Presenting The New Chapter Icons For Betrayed!

Presenting The New Chapter Icons For Betrayed!

Greetings all,

As Betrayed gets closer and closer to release, I’m starting to gather everything I need. One of those things is art! I haven’t had Carlos start working on the cover yet (saving up money), but I was able to commission the chapter icons for the new POV characters.

First, I’d like to introduce you all to Ignacio. I sent out feelers on Twitter, and he responded. I looked at his work, and it was a pretty easy decision after that.

Ignacio was wonderful to work with. I sent him some rough sketches I made, and he came back with wonderful images. The image for Zac (below) took a few attempts. You see, his chapter icon is an actual element of the story. It’s a patch for Zac and Dom’s old unit, and it’s also a tattoo that Zac has on his arm. So I needed a much more literal representation of the thumbnail I originally sent. The down side was that the concept wasn’t actually an artistically interesting. That’s because most military patches aren’t exactly works of art. But where I was worried I’d annoy him or frustrate him, Ignacio took it in stride and sent me at least six different versions of the idea for me to choose from.

This patience is what really stands out to me. As an artist myself, I know how possessive people can be about their work, and Ignacio was nothing but polite and responsive. Folks, if you’re looking for art, you should consider looking him up.

Now that I’ve raved about his professionalism, it’s time to show off his actual work! I proudly present the new (additional) chapter icons for Betrayed.

This is the image for Dom. Dom was a side character in Caught, but he gets a starring (if not leading) role in Betrayed.

His story was the inspiration for the title and general overall structure. Dom has the heart of a patriot.

In this story, Dom is yet again pushed and hurt by the nation he so earnestly wanted to serve and protect. This image is designed to represent a batter soldier still loyally carrying an equally battered American flag.

This image is for Mariana. Mariana is Zac’s daughter.

She is introduced in this book and only has a small role, but her story is just beginning.

This book only hints at the role she’s going to have and how her story is going to affect her. This image represents the idea of a young girl whose innocence has just started to wither. Mariana is very different than Kaitlyn. The interesting dynamic in Betrayed is her relationship with her father. She’s currently in a world where she only knows love and kindness. That world is absolutely going to change.

Here is the previously-mentioned challenging logo. It was only challenging because I needed such a specific rendering. This logo represents Zac. This patch was his (and Dom’s) unit patch.

Zac loved this patch (and the team mates associated with it) so much he tattooed it on one of his arms. The shield and lightning bolts were inspired by the Army Special Forces patch. I replaced the sword with the number nine (Special Operations Unit Nine).

Zac and Dom were best friends before Dom was “recruited” to be a part of a “special operations training unit.” This was all part of what happened long before Caught. Now, years later, Zac is called on a mission that will force him to choose between his loyalty to his country and a friendship that parted ways years ago.

Please respect the copyright I hold on these images. I’m happy to present them to you here, but I ask that you don’t copy or reproduce them without my expressed permission.

That said, what do you think? Do you have a favorite? I’m actually torn between Mariana’s and Dom’s. I haven’t really decided yet, but I love them both. Please take a moment to hop over to Ignacio’s Twitter page and give him a follow and maybe tweet him a message telling him what you think of his work.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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

An Update on Hazel and Other News!

An Update on Hazel and Other News!

Greetings all,

CoverHazelI’m happy to announce that Hazel is scheduled for shipping in February (I don’t have an exact day yet)!

To maximize exposure and get the product out there as quickly as possible, we’ve teamed up with another creative team. That means both of our stories are going to be split up over more issues. We’re still going to print each issue as a solo product, but that will come later.

We’re keeping the name of the flip book out for a while longer, but I’ll be sure to announce that when we’re given the green light as a whole. Issues 1 and 2 of Hazel are done, and Collin is a few pages into Issue 3.

So splitting these stories up allows us to get the story out more quickly while allowing Collin the time he needs to do all the insane work he’s doing.

