SFFMP 161: Handling Foreign Rights Yourself, When to Incorporate, and New Audiobook Options

On today’s show, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay answered some listener questions and shared their notes from the workshop that Jo and Lindsay attended in October, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch’s Business Masterclass. It was a week long workshop that covered dealing with Hollywood offers, handling foreign rights offers without an agent, increasing writing productivity, estate planning and tax stuff for authors (including when it makes sense to incorporate and which type of corporation in the US), and updates from Kobo on their plans to add audiobooks to their catalogue, among many other topics.

Here are some of the specifics of what the gang covered today:

  • Jo and Lindsay jumping into Patreon (right as Patreon changed their pricing structure and left folks in an uproar, of course!)
  • New podcasts that Lindsay is checking out: Kevin J Anderson’s Creative Futurism and Mark Coker’s Smart Author podcast out of Smashwords.
  • Whether NetGalley is useful for indie authors or primarily aimed at small presses.
  • If it’s okay to sell print and audiobooks in other stores if your ebooks are in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited at Amazon.
  • Whether a pen name needs a separate social medial platform, website, and Goodreads account.
  • Whether an author with a new series ready to go should consider self-publishing or traditional publishing right now.
  • Saving money on taxes as a writer by incorporating.
  • The importance of getting an accountant that specializes in finances for creative people, such as authors, artists, musicians.
  • Keeping in mind that all the books you write are pieces of intellectual property and as such have some value.
  • Tips for hiring a virtual assistant (or nine).
  • Pricing for libraries if you’re trying to get your ebooks picked up by them.
  • Kobo to add audiobooks to its store.
  • Going non-exclusive with ACX or producing an audiobook through Findaway Voices in order to take advantage of some of the other up-and-coming markets besides iTunes/Amazon/Audible. Also being able to choose your price in these other marketplaces.
  • Why you may want to set up your books at IngramSpark as well as CreateSpace.
  • Why you don’t need an agent to negotiate on foreign rights deals.
  • Waiting for publishers in other countries to approach you versus methods of gaining their attention.
  • What to expect from foreign rights sales in terms of money and reception of your books in other countries.

That’s it for this week. Keep writing!

 

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SFFMP 160: Making a Living Selling Physical Books at Conventions with Russell Nohelty

On this week’s show, we chatted with Russell Nohelty, who wrote for film, TV, animation, and comic books, before getting into novels a few years ago. He’s different from many of our guests in that he’s not doing much of his selling online. He makes a good living by traveling and selling his novels at conventions, thirty to forty cons a year.

We asked him all about which cons are worth going to, getting started as a newer author, getting onto panels, the costs of tables, and how to actually sell books while you’re there.

Here are some of the specifics covered in the interview:

  • Some of the reasons Russell likes selling at conventions, such as fewer authors that you’re competing with for attention (hundreds vs. the millions at Amazon), an opportunity to establish authority, and a chance to meet your target audience and also network with other authors.
  • How much you can expect to pay for a table and whether it’s better to be in Artists’ Alley or get a more expensive vendor booth in the Exhibition Hall.
  • When it’s okay to split the cost of a table with other authors.
  • Creating exclusive versions of your books for conventions (Russell uses the option at Ingram Spark to have books with different covers) and being able to charge more for them than at the bookstores.
  • Whether you need to be traditionally published or if anyone can buy a table.
  • Whether larger venues are likely to be more profitable or if it’s easier to be noticed and sell books at a smaller convention.
  • Collecting email addresses digitally at your table by using a tablet that signs visitors up to a list immediately.
  • Using giveaways of some of the popular products at the convention in order to get more list signups.
  • If there’s any chance at selling books if you’re introverted and not a natural salesman or saleswoman.
  • How many print copies of your books you should bring at a convention.
  • How Russell has occasionally found bookstores near the convention that will let him do signings and ship and store the books he’ll sell at the convention to them (as opposed to paying the high storage fees for the hotel or convention).
  • Selling USB drives with your whole library of ebooks on it for a great price to the reader that is still profitable to you.
  • Resources Russell mentioned for finding conventions: Convention Scene, ConCon, and Conosaurus.

Find out more about Russell and sign up to get a number of his books for free on his website.

If you’re interested in getting better at selling your work, you may want to check out Russell’s 20 minute video at Sell More Cool Things.

He’s also written the book Sell Your Soul: How to Build Your Creative Career.

