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Monday, June 4, 2018

Progress Report

I’ve been working hard over the past six months. Pushing hard towards what I hope will eventually be a break.

This April I started launching the summer books of the SJS DIRECT 2018 Catalog. The first book, Isis: House of Isis sold better than I expected on Kindle and had some paperback sales.

I wasn’t expecting the book to do that well due to the generic cover, but to my surprise there was interest in the story where the goddess next door took on a Hustling Hotep High priestess in Harlem. From what readers are telling me they really enjoyed the story, especially the ending.

The second new book I released this year, Isis: Escape FromTransylvania featured a MASTERPIECE Bill Walko cover. I’d have to say this one was one of Bill’s BEST covers featuring Isis and John, I could easily see this one in a Scholastic catalog for kids of all ages to buy!

Isis: Escape From Transylvania was a strong seller, getting Kindle and paperback sales. And the feedback from readers has been extremely positive regarding Escape From Transylvania. Readers really enjoyed the story, and many want me to write another vampire story.  

Hot on the heels of the release of Isis: Escape From Transylvania there’s been a surge of sales for Isis: Bride of Dracula. Maybe people are catching up on the Vampire arc, or they’re catching up on the Isis series overall. But right now Bride of Dracula is and neck with Isis: All About The Goddess for the best-selling Isis series book overall.

With the success of the Vampire arc, I’m pondering releasing another vampire story in the future to flesh out the Vampire Lore in the SJS DIRECT Universe. Anyone interested in a Lilith Origin story?

Thanks to the surge of sales of Isis: Bride of Dracula, there’s been a surge of interest in John Haynes.  And that’s led to a surge of sales of The Temptation of JohnHaynes and The Man Who Rules The World. That interest in John Haynes is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to start a John Haynes series and give readers more stories featuring The Man Who Rules the World of the SJS DIRECT Universe.

The first story, John Haynes: A Conversation With Death will be Available on June 19th on Kindle and in Paperback! And to get readers to start picking up John’s series the Kindle edition will just be 99 cents! And the paperback will be priced lower than my regular Isis and E’steem series books to get people into John’s first story.

The summer catalog is going to be short this year. Originally after I released John Haynes: A Conversation With Death I had planned to release E’steem: The Sands of Time in June, but I’m going to hold off on releasing that book until the fall.  I’m moving some books around for a promotion I’m working on called Fantasy Flashback Fall I’m working on to revive interest in the flatlined SJS DIRECT FANTASY FLASHBACK series.

Originally, the SJS DIRECT FANTASY FLASHBACK series was supposed to focus on the past histories of characters like Isis and E’steem in different eras like Ancient Egypt, Ancient Nubia, and Jim Crow 20th Century America. So far I’ve only written one book in the FANTASY FLASHBACK series, Isis: Death of A Theta.  So releasing both books together will allow readers to jump on the FANTASY FLASHBACK series and learn something about Egyptian mythology and Black history while reading stories featuring their favorite heroes.

As part of the SJS DIRECT FANTASY FLASHBACK relaunch, I want to put Isis: Imitation of Life back on the schedule to be published in conjunction with E’steem: The Sands of Time. I believe launching both books together would give readers a chance to see how Black people were a part of Ancient civilizations and how Black people contributed to historical events in different eras.

Backlist Isis series books have had an increase in sales as well. Isis: All About The Goddess got some paperback sales and Isis: Wrath ofthe Cybergoddess has also had an increase in sales over the last few months in paperback and eBook. And Isis: Samurai Goddess has seen an increase in paperback and eBook sales as well. But the biggest surprise to me was seeing an Isis: The Beauty Myth Kindle sale. That book’s cover wound up on a lousy book cover website. But since it ties directly into Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess I guess someone picked it up. One day I’m gonna re-do the cover to Isis: TheBeauty Myth, but I just need to get the money together. I’ve got a fun comic book concept that I think people would enjoy seeing for that one!

I was surprised to see E’steem: Ascension picked up a few sales. I wrote that book off as a flop in the fall, but maybe it’s finally starting to get some momentum. I had a lot of fears about turning the Devilish Diva into the Aspiring Angel, but it looks like the response to E’steem’s new direction has been positive. E’steem’s powers may change but the concept will stay the same. The E’steem series will still have Lois Lane style premise, filled with action, humor and…wardrobe malfunctions.    

On the Goth side of the SJS DIRECT Catalog, there’s been a surge of sales for The Legendary Mad Matilda. I wrote this book off in the fall when it failed to get the sales Spellbound had in October, but it seems like people are starting to pick it up. I’ve also seen an increase in sales for Spellbound and Spinsterella, so it looks like readers are starting to find the Spinsterella trilogy. I’d love to do more Goth fiction featuring Sugar Hill’s Black Widow, but I just need to see the sales.

I’m pondering doing another Spinsterella story, but this one would be more All-Ages/Family oriented like the Isis and E’steem series books. The rough title is Spinsterella and the Spooky girl and this one would be Matilda helping her next door neighbor a little girl learn about the Goth Subculture.