We’re proud of Hazel and what her story is. I’m personally hopeful this endeavor is successful enough that they are willing to advance Collin for the other Hazel story Collin and I worked on. Whatever comes of it, I’m glad to see another project hitting the tables.

Want to help? The best thing to do would be (if you’re a fan of comics) to contact your local comic stores (when we release the title of the project). Tell them you’re interested in the comic. Tell them to bring copies in. The more stores who order copies of the book, the more successful the book will be.

I’ll naturally have copies available at any conventions too.

I hope you’re all looking forward to seeing it as much as I am.

StealingFreedom_ACXI’m also happy to announce that Stealing Freedom is officially available on Audible!

This is just Lisa and J.M.’s narration from The Power of Words, but it’s only about two and a half hours. So if you have a drive that long, I think it’s a perfect audiobook for the trip!

Last but not least in any manner is that in honor of the Halloween season, Caught is on sale for 99 cents! If you haven’t given it a try yet, this is a pretty good chance to read a great book for less than a dollar.

On a final note, I made a commercial! This is a commercial I made for Bob Drifter. It’s just another tool I want to sharpen to see if I can’t spread my name out there in another way.  Give it a look and offer me your thoughts. If you’re an author, and you’d like me to make one for you, I’m willing to do so for $30 (It does take a few hours to put these together, and that price is just a bit under minimum wage).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Cover Reveal: Stealing Freedom Ebook (and Audiobook)

Cover Reveal: Stealing Freedom Ebook (and Audiobook)

Greetings all,

About a year ago, Heidi Angell, T.W. Iain, Richard Drake, and I released The Power of Words, an anthology dedicated to the First Amendment. My story for that collection was Stealing Freedom, and fun heist story about a mother who’s planning to shut down the servers that ruthlessly enforce the prohibition of speech and communication on her planet.

As per the agreement we had on that anthology, we’re allowed to release our individual stories (the anthology will remain available) after a year.  In preparation for that, I’ve commissioned my artist, Carlos Villas, to do the cover.  So, without further delay, I proudly present to you the cover to Stealing Freedom, scheduled for release Oct. 1, 2019.

StealingFreedom

 

It always amazed me to see what Carlos does with my concepts.  For those who are interested, take a look at my request and little thumbnail:
THumbnailI told him, “The frame is from the bridge of a girl-child’s nose to just below the collar bone. Around her neck is a metal (techno-looking) collar about an inch thick. Blue electricity is arcing around the collar which is visually undone.”

Carlos patiently went through 13 drafts of the image until we got to the image you see above. The bulk of the revisions were in getting the collar to where we wanted it and then getting that arcing light to look perfect.

He did all that work in perhaps a week? If you’re an author looking for a dedicated artist who will eagerly take direction and produce that level of work quickly, I couldn’t recommend Carlos highly enough.

Once I got the final image, I located a font I liked and designed the overall cover with the author and title text. One may argue my author text is a bit dark, but on a monitor it works out fine. I’d be more worried if it were for a print cover (as printing brings up color and density issues), but if my color-challenged eyes can make it out, I’m confident others can see it. I downloaded the font (for free) and placed everything.

The Audible cover (yes, the audio version of this novella will also be available (I hope) Oct. 1.) was more challenging.  In order to keep everything I wanted, I had to place the text over the face. My options were to put text over the face or crop the face out. I opted for the first choice.

StealingFreedom_ACXOnce more, you can expect Steal Freedom to be available on Kindle and Audible Oct. 1 (give or take a day or two).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Hazel: Check Out A Project I’m Working On!

Hazel: Check Out A Project I’m Working On!

45406594_10156754723897460_1114028307998834688_n
All art and images are copyright of Collin Fogel. Any use of these images without his consent are subject to legal action. 

Greetings all,

So I’ve been sort of quiet about this as I was waiting for a few things, but, now feels like a great time to make this announcement (also, I didn’t know what else to blog about)!

Remember Collin Fogel? He was the artist who did the covers to The Journals of Bob Drifter series.  He’s also a very dear friend of mine. We were inseparable in junior high school. When we were kids, we were going to work on this amazing comic book together.  He’d do the art. I’d write the story.

