Thursday 23 November 2023

Facebook ad for Richard The Third

Some people boast of great success with their Facebook ads, and I am so lackadaisical that I have no idea how well mine have done, if indeed they've ever achieved anything. Let's see how well this latest one does. Set at £2 a day for 7 days, I shall keep an eye on it and see if it turns into sales. The ad links to my website which has, at the top of the page, the links to buy the books. We shall see what that does. State of play on first morning looks like this:

I've reached 850 people and had one Link Click so far, which has cost me 82p. Coincidentally I've sold one copy of the book today (D2D gives me up to the minute updates, I've sold 22 copies so far this month).

My previous ad, as you can see, managed 4957 reach, and 124 clicks. Coincidentally Midsummer Nights Dream Team (for that is the advert's subject) has sold 14 books, which is more than the unadvertised others (FM 9, PODS 7, Tales from The Bible 3). Let's keep monitoring this correlation (or indeed coincidence). Remember, Richard sold 21 copies in 3 weeks without an advert.

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy - Barnes & Noble - Waterstones

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy - Webtoons
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon Webtoons
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Tuesday 21 November 2023

My first Webtoon & other distractions

At last I had what looked like a week at my desk rolled out in front of me, when I could finally get some proper work done on the new Midsummer Nights Dream and other creative projects, after weeks of schools and other travel (which meant I've not put pencil to paper since October 30th. That's three whole weeks! See worksheet here.

So what did I do? I did what I always do, I got distracted. This time I got distracted by a suggestion someone had made at LFCC two weekends ago - why not do a Webtoon? I have no idea how one monetises a webtoon, maybe someone can clue me in on that. But because it was suggested by someone who's a very successful self-publisher (though not, it must be said, of webtoons) I gave it a go. It won't take long, I thought, to convert and upload The Book Of Esther. It took all day.

But it's up there now, should you choose to read it. Here is my Comic Tales From The Bible page on Webtoons, please enjoy, like and share. 

Getting distracted by other people's suggestions is something I'm rather prone to at this time of year. You'll recall two years ago I was so inspired by Tony Lee's "they don't have to be well written" speech that I had my first unsuccessful stabs at writing a crime novel (still not got the buggers out there) then got sidetracked into making colouring books. And where did that get me? Well, as this blog post records, by October 2022 I was selling a rather promising 65 books a month and had just sold 11 books in one day. Then in November 2022, as this post records, I had my Amazon KDP account closed, never to be reopened.

Though I've got most of the books back out there, via Lulu (for the colouring books) and D2D (for the graphic novels), they sell a fraction of what they were doing direct through Amazon. But that ship has sailed. And, on a more positive note, Richard The Third (published through D2D) has already sold 75 copies in a month and a half, which is more than any of my previous graphic novels sold online through any route. Also I spotted this today...

Yes, Richard The Third is available through Waterstones. Though it might take 5 weeks to arrive, so if you want it for Christmas, get it from me!

Updates that should put further nails in the coffin of the colouring books are that I appealed to Amazon KDP again this week, after a year, and was told "Our Amazon Content Review Team has re-reviewed this matter and they are upholding the decision to terminate your KDP account. On 11/08/2022 and 11/11/2022, we explained the reason for terminating your KDP account. We will not discuss this matter any further or provide additional insight." 

Also my Punk & New Wave Colouring Book stopped being available on Amazon via Lulu. I was told, by Lulu "We were notified by our distribution partner that your title was rejected for being a low content book. Amazon does not allow these books to be sold on their site any longer, but you can still sell through our bookstore"

So, colouring books were a distraction that was fruitful for a year, then a curse. Webtoons is a distraction that wasted a day, but you never know might reach someone I'd never reached before. Richard The Third remains the most popular thing I've done yet. And those crime novels are waiting to get finished and get out there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must resume work on Midsummer Night's Dream. Check the worksheet to see if I end up doing anything. (Reader, I ended up drawing 5 pages)

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy - Barnes & Noble - Waterstones

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy - Webtoons
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon Webtoons
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Monday 13 November 2023

November book sales - starting with LFCC

Here we see me, all set up for the London Film & Comic Con at Olympia in London, Nov 11 & 12. It's my third time at the event, and for some reason I thought my table would be enhanced by pinning a bit of Star Wars material to the front. How rubbish did that look? Not that it hurt sales, as this ended up being my biggest weekend of book sales all year.

