A Merger & Announcement: What Happened to Nicola?

As you probably have guessed, I’ve been extremely quiet over the past year. For those who follow me on social media, I’ve repeatedly acknowledged my continued displeasure with the publishing industry as a whole, and specifically my total disgust with the indie publishing scene. In the past year I’ve written absolutely nothing aside from plotting out the next three books in the Fallen From Grace series and four new books for another spin-off series set in the same Before the Sun Rises world. I’ve completely lost all my writing mojo, and honestly at this point I have no idea what the future holds for me as a writer. I’ve went back to querying larger publishers in hopes that I could find a new home for the entire BTSR world and the books I have already written. Unfortunately, that has been a very slow, grueling process with zero results to date.

That left me with the question I’ve been grappling with for the past five years – do I continue to write, do I continue to publish, or do I walk away from this dream?

You see, this industry is no longer about who is a good writer. These days, thanks to the likes of the Author Masterminds (the large ring of authors who were routinely hiring ghost writers to write novels that were being published in numerous KU “books” aka bundled sets where a single book was “stuffed” with dozens of other titles thus running up the total KU payout on each book and routinely earning them KU All Stars bonuses worth tens of millions of dollars) it’s no longer about good writers and good books. These days, you have to have some serious cash to be able to market and promote a book.

There are a lot of factors at play here, but what it boils down to is this – the days of being able to post about your book on social media and still see some sales are long gone. If you do not have deep pockets to compete with those authors who have that kind of money, then you are doomed. Aside from money, if you can’t get enough readers and supporters together who are willing to routinely share your posts and basically become your cheerleaders who are helping you market and promote your work, then there is literally zero chance of you ever making a sale. I’m living proof of that.

So far in 2020 I have not made a single sale of any book, despite my large back list of titles. The last two books I have published have had zero sales on either one of them, more proof that you have got to have some money to back up your work. The last few years my marketing budget has dwindled from a few thousand a year to virtually zero. I choose to invest all the spare money I have into producing the actual book – proper editing, formatting, and cover art. But, a really great book doesn’t do me any good if I can’t market, promote, and get in front of readers. Thus me going back to querying larger publishers even though I swore I’d never do it again.

This brings me back to the question of whether or not I keep writing and publishing. Well, the answer to that is both yes, and no.

I recently worked out a contract with a private author who has acquired the publishing rights to the four currently completed books in the Fallen From Grace sub-series, plus the three plotted but yet unwritten books that finishes out that series. While I still hold the copyrights and will stay on as a silent partner to ensure the upcoming books stay true to the world I have created, the books will no longer be published in my name. Due to the non-disclosure agreement that was written into the contract, there is little else I can say about the matter other than the author who is taking over is very well known, however, the contract also dictated the books will be written under a completely new pen name. Unfortunately, this means the FFG series will be the first and only series written under this new name. While this creates its own set of challenges, both parties agreed to publish the works under a new name to protect both the new author taking over the series, as well as myself.

With that said, the first two books in the series will be released later this year over the course of six months. We do not currently have a release date past the end of the year, but the 3rd and 4th books will be released sometime in 2021.

Well guys, that’s it. I’m moving on to a new chapter in my life. You will continue to get updates in regards to both my books and the continuing saga of the Before the Sun Rises series and all the spin-off sub-series planned through this current newsletter. For now, we have decided to leave everything as-is as far as the newsletter and websites go. The only thing really changing at this point is the books in the FFG series will be released later this year under a new author name. All announcements of the book launches will still be my responsibility and will be announced through my personal website, newsletter, and social media platforms.

I’m excited for this new chapter. This world is getting so big and while I’m sad to let it go, I’m also super excited to see the world I have crafted over the years will continue on, even if it is with a new author. So wish me luck, guys. These days, luck is about all I have left.

Until next time,

Peace, love, & books y’all!