Dreams come true.

Collin has been working on Hazel for quite a while, and a few months ago, he invited me to be a part of this project with him. There was no way I was going to pass that up. So he’s handling the art, and I, just like we talked about when we were kids, wrote the story.

So, with some art to show off thrown in, here is a bit of information:

45003791_10156740898697460_7981328569286524928_nMega cities have become refuges for humanity and continue to rise above the Earth’s surface, built upon the decayed husks of the ages before. Those lower levels are supposed to be vacant. DBTS is tasked with patrolling those lower levels to ensure nothing happens to threaten the stability of the world above. Those lower levels are a safe haven for a variety, though small in number, of people. They are: The criminals, who seek a base of operations and little-used paths to the city above. The exiles who simply can’t afford to live anywhere else or don’t want to be surrounded by the masses from the population above. The malcontents, who’ve been cast out of the society above.  Hazel hates them all, especially the criminals. It was their actions which caused the collapses in the world above. It was their actions that caused the death of her mother, and it was the criminals who were trying to escape justice who killed her father. Patrolling the Deep Block is how she protects the world above from the things that destroyed her life.

Hazel, is the newest DBTS agent. She’s obsessed with being the best, thus proving she’s worth the lives of the parents who died to save her.

45647078_10156764770742460_5772672827371028480_n

We don’t have a release date as yet. Right now we’re just getting everything together and seeing what companies might be interested. Still, I think Hazel is a fun, character and her story is packed with action. I hope to be working with Collin on a few Hazel arcs, but time will tell.  I wouldn’t pound the refresh key looking for Issue 1. Collin is a very busy husband and father, and he’s doing all of this incredible work on his own time when he isn’t wrangling his kiddo. But just look at this work? Isn’t a full story arch of this quality worth a wait?

I hope you’re all excited to see it.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month, and thanks to some last minute voting, it had a pretty decent turnout. This month was honestly slow (especially compared to last month), but that made it a pretty close, exciting competition.

We had 2,226 votes this month.

Close as it was, one book came out in front and managed to stay there.

The February Book Cover of the Month is…

 

 

51QO4TqqorL

 

 

Trial of Chains by Sohan Ahmad! 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!

Ahmad received 578 total votes. The other noteworthy detail is Ahmad was last month’s runner up. That’s only happened once to my immediate recollection, but it shows finishing second and getting a second chance can pay off.

Speaking of finishing in second, Star Mage Exile by J.J. Green was this month’s runner up, which means Green will get another shot just like Ahmad did.

Ahmad made the most of his second shot, so he’s moved on to the Book Cover of the Year Bracket.  Let’s look at the summary for his book.

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

Born to rival kingdoms, young Cyrus and Sebastian seek to end the hatred between their people. One, a bastard slave with king’s blood, thirsts for the freedom of the other, a lord’s half-common son who curses the title left by his dying father. But before they can attempt a feat not achieved by history’s greatest kings and queens, enemies emerge from within their walls.

When an ambitious slaver catches Cyrus’s father with a damning secret, the southern king sells his bastard in exchange for silence. Now, Cyrus must fight for freedom and a place to call home. Meanwhile, Sebastian’s elder brother turns his jealousy into murder, and Sebastian must evade an assassin whose eyes are more dreaded than steel.

Hunted by shackles that break free will and shadows that slay, Cyrus and Sebastian will have to dirty their innocent hands if they are to survive long enough to free the realm from a thousand years of war.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Trial of Chains 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 buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought January and December’s book.


Feb_Cover_CollageHere’s
 Ahmad’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. I’m still  behind my interviews, but I’m hopeful my vacation can give me a chance to get caught up.

The March Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch April 1. Things are finally going to get back to normal after the end of the year.

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

Announcing the January Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the January Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

December started us off on the right foot, and January doubled down on the fun. We had a tremendous turnout, and it’s in no small part thanks to this month’s winner.

