Some quick notes on the book front, for those interested.
WARP!1 is still a thing. I’m trying to see if I can get the last bits of it nailed down and the layout finalized in time for Glitchcon, but it may not happen; if not, then OVGE is a real possibility (I know, I know, a video game convention is a great place to roll out a Star Trek guidebook, and it worked so well with the Doctor Who book a year ago!). You know me, I’d rather get it done right than get it done fast. It’s already way behind schedule for a variety of reasons, most of them on the homefront.
I have contacted the organizers of Konsplosion (Fort Smith, AR, September) and ComiCon-Way (Conway, AR, November) to discuss the possibility of bringing the Phosphor Dot Fossils panel to those events – the same setup I’ll have at Glitchcon and OVGE. This isn’t an announcement that I’ll be at either one for sure, just an acknowledgement that, yes, I’m in contact with them.
I am also working out the fine details of another local appearance (northwest Arkansas) that isn’t at a convention. Stand by for the details on that.
Now… for those wondering why an unemployed writer busts his ass trying to line up convention appearances that he can barely afford to travel to… let me put it to you this way: me doing appearances and panels at these shows, and selling my books and DVDs that I’ve made, are analogous to bands touring and selling merch after the show. Not only do I love doing the shows, but at the moment, this is my livelihood… yes… this, right here:
…me, sitting at a table, hawking books, signing them for folks, talking up the site and its various other projects. That’s what passes for my “job” right now. (And trust me, I appreciate each and every person who drops by and buys anything. One of the best parts about doing these shows is that, after I’ve done the most honest sales pitch that I can and some buys a book or a DVD from me, I get to look them in the eye and say “thank you.” Because I really mean that.)
Think of the children… the Dalek children.
This brings me to The Other Thing that I’ve been meaning to blog about. Two things, really. I also appreciate everyone who’s bought a book, some DVDs, or what have you online. I have one favor to ask:
I recently had something nearly fall through because I had no reviews of my sole published book to date to show off. I can go check my sales figures and see how many have sold; to someone thinking of paying me to write something for them, but sees a book with no reviews, it looks like no one’s read it, which doesn’t exactly help my case. I had to do some serious tap-dancing to salvage that situation. Without wanting to turn this into either a sob story or a bitch session, the best thing you can do to help an independent or self-publishing writer is word-of-mouth, and it helps if a review can be posted on Amazon or wherever the work is being sold. That’s sort of the unspoken bargain: you like an author’s work, you point other people in the direction of that author and his or her work. If enough people know about it and are paying for it, that’s an author who can devote all of his or her time to writing, instead of putting in for minimum-wage overnight janitorial gigs to make ends meet.
Just how important is word-of-mouth? My old resume, built over 20+ years in broadcast, doesn’t seem to be helping me much anymore, so your reviews of my work are my new resume.
Now… back to Amazon. Oh, Amazon. I couldn’t do what I do without Amazon – after all, the self-publishing house through which my first book is available is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon. And my site is supported by commission from product links pointing to Amazon. So I’m an Amazon booster… but sometimes I feel a little bit bent-over-a-barrel, like a Wal-Mart vendor who had to satisfy the demands of the head office in Bentonville in order to keep my stuff on the shelves. In the process of seeing that VWORP!1 still has no reviews, I also discovered the Amazon has deep-discounted it well below the asking price I set on Createspace. I had no say in the matter, and still have none, but the end result is that what’s being reduced in that price reduction is my take-home from each copy. The percentage I get from Amazon sales has always been lower than the percentage I get from direct sales through my site on Createspace; now it’s lower still. If I was getting widespread exposure, I’d say the payoff might almost be worth it; as it is, I’m just getting screwed.
So, in a writing/publishing sense, I am that band that comes through town every few weeks, selling tapes and CDs and T-shirts out of the back of the van after the encore. I make more money from a Createspace sale (see the link to your left!), or a book I purchase at cost and then sell to you in person at a con, than I do from an Amazon sale… but of course, they’re really one and the same, and Amazon is counting on the same thing that Wal-Mart counts on: that it’s too inconvenient for folks to make another stop at another shop and possibly pay a little bit more. That seems like a silly problem to have in cyberspace, but think about it: who wants to open another account at another site and remember another password? Amazon is counting on that being too much of a hassle for folks to mess with; they pocket the difference while I get an even-more-reduced-chunk of each sale than I signed up for.
Fun fact: about 1/5 of the copies of VWORP!1 that have sold to date have been bought by me, at cost, so I can sell ’em to you in person. It just seems like a much more honest living that way.
And I get to say thank you. Which is a big deal. Drop by and see me, and keep your eyes on the “events” listed on the left side of the page – I’m hoping to add more before the summer is out.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a home stretch to come roaring down on writing the next book. And then I can start the one after that. I’d love for this book-writing thing to be my full-time job. (Trust me, my long-suffering spouse would also like this. Little E’s about to start at a new school, and my wife would like nothing more than for me to be able to have this bizarre “job” that lets me work around his school hours without having to do the before-school/after-school care thing that costs extra. She also likes me being home so I can cook for everybody. I guess I’m a good housewife after all if she actually likes me cooking day in and day out, but I still need to be bringing some money in.)
Whether or not that happens is down to the choices people make when buying, and how much spreading-of-the-word they do afterward.