Farpoint: Lessons From Disappointing Sales

Farpoint: Lessons From Disappointing Sales

Greetings all,

ChibiFarpointAnother convention has come and gone. Farpoint was a good time. I had a lot of fun. The kids were there again this time, and I got to hang out with my whole family. This really came in handy.

You see, the sales weren’t exactly what I’d hoped.  I sold thirteen books. That’s fifteen less than MarsCon the month before, and no where near the 50 books an event I had last year.

So how do you deal with it? Well, first you keep your chin up. We authors have to have thick skin for so many reasons. You have up and down events and years, and you have to celebrate every high (even if it’s just one page read on KDP), and endure all the lows (sitting in a book store watching people pointedly turn away from you to avoid your pitch).

The next thing I do is try to see what might cause this issue. There are factors.

  1. This event didn’t exactly have a lot of foot traffic. There were several cool people. They were fun to talk to, but there just weren’t a metric ton. I’d be shocked if there were 4,000 people total in attendance. I don’t know the statistics, but that’s certainly how it felt.
  2. I didn’t have a new book. Sure, my Testimony is coming soon, but it’s not out, and Betrayed isn’t ready either (but it is getting close). I had a handful of people come up to me to tell me how much they loved one book or another. Those who didn’t already buy all my books picked something new up, but what did I have for those who already bought the books I’ve published? I think at least five people came buy looking for my newest book, and I didn’t have it.  That’s on me.
  3. I’ve been to several Farpoints.  I intend to be at more. But those people are pretty familiar with me. They’ve bought my books. You can oversaturate an area or a convention. This is one of the main reasons the wife and I are trying to expand where we go.

 

RaidenANDGambitSilver lining: The wife is doing some amazing things.  We had prints this time, and two of them sold. She also sold another 12 chibis! Seriously, those things are adorable! What that did is relieve some of the stress and financial burden from the lack of book sales. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have Julie and her art there.

There’s another con coming in a new area. Annapolis ComicCon is next, and that’s a new area with (hopefully) new readers. It’s a one day con that’s smaller, so I have to adjust my expectations accordingly. If I set fifteen books, a few chibis and a print or two, I’ll be pretty satisfied. I also have Four State ComicCon coming up next month too, so those are opportunities to turn the ship around and meet new readers.

I hope this information is helpful. Again, you have to always work to keep a positive mindset in this business. Things come and go, and it’s still fun to write books, and it’s even more fun when people stop by the table to tell you how much they enjoyed your stories.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

MarsCon 2020: My First Con Outside of Maryland!

MarsCon 2020: My First Con Outside of Maryland!

Greetings everyone,

IMG_2318Last week I took a moment to tell you all we were in Williamsburg, Virginia, for MarsCon, so I wanted to take a few moments to let you know how things went.

My main goal for this trip was the try a few new things and to get my work into hands of new readers.

I sold 28 books in total. Sojourn in Captivity drew the most interest, and that makes me happy since Perception of War is really something I’m going to write.  In comparison to last year, 28 books is fairly slow, but there wasn’t a ton of foot traffic at the event, and 28 is still a solid number of books sold based on my historical average.

The real star of the show is my wife. She’s a talented artist, and we had an idea. She takes photos of people and then draws chibi caricatures of them.

IMG_2315A simple paper and ink chibi is $5, and a full-color digital chibi is $15. She got a lot of attention even with a small spot on the table. She sold six chibis (three ink, three digital). She really stole the show in all the best ways, and I love her for the active role she’s taken in this journey.  If you’d like to be a chibi, you can order one by email here. She’s already had people contact her by social media to set up future orders, and that is super encouraging.

Why the art? Product. On. The. Shelf. Author copies of books are costly, and the percentage we make isn’t great. That puts the overhead for a convention at a high mark that’s unlikely to be met.  For instance, MarsCon cost us $708 for just the table and books. I would have had to sell every book I had on its own (no bundles) to make a profit. With my wife’s help, the art can pay for the table, and the books have a better chance to pay for themselves, which would allow us to make conventions an investment for profit rather than a marketing tool.

