Today we chatted with paranormal romance author Anna Lowe. She got her start in 2015, made $26,000 that first year, and then made more than $50,000 in 2016. We asked her about what it’s like for those starting new, and how she’s broken into a fairly competitive genre.
Here are a few more specifics:
Writing stories that can cross genres (Anna’s books can be filed under Romance > Western as well as paranormal romance) and perhaps appealing to more than once audience.
Focusing on shorter novels in genres that are accepting of them, so that you can publish more often, even if you’re not a super speedy writer.
Anna’s thoughts on jumping into a competitive genre as a newer author.
Tropes that people expect in PNR and whether it’s okay to turn some of them on their heads.
How she’s had good experiences with short stories, despite advice to ignore them in favor of writing novels.
Getting involved with Facebook author and fan groups as a way of finding people to network with and also potential ARC reviewers.
Putting together a solid ARC team and following up to make sure people are actually posting reviews.
Setting daily writing goals to keep the books coming out, even when you’re busy with a full-time job and a family.
Experimenting with audiobooks and figuring out how to market them.
On previous shows, we’ve talked about the various ways to put short stories to use, including putting them into anthologies. But we haven’t talked much about producing multi-author anthologies of short stories–and actually making money doing it. (A lot of people edit and publish anthologies for the love of it, but turning a profit can be difficult, especially if you’re paying the authors decently for the rights to use their work.) Today we chatted with Patrice Fitzgerald, who, in addition to being an author in her own right, has published numerous science fiction anthologies–and done well with them.
Here are some of the details of what we covered:
The transition from attorney to author to anthology producer.
How Patrice is putting together mystery and science fiction anthologies that sell and make money.
How she approaches some of the bigger sellers in the indie community (and sometimes out of it) so she’ll have some stories from popular authors to go along with the stories from up-and-comers.
How she goes about recruiting those bigger names, and also how she sets up a way to receive submissions without getting too inundated by entries.
Whether it’s better to pay authors a flat fee or do a royalty split.
Whether it’s best to include stories that are completely stand alone or if they can tie into an author’s existing worlds.
Whether there’s an ideal length for the overall anthology and for individual stories.
How she gets past the bias (if there is one) against shorter fiction and sells a lot of anthologies.
Using Kindle Unlimited and 99 cents to launch her anthologies (and then going up to $4 or $5 the second week).
Gathering email addresses and starting a mailing list as a publisher and also leveraging the large lists that some of the authors have.
Doing a series of anthologies in a similar style as opposed to jumping all over the place.
On this week’s show, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay discussed tactics for marketing your backlist, bringing a dying series back to life, or giving a kick to one that never took off in the first place. They also talked about which tasks they hire out, whether they’ve used virtual assistants, how they stay on task and keep the books rolling out, and whether it makes sense to hang out where your readers are hanging out.
Here are a few more specifics on subjects covered:
Is it acceptable to use very similar covers for books in a series?
Whether you need to worry about your real name coming out anywhere if you publish under a pen name.
Using free/99-cent ebooks combined with periodic advertising to keep people coming into your series funnel.
When to put together a boxed set of the early books in a series and using that as another type of Book 1, perhaps with a different cover and blurb to appeal to a slightly different audience.
Places besides the bookstores to list your free books.
Publishing new short stories or installments in old series in order to help revitalize the interest in the earlier books.
Remembering to promote old books, as well as new releases, to your newsletter subscribers.
When it makes sense to rebrand a series with new covers and maybe new blurbs.
Hiring freelancers for editing, cover design, formatting, audiobook narration, etc.
When it makes sense to consider hiring a virtual assistant.
Whether you should be visiting the fantasy/science fiction groups on Reddit, Goodreads, etc.
Today we chatted with fantasy author Timothy L. Cerepaka who branched out into superhero fiction in 2016 under the pen name Lucas Flint. He talked about how he’s had more success with the superhero stories and believes the genre is less competitive than many of the other fantasy niches.
Here are a few details of what we covered:
What makes a superhero novel (i.e. what are the tropes and expectations)?
What works well when it comes to covers?
What length of novel do people in this genre expect?
Is this a good niche for KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited?
How Timothy got the ball rolling in the new niche without spending much on advertising (he estimates he’s spent less than $100 all year).
When the big superhero movies come out, does it help with marketing similar books?
Is there a specific demographic that picks up these novels?
What price did Timothy launch his first book at, and what are his prices for the rest of the series?
Why he’s stopping at Book 9 and starting an all new superhero series next year.
What are some common mistakes made by authors in the genre?