 

 

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SFFMP 159: Twitter Marketing Best Practices for Authors with Jesper Schmidt

This week’s guest, Jesper Schmidt, is a fantasy author and also the author of non-fiction titles Fantasy Map Making and Twitter for Authors: Save Time, Get Followers, and Grow Your Email List. We haven’t had a dedicated Twitter show before, so we spent most of the hour going over tips and best practices on this sometimes challenging to understand social media platform.

Here are some of the specifics on what we covered:

  • How someone can be hired to draw a map for your world (fantasy or otherwise) for less than you might think.
  • Some of the challenges when you’re working full time and writing a novel a year.
  • How authors can better use Twitter to find their target readers.
  • Picking one day a week to schedule tweets to go out throughout the week.
  • Having tweets appear at all times of the day to target potential readers in other time zones.
  • Some of the tools that Jesper uses for scheduling, automation, tracking links, and finding followers who are likely to be interested in his books: HootSuite for a better Twitter app, SocialOomph for scheduling, Canva for creating images with text, Bitly for shortening and tracking links, and Crowdfire to find targeted people to follow.
  • Creating interesting content that would appeal to your target audience and then sprinkling in promotional tweets (Jesper keeps it to 1 in 10 tweets).
  • How Jesper uses Hootsuite to find content and relevant tweets to reply to.
  • Using free books or stories (with an email sign-up requirement if you’re list building) to appeal to Twitter users (you’re less likely to simply sell a book flat out).
  • Making use of the pinned tweet with an image/book cover and link to your freebie.
  • Signing up for the advertising program in order to gain access to a Twitter Card, which you can write text and a link in and give away to people who follow you.
  • How much time should an author be spending on Twitter each week?
  • Just using the free options for everything Twitter-related — Jesper hasn’t heard of an authors finding it profitable to actually pay for Twitter advertising.

You can visit Jesper in several places online, such as his author website, his series of YouTube videos for fantasy authors, and of course on Twitter. He also works on the AmWritingFantasy site with another author, and you can find numerous resources for writers.

You can pick up Twitter for Authors or Fantasy Map Making from Amazon and other stores.

 

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SFFMP 158: Making the Best Use of Promo Sites with Will from Book Barbarian

This week, we were joined by Will Turnage, the founder of the discount book promotion site, Book Barbarian (in addition, he runs Red Roses Romance and Book Adrenaline for mysteries and thrillers). He’s also the author of three science fiction and fantasy novels, and is a fan of the genre. We asked him about some best practices for authors using promotional sites.

Here are a few of the specifics that we covered:

  • What it’s like writing and running a business from Cartegena, Colombia.
  • How Will turned from author to founder of a book promotion site, one of the first devoted to scifi and fantasy.
  • The challenges of building up a subscriber base and keeping new people coming in (yes, these guys have some of the same challenges that we have as authors!).
  • Some trends that Will has seen — what sub-genres of SF&F tend to be most popular and what types of covers work well.
  • How many reviews you should have before submitting your book to a site like Book Barbarian.
  • Whether it’s necessary to have a high normal price and deeply discount to appeal to readers.
  • Best practices when it comes to free books.
  • Ad stacking across multiple book promo sites to sell/give away more books and in the hope that your book might stick on the store sites for longer.
  • How often one should submit books to promo sites and when one might experience diminishing returns.

You can submit your science fiction and fantasy titles on Book Barbarian or sign up as a subscriber. You can also check out Will’s novels, Rise of the Jinn, Extermination Day, and NanoSwarm on Amazon under William Turnage.

 

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SFFMP 157: Advanced Newsletter Tactics, Set-It-and-Forget It Automation, and Cultivating a Relationship with Your Readers with Andrea Pearson

We had a very informative show tonight when non-fiction and fantasy author Andrea Pearson joined us to chat about one of her passions: newsletters! (Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay don’t share this passion, so it was great to get answers from a pro.) Andrea has written more than thirty novels across three pen names and also has a series of books for authors called Self-Publish Strong.