The event didn't attract art buyers, so my Dr Strange, Star Trek, Beano and Red Dwarf pages went largely ignored (unlike NICE, The Lakes, and the last LFCC, where art sales amounted to the bulk of my takings). Here are my takings from book sales alone:

Saturday £178.80, Sunday £219.83

Richard The Third - 12
Findlay Macbeth - 9
Colouring books (various) - 8
Prince Of Denmark Street - 7
Scottish Falsetto Socks Superheroes - 5
Scottish Falsetto Socks Annual (new) - 4
All 3 books - 4
Midsummer Night's Dream Team - 3
Tales From The Bible - 2

A little earlier, on Nov 2nd, I'd done a class for Bridges Centre Monmouth, at Green Room in Chepstow, where I sold Richard The Thirds to parents afterwards, with the centre meeting half the costs, so the families got the books for £3 each. 23 books for a total of £153.77.

Live book sales Nov = £552.40

October £86.93, September £965.55, August £565.49, July £460, June £304.50

D2D Nov sales - tbc

Oct - $90.48, Sept - £0, August $4.23, July $7.39, June $6.03, May $1.86, April $1.52, March $2.46, Feb $0, Jan $4.10

Lulu/Amazon Nov sales - tbc

October - £14.23, September - £18.76, Aug £33.34, July £27.60, June £29.94, May £48.33, April £52.26, March £8.56, Feb £38.57, Jan £35.25, & Dec £26.84

Blurb Nov sales - tbc

October - 39p, Sept - £1.29, August £0, July £1.17, June £0, May 74p, Apr £9.12, Mar £3.13, Feb £3.21, Jan 12p

Etsy Nov sales - tbc

October - £51.92, Sept £0, August £13.98, July £48.93, June £55.92, May £58.05, Apr £171.05, Mar £80.86, Feb £44.50, Jan £82.86

Friday 10 November 2023

Who Licked My Toes? - comics by kids

This week's Comic Art Masterclasses included the first classes I've done in Chepstow, which is nice, and some zig zagging between Dorset and Buckinghamshire (which, bizarrely, despite being three hours apart in bad traffic, are both in the same zone for BBC Breakfast local news. Not interesting, but true.)

Bridges Centre in Monmouth works with kids with kids who are out of school for various reasons, and the class was supposed to take place at Drybridge House (where our Monmouth Society of Authors meetings take place). It was moved to the Green Room in Chepstow, making it one of the easiest classes to get to. In contrast, the very next day I flew off to Bahrain, to work in Saudi Arabia, which is a subect for another blog.

The Swanage School in Dorset has the definite article in its name which, since I've missed it out of their comics, I ought to mention now. They were kind enough to take me for two days. But, thanks to a scheduling inevitability, the two days couldn't be consecutive and saw me travelling to Buckinghamshire inbetween days. 

Furze Down in Buckingham was a return visit for me. But somehow, in the intervening years, I'd forgotten that it was a special needs school. Had I remembered, I would have suggested I didn't work with full sized groups of 30 pupils, some of whom had quite a few educational challenges. But, what do you know, I got away with it. Two perfect classes and two grand comics.

Back to Swanage for a second day, and another splendid pair of classes. Though I must confess there were some jitters about the afternoon's comic title (...Crystal Meth) which I thought I'd managed to give an educational twist to. We're braced for the complaints.

The celebrities these eight groups chose to star in my demonstration strip were Dwayne The Rock Johnson (three times), David Tennant, Tom Holland, Abraham Lincoln, Ashley Banjo, and James Charles.

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy 
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon 
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Thursday 9 November 2023

Bahrain & Saudi Arabia - travels with my art


And then I flew to Bahrain. This was a novel trip, at the behest of Laurence Smith, who has organised some fascinating and varied jobs for me over the years (from drawing his family Christmas cards, caricaturing in Amsterdam, live-drawing a day of talks for a disability charity, to illustrating a giant mural based on the suggestions of 100 employees drawn live on a massive roll of paper). This time it was another workplace training event, for healthcare workers. And it was to be in Saudi Arabia.

I didn't advertise this widely in advance because, in all honesty, I feared Saudi Arabia's human rights record wasn't something I wanted to be associated with. Then, when you visit a country and see things first hand, you discover that most people are getting on with regular lives, regardless of what their government is up to. In my whistle stop two day visit, which took four days with travel, I met a number of doctors and professionals who all seem to love the life out here. Some were Saudis, and some from other countries. All told me about the increased liberalising of the country which may have a few years to go progress wise but, on the surface, looks familiar and pleasant. It may not seem much, but they have cinemas, women are allowed to drive and not wear head coverings, and there are no Religious Police any more. Like I say, baby steps.

