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Status Update - April, 2024

OK, well, April was even busier than March and February. Like, seriously busy.

The Revenant And the Cult, Book One

Yes, the first book is now available for pre-order. The release date is May 21st (I think I mentioned that in the last update). Amazingly, this time around, I had very few problems getting the book set up with Amazon, or getting back proofs from Ingram Spark (who prints and distributes my paperbacks). The audiobook is available at most outlets, though at the time of this writing, it has yet to show up on Kobo and Audible. I'm not sure why there's a hold-up at these sellers.

It's a relief to finally get this out to market. Now, all I have to do is worry about whether the book is a flop or not. Normally, I'd be running ads to generate pre-orders right about now, but funds have been a little on the low side. April was tax season, of course, and I had to spend a chunk of money. Likewise, in addition to paying off a bunch of people who contributed to the creation of the book, (the narrator, the cover artist, the formatter, and so on), I had other expenses that I didn't expect. More on that a little later.

While the release date is on May 21st, attendees at Superheroes Con in West Branch, Michigan, will get a special treat: they will have a chance to purchase the book BEFORE it's actual release date. I have a limited number of books available, and after they're gone that's it.

Oh, and I commissioned an artist - Jason Gant - to commemorate the book with some art that I turned into a bookmark. I met Jason on a YouTube drawing competition that I co-host every Thursday (called "Drawn & Quartered Ultimate Edition"), where he competes as a semi-regular attendee. He does these white-on-black illustrations that I just love, so I asked him to create something for the bookmark.

As with all of my other bookmarks, these will be available with the purchase of a book via some of the events I attend. And...more on that later as well.

The Revenant And the Cult, Book Two

I did very little with the second book in the duology outside of updating some edits. You'll understand why with the rest of the update. I intend to go over the manuscript starting mid-May - the beginning of June at the very latest. As for a target release date, this is still up in the air. The reason for this will be explained below. It's coming, but you'll need to bear with me for the time being.

Book 5

Well, I made my way to chapter 8, and that's where I sat by the end of the month. The book is going good but I did run into a few theological issues with the main character. I may have to change the character's backstory to make it work and avoid any claims that I'm spreading heresies. Yes, I know it's just a Fantasy story. Even with that, there are limits to where I can go, especially with the overall theme that I've chosen. But, don't worry. After quite a bit of contemplation, I've figured out a way forward that should work. I'll be less cryptic when I have a story with a little more heft.

That being said, with the workload of April and what I'm facing in May, progress may be slow at first. The next section is part of the reason why.

I'm Now a Business

The conventional wisdom for authors is that you probably shouldn't start a business until you're making, say, $2,000 a month on your writing (or around that amount). Well, there's one little problem with that train of thought: event sales. If you're in a state that has a sales tax, you may need an EIN number to report that income. And they don't just hand out EIN numbers to anyone. I had to establish a business entity to facilitate my attendance at other conventions and live events. So...I created a company and made things official.

And, creating a company costs money. So, guess where some of my available funds have gone?

There were other reasons to establish a business presence, though I'm not going to discuss them at present (if at all). I will say that the desire to do more direct sales from something like a website figured heavily into my decision. When I sell things like paperbacks on Amazon, I make a pittance of what I could make selling them direct for the same price. But, in order to do that, I need to charge sales tax, which - as I mentioned before - requires me to establish a business in the state I reside in (Michigan). The same applies if I want to crowdfund a book.

There is a bunch of stuff that I'll be doing in May and June to solidify the operations of the company. It means getting an accountant, setting up bookkeeping, setting up a new business banking account, and a bunch of reporting that I still need to do. And, of course, that's going to cost money as well.


Did You Mention Crowdfunding?

Yes...I mentioned "crowdfunding."

Given that having a business opens a bunch of doors for me, I've started looking at additional avenues for getting my books into the hands of readers. One popular method, it seems, is to run a Kickstarter for your book. Brandon Sanderson did it with his "Secret Projects," releases, and raked in tens of millions of dollars. So, if Brandon Sanderson can do it, I certainly can cash in on that bucket of money, right?

No...I'm not that delusional.

I did a little bit of poking around and noticed that there were a lot of authors making decent money for their releases - some on their first release ever! I examined what was being offered in these campaigns and started looking at the numbers internally, seeing how I might be able to fit into that space.

However, to explain my reasoning here, let me take a step or two back. The one problem I have with selling books direct to the customer - say, from my own website - is the yearly costs of maintaining a storefront on the Internet. You have to have a provider that allows you to do online transactions (I have one of those), and one that will process online payments. Then there is the service that calculates shipping. ALL of these elements have a yearly price tag that, when combined, cost me nearly $1,000 a year just to maintain. This is the tradeoff you make when you sell your stuff through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Yeah, they pay you a fraction of what you could make online. However, you don't have to pay for or maintain all of the infrastructure required to have a presence on the Internet.

Plus, there is a trust factor when it comes to buying something from an author's site. People know what they'll get from Amazon. They know that Amazon is a fairly secure site. The trust threshold is higher for smaller sites which is an inhibitor of sales. Going with a site like Kickstarter offers a little more assurance that they're not being scammed when they buy my books. Plus - and this is important - I can tailor what things I need (like shipping) to support a campaign, without it being a constant yearly bill that needs to be paid.

I've been debating about just exactly how I'm going to dip my toe into the crowdfunding pool. One thought was to offer the combined The Revenant and the Cult books up as a specialized hardback edition. I've done a lot of research recently as to what I'd put in, and how I could get that to happen. I was thinking a nice, illustrated edition with a bunch of frills you don't get in my paperbacks (for a variety of reasons). Again, I'm spit-balling ideas, but this one in particular appears to have promise.

Unfortunately, if I go this route, I may have to delay the release of the paperback, eBook, and audiobook until early 2025. So, that's another thing I have to weigh.

None of this was planned when I split the book up initially. I had no interest in crowdfunding, and I wasn't planning on starting a business back in 2023. But that seems to be the way things go with me. I sort of stumble from one idea to the next, and a few of them pan out.

Again, this is still being weighed as an option. It's attractive, but it's not assured. I'll keep you all informed as time goes on.

In Conclusion

So, as you can see, a LOT has gone on in April. I expect May to be just as hectic.

I have an appearance lined up in May at Superheroes Con, in West Branch, Michigan. I'm also looking into other Con appearances. Keep an eye out on my Event Calendar (hosted on Facebook for...reasons) for updates.

And that's all for now.

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