Here are some of the details of what we covered:

  • Doing a big promotional push at launch or waiting until your book has a good number of reviews?
  • Where to get reviews when you’re a newer author (These all cost money, but Andrea mentioned Booksprout, Jim Kukral’s Review Grabber Tool, and Book Rank’s review service.)
  • Whether to do a big promo push all at once or spread things out over weeks.
  • How to get noticed on other sites if you leave KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited and go wide.
  • If it makes sense putting together big boxed sets or exclusive content for any particular sites.
  • Launch strategies for a spinoff series or novel set in a world some of your readers are already familiar with.
  • Why Andrea published her YA fantasy series from scratch with new ASINs when she relaunched the series.
  • Being aware of “black hole” ages for characters if you’re writing middle grade or YA fiction (and also that the heroes should be older than the readers they’re aimed at).
  • What newsletter service Andrea recommends for authors (MailChimp) and why.
  • The seven-email autoresponder series she has set up (when a new subscriber signs up, he/she gets the first welcome email, and then more letters in a series spread out over the next several weeks).
  • Whether she does a different sequence or has different lists depending on where subscribers come from (i.e. free group promo or back-of-the-book signup)?
  • The importance of emailing subscribers regularly to keep sales flowing — Andrea lists her books in the post script of all her emails.
  • Zapier.com, a service she uses to help automate and deliver her bonuses for subscribers.
  • What aspects of newsletter delivery shouldn’t be automated?
  • Using exclusive content to get people to sign up (this works better for Andrea than giving away Book 2, something readers could simply buy, for free).
  • Andrea recommended the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership podcast.
  • What to do to hopefully keep newsletters from getting stuck over in people’s Gmail promotions tab.
  • Giving away bonuses from other authors as part of an incentive to get readers to buy new releases.

Find Andrea online at her website, or check out her Facebook group for authors: Bookbub Promotions and More. Andrea also has a series of books under the Self-Publish Strong title. The most recent one is How to Grow a Rock-Solid Newsletter List: Newsletter Marketing for Authors.

 

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SFFMP 156: Finding Success with a Cross-Genre Book Launch with Chris Fox

One of our favorite guests, Chris Fox, returns this week so we can grill him about the success he had with his space-fantasy launch, Tech Mage.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • What made Chris, the Write to Market guy, decide to take on a new cross-genre series that he wasn’t positive would sell well.
  • How you choose what to emphasize on the cover when your novel crosses multiple genres and could fit in a number of categories.
  • How Chris quietly put up a pre-order without mentioning it to fans, then used Facebook ads to see which ads and tag lines on the product page resulted in the highest conversion.
  • Choosing different audiences to target (via Facebook ads) for subsequent launches in a cross-genre series.
  • Whether anything different needs to be done with a launch for a book that spans multiple genres and isn’t necessarily written to market.
  • Advice for newer authors who don’t have a list already built that they can rely upon for early sales.
  • Keeping cover design simple, and whether it matters if you have a specific scene from the book illustrated for it.
  • For the first time, Chris registered a domain name and put up a lot of bonus content for his new series: https://www.magitechchronicles.com/
  • Why Chris plans to write ten books in this series rather than sticking to trilogies or smaller series as he’s often done in the past.
  • Who should consider relaunching a series.
  • Why Chris likes omnibuses as a way to kickstart a flagging series without redoing covers on all the original books.

You can buy or borrow Tech Mage on Amazon, or check out Chris’s Relaunch Your Novel for some tips on breathing life into a series that you felt underperformed initially.

Chris also has some great videos for writers on his YouTube channel. Of course, he’s on the web too at Chris Fox Writes.

Also, if you haven’t listened to them, check out the other episodes where Chris was a guest:

 

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SFFMP 155: What It Takes to Shift from Hobby Writer to Full-Time Author with Ben Hale

This week, we chatted with non-fiction and YA fantasy author Ben Hale. A former business owner, he did a lot of research before jumping into self-publishing his first fantasy novels in 2012. After six months, he was able to go full-time. His recent non-fiction release, co-written with Honorée Corder, talks about the business side of writing and publishing, with tips for taking your career to the next level.

Here are a few of the specifics we talked about:

  • Researching the market and what’s working for successful authors before jumping in to publishing.
  • Why being fluent in a language may not be enough when it comes to translating your own books.
  • The changes to the market that Ben has seen since he first started publishing in 2012.
  • Creating multiple series that interlink and are set in the same world so that readers will naturally want to go from one to the other.
  • Some of the challenges of marketing to young adult readers and why some YA books appeal to adults more than others do.
  • The importance of releasing regularly — Ben tries to put out a new novel every 3 to 4 months.
  • Developing a business mindset as an author.
  • What to look at if you have a number of books out, but they aren’t selling as well as you expected.
  • How far ahead goals or visions should extend.
  • Starting out with the business mindset so that you’re ready for success farther down the road.

Learn more about Ben Hale and grab his starter library at his website, Lumineia. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and check out the helpful book that he and Honorée Corder wrote, Write Like a Boss.

