Today we interviewed fresh new horror/dystopian fiction author, Zach Bohannon. Despite a full time job and a family, he’s managed to write and publish five novels (and some short stories) already this year. He also got off to a great start with excellent sales and reviews of the books in his Empty Bodies series. We asked him how he got those early sales, whether being in Kindle Unlimited helped, and why his dog is named after a beer company.
Here are some of the highlights:
Managing a full time job and a family while writing and publishing multiple novels a year
Calls to action (CTAs) in the back matter of the book to ask for reviews and mailing list sign-ups
Calls to action in the front matter of a book, yea or nay?
Can you have too many CTAs? Should you just stick to one?
Challenges of marketing dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction versus horror
Having a great first book launch based largely on a good cover and low price in a popular genre (Zach also started in Kindle Unlimited and had lots of good things to say about his experiences in KDP Select thus far)
Appearing on podcasts as part of a promotions strategy
What Zach does for social media, and does he think it’s important for book sales?
Connecting with readers on Instagram (check out Zach’s page) versus Twitter — people pause and you can more easily grab their attention with images on Instagram (he goes and comments on other people’s photos, rather than worrying too much about putting up photos of his own)
Using auto-responders for your mailing list to connect with readers.
How Zach feels about advertising and sponsored posts on blogs/newsletters.
We chatted with indie thriller author Mark Dawson today, someone who found success before he started tinkering with Facebook advertising, but who then really ratcheted up his sales and earnings by figuring out what’s working over there. He now runs a course to help other authors and has several free instructional videos up at Self Publishing Formula. If you like what you hear in the interview, you may want to check them out.
Here’s some of what we covered:
Setting up advertising campaigns versus running boosted posts (Mark doesn’t bother with boosted posts)
Sending people directly to Amazon to buy books or, even better, sending them to a mailing list sign-up page and giving them free books (i.e. your starter library or series starter) in exchange for an email address (never advertise just for likes to your Facebook page)
Setting a bid price for ads versus letting Facebook choose in order to optimize clicks
Choosing a target audience (i.e. as a thriller author, Mark targets fans of Lee Child) based on interests that are likely to make them fans of your work
Does it matter if you’re in KDP Select and your books aren’t available everywhere? Will fewer of your clicks convert?
Do certain genres perform better than others with Facebook advertising?
How much can a new author just jumping in expect to spend?
Using Chrome and the Facebook Power Editor for greater control over your ads
Taking your existing mailing list, importing it into Facebook, and creating an all new custom audience to target based on the interests of your current subscribers
Advertising consistently, day-to-day, versus just advertising when you’re doing a book launch or a sale
Tips for making it work even if you’re in a small niche without any big-name authors to target
This evening, the three of us shared what we do to launch new books, and then Lindsay went through the list she’s making for when she gets a new website designed (by no later than 2017, really!). Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Newsletters and social media announcements, staggering for launches
Recruiting reviewers before the book is released
Possibly getting more sales by using pre-orders
Updating back matter in earlier books with links to new books
Sharing preview materials with readers
Facebook boosted posts (the only advertising we do for launches)
Updating Goodreads and Shelfari when you release books, especially if you’re a new author — nobody’s going to do it for you!
Making sure you have an Author Central profile at Amazon and then claiming new books.
Domain names: your author name vs. your world/universe/book series name
Using WordPress as the backbone to your website
Getting author websites up and running inexpensively
Putting newsletter sign-up forms “above the fold” so people don’t have to scroll
Having a “new readers start here” kind of section for people who visit your site for the first time
Static home pages versus having your blog on there with the latest updates
Avoiding too much clutter, making it hard for people to find the links to check out your books, using ads on author websites, forgetting to have links to all stores, not having a list of your books, and getting into posting schemes with other authors
Tonight, after Lindsay tripped her way through the introduction (talking *and* pressing buttons… too much pressure), she and Jeff interviewed Ferol Vernon from Written Word Media. He and his wife are the founders of such sites as BargainBooksy, FreeBooksy, and New in Books. We wanted to know what he could tell us from the point of view of someone running one of the sites where we authors like to advertise.
Here’s some of what we talked about:
What are the Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy sites, and why should readers and authors be interested?
Ferol’s thoughts on what makes one book perform better (more clicks and sales) than another for any given genre.
The importance of good cover art and whether there are any genres where cover art doesn’t matter quite as much.
Authors getting more bang for their advertising bucks by stacking promotions.
Is it possible to promote a mid-series book or are series starters always going to be more effective?
Do certain genres have a higher percentage of click-through?
Should you write different blurbs for these sponsorships than you do for your book on Amazon?
Can putting a book’s accolades (i.e. USA Today Bestseller or winner of such-and-such award) help get more clicks and sales?
For more information, or to submit your book for an advertising slot, check out BargainBooksy, FreeBooksy, and New in Books (the last one is a new site of theirs that features new releases, so no minimum review requirements and no need to put the book on sale).