as a release party. I’ll run a few more newsletter campaigns, and we’ll see if I can’t set up a blog tour.  I’ll be interested to see how those things affect my next release, but I’m happy with what I think are great results when accounting for a minimal marketing campaign.

What I’m hoping for now is to start seeing reviews pop up. I’m honestly excited to see what readers thought of Kaitlyn’s story. If you were one of the people who picked it up, please consider a rating and review on Amazon and or Goodreads.  Even if you hated it, I truly want to know. Like with every project, I try to stretch and do something new. I hope you were as charmed as I was with Kaitlyn, but even if you weren’t the feedback will still be invaluable.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Finishing on a High Note! Baltimore ComicCon Was Amazing!

Finishing on a High Note! Baltimore ComicCon Was Amazing!

Greetings all,

I’ve been pretty busy with all of the new things going on, but now I have a moment or two to talk about what went on at the Baltimore ComicCon, which was the last stop on my 2018 tour.

The short version, it was without-a-doubt the most successful convention I’ve ever done. I mean this by every measurable standard.

42766886_1390945281050241_1941296896777650176_n
Bre picked up The Power of Words and never put it down. Then she geeked out with my fiancee over Wicket purses.

First, I had copies of The Power of Words on hand, and they flew off the table! I already have some reviews and ratings, and I’ll share those here in the next few weeks.

 

Conventions are always fun, but when you combine the normal fun with a positive number of new readers, it’s honestly such a great boost emotionally.

I sold out of The Power of Words. I almost sold out of every book I have, which has never come close to happening.

This year as a whole was pretty rough in a lot of ways. With conventions, I had a few where I only managed a handful of sales. I met more new readers at this event than all the rest of my tour combined (and then some)!

I feel truly blessed that so many people showed an interest in my work. I’m grateful to God for his glorious blessing and, more so, sending so many wonderful, kind people to meet me and give a silly dreamer’s work a try.

42776296_1391024074375695_4781457056206946304_n
Mykel got The Power of Words as well as Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter. Then we had a lengthy, fantastic conversation about writing. 

I thank all of you who stopped by the table and picked up a book (or three). I truly hope you enjoyed them, and I’d love to see your reviews and/or ratings. Even if they’re critical, any feedback is good, and any review is wonderful.

 

That concludes my 2018 tour on just such a wonderful note. My fiancee and I are planning ways to put build on life together, and that means slowing down a touch on conventions for next year. We’re making decisions on which ones (and there won’t be many) we feel we have to attend, and I’ll get that information to you once we make those decisions.

As always, I’m just so happy to know people are out there who even feel like giving these books a chance. You have my promise I’ll keep working to get better and deliver stories I feel are entertaining and hard to put down.

Thank you for supporting my dream.

Thank you for being such great people.

Thank you, as always, for reading!

Matt

Benchmarks and Thanks! The Initial Results of My Giveaway With Both an Emotional and Marketing Perspective

Benchmarks and Thanks! The Initial Results of My Giveaway With Both an Emotional and Marketing Perspective

Greetings all,

AnUnusualOccupationCoverLast week was a whirlwind for me a in a lot of ways. But for those interested in marketing and for those interested in my life as an author, I thought it’d be nice to simply give a look at the results for my giveaway.

Premise:

I knew I had Bob’s Greatest Mistake coming out (it’s out now, and still 99 cents until May 15). I wanted to get Bob some visibility, and I knew this option from KDP was available. When I do anything, I like to have reasonable expectations. I also want clear, measurable goals.

Goals:

Get Bob on the top 100 list.

Get at least 100 downloads.

Get 25 reviews.

Reasoning:

Getting Bob on the top 100 list for his category gains the visibility I wanted. The more I can get Bob in front of viewers, the more likely it is someone will give him a chance. Giving copies away now and getting him on that list could gain those I call loyal readers.

Knowing how many followers I have on various social media, Choosing a small fraction of that number (about 10 percent), I felt was reasonable. It still meant there were people at least rooting for me and willing to help out. If those downloads become reads, that’s even better.  But…

…. if those reads become reviews, now we’re talking. If I earn 25 reviews on Amazon, first, it means 25 more people actually read my book, which is awesome! Also, This gets me more visibility on Amazon. This number should be enough to start getting Amazon to recommend it to other readers.

Results:

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 2.01.14 PMBob made it as high as #31 on Amazon’s Free Paranormal Thrillers category! Honestly, Bob’s never sniffed a ranking that high before. This achievement alone would be enough to consider this campaign a huge success, but it didn’t end there.