Now, that dollar amount is higher because I bought essentially two cons’ worth of books. But, if the art (low upfront cost) can pay for the tables, we have a real chance.  This is because books and a table are normally about $444. This shifts depending on the event, but I’m currently optimistic that chibis can not only let my wife have some limelight (she’s always wanted to let her art be her career), but also take a step forward to making our little business profitable.

I hope you’ll send some emails and make some orders.

This was a pretty solid start to the 2020 tour. It was essentially a fun family vacation that allowed me to get books into the hands of new readers, and that was the goal in this case. I’m grateful to everyone who stopped by to support our dreams.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

My 2020 Tour Dates and Locations!

My 2020 Tour Dates and Locations!

Greetings all,

So it looks like my 2020 tour is pretty much set up. Last year I had done six, and I wanted to try and do 12 this year, but finances and life just didn’t seem to allow it. We do intend to do six events this year without adding any comic shops we visit for OffWorld (featuring Hazel), which is now available for your local comic shop to order through Previews. If you have a favorite comic shop or know someone who does, I’d very much appreciate you spreading the word and asking the owners to order a few copies.

Without further delay, here are the 2020 conventions I’ll be participating in:

MarsCon (Jan 17-19) 50 Kingsmill Rd. Williamsburg, VA: This is my first convention outside the BWI area and also my first in Virginia. We wanted to start to spread out, and this is our first go at it. We’re hoping to build on our audience. If you’re a fan, and you know someone in the area, please send them our way.

FarPoint (Feb. 21-23) 245 Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley, MD: I’ve been doing this to a point to where I don’t really remember how many times I’ve been to what. I’m pretty sure this is my third FarPoint. It’s always a good time.

Four State Comic Con (March 21 & 22) Hagerstown Community College 11400 Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown, MD: Again we went a bit further out than we had been going. This will be our first time at the convention. This is a smaller event, but it helps get word out about us.

AwesomeCon (May 1-3) Washington Convention Center 801 Mt. Vernon PI NW Washington DC: PHEW! For a horrifying few months, we thought we missed the window to get in. Truth be told, we did, but we made it into the backup event! I’m absolutely thrilled to be heading back. I’ve done AwesomeCon every year since I’ve started, and I intend to do it every year I’m a writer.

Gaithersburg Book Festival (May 16) 506 S Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD: Another first for us. We also wanted to try and get to more book-oriented events. I’m not sure what to expect, but my hopes are that an event dedicated to books will gain a bit more interest per visitor, where as at a convention, people may be interested in reading, but not all will be. Here, we’re guaranteed to meet people who enjoy reading.

Shore Leave 42 (July 10-12) 245 Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley, MD: Pretty sure this is also my third time at this event. The staff here has shown me a lot of professional courtesy, so I’m happy to be working with them and attending their event.

OffWorld’s upcoming release creates another opportunity for me as well. My hope is to start setting up events at local comic book shops. I haven’t had time to arrange anything yet, but I’ll update this page to include those dates as they get approved.

I’m excited to have another year of events set up. I hope to have a variety of new products also, but I’ll save that for my 2020 State of the Weech.

I hope to see you all at these events and meet so many new people.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

 

What Is My Brand? What Do You Get When You Buy An M.L.S. Weech Book?

What Is My Brand? What Do You Get When You Buy An M.L.S. Weech Book?

Greetings all,

MLSWeechI’m honestly just watching Kurt Hugo Schneider videos, and in a few, he “writes” a song for a popular singer. My wife and I frequently dance to his writing of an “Ed Sheeran” song.  What he does is look for elements common to the performer, and that got me thinking about my brand.

So branding is an interesting concept. Some writers brand by genre. This guy may write horror while that guy writes romance. If you like the genre,  a certain author will fill that need. I’ve had dear friends talk to me on occasion about how often I jump around. Honestly, I don’t have the first clue how to hold still. I can’t even type a blog like Thumper talking about the forest with Bambi.

