A quick personal note:
What are people saying about From the Dust?
From the Dust is so cool! Why is it shut down?
August 14, 2014
This is Michael Mercer, the Author & Illustrator of From the Dust - The Book of Mormon Comic. I have both good and bad news for you.
The good news is that I'm giving you a digital copy of From the Dust #1. You also now have the power to gift a digital copy to anyone you know for free. I encourage you to use this power often for birthdays, baptisms, and mission events, and any other time you feel it is appropriate. The best thing you can do to help From the Dust grow is to help me give it away. A genuine share to a close friend is so much more valuable than $5 or $10 in my pocket. Just visit www.BookofMormonComic.com and follow the directions! Thank you for believing!
The bad news is that our dream of Disney-quality entertainment at affordable rates for Latter-day Saints everywhere is slipping away. I have been struggling this year to keep the project afloat financially, and in May of 2014 I was forced to put From the Dust in hibernation for an extended period - and possibly forever.
Ironically, From the Dust has been a best-selling product from the beginning and its business model is very solid. I just made a few "beginners' mistakes" in business. My primary mistake was a drastic underestimation on the need for marketing and the costs of marketing. Only 2% of Latter-day Saints in the United States have ever seen an ad for From the Dust even one time. If I had the funds to reach the other 98% (it will take about $10,000-20,000), I would sell out of my current stock of books and I would have sufficient funds to work on From the Dust full-time.
You would think I would be able to come up with those funds, but unfortunately between balancing the cost of getting From the Dust to this point, my own personal expenses, and a number of other life events, it is highly unlikely I will have an additional $10,000-20,000 to invest in this project for the next 3-5 years. At that point, I hope to be well established with a new career and a family. And unfortunately for From the Dust, I am not much of a risk taker when there are greater priorities at stake.
Why do I not just "go to Deseret Book" or some other publisher? I've pursued those options but at the end of the day retailers and distributors will take 65% of the cover price of From the Dust. Add in a publisher and we lose 85%-95%! It's insane! How's an artist to make great content on such low profits? When you buy direct from me you get a significantly higher quality product for your money. If From the Dust is going to exist, it is going to be done right from the foundation until the very last cherry on top!
In harmony with this, as of August 1, I will not longer be selling From the Dust in retail stores. It is ONLY available at www.BookofMormonComic.com.(Update November 1, 2014 - From the Dust is now available ONLY as a PDF download - I will not be selling print copies.)
My dream has never been to "make a comic book series." The dream is to create movie-quality family entertainment at AFFORDABLE rates for ALL Latter-day Saints EVERYWHERE in their OWN language. That is From the Dust's mission. It's a big dream.
But as I stated, this dream has been forced into hibernation, and that's ok.
I have no apologies to offer. I have done my best and worked very hard. I have been frugal and careful with all of my funds. If I had better understood what it would take to cross the marketing barrier and to produce the product I would have approached the project differently than I did. All I can say is it's been an adventure and I'm much wiser now than when I started.
On a positive note, let's recap our successes in our first year: we've gone from 250 Facebook fans in January 2013 to over 20,000 in January of 2014. We've gone from 0 email subscribers to 890+ people subscribing to From the Dust emails. We've published From the Dust #1 in print, PDF, Multi-Touch Book for iPad, and in Spanish (PDF). We've achieved rave reviews for From the Dust #1, despite its imperfections, and we've distributed over 1800 copies of From the Dust #1, selling most of them. We have much to be grateful for! We should all be very proud of our accomplishments. There are few, if any, independent LDS products in existence that have achieved these kinds of successes in their first year, and I believe it is a clear indicator that there is something special about the project.
I have learned so much about business, finance, marketing, and more. These are all subjects that I knew very little about. I simply prayed for help, and then "went and did." My father very kindly linked me to this great video on "Famous Failures." On a side note, it was only four years ago that I myself had two different Disney animators tell me independently of one another that "I drew like a 2-year-old" and that I needed to "go back to grade school for drawing."
But despite my weakness, I have persevered, and I am pleased with my progress.
With all these successes, I am confident that From the Dust will someday come out of hibernation and that when that happens the project will have beautified just as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
I am now giving each of you the power to help me reach the 4,000,000+ Latter-day Saints in America that have never heard of From the Dust. I have made it incredibly easy to share and gift From the Dust. I am confident that just sending a few copies to your friends and family via our gifting program will have a very positive impact for the project.
There are now almost 2000 of you that own a copy of From the Dust #1. Each of you have my love. If for some reason you feel the need to organize as fans to help out the project, you have my permission to do so.
Thank you for believing.
Author & Illustrator
of From the Dust