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Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year In Review-Progress Report

2013 has been a rough year for me. Money was extra tight. I had to use money from my jury allowance from Federal Court in January to keep All About Marilyn and The Temptation of John Haynes in print this year.

In spite of my financial issues, I’ve published a lot of books, worked on a bunch of blogs and made every effort possible to expand my reading audience and make this work. Still struggling, but still making progress.

In 2013 I published the most books in the history of the SJS DIRECT imprint. Twelve titles written by me made their debut throughout this year. Those titles include:

5.     TheThetas

First book of 2013!
In addition to my books I also published the sequel to Lawrence Cherry’s Commencement. School of Hard Knocks:The Re-education of Jim Reid (Words by Lawrence Cherry, page layouts and cover by me)

Looking back at that list I can’t believe I wrote that many stories this year. I have to wonder if I’m a machine. Writing stories, designing covers, editing scripts, doing page layouts and uploading files for multiple books. Five years ago I barely published one book a year.

Five years before that I was broke. I only had one book in print, Isis and struggled to find a way to promote it while I looked for a day job. Now I’m managing a catalog of over eleven paperbacks and 38 eBooks. While I still look for a day job. I still feel like I haven’t done enough to get my work out there and, I’m still working towards getting to that next level.

Over the past year I’m getting a bit more comfortable with running a publishing imprint. I’ve got a handle on release dates and scheduling books for release, promoting titles and keeping books on a deadline.  On recent titles like School of Hard Knocks and Isis: All About The Goddess I was able to build a nice window before the title’s release to do pre-promotion on the blog.

I’ve also gotten a bit more editorial experience on working with clients like Larry. Over the past year, I’ve learned how to communicate with clients and how it’s an editor’s job to LISTEN to their writers and be there for them by giving them support and guidance so their books can be the best they can be. It’s never a writer’s job to re-write a writer’s work or to tell them how to write it. It’s an editors’ job to give them advice, make suggestions, and on occasion correct some grammar. The goal is to produce the best quality books and maintain the integrity of the work. I’m learning the editor has to believe in the writer and their work, in order for the relationship to work at a publishing house. If an editor doesn’t believe in a work, then they shouldn’t publish it.

On the suggestion of a friend, I split the summer YA campaign into two different promotions. One set of books on Smashwords and one set of books on Kindle in the KDP Select Program. Splitting the titles between booksellers was a smart move, I expanded my audience with both retailers.

 I published Lawrence Cherry’s second Novel: School of Hard Knocks: The Re-education of Jim Reid. A sequel to Larry’s first book Commencement, this powerful Christian title did very well as a Free title in the KDP Select program with over 1,000 downloads over three promotions this summer. Since the title was doing so well we moved it over to Smashwords this December. Larry’s not happy about the slow sales, but I’m telling him to give it time.

After a yearlong run on Kindle, Commencement made a return to Smashwords. Since it’s return Commencement has been downloaded over 3,000 times between Smashwords and its affiliates and has over 122 facebook likes.

getting a following!
The Isis series has done fairly well since its debut a year ago. This year Isis: The Beauty Myth has sold decently on Kindle and Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy is starting to build an audience there as well after a slow start this summer. Isis: Death of a Theta also struggled on its debut, but is starting to pick up a little momentum. Isis: All About the Goddess is building up some momentum since its debut. Readers seen to like the Isis series.

I will try to work on two new Isis books this year. Still running ideas in my head for them.

sleeper hit! 
A huge surprise hit was E’steem’s book. The free short E’steem: No Good Deed has received over 3,000 downloads on Kindle, Smashwords, itunes and Barnes & Noble. While some have complained about the length, they seem to keep coming back to download it.  

E’steem’s second book Deadly D’lilah received over 2,000 downloads on Kindle, Smashwords and their affiliates.

Unfortunately E’steem: Demons Anonymous flopped on KDP Select this month. Only 25 downloads L in a KDP Select promotion. Really disappointed in that. I put a lot of heart into that story and to see it perform so poorly was disheartening.

Not too popular :!
If I do any more E’steem stories they’ll be on Smashwords. That’s where her audience is.  I really want to do an E’steem series. I have fun writing her adventures. But the hardest part is getting readers to try her stories. I know many have an issue with the demon angle in her stories, but there’s no Satanism or Satan worship. But her stories are as harmless as a Harvey Hot Stuff comic.

Smash hit! 
My new novel, The Thetas has been a hit since its May debut. In the two free campaigns I’ve done with KDP Select the novel has received over 1000 downloads and has received positive reviews from readers. The book has performed so strongly that I feel confident enough about taking the title out of the KDP Select program and releasing the title on Smashwords and Nook later in 2014. I’d love to do a paperback run, but I don’t have the money for a full print run. If I do a print run It’d have to be through CreateSpace.

All About Nikki’s Second Season has performed well as a free eBook on Smashwords. Over there it’s one of the most popular books in my catalog with over 1,000 free downloads. On Kindle, not so hot. I’m going to have to regroup before I launch the Sensational Season 2 full edition this Summer.

On the Nonfiction front, Manginas-TheyLook Like Men But Act Like Ladies was the most popular Nonfiction book this year with over 1000 downloads. The Second part of the Simp Trilogy is not only a hit in America, but all over the world. Manginas has been downloaded in the UK, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany, and even far away as Australia and Russia!

