Tonight we talked to AW Exley, the author of the popular steampunk adventures, The Artifact Hunters. She hails from rural New Zealand and signed on with Curiosity Quills, a small press, to start out. She’s since started publishing some of her work independently and spoke to us about the differences in marketing and control. Here’s a quick look at some of what we covered:
Advantages of going with a small press when you’re starting out
Why AW Exely decided to self-publish her more recent books
Spending time on social media and marketing versus just writing the next book in a series
The challenges of growing a private mailing list when a publisher is handling the backmatter (and putting their own newsletter link in)
The advantages of wearing a corset when pimping books to the steampunk audience. 😉 (And will Jo buy a corset or will he not?)
Tips for new writers
Dealing with bad reviews
Thoughts on what makes a good cover in the steampunk genre (and overused images/ideas)
Being the big fish in the small pond and choosing a smaller category on Amazon
Hey, everyone! Tonight Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay devoted most of the show to discussing newsletters. What host do they use (or in Jeff’s case, how he does it himself with a WordPress plug-in), how often do they send out letters, what do they write about, how they use affiliate links to monitor sales (and make some extra money), and how to get readers to sign up in the first place.
Here are some more highlights, as well as the links that were mentioned in the show:
Tonight we chatted with Ben Zackheim, middle-grade fantasy author, or “writer of smart books for smart children.” He’s worn a lot of hats in his working life and a few years ago switched from the game industry to self-publishing his own novels. He’s also a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where he shows creative people how to market their work. You can say hi to him on Twitter and check out the first book in his Camelot Kids series on Amazon.
Here’s a little of what we talked about tonight:
The challenges of marketing middle-grade books
How independent publishing differs from film-making and video game creation
Working with artists for quality covers and possibly in-book material
Thoughts on blogging, social media, and “building a platform”
How many people are overlooking local markets in their marketing attempts
Utilizing visual artwork to help sell your books (Don’t have any? Commission some for your world and your character.)
Costly ads and other marketing schemes that should be avoided
Focusing on a series and publishing regularly
Is it worth trying to target fans of a popular series by writing something similar?
Getting a table at conventions and selling directly to your target audience
Amazon ads (and what analytics Amazon shares with authors) — will they be better in the future?
Tonight, we had Smashwords founder Mark Coker on the show, and he gave us a lot of great information on working the pre-order system on Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc., marketing on Smashwords and sites it distributes to, and selling more books overall. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:
How Mark’s book, The Boobtube, led him to create Smashwords back in 2008
How to take advantage of pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc. (Unlike with Amazon, you get a big boost on release day, because the orders accumulate and all count toward your Day 1 sales.)
Possibly getting extra merchandizing love with retailers such as Apple, based on strong pre-order interest and early sales
New features coming to the Smashwords pre-order system, such as assetless pre-orders (so you don’t need to have the finished manuscript in order to make your book available for order)
Don’t worry — no penalties at Smashwords for missed deadlines on pre-orders, but you can upload up to 12 months ahead, so you can give yourself plenty of time
Why still use a distributor? Makes it easy to get books out without having to be on each platform (on Barnes & Noble, you actually end up making more on books priced under $2.99)
Scribd, Oyster, and other smaller retailers that you can only get into via a distributor
The Smashwords affiliate program (getting other people to plug your book for you — and giving them an incentive to do so)
Common mistakes Mark sees authors making
Are permafree series starters still working?
What’s coming next to Smashwords
Whether you use Smashwords or not, you might gain something from checking out Mark’s helpful books: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Amazon | Smashwords) and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – How to Market any Book for Free (Amazon | Smashwords)