Nora Roberts Sues #CopyPasteCris, But She Can’t Go After Amazon

In early March I wrote three blog articles, I Write My Own Damn Books Can We Just Get Real for a Moment, and An Open Letter to Nora Roberts, after it was discovered the self-proclaimed USA TODAY bestselling author Cristiane Serruya had plagiarized dozens of authors and books, including Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, and EL James, just to name a few. For the record, according to the archive on USA TODAY‘s website, Cristiane Serruya has never once hit the list. And now that she has been called out on her plagiarism, she’s admitted that she hasn’t even written one single book, instead farming it out to ghostwriters she hired on the notoriously unscrupulous site Fiverr.

Now Nora Roberts is going after blood as she has sued Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya for her blatant theft of approximate ten of her books. Needless to say, authors both big and small are urging her on, happy someone is finally standing up to the cesspool of low quality books and scammers that have been running rampant on Amazon for nearly a decade now, the steady flow of Frankensteined books and half-assed rough drafts forcing many authors to quit publishing altogether while simultaneously banishing the professionally produced books to the proverbial Amazon dungeons.

Authors are sick of being forced to compete with the immoral writers who have no qualms about using every unethical and black-hat tactic they can think of to squeeze as much money out of the Amazon publishing system as possible. By them doing so, it has forced a lot of authors to stop writing and publishing as they simply cannot compete with those scammers who are able to spend $100K or more on AMS ads and other forms of advertisement each year. Those of us who have been limping along hoping the system would eventually right itself have been left with our books banished to the proverbial dungeons of Amazon, no longer able to make sales or have any visibility on our books at all.

Needless to say, now that someone like Nora Roberts has learned the disgusting ways of the publishing world the hard way, and has thus been caught up in it, we are all very excited to know she is not taking this shit lying down. Everyone is behind her, authors and readers alike, and we are all cheering her on. Many authors are holding out hope that Nora’s voice in regards to how bad Amazon has let things get will be the first step in righting a system that was built on dishonesty and greed. Many are voicing their hope that Nora will actually take on Amazon itself.

Unfortunately, I’m not as hopeful as the rest in regards to her taking on  Amazon. Honestly, she doesn’t have enough money to do it. And if you want to get down to the nut-cutting, not even JK Rowling has enough money to take on Amazon.

Before everyone gets bent out of shape, I think we all need to take a real, hard look at Amazon’s revenue and why they are able to get away with all the shit they do, why they do not bother to police their own store, or even enforce their own rules and TOS other than when it suits them. Once you look at the basic economics of Amazon, you’ll understand why it would literally take all of the Big 5 publishers and all of their top 5% earning authors making a class-action lawsuit against the Zon, followed by pretty much every single author and business that has ever been a part of their store, to truly do any type of damage to them.

According to CNBC, Amazon reported earnings of $10.1 BILLION in 2018 alone. Gross profits for the year were over $141 BILLION. In 2017, their net profits were just over $3 BILLION, with a gross profit of over $118 BILLION. Of that, it is estimated that approximately 30% of that income came from book sales, which would be approximately $3 BILLION in net profits for 2018.

With numbers like this, it is no wonder everyone is fighting so hard to be seen on Amazon. Unfortunately, with revenue streams in the tens of billions, it is also no wonder Amazon has been completely unfazed by the multitude of authors who have been steadily calling them out for their bad practices. So while Nora may reportedly be worth $370 million and JK Rowling $1 billion, Amazon has enough revenue coming in to keep any type of lawsuit buried in the court system for decades.

While all of us would certainly LOVE to see Amazon come tumbling off its pedestal for once, it’s going to take more than just Nora Roberts to do it. It’s going to take more than just the Big 5 publishers to do it. It’s going to take more than just JK Rowling to do it. In fact, about the only way to get a retail giant like Amazon to take a step back and actually put the fear of bankruptcy into them would be if the top 20 richest authors in the world got together, along with the Big 5 publishers, and every other author who has ever done business with them, all fighting together to put the proverbial nuts in a vice.

