Tag Archives: ACFW

500,000

What’s a number? Just a number, right? I’ve probably said it here before, but I’m going to say it again: math and I don’t really get along. I mean, who’s really interested in all those numbers?

But the one above interests me just a little now. Why you ask? Well I’m’a gonna tell ya! But first, I’ve got a story to tell…

You’ll remember that back in September I attended the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). My goal was to meet agents and editors and to learn about the Christian book publishing industry. I didn’t learn as much as I’d hoped, but I did learn some—enough to keep me interested anyway.

What I did learn was that everything I know about operating in the comic book industry doesn’t matter a hill’o’beans there. Pitching a project in comics is far different than pitching one in the Christian book publishing industry. For instance, one of the things agents/editors would like to know is your publishing history. That makes sense to me. But they’d like to know your sales figures.

Hmmm. While I could tell you some of the numbers off the top of my head, I don’t know most of them. Arrow is my best selling single issue and it sold right around 50,000 copies. So, I figured if this was something they needed to know, I needed to try to find it.

My first work was published in 1989. That’s 20 years ago. Since then, 77 comic books I’ve written or co-written have been published. That doesn’t include the newspaper and magazine articles. So I listed all 77 in an Excel spreadsheet and over the course of a couple of weeks starting keying in numbers as I could find them—which wasn’t easy. In fact, I couldn’t/can’t find many of them still.

But I had a “running total” at the top of my spreadsheet and the number caught my attention. So, I decided to go back and “best guess” the numbers I couldn’t find. For instance, Battletech #0 sold 19,409 copies. #3 sold 17,252. I can’t find the figures for #1 and #2, so I had to guess. I guessed on the low side and put 17,500 for both #1 and #2 (though #1, BEING a #1 was likely much higher).

So, after I finished keying in all the best guesses, I scrolled back to the top to see what the number was:

502,153.

That’s right, Five Hundred Two Thousand One Hundred and Fifty Three copies of works that lists me as writer. That’s ½ a million copies. That’s not how many copies are “in print” as there are hundreds of all them printed but never sold. Still, half a million copies is a lot of books. Then, add the newspaper and magazine work.

Okay…that number might not mean much to you, but it surprised me and I’d really never even considered what it might be.

I guess now I can add on my resume “over half a million copies sold.”

Maybe it’s not a big deal…but I like the sound of it. J

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Readin’ and Writin’

Well, kids returned to school this morning so that means things are back to “normal.”

Yeah. Right.

It won’t be long before we have basketball games and softball games. And I just spotted an ad for summer league baseball. On top of all that, my Christmas lights must somehow find their way back into boxes and back to storage.

Another thing at the top of my list to do is get back to reading some fiction. I got a bit stumbled a few months back trying to read Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. It’s an incredibly insightful book, tracing the history of modern liberals back to the fascists of the early 1900s. I highly recommend the 200 pages that I managed to wade through. And I don’t mean wade like it was bad reading…I mean wade in that I really had to concentrate and focus on the material to understand it. It was good…but my brain now needs just plain ole fiction entertainment.

So I picked up a book by an author I heard speak and had the opportunity to speak with last summer: Gilbert Morris. I’d already read How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel when I heard him, but have never read any of his fiction. So now I am.

I will confess that I’ve read just a few books by “people” in the groups to which I belong. Keep in mind, that ACFW began as a Romance Writers group. I tried a couple…and didn’t like’em! I’d never tell THEM that, plus you won’t see me reviewing them here simply because I don’t really read romance and so can’t think of a lot of good things to say. And yes, I’m sure they’d say the same thing about comics or science-fiction, that’s okay. But that’s why I’m not going to talk about them here.

When we lived in Florence, I wrote a Christian Comic review for the local Christian Magazine. Well, I did for three months anyway. Then, I’m not sure what happened as they quit answering my email. They never had a web presence at all. I’ve pitched that idea to a few other Christian Mags, but none have taken me up on it.

I pitched one Christian Mag the idea of a comic strip. I intended to write an ongoing storyline strip like you can read in the newspapers. They’re not ALL one-line jokes after all. The editor liked the idea but suggested I revamp and change it to be about Christian Fiction, but about the readers.

Okay, so maybe the editor only liked the IDEA of a strip and not my particular idea. But I’m flexible and so ran with it. I created and wrote scripts for about six of them and sent them to the editor. The editor received them and said “where’s the art?” To which I replied, “I dunno, you have an artist, or should I find?”

Finally, after the editor understood that I didn’t also draw—and that not ALL of the newspaper strips are drawn and written by the same person, the editor took it to the partner.

The partner said, “there’s no way this guy is a cartoonist if he doesn’t draw his own stuff.” I could almost hear the laughing.

Huh? “Pardon me,” said I, “but I’m a writer not an artist. I work with artists, and I HIRED them when I was an editor.”

“Well,” said the editor, “partner lives next door to Charles Schultz, and he wrote AND drew his cartoons.”

Partner obviously had never heard of Stan Lee.

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Happy New Year 2009

Well, 2009 is upon us, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering where 2008 went! We’ve now been in Oxford for exactly one year but we still feel so very unsettled. Part of it, I think, has to do with the fact that we still don’t have a new home church. That’s been pretty hard on the family. We haven’t been without a home church since around 1998—10 years!

The kids seem to be doing well in school and BJ at work, but most of it comes from the fact that I’m stuck in that in-between world. I didn’t get accepted into the grad program last year. The director told me that they accepted only 3 applicants out of 80-something. I’m going to apply again this year, but not just for the one program as I did last year. Instead of putting all my eggs in the MFA program, I’m going to try for the PhD program. We’ll see what happens.

I was very fortunate this last year to have picked up freelance editing work for Campfire Kids (then Elfin) where I edited about a dozen graphic novels—Classics Illustrated style work. I also picked up some freelance editing work from my good pal Jim Chadwick at DC Comics and did some English Translation editing of some Japanese comic titles (Dorothea and Key to the Kingdom, if you’re interested).

On the writing side, I made a lot of progress on novel #3 before getting writing assignments from Campfire. I scripted Graphic Novel adaptations of Huckleberry Finn and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and am currently discussing my next assignment with the editor there. I made some good contacts at ACFW Conference in September, and now have an editor interested in my novel The Gifted. She’s asked for some revisions, which I’m happy to provide. I’ve said all along that I want an editor/publisher who feels as passionate about the message of The Gifted as I do. I feel pretty good about this one (no, not naming names yet), but time will tell yet.

I spent most of my writing time in November trying to turn Buying Time into a screenplay. One of the groups to which I belong forwarded around a message about a Christian Screenplay competition. The deadline was Dec. 1 and although I busted hump to do it, I couldn’t make the deadline. I’ve decided that I’ll continue to do it for next year’s competition, though. It was difficult work, but fun.

I started/joined a critique group in October which started and then fizzled. We’re going to try again in a week or so—we agreed to wait until the new year and try again.

I’m not big into resolutions; very rarely make them. But this year, I’m going to resolve to stop drinking Coke. Brittany’s softball coach has told the girls they can’t drink Cokes. I remember my football coach in high school telling all us the same thing. I think this will help support her AND help me lose weight. I did well walking on the treadmill in November and December, but I didn’t see any real weight loss. That was frustrating. So, I’m thinking if I give up the Cokes and continue the treadmill, that’ll help.

That’s the plan anyway.

I have a feeling 2009 will fly by just as quickly!

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