Military science fiction author (and former spy thriller author) Richard Fox joined us on the show today. We talked about his early books and his thriller series, which never impressed him hugely with sales, and then how he moved onto a different genre last year. In June, 2015, he published his first Ember War military sci-fi title and has since gone on to publish a total of 8 novels in the series. They’ve sold great, and he has over 400 reviews of his first book.
Here’s some of what we covered:
Transitioning from historical fiction to spy thrillers to space adventure novels (and whether those audiences will cross over at all).
What made Richard decide to genre hop over to science fiction.
How he learned from some of his mistakes on his first series to have a solid launch with the Ember War books.
How he’s used his military experience in his novels.
Finishing one series and starting a spinoff as another entry point for potential readers.
Using Facebook ads on a slow trickle to keep sales up of a Book 1 that’s been out for a while.
How Richard’s Kindle Unlimited borrow money compares to his book sales and why he hasn’t gone wide.
What Richard’s first launch looked like, and what he’s doing with new books today to get his readers to buy right away.
What are the best practices for starting an author blog?
Should you host a blog on your own site or use a free site?
What should you blog about as an author?
How to get more traffic from the search engines (and how long it takes to build up a site and start seeing that traffic).
Is blogging really worth the time?
If you’re interested in writing for Kindle Worlds, in Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire space adventure universe, shoot Lindsay a note for more details. You can reach her through the contact form on her site (http://www.lindsayburoker.com) or poke her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GoblinWriter). She’s happy to provide the books for free to any authors who might be interested!
On today’s show, we chatted with return guest, urban fantasy author, Annie Bellet. She first visited us on show 33. Since then, she’s published her earnings on her blog (she made over $250,000 in 2015) and taken on an agent and a publisher for a print-only deal (she kept her ebook rights).
Here are some of the things we discussed:
Leveraging self-publishing success to get an agent
How to choose an agent if you’re lucky enough to get some nibbles (and when you might want to pass)
Whether traditional publishers are open right now to print only deals
Whether trad publishers are currently likely to be interested in series that were previously self published
What stats/bragging rights you should have prepared to share that might interest an agent
Keeping a series alive and selling even when releases aren’t as frequent as you’d like
Whether permafree or 99-cent Book 1s are still working to help get people into a series
Staying wide in all the stores vs. dabbling in Kindle Unlimited
Running Facebook ads for boxed sets
Whether Annie’s publisher has handled marketing for the new paperbacks and hardbacks or if she’s responsible for that
Conversion and what’s good sell through in a series
The challenges of keeping a pen name active and selling
Today, Seanan McGuire joined us on the show to talk about her urban fantasy and her science fiction, her rapid releases (under two different names) with traditional publishing, how she got started, and what led her to explore Patreon, where she is currently earning nearly $8,000 per short story.
**Note: a few curse words slipped out during the interview, so you might want to listen to this one with your earbuds in!
Here are a few more details on what we covered:
How writing Buffy porn led to Seanan landing an agent
Publishing quickly even with traditional publishers
Why she has two pen names (Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant)
Seanan’s experiences with two different publishers, each with different ways of going about the business (she’s with Daw and also with Orbit)
What kinds of marketing things she does on her own, what she pays for, and what the publisher pays for
Why she decided to start a Patreon campaign and how she got the word out
Why she feels like you should submit to agents and try to make it through the gauntlet of traditional publishing even if you don’t ultimately sign
What a launch of a new book looks like for Seanan these days
We’re talking to paranormal romance/urban fantasy author Kristen Painter today. She’s been traditionally published and is now self-publishing her popular Nocturne Falls books, a light-hearted paranormal romance series that’s been selling well. She’s also been doing great with the audiobooks through ACX, recently passing 40,000 in sales, so we asked her about what’s led to her great success there.
Here are a few details of what we covered:
How Kristen got her start in traditional publishing and when she switched to indie
Finding an underserved niche with comedic paranormal romance without the graphic content that is often a part of the genre
The difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as far as tropes and what audiences expect
The state of the genre and how urban fantasy/PNR are for newer authors
When it makes sense to pay for the production of your own audiobooks (Kristen mentioned a 5 to 1 figure, i.e., you might get 5 ebook sales for each audiobook sale)
Whether to opt for a royalty split or pay a narrator outright
How important choosing a good narrator is with audiobooks (and how to find one you like)
Whether it’s better to launch the audiobook as close to the ebook release as possible or whether it doesn’t make much of a difference
Why Kristen shoots for at least 8 hours of narration for her audiobooks
We spoke to science fiction erotica author Addison L. Cain about getting started in the business, some of the differences between romance and erotica, how to market it when many of the advertisers aren’t interested in the subject matter, and how to get off to a good start. Addison’s first novel, Born to Be Bound, was just released in April of 2016, and she’s already selling very well, with three books now out in the series.
**Note: a couple of naughty words came up in today’s discussion, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, or frank discussions of what’s allowed and what the tropes are in erotica, you may want to pass on this episode and tune back in next week for a more typical show. Thanks!
Here are some more details on what we touched upon:
Getting started with fan fiction and publishing on free-to-read sites such as LitErotica.
How Addison turned the readers of her free material into an ARC team that went out and left reviews of her books when she launched.
What’s working with SF erotica covers (and what to avoid if you don’t want your book to be nixed by Amazon)
Whether there really is “big money” in writing erotica
What the “Adult Dungeon” is on Amazon and how to avoid having your work stuck in it
We chatted with Phil Tucker about his time working at Penguin, his first couple of series (including paranormal romance novels published under a pen name), and his new Chronicles of the Black Gate epic fantasy series, which has been selling great since its release back in May. Even though his previous experience was in paranormal and vampires, he had a solid launch, and we grilled him on what he did in designing and marketing the new series.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the topics we hit on:
Phil’s experience working in the content marketing department at Penguin publishing
Why he chose self-publishing instead of traditional publishing
Learning the ropes with his first vampire series
Starting a paranormal romance pen name, finding some success, but then switching away from it
Going back to his first love with epic fantasy
Going into debt to invest in great cover art
Studying the blurbs of top-selling books in the epic fantasy genre and making sure he had the best package possible when he launched
Today, the guys chatted about their experiences with multi-author and solo-author book bundles of existing material and also anthologies of new short stories or novellas. They offered some tips and strategies based on whether you’re looking for more exposure (getting more people into the rest of your series), to make money, or to hit a bestseller list. They also started out answering a few listener questions.
Here are a few more notes on what they covered during the show:
Science fiction romance and adventure romance author, Anna Hackett, regularly has 80-100 reviews on her books within a few days of release. We asked her about how she created a great team of reviewers who get early copies and leave prompt reviews. She’s also increased her productivity substantially in the last couple of years and often publishes a short novel each month now, so we asked her about that too.
Here are a few more specifics on what we covered:
Mining your existing readers/newsletter subscribers to find people for a review team (and how to get started building that mailing list if yours doesn’t have many subscribers yet)
The logistics of contacting reviewers with advanced review copies and making sure they can download the ebooks to their readers of choice.
How many reviews you should be shooting for with a new release
Increasing productivity by giving yourself deadlines (even if you don’t have to publish on a certain day)
Writing shorter novels, if it makes sense for your style and your genre
Keeping all the balls in the air when juggling multiple series
Tips for newer authors trying to get those early reviews
Focusing on writing and publishing books as the most effective form of marketing
Whether there’s a downside to giving away review copies to readers who likely would have purchased the books
Do book giveaways and contests help garner more reviews?
If Anna’s books sound interesting to you, she has several permafree adventures that you can check out: