Progress Report-August 2014
Two steps forward, several steps back. Still Struggling to make progress.
I’ve been hard at work improving the quality on my books. I’ve heard the complaints about the covers and I’m doing my best to make sure future books have better quality covers.
I’ve spent most of the spring working on the cover quality issue. People have complained about the covers, and I’ve been working hard towards a solution. In the aftermath of the Isis series Kickstarter failure, I spent a good amount of time going through my closets. And after selling toy catalogs, toys, action figures, a Brooks Brothers shirt and a Ninja Turtle Pie wrapper on eBay I was able to raise the funds to pay an artist to draw the Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess cover.
Bill Walko of the Hero Busine$$ did a spectacular job on the cover. It really pops and tells a spectacular story. If I ever published an Isis comic, I definitely would hire him to do the art.
I’d love to work with Bill again, if I can raise the money I’d hire him to do another cover for the Isis series. His style is a great fit for Isis and captures the spirit of the character.
Response to the Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess cover has been extremely positive. Everytime I post it on social media such as Facebook and Twitter it gets a positive response from almost everyone who sees it.
Now I’m just waiting for sales. In spite of heavy promotion, Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube hasn’t sold a copy yet in paperback or eBook all summer long. I’m really urging people to pick up a copy of this story because it has all the action and humor of a big-budget superhero movie.
Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess is a follow up to Isis: The Beauty Myth, one of the best stories in the Isis series. The story reads like Marvel Studios’ The Avengers or an episode of Justice League Unlimited.
I put a lot of heart and soul into Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess and I’d love for readers to give this story a try. The writing is rock solid and the story flows smoothly from first page to the last.
To further improve the quality control on my books I’ve also been revising the previous Isis series books. Isis: Amari’s Revenge, Isis: The Ultimate Fight, Isis: The Beauty Myth, and Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy and Isis: All About The Goddess all were re-edited to fix typos, and grammar issues.
I want all the books published at SJS DIRECT to meet a standard for quality. I can’t guarantee a perfect book, but I want all the titles I publish to be the best they can be. I can honestly say Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess met the highest standard for quality when I published it in July. I spent six months editing, revising, and reading over the text line-by-line to make sure it was as good as any book published by a trade publishing house.
I want to produce more books that meet the high standard Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess met in terms of quality. I just need to see the money from readers.
Unfortunately, the Summer hasn’t been good for my eBook or paperback sales. Many of the books I launched for the summer reading season including Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess did not do well at all.
The Thetas while successful on Kindle, died on Smashwords and Nook. Lots of Facebook likes on the samples, but only one sale on Barnes & Noble through Smashwords.
I’ll release a Thetas paperback in September on CreateSpace and call it a day. I’m pulling the book from Smashwords and I’m hoping to take it back to KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited by Christmas.
All About Nikki The Sensational Second Season was a flop. The book DIED in digital format.
Due to some coding issues on Smashwords I was forced to pull All About Nikki Sensational Second Season from Smashwords and put it on Kindle Unlimited. Not wanting to leave Nikki fans hanging, I’ve given Smashwords readers a free Nikki eBook All About Nikki-All About Cliques featuring a story arc that’s part of the Second season.
From the anemic response Nikki’s last two eBooks have received I think readers are tired of Nikki and I’m just going to move on. So Season 2 will be the last in the series. I pondered doing a season 3 and even started writing a pilot episode, but I’m just gonna end that series. The season 2 finale is strong enough to serve as a series finale, so yeah, I’m just gonna move on.
In unrelated news an actress contacted me about All About Nikki. She likes the character and wants to play the role of Nikki Desmond. After I got a release I sent her a book. We’ll see where it goes.
As part of the Summer YA campaign The E’steem series seems to be going strong. E’steem: Faerie Tale has gotten over 400 downloads on Smashwords and E’steem: The Beast From the bowels is on its way to 200 downloads.
Why 70 Percent of Black women are Single a book based on one of my popular blogs did slow sales. Lots of Facebook likes, very few sales. Did get one UK sale, though.
Due to the slow sales of paperbacks I’m gonna pull the plug on the Lightning Source paperback editions of All About Marilyn and The Temptation of John Haynes at the end of this year. Five years is long enough for a book to stay in print, and with no sales this year, I’m just gonna move on. I’ll put up CreateSpace versions of those paperback editions but I’m just gonna charge both these books to the game and move on. It’s sad more readers haven’t discovered these great stories. Both these books were critically acclaimed when they debuted five years ago, but the sales unfortunately, have not been there since then. Thanks to readers of the blog last year they got a reprieve, but there comes a time when a writer has to put a period at the end of a story, even ones they love.
If you want a paperback copy of All About Marilyn or The Temptation of John Haynes head over to amazon.com or Bn.com NOW. Or send me $15.00 in the Paypal link at the top of the page and I’ll send you an autographed copy with free shipping. I have a couple of copies in my closet and I’m looking to clear them out. I might have a few Cassandra Cookbooks in there as well.
I hate discontinuing books, but there comes a point where a publisher has to cut their losses. If the customers aren’t there, then a businessman like myself just has to look at the dollars people aren’t spending and realize it’s throwing good money after bad. That’s money that could be better invested in other ventures.
Dealing with this sales slump has me working to regroup. During the summer I usually make most of my sales and most new readers discover my work. Unfortunately, this summer has been one of the worst I’ve had since I started SJS DIRECT in 2009. Everything just died after July, and I’ve been trying to work through the slump and get sales numbers back up.
I’m working on a plan to salvage the year with a holiday campaign. A major title in the catalog may be headed to Kindle Unlimited.
As part of meeting my goals for 2014 I’ve been doing YouTube Videos in the hopes of increasing my exposure. Hoping to get book sales and blog readers. So far I’ve done about 15 videos over the last few months. I try to post up about four or five videos a week during my trips to the library, but I’m gonna pull back to one this week.
The blog has broken past the 475,000 mark this month and is on its way to 500,000 hits. I’m averaging 1,000 to 2,000 hits a day these days.
This month, I started a new novel. Up to the tenth chapter. It’s the first new adult novel I’ve written in years. After writing and publishing so much Young Adult/Children’s fiction, I felt it was time to change things up.
I’m still struggling to make progress. Looking at the marketplace I see double-minded way of thinking of Black people. Black people say they want Positive Black literature, but I’ve yet to see the sales or hear from the readers in large numbers. I don’t know, maybe I’m not selling what Black audiences want. For all the TALK about wanting positive stories about the Black experience, more and more I see Black people buying street lit, supporting Hollywood Coons and buffoons like Nicki Minaj and making plans watch shows like Scandal. I want to stay in the game and continue providing an alternative to the Negro media minstrel show, but I’m not seeing much incentive to keep going.