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.

graph-841606_960_720
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

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month

Hello everyone,

The June Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. It was honestly a fairly disappointing month in terms of votes. We only had 2,652 votes, which is the lowest total we’ve had since the very beginning (when we only had a few days to vote). I have some concerns, and I’d be immensely grateful if any viewers could provide me some honest feedback. Was one week not enough time? Should I simply extend the number of days the bracket runs? Should I keep the “vote once” tournament we’ve used the last few months, or should I go back to the “round-by-round” format we had a while back? I want this to be as fun and easy as possible, but I need your help to make that happen.

Now, 2,600 votes is still a lot. Those voters who came by did so for three books in particular, but only one cover could win.

The June Book Cover of the Month is…

 

For Steam and Country by Jon del Arroz! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Steam and Country took the lead late on the last day and pulled away. This was one of those contests where the match was decided in the #FinalFour. It was either going to be The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson or Steam and Country. Argon by E.L. Patrick made it to the finals, but it couldn’t muster any actual bracket wins in comparison to the other two books. (More on that in a moment.)  The finals came down to Steam and Argon, but Steam won a total of 28 brackets.

Steam received 205 total votes, which was seven more total votes than The Girl and 99 more than Argon.

June_Cover_CollageLRI usually have the runner up get a spot in the next month’s bracket. I just can’t, in good conscience, place Argon in July’s bracket when The Girl had more votes and more bracket wins.  If this were a 30-day month, I wouldn’t have a problem because I’d have two open spots, but July has 31 days, and I have to try my best to allow the book that the voters most liked get a slot. As this wasn’t a “round-by-round” tournament, I can’t honestly tell which voters would prefer in a head to head. I can only go by the number of votes and brackets each cover won. I’m very dedicated to making this a fun, fair competition, so I have to make these calls with as much integrity and data as I can. So I offer my congratulations to The Girl Who Could See, as that book will have another chance to move on in the July bracket.

That said. Arroz is the winner this month, so let’s look at his book.

Amazon blurb.

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

For Steam and Country is the first book in the Adventures of Baron Von Monocle series by top-10 Amazon best selling space opera author, Jon Del Arroz.

“Witty, charming and downright thrilling!  Del Arroz nails the feel of good old fashioned Steampunkery with wit, aplomb and of course… panache.” – Nick Cole, author of the Dragon Award winner, CTRL ALT Revolt

“FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY is a rousing girl-powered fantasy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed airship adventure!” – Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch

(END BLURB)

As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, Howard’s cover, Deyo’s coverJones’s CoverHubert’s Cover, and MacNiven’s cover, and they are also on my TBR. (I just finished reading Deyo’s cover.)

18221611_10207749242842260_3867576595174516287_nHere’s Arroz’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

The artist for that beautiful cover is Shawn King, whom I contacted to see if he’d like to do an interview about his victory.

The July bracket is still under development. Conventions and honestly a string of not-very-good covers made it harder to fill this bracket than normal. But it’ll still be ready to go by Aug. 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The June Book Cover of the Month Begins!

June’s bracket has 30 new covers and the top two runners up from last month, The Lost Travencal by C.M. Jobe and The Other One by Amanda Jay are also back for their deserved second attempt at winning.

Last month, we went with a single tournament in which voters could vote through all the rounds at one time. Since it broke the record for most overall votes, I’m giving it another shot. I still feel it was taking a lot of energy though, so this month’s bracket will only be one week long. To make it work, I need your help. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

social-1206612_960_720
Image taken from Pixabay.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

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