Here you can (just about) see Laurence at the Ithra art museum. He was marvellous in keeping me entertained and occupied throughout Saturday. First Asim, his colleague, and I travelled in on Friday night, about which more in a moment. Then first thing Saturday the three of us went to a warehouse / lockup of Desert Designs where we had the chance to browse and buy some local artefacts. Then it was off to Ithra, which was host to an exhibition of very strong architectural work, a display by recent graduates, a good contemporary art collection, and an exhibit on the history of Saudi, and of Aramco, the company I'd be working for. From there we went to the mall, then it was off to an evening meal at an Armenian restaurant where I met all the doctors who would be leading the following day's talks.

The training day ultimately came down to two hours of talks and, on my part, lots of drawing. But the preparation took most of the day, and gave me the opportunity to churn out lots of drawing. At time of writing I still have to colour and assemble all the various components.

The travel was another story. Above you see Asim and me, in no man's land in between Bahrain and Saudi, waiting for our driver Mohammed to emerge from the police station. We were waiting over an hour for that bit. And that was only one of the longeurs which ended up making the 45 minute journey from Bahrain to Saudi take an unprecedented four hours.

I'd started Friday with an early start, driving to Purple Parking near Heathrow, then going through all the airport procedures, followed by a 6 hour flight. Which, by the way, I loved, using it as an excuse to watch movies & TV (The Flash, a Doctor Who, and the pilot of Poker Face again, amongst other things). Asim met me, and we and Mohammed hit the road.

Unfortunately, after only a few minutes on the road, something hit us. A car clipped the corner of our car at high speed then shot off before anyone could even get his number. Mohammed pulled in and rang the police. There now followed a half hour wait by the roadside for the police, who never came. Mohammed's concern was that he couldn't go back into Saudi from Bahrain without reporting this, for insurance purposes, and he needed something official on paper from the police.

When the police failed to show, we drove on and, just over the hill, passed a five vehicle pile up which rather suggested why they were too busy to deal with us. It's not impossible that the mad driver who'd clipped us went on to cause the accident we then drove past.

Whatever, Mohammed still had to report things, hence Asim and me waiting for an hour outside the Border Police office. But, with all that done, and by now over two hours behind schedule, we were surely on the home stretch.

Not so fast. Because now I had to get fingerprinted at the Saudi border, a process which involved so much waiting, for no obvious reason, that the best part of another hour was taken up. 

That done it would be plain sailing from here. You'd think. But no. Because, before they would let us go to the Fingerprint Centre, a border guard at one of the gates insisted on hanging on to Asim and Mohammed's passports. And, when we walked back to retrieve those, the guy kept us waiting, for no obvious reason, for another half hour. With all of these waits, the guys holding us up would stand around laughing and chatting, making it demonstrably clear that they were just holding us up for the fun of it. Not fun.

Four hours later, having landed at 11.30pm Bahrain time, I got to my massive hotel suite at 3.30am. We were up for breakfast by 8am and on with Saturday.

I had a marvellous and memorable weekend, and am so grateful to Laurence, Asim and Mohammed and the rest for making it happen. My return flight saw me sadly failing to watch any movies as I'd hoped. At was a 2am flight and, not surprisingly, I fell asleep as soon as we were in the air and didn't wake until we were coming in to land. Above you can see the view from my window, which has to be one of the best airline window views I've ever had.

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy 
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon 
Captain Clevedon - Amazon
Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Wednesday 1 November 2023

October Book Sales - a good start from D2D

I famously never make any sales through D2D via Ingram, often getting a big zero for my book sales. That changed this month when Richard The Third was available to pre-order through most of October, then went on sale on Oct 30th. Come Nov 1st I find I've sold 59 units, giving me $90 profit. It's not going to set the world on fire, but it's a good start.

It comes with a slight downside. Yesterday I contacted Gardners about selling Richard The Third direct to bookshops through them. Unfortunately, because I've used my own ISBN number for both my printed version and the Ingram Print-On-Demand version, the latter is the only one that'll be available through their system. It is on sale at £8.99, the price that D2D/Ingram fixes once it's taken its percentage, whereas my Recommended Retail Price (as printed on my version of the book) is £6.99.

All this means is that, if you buy the book direct from me, it's cheaper, and it's signed. But it is very good news that international customers can get the paperback, as I know they can get from Barnes & Noble here, as well as from Amazon here.

