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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review (Progress Report)

I’ve been really busy on a couple of projects. So I haven’t had much time to blog. More on those next year! But here’s a rundown on 2014.

One of my BIGGEST Accomplishments of 2014!
2014 was a rough year for me. I ran into a lot of challenges and a lot of obstacles in my efforts to keep SJS DIRECT afloat. But in the face of all those challenges and obstacles I had to learn how to adapt and try new things in order to work towards achieving my goals.

Due to quality control issues I was forced to pull back on the number of titles I published this year. In 2013 I published a record 13 paperbacks and eBooks. This year I published half that number of books. The titles I published for 2014 included:

In an effort to continue to improve the quality of the books I’ve published I began taking more time to line edit my manuscripts, and even read passages and dialogue aloud to make sure they sounded right. And the results of more delibate editing have led to better quality. Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess and Isis: Power of the Princess were two of the cleanest books I’ve ever published. Almost error free. Almost.

In an effort to improve the quality of my covers I contacted Bill Walko of the webcomic The Hero Busine$$ (great strip I never miss) to commission a cover. Bill did a GREAT job on the Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess cover. He captured the spirit the characters in his art I’d love to work with him again in the future. I just need to get the funds together. If I can find a day job…

It was a lot of work to get the funds to pay for the Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess cover. That project taught me a lot about perseverance in the face of adversity. When my Kickstarter failed, I had to regroup to get the money to pay for the cover. I searched my closet and put parts of my action figure collection, toy catalogs from the American International Toy Fair and even a vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pie wrapper up on eBay to raise the funds to pay for the cover.

I had to sacrifice a lot of my childhood collectibles to build towards my future as a publisher, but if you want anything in life you have to give up what you have to get what you want.

While I made a lot of progress on quality control it’s been a struggle to sell paperbacks and eBooks these days.

I recently had to discontinue the Lightning Source editions of All About Marilyn and The Temptation of John Haynes. You can still buy paperback copies of those books on Amazon through CreateSpace now, and those editions are pretty much the same as the original.

I’m in the middle of a sales slump and I’m trying to regroup. Recently I just put The Temptation of John Haynes and Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess on Kindle Unlimited in an effort to get people buying books. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow those titles right now. With every borrow I get royalties.

Due to the sales slump I had to delay Isis: All About the Goddess going to Smashwords. Quite a few eBook titles had to go back to Kindle Unlimited like The Thetas. I hate making books Kindle Unlimited exclusive, but I have to go where the money and the readers are. You can still buy those books in paperback at Barnes & Noble, in order for me to take an eBook to other online booksellers like Smashwords or Nook, I need sales in those venues!

I started a new novel, and I’m building towards plot point one on it. I also am in the middle of an E’steem series story and an Isis series story. If you like Goths and Vampires, next year’s stories will be chock full of em!  

Still working towards a REAL All About Nikki Sitcom. Stuff is in the works. Due to poor sales on the eBooksI had to stop at Season 2. But I did start a Season 3 episode. I may just finish it and release it. If the response is strong, there might be a season 3…But right now I’m in the middle of the Isis series. Ten books in and I’m just getting started on the run. Wonder Woman fans…these would have been some of the kinds of stories you would have gotten in my proposed run!

Next year I will be doing more blogs on on Fantasy, Sci-fi and comic books. I’m redoubling my efforts to get Black children to start reading African-American science fiction and fantasy. I believe the earlier we get kids seeing Black characters in fantasy and science fiction stories they’ll start seeing themselves in those kinds of careers when they get older.

And there will be more blogs focused on comic books. The recent feature on Simpin & Trickin in Archie Comics and John Walker the Crazed Captain America were a test of a new feature I’m planning.

The new feature will be about Comic storylines that meant a lot to me as a kid growing up. A Marvel 80’s feature comparing and contrasting all the changes to DC’s New 52 is finished and ready to go and all I have to do is take the picture.

Pictures are a new feature I’m adding to blogs in the hopes of getting readers’ attention.

I’ve been doing a lot more videos on YouTube as well. Some have been about the African-American community, but what I’ve seen from the stats is that the videos I do talking about Black fantasy and science fiction get a lot more hits than the ones I do on Black issues. That’s going to be my primary focus for 2015. Again, I want to do more to get Black children reading Black fantasy and science fiction. There’s a growing audience for those videos, and I’ll be creating more content to get people focused on books like the Isis series and the E’steem series.

I did a video about how Salli Richardson-Whitfield’s acting influenced my work and she favorited on it Twitter! It was also shared by friends in her network! That made me smile! One of the high points of my year. Salli Richardson-Whitfield is the inspiration for E’steem and I’ve always wanted to tell her how much her work influenced mine, and I finally met one of my personal lifelong goals.

Oh, and the blog is getting closer to the millionth hit. Avergaing between 2,000 and 3,000 hits a day. Some days are at 4,000 to 5,000 hits, but that’s a long way from the days of just 100 hits five to six  years ago.

2014 was filled with a lot of challenges. However in spite of all my struggles I continued to make progress. Every goal I set at the beginning of the year I accomplished, and that meant a lot to me. I’ve been working on a shoestring for the last couple of years and doing my best to make something out of nothing. Don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this, but I’m going to do what God says and Keep going…

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