Thanks to the popularity of Manginas I’ve met a lot of MGTOW/MRAs on Facebook and have been invited to join their groups.

The final part of the Simp Trilogy The Misadventures of Captain-Save-A-Hoe has been a breakout hit since its November Debut with over 100 downloads on Smashwords and 100 downloads on Smashwords affiliates in less than 30 days! Misadventures is well on its way to becoming just as popular as the other two books in the Simp Trilogy.

In addition to the dozen titles I published, I wrote over 200 blogs. That’s up from 2012’s 183 blogs.

In November, the blog celebrated it’s 200,000th hit on the web. Currently the blog has gotten over 230,000 hits. Over 100,000 of those this came in year.  I’ve had several days where the blog has gotten 700 or 800 hits. One day I almost hit close to 900. I’m hoping next year I can have that 1,000 hit day.

Several blogs continue to remain extremely popular since their publication:

Why Real Men Avoid Single Mothers is now the most popular article on the site with over 17,000 hits. Many MRA and MGTOW sites use that article as a reference or just discuss it. Some single mothers have written response pieces to that particular article.

The article The roles of Fathers in the lives of Children has over 4000 hits.

The article Why 70 Percent of Black women are Single has over 3000 hits. In addition to several comments and response blogs to that article Someone made videos in response to that article on YouTube.

Lots of people link to my blogs and I’ve gotten requests to use the in e-zines. I have no problem with people linking to my blogs as long as they give me a credit.

Following God’s guidance I’ve started writing more about Men’s issues on the blog. And I’ve helped a lot of guys and some girls get a better understanding of what it is to be a man. I’m proud of the Men’s issues articles and I really like sharing my wisdom with young men.

I’ve gotten several requests for blogs on relationships and Men’s issues and they’ve been hits. Blogs like Negro Bed Wenches and God send me a Man, were written after I received requests from readers. 

There will be more blogs on Men’s issues next year and I’ll be tackling more issues relating to things only a man knows about.

Unfortunately, with all the blogs on Men’s issues there have been detractors both male and female. I’ve had to deal with arguments from females in the comments section on blogs like What Women Don’t Know about Being The Side Piece, The Silence of Black women, and How Halle Berry Tarnished the image of Black women. I don’t mind a debate, but in a lot of cases I’ve had to check fools in the comments section. If I can I’ve had to follow up with a blog where I can turn that argument into a teachable moment.

I was forced to delete the blog Why Real Men avoid Single Mothers Part 2 because of people trying to take the subject off topic. I don’t like deleting topics but in this case I had no choice. In between the ad-hominem attacks, promotion of homosexuality, gay Marriage, Atheism, and Manginas looking for pussy points™ I had to shut it down. People are allowed to disagree but not to get personal. 

On the paperback front I continue to struggle with poor sales.  This year I had to discontinue All About Nikki-The Fabulous first season in paperback on Lightning Source due to no sales. The paperback while critically praised, never sold a single copy. Oddly, the eBook is a top seller for me. I guess Nikki’s audience is only a digital one.  I’ve kept a paperback edition of Nikki on CreateSpace, so I don’t lose all the money I spent on the ISBN and barcode ($179) and the Uploads ($120) and the maintenance fee ($24).

Thanks to donations from readers, I’ll be able to keep All About Marilyn and The Temptation of JohnHaynes on sale at online retailers in paperback for another year. I’m doing what I can to rally sales so I can keep these paperbacks in print, and I’m asking readers to help me out and buy a copy or two. All I need is four paperback sales on Amazon or Barnes & noble to keep these books on the market. These are great books, give them a try!

In addition to my work on the blog, I had the pleasure of contributing articles to the site I really enjoyed working on the features for that site and I’m looking forward to working with them in the future.

I also had the pleasure of working with Gabriel Foreman and the staff of the Monroe College Ecosystem on improving my LinkedIN profile and page. With their help I’ve updated my page to look more professional and be much more readable. Trying to expand my LinkedIN network, so check out my page over there.

A lot of people discovered the blog on Facebook, and Twitter over the past year. I’ve met a lot of great people over on Facebook and I'm getting more connected with my reading audience. 

 I had the pleasure of discovering Facebook Friend JM McSwain’s blogtalk radio show Tech Talk. Tech Talk is a great show where African-Americans talk about IT and computers.  I’ve promoted their shows on the blog because I believe in their program and I want to see more brothers and sistas in the IT field.

I finally managed to deal with my feelings regarding the job I lost at The City College of New York’s Science Library by writing a 25-page blog I published soon after my 40th Birthday. I had been depressed over the issue for five years and kept working towards my goals in spite of how I felt. After putting my experiences down on paper I’ve felt a little better. It still hurts, but I have to follow God’s order and Keep going. I’m glad to know I’ve helped a lot of Black men with that blog and showed them the numerous pitfalls to avoid when they enter the job market.

I’m getting a little better at making YouTube Videos. I’d love to do more of them on the regular, but until I can make enough money on books or find a full-time job to pay for a Verizon Smart Router, they’ll come sporadically. Right now I’ve got a lot on my plate and I’m working hard to get my books and myself to the next level.

2013 was a year with a lot of struggles. But I’m still trying to make progress. I’m giving away less and selling more. Building up my catalog. Books I release are able to stand on their own without book clubs or review copies. Titles are getting reviews from readers, and not just book clubs. I don’t have that best-selling novel yet, but I’m on my way. 

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