I, for one, would happily jump on board that express train. Hell, I’d happily tap dance on the ashes that was once the Zon-Almighty.

But for now, I’m another author who is standing behind Nora Roberts hoping she is able to draw blood. It may be a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but if enough people begin beating down the gates of Amazon, then maybe, just maybe, we can take back our sagging careers and turn this once noble profession back into the proud industry it used to be.

And – you go, Nora!

On Set of #Splat – a #Splatterverse Film

Yesterday I had the privilege of working on set of the upcoming zombie horror movie #Splat, the first film in the Splatterverse. The owner/founder of Splatterverse, Blair Kelly, not only wrote the script but also is starring in and directing as well. Blair was a fellow NEJ student and long time resident of my home town. It was great meeting some old friends and new faces while filming. Mississippi truly has some wonderful talent and is full of warm, fun-loving folks who are eager to help out a fellow artist and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Thanks again to everyone set, our director, fellow actors, makeup artists, and the crew behind the scenes making everything run as smooth as possible. I had a great time and I can’t wait for our next film day!

**Photo credit to those who took these. Some of these are copyrighted by me, some were taken on set by other cast members.

 

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

Copyright Nicola C Matthews 2019

 

Waiting on that Series to Complete? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait

 

I’m going to shoot straight from the hip on this. One of my pet peeves to hear from readers is the dreaded “I’m going to wait until the series is completed before I buy any of the books.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Dagger: meet heart.

Before I get into the (really good) reasons why you shouldn’t wait for a series to complete before diving right in, I’m going to ask as few questions.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are a Twilight fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are Game of Thrones fan, have you not watched a single episode, waiting instead until all the seasons are complete before watching them? How about The Walking Dead?

And if you are a Laurell K. Hamilton fan, have you not read a single one of the Anita Blake series, instead opting until the series is finally complete before you start on it? (Here’s a hint, that’s her cash cow and she has no intentions of ending that series so long as it’s selling)

Anyway, you get the idea. Chances are, if you got hooked into any of these fandoms, or the thousands of others out there on both the book, comic book, graphic novels, and TV series front, you aren’t waiting – you are counting down the days until the next book/comic/episode/movie drops. It’s why I, and so many other authors, hate to hear a reader say they are “waiting” for a series to complete before they decide to buy.

If you are one of them, here are some pretty compelling reasons *not* to wait.

1.       Interest and sales versus a lack thereof: as I mentioned above, if you are into the Anita Blake series, you probably already know that series is still going strong. The reason why is because there is still a lot of interest in the books, characters, and story lines. To put it simply, it’s still making money. So long as a series is making money, or readers still show interest, then an author will continue to write more and more books in the series. And for those series like Anita Blake and The Vampire Chronicles, this means the author has no intentions of ending the series, which translates into readers seriously missing out if they opt to “wait it out” to see what is going to happen with a series.

2.       On the flip side of this is the “lack of interest.” There are only so many books an author can push out a year, and that number drastically decreases for those like me who are juggling a regular full-time Evil Day Job along with writing. For this reason, we have to be especially particular about what we spend that limited amount of time on. If readers take the “wait to see” attitude on our series, we view as that as a lack of interest. Lack of interest = lack of sales = we won’t continue to spend our time writing in a series that isn’t producing any royalties. This means we may completely scrap a series and not write another book in that world, opting instead of spend our time writing on a series or stand alone novels that may interest our readers more.

The best way to encourage an author is to buy their books, series complete or not. Taking a “wait to see what happens” with any series could very well spell death to that series. How many really awesome TV series have been cancelled because the ratings weren’t good enough for the studio to warrant investing the time and money it takes to film more episodes? It’s the same principle with authors, especially us indie authors. If you “wait to buy” until we finally finish writing all the books in a series, you may discover a series that gets scrapped because there wasn’t enough interest in it.

