The current Mike "MEZ" Phillips cover.
The original cover
Most of my titles have been available for the last few years via a company called CreateSpace. They were already owned by Amazon by the time I started doing business with them. Amazon is now phasing them out and will be handling all printing through Kindle Direct Publishing. Today, I transferred all my titles from the old website to the KDP dashboard, a relatively pain free process. Afterwards, I went back to CreateSpace and printed off five years of sales and purchase data in case it suddenly disappears one CreateSpace is completely gone.
I'm always looking at my sales data, of course. Maybe a little too obsessively. I mean, in traditional publishing, you go six months without seeing sales data. Now, I look at sales maybe six times a day. Which is crazy. But that's another essay.
This essay is about something surprising I discovered when I pulled all my CreateSpace sales data. In ebooks, my dragon stuff is far and away outsells my superhero titles. But it turns out that as far as what people order online in print editions, my supervillain novel Burn Baby Burn has had the best cumulative total of any of my print on demand books, beating out Bitterwood: the Complete Collection by forty total sales over it's lifetime, not a giant win, but, still, I was surprised. Burn Baby Burn has never been a best seller. It usually only logs single digit sales in the paperback version every month, but the every month part is important. Over the long haul, it's earned more than I got as an advance for either of the first two novels I sold to traditional publishers.
This is important to me because Burn Baby Burn was the first title I didn't even try to shop to a publisher or agent. It was too quirky to pitch, and had too much personal meaning for me not to write it. A traditional publisher would likely have taken the book out of print years ago. But the fact that it keeps selling is rewarding. Some books just need time to find their readers. I'm glad I came into publishing at a time when a quirky title like this had a chance at life. I'm also glad it opened a career path to me I didn't even dream of fifteen years ago when I first saw one of my books in a bookstore.
If you've never read it or even heard of it, you're missing out on a pretty special book. It's a Bonnie and Clyde love story between two supervillains on a crime spree. Neither Pit Geek nor Sundancer are particularly lovable. They kill a lot of people during the book, and Sundancer feels like a bit of an underachiever for not killing even more. Anyone can write a love story about lovable people. The fact that Pit Geek and Sundancer are so damaged and dangerous makes the way that love changes them during the book particularly meaningful. And Sundancer is dying of cancer, facing her mortality. Pit Geek is trying to come to terms with her looming death. It's sometimes hard for me to reread. I put a lot of my own emotional journey into these pages.
Also talking chimps. It's not all gloomy. In fact, it's pretty funny from end to end. It has possibly my favorite opening line of any of my novels: "Sunday Jiminez was fifteen when she killed her first nun." Also my favorite closing line: "He'd gotten out alive." The stuff in between is pretty swell as well. Seriously. Check it out. Wait, don't check it out. Buy it!