We had 5,716 votes this month.

I’ve never seen an author come out and summon his supporters like this author. It was honestly impressive watching all the people he called on respond. I wish I had a loyal following like that.

The January Book Cover of the Month is…

 

51WBNePLngL

 

 

 

Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis! 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!

Cull received 578 total votes.
Because February only has twenty-eight days, The four runners up get a second chance next month. They are:

Trial of Chains by Sohan Amad, Gravitas by Ben Mason, Symphony of Fates by JC Kang, and Burn the Ashes by Heather Shahan.

 

For Davis, he doesn’t have to stress over another “tryout” bracket. He’s in the main Book Cover of the Year Bracket.  Let’s look at the summary for his book.

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

 

“A modern fantasy with a touch of noir, a dash of detective thriller, and a sprinkling of humor throughout. A really fun debut novel.”–Steve Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of MONSTER

Janzen Robinson is a man torn between two worlds. Five years removed from a life as an apprentice to a group of do-gooding heroes who championed the fight against supernatural evils, the once-promising student is now a package courier going through the daily grind, passing time at a hole-in-the-wall bar and living in a tiny, run-down apartment on the south side of Cleveland, Ohio.

Then fate (or a case of bad timing) brings him face to face with a door that’s got his old life written all over it. From the ancient recesses of unyielding darkness known as the Abyss, a creature has been summoned: a Stalker, a predator whose real name is forbidden to be spoken aloud. It’s a bastardization of the natural order, a formidable blend of dark magic and primal tenacity. Its single-minded mission? Ending the life of a fiery, emerging young witch.

Thrust into the role of protector, a role once reserved for those he’d lost years ago, the out-of-practice “Artificer” not only has to return to a life he’d left behind, but must relive that painful past while facing down the greatest threat to come to our world in a century. Janzen will have to journey through the magical underbelly of the city and not only stay one step ahead of an unstoppable monster hellbent on destruction but try and figure out why it’s been brought to our world in the first place. Past wounds are reopened as Janzen looks to old friends, a quiet stranger, and his own questionable wits to see them all to the other side of this nightmare that may cost him his life and, quite possibly, the world itself.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Blunt Force Magic 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 buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought December’s book.


Here’s
 Davis’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. I’m still  behind my interviews, but I’m hopeful my vacation can give me a chance to get caught up.

The February Book Cover of the Month is all set, and that contest will launch March 1. Things are finally going to get back to normal after the end of the year.

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

A December Book Cover of the Month Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.

As I type this, we have 2,890 votes so far. That’s a bit slow, but there’s still room to get to what’s normal.

51DVkAZG--LKnock and You Will See Me, by Andrew Cull took an early lead and hasn’t let it go. I’ve seen this a few months in a row now. Most hold that lead, but some covers have managed to catch up. Besides, it’s not nearly as dramatic a lead as it might appear.

Most Voted on so far: Knock and You Will See Me has the most total votes so far with 200.

Least Voted for: A Glitch in the World by BAlex Drozd. This cover has 47 votes. I’d like to see it get a bit more support.

Cull has a commanding lead in the Finals, but his lead in other rounds isn’t so comfortable. He only has a 10-vote lead over Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi. His lead over Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren is a bit more comfortable, 13.  If either of those books overtake Cull in the earlier rounds, Cull loses his place as the champion. If Either book overtakes Cull, Maaren would actually become the leader.

51UoprSPFpLA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been an amazing tournament to watch thus far, and I hope readers continue to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The December Book Cover of the Month Begins

The December Book Cover of the Month Begins

DEC_Cover_CollageI’m typing this in advance because it’s the holidays, and I want to stay on top of things as we have a bunch going on. I want to thank you all (assuming the Book Cover of the Year went even half as well as I think it will) for your participation in that bracket, and I hop you have a bit more left. I promise, once we get through the January bracket, things will slow down to their normal pace.

December’s bracket has 32 new books. I started fresh and picked all 32 covers, but this month’s runner up will get the final slot in the January bracket.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. 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.

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