I also picked up some sales of my Screenplay books All AboutMarilyn and All About Nikki. Now that streaming is a thing, I’d love to see both of these on Netflix Hulu or YouTube Red as a movie or a TV series. Marilyn and Nikki are designed to work around low budgets and would be easy to produce.

On the nonfiction side, the Simp series books continue to sell well, and these books continue to transform men’s lives. I continue to get messages on Facebook from one of my readers who told me how the Simp Series books change their lives and help them move their lives forward. Hearing from those men is one of the things that makes my day

Right now I’m working on a new nonfiction book, THE MAN CRISIS. Like STOP SIMPIN In The Workplace, I got inspired to write this book after making numerous YouTube videos about men participating in mass shootings. Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern regarding the backgrounds and behaviors of mass shooters and realized that this violence is a symptom of a trend with men across the country who have been falling apart due to the way they’ve been raised. I plan on going in depth on that trend in THE MAN CRISIS and giving people insight into why so many men are so troubled today.

In April I got an opportunity to make an appearance on the Obsidian Radio Show. To my surprise there was a lot of anticipation of my appearance on the show from the Black fantasy and Black sci-fi communities. Unfortunately, due to my lack of internet access due to my long-term unemployment I wasn’t able to do the show in April.

However, Thanks to Obsidian’s help starting the Shawn James Initiative I was able to get the donations from YouTube viewers to buy a Verizon Jetpack and a prepaid data plan. And On May 11, I did the Obsidian Radio Show. And the feedback to that show has been extremely positive. Many of my YouTube subscribers enjoyed the show and many more went on to buy books in the SJS DIRECT imprint as a result of it. I’d love to do more shows in the future and discuss Black fantasy and men’s issues and get the word out about my work in the genre. 

On the YouTube front, I passed 6000 subscribers in April. It looks like I’m building a serious audience on YouTube talking about Black fantasy, Black Sci-fi, The Comic book industry and Men’s issues. At this pace I have to wonder if I’ll pass 8,000 to 10K subs this year. I’d love to build a platform on YouTube to get more people reading Black Fantasy and Sci-fi. I believe if more black children read it, it’d open their imaginations and they could start seeing a past and a future with themselves in it and not see themselves through a White lens.

On the writing side I’ve been working on quite a few projects that I’m hoping will be part of the SJS DIRECT 2019 Catalog. These include:

Isis: All That Glitters. In this story the goddess next door takes on a bikini clad bank robber in Chelsea. This one is a fun story gives readers a fresh take on the Superheroes vs. Bank robbers premise and shows how heroes serve the communities they live in,

E’steem Goddess of? This one picks right up after E’steem: Ascension and has the Aspiring Angel taking on a demonic dominatrix named Avarisk The Tormentor.  This one is a showcase of E’steem’s new powers and is the start of the second E’steem series story arc,

And I’m in the middle of second draft of John Haynes: Dark Succubus. In this one John is tempted by a sultry she-demon who promises to make his dreams come true.

In addition to those stories I’d like to get to work on Isis: Revenge of the Cybergoddess. I started laying out the build for that story in the epilogues of Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem Ascension. And I had part of that book started when my computer crashed. Unfortunately, the file was lost. But I’m hoping to get back to work on that story soon. I got some big plans for D’lilah, and I need to get her back with her New Breed partners Vance and Carlotta to set them into fruition!

And I started writing my first comic script for an Isis graphic novel. This is an adaptation of Isis: All That Glitters. I’d have to say that writing comics is a LOT different than writing novelettes, having to describe the action going on in every panel to tell the story is quite the challenge. But I’m starting to get the hang of it. I would LOVE to offer an Isis graphic novel in the future. But it’d be a LOT of work. I’d have to find an artist to commit to the project, and I’d have to raise a LOT more money than I have for book covers.

Once I got the pages laid out, maybe I could do it through a publisher like Action Lab (I Love their Zombie Tramp Series, they’d be a PERFECT Fit for Isis) or Dynamite Comics (another place Isis would be a GREAT fit at). Then there’s the promotion to comic shops and comicons. It’d be a major challenge, but I’d be up for it.

I’d love to go to a Black comicon loaded up with an Isis graphic novel and SJS DIRECT books.  Would you buy some if you were there? Let me know.  

I’ve already done concept art for the covers of Isis: All That Glitters and E’steem Goddess of ?. And both those books are already uploaded to CreateSpace and Kindle. So it’s just a matter of raising the funds to pay for their covers to get them ready for release in 2019.

Speaking of Milestones, The Cassandra Cookbook will have its 10th Anniversary this year. And the SJS DIRECT 10th Anniversary is coming up soon too! I may have to do something special for both of them!

I started to pick up some momentum over the last six months. I’m hoping I can keep building on that momentum to get a big break. All the work I’m doing these days writing books, making videos, and promoting content feels like a full-time job. Maybe all the hard work I’ve put in over the past decade will finally start paying off sooner rather than later. 

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