That hurts some authors. I would probably be more successful more quickly (an important combination of words) if I stuck with one genre. Readers like to know what they’re going to get when they buy a book.

So if I don’t stay in one genre, what is my brand? What do people who buy my book get?

Please allow me to offer you a list.

Bob CoverCharacters you connect with: If you read the first ten pages of one of my books, and you don’t feel an immediate connection to the characters you’re reading about, I’ve failed, and you probably won’t enjoy the story. I want people who buy my books to fall in love (or completely hate) the characters.  Here are some examples:

” … keeping me engaged with the plot and the characters with some mad skill.” — A review for Caught.

“Mr Weech does some good worldbuilding here and delivers lots of character development — not just with protagonist Bob Drifter, but with pretty much his entire cast.” — A review for An Unusual Occupation: Part One of The Journals of Bob Drifter.

“While each of the different POVs fascinated me, I found Bob’s voice to be distinctly enjoyable.” — Another review for An Unusual Occupation: Part One of The Journals of Bob Drifter.

“There is just an awful lot to like about Bob. He is a well-conceived, fully fleshed out character that you can’t help but admire and root for.” A review for The Journals of Bob Drifter.

Fast Pace: Even my longest book, The Journals of Bob Drifter, has a pace that moves. I typically write short chapters that let a reader feel like they’re flying through a book even if that book is 130,000 words. I want readers to feel like they’re on a roller coaster that set the world speed record. True, Bob evolves more slowly, but that evolution is spent building anticipation. This fast pace creates a story that’s hard to put down. Here are some examples:

“The story hits fast and you quickly are embroiled in a fast moving action sequence.” — A review for Sojourn in Captivity.

“Repressed was fast paced with nicely timed reveals.” — A review for Repressed.

caught-front-coverSurprises: If you want at least one moment where your jaw drops, and you say, “WHAAAAAAAAAAT?” my books are for you. Honestly, I’m not sure which of my stories has the biggest surprise or plot twist. What I can say is that every time someone comes to me to talk to me about my book, they immediately comment about the surprise. Most reviews mention the end of my stories.  Don’t believe me?

” … and the ending was good.” — A review for Stealing Freedom.

“The narrative direction this story goes (without giving anything away) is both surprising in the moment and completely logical in retrospect.” A review for Caught.

“Caught” is a thrilling psychological horror full of nightmares, gore, and unexpected plot twists. It keeps you guessing every step of the way.” “I can’t remember the last time any novel has surprised me. This shows a clever ingenuity that impressed me.” A review for Caught.

So there you have it. If you like fast-paced books with great characters and surprising twists, I’m your man. All of these were different reviews for different books from a number of different reviewers (though in honesty there are some repeat reviewers because they became return customers).

I hope this gives some of you who maybe haven’t tried my work a chance to see why you might be interested.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Shoutout For Kindlepreneur

A Shoutout For Kindlepreneur

Purchase Caught on Amazon or Audible.

Greetings all,

kindlepreneur logoMarketing has always been something I feel is a great weakness of mine. I read a blog here and there. I wander around YouTube searching for guidance. A while back I stumbled upon Kindlepreneur.

I watched a few videos, and what I appreciated was the articulate discussion about how Amazon Marketing Services works. Then I learned about the site’s free course. I figured, what could it hurt?

It starts out super basic, even I understood the first videos, maybe even the first two lessons. Then I started getting clear instruction with actionable guidance. Yes, they do a lot to push KDP Rocket, but I’m actually very interested in using that program as well. Even aside from the KDP Rocket info, I still received information.

But what were the results?

Well, From Aug. 10 to Sept. 27 (48 days), I had 57 clicks costing me $5.67 with no sales to show for it. Now, six bucks isn’t a lot of money, but the no sales isn’t what I wanted.