D2D Oct sales - $90.48

Sept - £0, August $4.23, July $7.39, June $6.03, May $1.86, April $1.52, March $2.46, Feb $0, Jan $4.10

And how's this for a screenshot of my D2D sales for 2023, as of November 2nd. 10 copies of Richard sold in the first 2 days of November, taking it to 66 sales already (that's $14.98 already for November, which already beats every other previous month but October). The runner up Midsummer Night's Dream Team has only sold 14 copies all year, and the next best is Book Of Esther on 9.

Lulu/Amazon October sales - £14.23

Euro Best Of - 3 (UK)
Doctors Who - 2 (UK)
Euro 2 - 2 (UK)
Captain Clevedon - 1 (UK)
Scottish Pop - 1 (US)
Tales from Bible - 1 (US)
Shakespeare Omnibus  - 1 (DE)

September sales - £18.76, Aug £33.34, July £27.60, June £29.94, May £48.33, April £52.26, March £8.56, Feb £38.57, Jan £35.25, & Dec £26.84

Blurb October sales - 39p

Sept - £1.29, August £0, July £1.17, June £0, May 74p, Apr £9.12, Mar £3.13, Feb £3.21, Jan 12p

Etsy October sales - £51.92

Eurovision 1 - 3 
Eurovision 2 - 1
Tales From Bible - 1
Socks Superheroes - 1
MNDT - 1

Sept £0, August £13.98, July £48.93, June £55.92, May £58.05, Apr £171.05, Mar £80.86, Feb £44.50, Jan £82.86

Live at events October sales - £86.93 (Bewdley Lit Fest & Zion Bristol)

September £965.55, August £565.49, July £460, June £304.50

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy 
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon 
Captain Clevedon - Amazon

Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Quizzer & Chips & other stories - October's musings

Oct 1: Not to blow our own trumpet , but my team only went and won the @jenny_from_the_quiz pub quiz last night at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival
We were Helen Quigley, Andrew Sewell, John Freeman and me - Quizzer and Chips


Oct 5: Richard The Third - the Shakespeare graphic novel for fans of Dogman and Bunny vs Monkey - is available to order on Amazon now!

Oct 7: Loved: last night’s episode 1 of Ghosts final series
Hate: that the whole series has been dumped, as one, on iPlayer. This means the whole “party watch” once-a-week, must-see rendezvous nature of the show has been lost. The “water cooler discussing the recent episode” experience has been destroyed. The once a week podcast has been rendered futile.
And we have to, either, avoid spoilers for six weeks or gobble the whole series down like a toddler who finds the Christmas chocolates, with the inevitable disappointment this will bring.
Meanwhile Disney are releasing Loki, Only Murders, and The Bear as weekly episodes, because they know the value of audience-building, extending awareness, and viewer experience for broad-appeal shows.
I notice they haven’t dumped the whole series of Have I Got News For You though. Someone must know where the bodies are buried. (Or how time works).


Oct 6: Gosh Loki 2.1 was a bit poor wasn’t it?
What happened to the magic of the first series? That was all maguffin and no drama.
Pretty pictures though, I’ll give it that


Oct 9 (re article about the Frasier reboot):

“…there were three networks and 30 great comedy writers. Now we have 500 networks and 30 great comedy writers.”
Nice James Burrows interview, with good points on future of sitcom. The “theatre with a camera pointing at it” he has excelled in, with a live studio audience, now seems such a legacy product.
Emerged in the 50s, flourished in the 70s, had a second golden age in the 90s, but now seems a slightly odd thing.
Frasier ended just as The Office started, along with shows like Parks & Rec, and Malcolm In The Middle. What was once called Comedy Drama, because it had no laugh track, gradually became the new norm for sitcom. Now, with leading examples from Ghosts to Superstore, Brooklyn 99 to What We Do In The Shadows, who would ever bring a live audience back into the studio?

Oct 11 (Labour Party Conference):

Not saying it was a feeble protest, but Motsi has more dust blowing behind her every week on Strictly
Still, nice to see they’re keeping Ed Miliband busy


Oct 18: I'm not sure if this is good or not, but I'm choosing to believe it is. Richard The Third is currently #149 in Comic Book Adaptations of Classics for Children on Amazon
Well, I was impressed.

