Steampunk (and Harlequin and Amish romance) author Shelley Adina joins us today to talk about managing multiple pen names and genres, keeping a long-running series fresh (and selling), paying for foreign translations of indie books, and working the cons to get in touch with more readers (and take trips you can write off on your taxes!).
Here are some more specifics of what we covered:
An MFA program that was actually fun (and taught genre writing)
Going indie in genres where the publishers aren’t interested (and making more money as an indie than in trad publishing!)
Writing a free short story to entice readers to sign up to your newsletter
Selling in Germany as an SF&F author (and whether it’s worth doing translations)
The high cost of paying for translations on your own
How to use your blog as a marketing method and what to write about as a fiction author
Keeping your author voice consistent when you’re switching between pen names and genres
Not just relying on ebooks and making extra money by doing paperback and audio versions.
How Shelley got a deal with Blackstone Publishing to handle distribution of audiobooks and get into more stores than when using ACX.
Tonight’s discussion was with the anonymous Data Guy, curator for the famous (or perhaps infamous!) Author Earnings Report. If you haven’t been by the site, make sure to visit and check out some of the reports (you can also grab the raw data if you’re a data person!).
Here are some of the questions we asked Data Guy:
What exactly is the Author Earnings Report, and how do you get your information?
How are you able to look at a book’s Amazon sales ranking and figure out how many books are selling each day?
How are indie authors doing compared to small press, Amazon imprints, and traditionally published authors?
Which genres are indie authors doing best in?
What’s the reception been from the industry? Has Amazon stepped forward to confirm or deny the accuracy of your reports?
Does the data show that authors need to release frequently (i.e. every few months) to stay on the radar and continue selling well?
Are there any correlations between basic stats and overall income? i.e. total number of books, number in series, number of reviews, etc.
How is sales ranking figured? Is it true that it takes more sales to make it to a certain ranking than it does to stick once you get there? How are past sales weighed in to the current ranking?
How does Kindle Unlimited play into your rankings and income reports?
What do you think is the best route for authors starting out today?
Marketing venues you can get into with a traditional publisher behind you (and the challenges of getting into the same spots as an indie).
Giveaways and contests and what kind of prizes she uses to inspire fan art.
Beth’s tips for getting an agent and a publisher (she recommends batch querying to test your query letter, sample pages, etc. before flinging your queries out to everyone in the database)?
Using QueryTracker to find agents suitable for your genre (newer agents may be quicker to respond and more eager to find clients than established veterans)
How Beth decides if a project is more suitable for self-publishing or if it might appeal to a traditional publisher.
Getting involved with more than Facebook when it comes to social media (she recommends Instagram and Tumblr especially for YA authors).
Occasionally Tweeting or Facebook posting about the perks of being on your mailing list (such as that you’ll debut book covers or teasers to subscribers)
Using apps like Word Swag and sites like Canva.com to take fun quotes from your book and turn them into graphics that are more shareable on social media.
Using Wattpad as a way to organize non-fiction projects and also to get exposure to the YA readers out there.
If you’re interested in Beth’s books for writers, the links to all three are up above. If you want to check out her fiction, you can find her novels and short stories on Amazon or get more information on her website. Her latest novel, A World Without You, will be available in July (you can pre-order it now). She’s on social media in all of the usual places too, so stop by and say hi!
We chatted with up-and-coming indie author Elle Thorne today about writing and selling paranormal romance. She’s been publishing for less than two years, but she’s been very prolific, has numerous series going, and has contributed to several boxed sets. She’s doing quite well for herself.
Here’s some of what we discussed:
Rocking it with novella length fiction
The difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance
The challenges and rewards of writing in a popular genre
Following trends in PNR versus just writing what you’re passionate about
Boxed sets — the challenges of committing to writing new fiction for a set and when it’s worth it
Effective ways to increase your mailing list sign-ups
Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select for PNR and novella-length fiction
Looking at the top book covers in your genre for inspiration
Becoming a part of existing Facebook groups in your genre as a means of promotion
Doing cross-promotion with other closely related authors to increase your reach
The challenges of getting sponsorships with the shorter fiction