I had 140 downloads for Bob. For those who read this post, I offered little demonstrations of appreciation for each benchmark, and we hit 100.  Not quite enough for a karaoke song, but still, so many people turned up to give Bob some love!  This puts me past the 500 mark in terms of “sold” books.  Sure, they were free, but at the end of the day, people picked my book. There are lots of free books out there in the world, and you all chose to give mine a try. That matters. I appreciate it! It means the world to me. I even sold a few copies of Bob’s Greatest Mistake and Caught. Again, even if this was all that happened, I’d call this a huge win. That said, the 100 copies people picked up in five days was more than 1/4 of the books I’d sold in the last three years.  Like I said, success!

It’s too early honestly to talk about reviews. While I did post a review that appeared during the giveaway, I’m not convinced that copy was downloaded during that this. I’m pretty sure that was an individual who bought the book earlier and finished it in a very timely manner. If I hit that 25 review benchmark, it would be the first time I’d run a campaign of any sort and had remotely this level of success. I’m eagerly refreshing the page and looking for reviews, but I still think it might be a tad early for anything to come up just yet. This is even more likely if anyone is as remotely loyal to their TBR as I am. Sure, Brandon Sanderson has automatic head-of-the-line privileges in my TBR, but everyone else has to wait their turn.
Those Emotions:

thank-you-1606941_960_720I’m still in awe of your support. I’ve been at this for a tad more than three years. The blog’s been going for a bit more than a year (I think). It’s just amazing to see how far it’s come and how willing you all are to lend a hand. I can’t repay it. I can’t thank you enough, and there aren’t enough words to express my gratitude anyway. I can only hope that I continue to post content you’re interested in and write stories you love. I hope you enjoy the first part of Bob’s journey as much as I do.

If you have any  questions on logistics, feel free to ask in the comments. For now, I just wanted to sing the praises of a successful campaign.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

No One but You Wants to Sell Your Book: A Scam Warning

No One but You Wants to Sell Your Book: A Scam Warning

shakedown-1340048_960_720One of the biggest things I feel for early on in my career as an author involves the appearance of help.

What happens is someone from a company calls you.  I was just sitting in my room editing Caught when someone calls.

“Hello, I’m is this M.L.S. Weech?”

I ignored the suspicious accent and rough pronunciation of my name. You see, someone called my author identity. I was finally noticed!

“This is,” I said, feeling my heartbeat race.

I can’t remember what company he claimed to be in, and I don’t want to dime out the other company that fooled me the same way (though that looked far more legitimate than this first company).

Things they say:
“Our research team has tagged your book as one that’s very appealing to our market.”
“I’ve read your book, and I really think there’s a lot going for it.”
“Our reader surveys have identified your book as one that rated very high.”

Other things they say:
“We’re prepared to present your book at ‘insert fake book conference.'”
“We’d like to market your book.”

So, on my infinite list of things I wish I’d known or even just thought of:

  • What self respecting marketing company has to solicit books to market? Seriously, their job is to put brands in front of eyes. Their entire profit margin is based on selling things. People go to them to market a product. They don’t just randomly call people.
  • Anyone who calls asking for your money, isn’t interested in helping you make money.
  • Even if they’re offering to pay X for Y. They’ll eventually get around to asking you for money.

This leads me to last night. I’d already had a fairly unpleasant day. So imagine my mood (those who know me know I’m not one to suffer much in the way of wasting my valuable time) when someone calls.

First warning: They used my real name and not my pen name. I have nothing against my real name. It’s a bit hard to pronounce, which is the reason for the pen name, but I like it. The thing is, this caller didn’t even speak about the author credited for my book.

Second Warning: “I can tell you’re reading out loud.” When this woman called and told me how readers rated it 90-something percent whatever, she started off by saying, “I’m calling about your book….The….Journals of….Bob…Drifter.”  (Clearly she’d done a tone of research on my book. I mean, she worked so hard, she forgot the name of the book she was researching.)

dollar-163473_960_720I tried to be nice:
I’m smarter now than I was a few years back. So I usually have a nice conversation. I’m polite. I get a kick out of these people who want to tell me how great my book could sell, but they can’t even name the main character (the hint is on the cover folks). But, as I mentioned, I was already in a fighting mood. So, the most nice I could have been was to be  frank:

“I’m sorry ma’am, but if you’re calling to offer me services that will cost me any money, I’m not interested. I’d been scammed before, so unless you’re offering me services at absolutely no cost to me, I’m not interested.”