And for those wondering, please don’t “wait until the series ends” when it comes to the Before the Sun Rises books. I have no intentions of ending that series unless it stops selling. I could literally write another twenty books just with the characters and story lines I already have notes for. Who knows what I may come up with between now and Book #20!

Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel Cover Reveal

 

 

Are you ready for the next installment? Be on the lookout for Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel – Before the Sun Rises Book 5 coming 4/22/19 with the highly anticipated follow-up novel releasing close to Halloween of 2019.

Thorn has been searching her whole life for The Book of Blood Magic. Now she has found it, and she is thrust into a primeval struggle where the laws of good and evil no longer apply.Once she speaks the ancient deity’s name, she is bound to him forever. No matter how far she runs, no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape him.His disciples want him free from his eternal exile to reclaim his throne and bring the earth back into the shadows of the magic realm. There is no way to undo her blood spell, but she is determined to keep their prophecy from becoming a reality.Can she live with herself if she draws him into her world, a world he has sworn revenge upon at any cost?Will he be content to merely live, or will his desire for blood and war cause him to once again enslave humanity? What will her world become if he is allowed to reign over them? If he cannot control his desire for chaos, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice?Time is running out, and she has a decision to make. No matter her choice, one thing is clear -someone’s world is going to end.

The Art of Artistry – an Observation to the Norm

I’m a total music junkie. I tend to like metal/rock more than anything, although I do have some fave country artists in my playlist (Darius Rucker, Trace Adkins). Needless to say, I tend to follow a lot of bands across all my social media platforms. In doing so, something recently stuck out that I’ve not really noticed before.

When it comes to artistic ability, most people who are artistically inclined tend to be really good at a variety of creative endeavors. And from what I’ve observed, musicians tend to have it in spades. I’ve noticed most musicians can also sing, and a lot of them tend to be good at painting or drawing. Others I’ve noticed are good at creating unique products such as hand-painted signs, jewelry, etc. Some are also really good makeup artists or really good actors.

And then there’s me. I’m not good at much of anything outside of the writing biz. I can do some small arts and crafts (jewelry making, floral design, and little else), but I’m not musically inclined, I can’t sing, I can’t play a musical instrument, and I couldn’t paint or draw if my life depended on it. And honestly, from what I’ve observed from fellow writers, most of us tend to be this way. Some of us are getting into graphic art work for doing cover design, but from what I’ve observed we tend to be really good at one of them and mediocre at the other. Some are really good at marketing their books, some are really good at making graphic teasers and trailers. While this isn’t exactly considered an “art” form, it certainly takes a certain finesse to pull it off.

This is not to say that all writers are only good at writing, or that all musically inclined people tend to be more artistically inclined towards some other art form such as drawing or painting. This is, of course, just my own observation of what I’ve witnessed through observing other writers and musicians in my own social media circles. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who can sing, dance, paint, draw, doing phenomenal graphic artwork, etc. just as there are probably plenty of musicians out there who are not artistically inclined toward anything not music related. Again, it’s just an observation.

I, however, seem to be an all-around mediocre talent. It’s funny, I tend to tell people at my Evil Day Job that I’m a “Jack of all trades.” The rest of that old saying goes “master of none.” Today, that realization is really hitting home. I’m slowly coming to terms with it because being mediocre at anything in the artistic world, or the real world as far as that goes, doesn’t matter. There have been plenty of people who were successful with a “mediocre” idea, book, movie, song, etc. There are plenty of people who do mediocre work. It’s not the end of the world. To be honest, there are a lot more mediocre everything than there are truly phenomenal, and that’s okay too. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

What I can say is I strive to get better every day at everything I do. With each new book, with each new book cover, with each new jewelry design, I will always strive to get better. We never stop learning, and I’m very thankful for that. I’ve always loved learning new things, trying new things, and evolving as a person and artist.

So, here’s to all my artistic brothers and sisters out there. Keep striving to be the best you can be. I know I will.