 

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SFFMP 154: Getting into Libraries, Urban Fantasy Launches, and Writing Tips from the Donald Maass Workshop

Today, we were joined by librarian and urban fantasy author Dale Ivan Smith who launched his first series, The Empowered, earlier this year. He talked about the challenges of writing across genres, getting into a crowded subgenre such as urban fantasy, and why he started in Kindle Unlimited and later went wide. We also asked him how one can get self-published books into libraries and what he learned from attending the Donald Maass workshop on the emotional craft of fiction.

Here are a few of the specifics we touched on:

  • Pricing your ebooks to be attractive to librarians.
  • Talking to local librarians and what it’s good to show them (i.e. reviews, awards) when you’re pitching your book.
  • Asking your readers to put in requests at their local libraries for your books.
  • Whether libraries cycle books out of their system based on popularity.
  • Whether workshops are worth the cost and travel expense.
  • Creating protagonists that the readers connect with right away.
  • The challenges of creating an antihero protagonist.
  • Launching an urban fantasy series as an author starting today.
  • Writing the story of your heart (as many authors start out doing) versus one that’s to market and perhaps more likely to sell.
  • Whether to launch into KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited or to take an urban fantasy series wide.
  • Promotion sites that accept a new author and that Dale found worth it.
  • Tips for other newer authors.

Please visit Dale on his website or Twitter, and you can currently get his first novel, Empowered: Agent, for free everywhere.

 

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SFFMP 153: What to Do When Your Book Isn’t Selling + Selling Direct from Your Site

Today, Jo and Lindsay talked about their experiences selling ebooks and paperbacks directly from their sites, along with some of the pros and cons of doing so and tax considerations. They also ran through a checklist of things to look at if your book isn’t getting the sales you were hoping for.

Here are some of the highlights of the show:

  • Jo talked about why he took one of his recent titles out of Kindle Unlimited after a quarter.
  • Lindsay talked about buckling down and knocking out ten thousand words a day to meet some goals.
  • Selling signed paperbacks direct from your site and also doing special editions or early releases of ebooks from your site when you have a fanbase eagerly waiting for new material in a series they love.
  • Some of the pros of selling direct (keeping a higher percentage on each sale, getting the email addresses of known buyers, and not relying completely on any one store).
  • Some of the cons of selling direct (few people make it work for fiction ebooks, it’s not as easy of a process for the readers, dealing with customer service, and the extra work of installing and maintaining an e-store).
  • Tax considerations (keeping receipts and when Paypal will send you a 1099 if you use them for your direct sales).
  • Checking your cover and blurb if your book sales are anemic. Links to Libbie Hawker’s ebook on blurbs (Gotta Read It) and her two-part video instructions on the same topic (Write an Awesome Blurb or Query Pt. 1 and Write an Awesome Blurb or Query Pt. 2).
  • Avoiding slow pacing, editing errors, and infodumps in the sample pages (and ideally everywhere!).
  • Creating stories and characters that people fall in love with.
  • Not having too high of expectations!

 

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SFFMP 152: Pricing, Category Stuffing, Launching with Three Books, and Marketing Cross-Genre Novels

This week, we answered some listener questions that had been piling up. We touched on a variety of topics, such as…

  • Should you try to put your books in as many categories as possible, and what can we do about books that shouldn’t be there knocking us out of our Top 100s on Amazon?
  • Amazon’s page of keywords for getting into unlisted categories: Selecting Browse Categories.
  • How many downloads a day can you expect from permafree titles?
  • Is it worth trying to sell English novels in countries where English isn’t the primary language?
  • How can trad publishers get away with charging 9.99 or more for ebooks, and can indies do this if their books are well edited and professionally done?
  • How do you market cross-genre books that fall into more than one category?
  • How do you guys feel about killing characters, and does it ever get easier?
  • How does your plotting process work?
  • Has anyone tried Kobo Plus yet and gotten results?
  • Where you can advertise as a newer author with less than twenty reviews on your book? Here are the links to the spreadsheets Lindsay mentioned (that C. Gockel maintains). We’re not sure if they’re up to date though, so let us know if you know of a good and recent resource. Where to Advertise Free Ebooks | Where to Advertise 99 Cent Ebooks.
  • How did Lindsay relaunch her pen name successfully after a long gap between releases?
  • If you want to write three books before launching any of them, can you use novellas as part of the plan?

Jeff and Lindsay are working on new projects, but Jo has some links if you want to check out what he’s up to right now. Here’s his serial-in-progress: The Adventures of Rustle and Eddy. Also, he’s recently done a series of “How I Write” blog posts, which cover his plotting process, among other things.

 

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