I started the course Sept. 28. From then until Nov. 7 (41 days), I have 56 clicks costing me $9.21 but earning me $3.98 in orders. Sales and orders aren’t the same. That four bucks is what the customer spent. Given that I had a 99 cent deal going, I didn’t make much.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.27.13 PMHowever, when you look closely at the progress, I feel as though there are a lot of positives. First, I have a 200% increase in orders. I have just about the same number of clicks, and I’m only paying about three dollars more. I also have some KU pages read since then (183). I’m still learning, and I’m still compiling data.

I can’t stress enough how good this makes me feel to see actual purchases. I’m refining and investigating. Also, AMS seems to be making a concerted effort to make it harder and harder to tweak your campaigns. But the information I have now gives me great optimism about navigating those waters. As soon as I can save up the money, I intend to purchase KDP rocket to see how it can help me even more.

So given that I at least feel this has improved my efforts, I felt now was a great time to share this information and that course. It’s a tad outdated, but it still helped me, and if you’re hating sales, I think it can help you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Purchase The Journals of Bob Drifter on Amazon or Audible.

 

Shore Leave 2019 Report: Encouraging consistency

Shore Leave 2019 Report: Encouraging consistency

Greetings all,

Power_and_Repressed CustomerShore Leave was last week, and it was yet again a huge success in terms of books sold!

The thing that really makes this so encouraging is that I’ve now had three consecutive conventions where I sold more than 40 books. This makes me feel like things are starting to build in the best ways.

At Shore Leave, I sold forty-nine books. I was especially thrilled at how the Repressed/Sojourn paperback worked out. I sold out! My favorite story is that one woman bought the book.  She came back the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed it. She said she read Repressed in a matter of hours at the pool and loved it. When she found out Kaitlyn’s first appearance was in Caught, she bought that book.

I only have one copy of Power of Words remaining, and that’s pretty good.  They actually sold pretty fast. I thought for sure the last one would sell, but it just sort of stalled I guess. But still, I sold 13/14 copies.

Grace and Amanda
Grace, Amanda, and Stevey at Shore Leave.

The next thing that happened is probably the most encouraging.  The Journals of Bob Drifter has been out for four years, and I’ve done three Shore Leave events now.  This is relevant because I met Amanda (and Grace) at Shore Leave.  Bob did very well at the event, and I think I owe a lot of that to Amanda and Grace. You see, they came to say hi (and buy a few new books! Thanks!).  While there, they managed to convince somewhere around four people to buy at least two of my books. They convinced one friend to buy all four of my books.

That’s not it though. That happened to me twice that I can recall. One person would be checking out my table, and another would come up and say, “I read his book (BLANK (Usually Bob)), and I’m telling you it’s good.”

Bob_Drifter_ReaderI can’t express to you how that makes me feel. First off, just having someone walk up and say they enjoyed your book is a wonderful feeling, but to have previous readers bring you more readers is the very definition of “word of mouth!” It’s amazing!

The theory I have is this: It takes people a while to get through their TBR pile. This is true for me. I’m only just now reading books I put on my TBR pile a year ago. My thinking is that these people have had Bob on a shelf for a minute and then it just came time to read it. Now they have feedback for me, and they loved it!

Amanda said, “It’s (Bob) one of the best books I ever read.” She then told me the story about how she was at work and a coworker was trying to draw her attention and couldn’t because she was that enthralled.  WOW! (But please don’t get in trouble at work, Amanda!)

Another person might have been one of maybe three people to buy my book at a convention last year. He said, “It (again Bob) was one of the best surprise reads” he’s had. He said he bought it because he liked me (which is why most people buy most things at conventions). But then he read it and loved it.

All that feedback is so motivating. I can’t wait to get my next few books out there!

I nearly sold out of all my books. Those were just a few stories I wanted to share because of how amazing they made me feel in the moment. Julie was near to tears a few times. It’s just such blessing, and we thank God for brining so many wonderful people to our lives and letting our business grow.

So now for the business side. Shore Leave (and most other conventions I go to) have much more affordable tables. And the sales from the event made back the cost of the table (which is a huge benchmark to me).  But things went so well, we only actually lost about $100. This is still a loss, but it’s significant growth. We’re hopeful that the prints and more products (big news on that is coming) will help tip the scales and allow us to change how we define “success” when it comes to conventions. For now though, we’re just overjoyed this event went so well.

For those who tried my books, thank you so much! We hope you enjoy them. Please remember to leave a rating and/or review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.  They really do help.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The Work: What Any Hopeful Storyteller Needs To Remember

The Work: What Any Hopeful Storyteller Needs To Remember

33691405_1268090163335754_6441353274913193984_nGreetings all,

A lot of people have asked me how to write.

Several people have asked me about how to self-publish.

Only a few people have talked to me about marketing.

I can’t remember the last time (or if ever) anyone ever asked me about the work.

The thing is, people love the idea of being an author. Actually, what they love is the idea of being a huge author.

First, “huge” is not a real measurable standard. For instance, Brandon Sanderson only has a net worth of $6 million according to celebritynetworth.com. Now, I’d never say no to $6 million, but what is that compared to say, George R. R. Martin, who makes $15 million per year on that show you all know and $10 million a year on those books based on that show.

Those are good stories and nice goals to have. They’re even real, attainable goals. However, no one just goes to sleep and wakes up next to a novel that will put them in the millionaire club.  Sanderson wrote 13 novels before he got picked up. He typically releases three titles a year. That means the guy writes a lot.

WritingI don’t begrudge a guy who’s more like me. I’m someone who does his best to get work out, but I’ve learned a bit more about the trade (and I still have a ton to learn) since I’ve started. Still, let’s just look at the work I have done. I’ve released nine titles (five original works) in four years. I had written about seven books before I self-published. In word count alone, I’ve written more than 330,000 words. That’s a commitment of time. Before I got married, I wrote 1,000 words a day and marketed for about an hour.

Since I’ve been married, I market as I have time and squeeze in a couple-hundred words a day even if I have to do so during my lunch break at work. I’m still under the belief that the time you put into it has a direct relationship to the success you have. I think this is particularly true of the marketing.

Hopeful authors, please understand that I want you to have your dreams come true. I’d be overjoyed to see you become a best-seller climb up that Forbes list. I just want you to have your eyes open to the effort you have to be willing to put in. There are no shortcuts; there are no easy paths. Too often we see the reward for one’s work, and assume it just “happened,” and that’s just not true.

ChartI wish I had some sort of chart. There are days when I’d kill to know how many books I’d have to write before I start seeing a monthly profit. I’d love to know how many dollars to invest in marketing before I see a regular sales pace. I have some info for you.

I know that a self-published author typically has to get ten books out there before they start to see a profit.

However, that’s the only solid info I have, and it’s info you need if you aspire to be an author/entrepreneur. To be frank, I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just doing my best based on my own research and talking with authors I respect.

So the real question that matters is, “How much time are you willing to put into this?”

If you come and tell me you write 5,000 words a day and market for three hours a day, I’d expect you to be doing well. If you haven’t written a single book, well, that’s why you’re not succeeding as an author.

Why this post at this time? Well, I’m not working as much as a single guy could these days. I’m not upset about it. I’m more interested in being a loving husband and leading father than I am about anything else. But I am still working toward a goal. I just expect I’ll reach it a bit more slowly than I would otherwise. That doesn’t discourage me, it encourages me. It changes my thinking.

Instead of wondering why things haven’t happened yet, I realize I just need to work at it a little longer. However, I can have that optimism because I believe that work ethic breeds success. My goal is to help you see that too. I don’t imagine it would be hard to be at least as successful as I am (if one would go so far as to call me successful). But it starts with, “Write a book.” Then it builds to, “Market the book.” Then it’s, “Write another book.”

You just have to put in the work. It’s a lot of work, but that’s the only trick. So what are you sitting here reading this blog for? Go on! Get writing!

Thanks for reading,

Matt