(Update: It rose as high as 40 at one point)


Oct 19: A Haunting In Venice fares poorly at box office

I know I keep sharing these "box office disaster" stories. Can we just conclude that, before 2020, lots of people went to the cinema, and that, since 2020 (for reasons no-one can explain), a lot fewer people are going to the cinema?
It's not the films' fault (though, obviously, it draws attention to films that are over-expensive to make, and ones that maybe were never all that good in the first place), it's just the way things are now.
So the bigger question is what do we do next? Do we champion lower budget movies, and use this as an incentive to emphasise new writing and novel ways of film making (like happened in the early 70s)? Do we relish our heyday of small-screen viewing (as also happened in the mid 70s)? Or do we re-invent the blockbuster again (like in the late 70s) and then invent some new technology that looks like it'll kill cinema for good but accidentally ends up reviving it (like we did at the end of the 70s with VHS)?
My prediction: More expensive streaming. I am so shortsighted I can't see another solution in the short term. Who can see something better?

 On my tour of schools in the North, up to and down from the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, I’ve been sending Hev photos of my occasionally subterranean hotel rooms, if only to stop her being jealous of my exotic travels.

The wide angle lens may not do justice to just how bijou some of these rooms are.


Oct 20: Steph's Packed Lunch cancelled

So, whither Steph McGovern now?
Once upon a time, if you defected from the BBC there was no coming back. Who remembers the fate of The Goodies, Morecambe and Wise, and poor old Simon Dee? But that was a long time ago.
So, who can we think of who’s left a lofty position at the Beeb, gone to ITV, Sky or whoever, but has then returned to the fold?
Or, in these days of monetisable podcasts and YouTube channels, does it not matter any more and she’s better off out in the wilderness?


Oct 24: Currently watching Poltergeist. It is so very obviously, and characteristically, a Spielberg movie, it’s hard to imagine how anyone has ever thought anything else.

Watched the excellent The Fabelmans last night. And realised, from the big movie tip the kid gets, that I learned everything I know from watching Spielberg films:
"When the horizon is at the top, it's interesting. When it's on the bottom, it's interesting. When it's in the middle, it's boring as shit!"


Oct 24: Blimey, isn’t Boiling Point good?
It’s the most dramatic drama of all the shows we’re watching at the mo. The actors are so real and the emotions so gripping. It’s reminding me that I’m watching a lot of stuff that’s a lot more superficial , showy. And I guess quite a lot is a bit American, in an insincere way.
It’s got a lot in common with The Bear, though I’ve got to say I find that a bit shouty and macho in comparison.

This, Loki, is now officially the worst written TV show we’re currently watching
A little research tells me it’s because season 2 has a new showrunner, who wrote 1 ep of the excellent season one, but has proved to be America’s own Chibnall.
The good news is that the excellent season 1’s showrunner is now writing for… Doctor Who!
Doctor Who 1 - Loki 0
Update: My mistake. Michael Waldron was the showrunner of Loki 1, who has been replaced by the less good Eric Martin. Sadly Waldron isn't moving to Doctor Who. He's writing the next Avengers movie.
Update: I’m being unfair to Chris Chibnall who, for all his problems with exposition and his inability to resolve a plot, devotes a lot of time to developing characters, and he writes a lot of humour that he doesn’t get enough credit for. I’ll say it now, Chris Chibnall is a better writer and showrunner than Eric Martin.

Oct 28: Congratulations to Heather Tweed for her brilliant talk at the Music Hall Society Conference today. Superstar.


Oct 29: Very sad news about the death of Matthew Perry. If only Friends was being rerun somewhere, anywhere.
Could that be any more inappropriate?


Oct 30: Re article on Friends and death of Matthew Perry

“It’s hard not to mourn, along with the actor, the spirit of the 90s, with its relentless optimism and comically low stakes”
Really? Am I the only person who’s nostalgic, not for some Spirit of the Age, but for my own personal experiences and being younger?
For me the 90s was the biggest mixed bag of highs and lows (I started the decade working professionally in comics for the first time, and a few years later had had the business collapse around me and spent a while selling double glazing. NB Things improved later.)
I don’t remember “comically low stakes”, I remember thinking I’d have to declare myself bankrupt at one time. I don’t remember “relentless optimism”, I remember working for Marvel when they actually did file for bankruptcy and I ended up out of work again.
Could this article *be* any less about me. So, how you doing?
(Friends catchphrases. I’m doing Friends catchphrases.)


Oct 31: Thanks to the fabulous punters of Canterbury Festival last night for giving us a brilliant sellout show (sounded like a sellout to us). Eurovision with extra added Halloween, great fun.

My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Amazon  - Etsy 
Prince Of Denmark Street - Amazon - Etsy 
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Amazon Etsy 
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Amazon

Richard The Third Amazon - Etsy

Tales From The Bible - Amazon -  Etsy 
The Book Of Esther - Lulu  - Amazon 
Captain Clevedon - Amazon

Tales Of Nambygate - Amazon  

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