Anyone who knows me knows that was probably the moment this individual should have hung up.  She didn’t.

Don’t worry, Sis, I still wasn’t that bad:
I can get flat out mean on the phone (one of my sisters gets pretty upset at me when I lose my temper on people who waste my time on the phone).  It’s a failing of mine, but this time, because I already knew I was ready to spit rage and discontent in the face of any who dare appear before me, I reminded myself that no one actually deserved said anger.  She went on to carefully avoid using the phrase “no cost to you.”

She said things like, “We’re prepared to do this marketing for you for this amount of time.”  Then she went into her pitch like a bull in my freshly mopped China shop.

I was still pretty direct:
Before she could finish her rather elaborate plan that didn’t include my target audience, my demographic or my local market, I said, “I need to stop you there. The question I asked was, are you doing this at absolutely no expense to me.”

She said, “Like I said, we’re preparing to offer you…”

I said, “Ma’am, I asked you if you’re going to do this at no cost to me. Please answer yes or no.”

safe-913452_960_720This apparently hurt her feelings. She told me she can’t work with me. I’m apparently a negative person.

Honestly, I was, but she was trying to steal my money, so I don’t, exactly, feel guilty about it.

The thing is, my first year I lost $24,000 (that’s not a typo). So be direct.  I found a blog I think really gives you a good way to vet people, but I stand by my original statement:

No one, ever, is going to call you and say, “I want to help you sell your book.”

Well..okay, an Agent may call you, but he’ll know your name and the name of your book, and you’ll have sent him a query.  Same with a publisher.  But no one, ever, is going to call you out of the blue, and suddenly want to sell your book. Spend that money on a marketer you’ve researched, conventions you can attend, or publishing a new book.

Don’t fall for the traps. We in the indie author community support you. Bounce these opportunities off us. Search any company that calls you. Chase your dream, but don’t let others take advantage of that dream.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Book Review: How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Book Review: How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
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Book Cover for Review purposes under Fair Use Doctrine. Also, I want you to know what this book looks like because you need to buy it and read it

I never made it a secret that marketing is far more of a mystery to me than writing or producing a book (and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in those areas).

A few weeks ago, I bought one of those “marketing for dummies” books. I got one chapter in before I wanted to know if anyone had something for someone even less educated.

I read J.R. Handley’s blog a few weeks ago.  That blog led me to Joanna’s website. The website led me to her book, “How to Market a Book.”

What this book does for me is speak to me in a manner that makes sense. It’s not just a book on marketing, it’s a book about how to market my product.

At first, I started reading it like a manual. Basically, I thought, “Do all of these .things in this order.”

I don’t know why I thought this as she says one shouldn’t try all of these things at once. What I realize this does now is give several things to try at various times until I find what works for me.

Things that really worked:

There’s a segment about Twitter that I found very helpful.

wiar_how-to-market-a-bookThere are some tools here to use now and then. So this is more of a reference book than a text book. To explain: I can come back to this and study up, and then get more information when I’m ready to try something.

She gives a ton of follow-on sites, blogs, podcasts, interviews, and books that I plan on using here and there as I try different things.

The only thing I wish I could find is what I call more actionable information. I’m intuitive in my craft, but literal in my thinking. I’d kill for more specific step-by-step instructions. Like I really feel that changing keywords on Amazon might help me, but HOW do I do that?  How do I change my categories? I did a search on Author Central, but all I could find basically amounted to “send us an email.” Even then they swear we can only have “two” categories (a main and a sub) when I know for a fact that some books go four levels deep. So how to I get into THOSE categories?  With Caught coming out, I took a LOT of time finding the right book. Joanna DID give some great advice that I followed. It has to do  with looking at books you think are similar and seeing what categories they fall under.

arrows-1617376_960_720This book gave me something I desperately needed. An idea on where to step. I want more steps. I want small, baby steps, but this is a fantastic overview book with critical follow-on material. Seriously, if you’re about to publish your first book, if your book is nearly ready to come out, if your looking at releasing anytime soon, buy this book. The worst mistake I made in releasing a book was releasing a book without knowing remotely how to market a book. I truly wish I’d read this about two years ago. Even better, two years ago. I can’t stress enough how important it is to start building your platform. I’m on the right track now, but I’d be farther ahead if I gave this aspect of this business more attention.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt