SFFMP 145: Using eBook Giveaways to Grow Your Audience and Sell More Books

On today’s show, we were joined by Ashley and Maura from Instafreebie. If you haven’t heard about the service yet, it’s a spot where you can upload free ebooks (previews, short stories, and novellas are fine), and it makes it easy for potential readers to download them and load them on their e-readers. You also have the option of requiring readers to share their email addresses in order to download the ebooks, so it can be a way to start growing a mailing list. A lot of our previous guests have used the service, and many authors attest to its usefulness, especially in conjunction with multi-author promotions.

Here’s some of what we talked about on the show:

  • How Instafreebie works and how it differs from Bookfunnel, another service that can facilitate giving away ebooks.
  • Giving away books (such as series starters) versus giving away short stories or previews of novels.
  • Making sure to put your call to action (i.e. buy Book 2 in the series here!) in the back of the ebooks you give away.
  • Using Instafreebie (and collecting email addresses) versus making books free on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc.
  • Whether cliffhangers, at the ends of free novels or previews, work or if the readers are left irritated.
  • Using a drip campaign (or auto-responder) to reach out to readers after they’ve shared their email addresses.
  • Instafreebie’s recommendation engine and other ways to increase discoverability outside of what you do for promo.
  • Organizing a group giveaway and asking them for a plug (submit requests to production@instafreebie.com)
  • How newer authors can leverage Instafreebie to build a fan base when they don’t have a big social media presence or mailing list for driving traffic.
  • How books are chosen to be shared on the Instafreebie blog for extra promotion.

If you’re interested in signing up for their service, find it at Instafreebie.com.

 

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SFFMP 144: Breaking Six Figures as an Author – What Does It Take?

It’s a long show today, but we covered a lot of ground, so hopefully you’ll find it interesting. We discussed last year’s Author Earnings report that showed how many authors were making over $100,000 a year at Amazon.com, and we also talked about the findings of a survey by Written Word Media that came out a couple of months ago, giving the lowdown on habits of six-figures authors (i.e. how many books out, how long it took to get there, how much they’re paying for editors and cover art, etc.)

Here are some specifics from the crib sheet (click the links to the reports to read them in far more detail):

May 2016 Author Earnings Report (http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/):

Based on print, audio, and ebook of the Amazon US store only:

  • 1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales. But half of them are indies and Amazon-imprint authors. The majority of the remainder? They come from traditional publishing’s longest-tenured “old guard.”
  • Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authorsand 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
  • More than 50% of all traditionally published book sales of any format in the US now happen on Amazon.com.
  • 85% of all non-traditionally published book sales of any format in the US also happen on Amazon.com.

 

Written Word Media’s June 2017 Survey: What Makes a $100K Author (https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author/):

  • 88% of 100kers have been writing more than 3 years.
  • None of their survey responders making 100K were trad published.
  • There were hybrid authors, who either got a contract due to their indie success or decided to make the higher royalties as an indie for some of their stuff.
  • You don’t have to be exclusive with Amazon, there was a mix.
  • Rates for editors varied, as well as cover art, but none of the 100Kers were paying more than $1000 a cover.
  • The 100Kers try paid marketing and handle it themselves (nobody’s hiring a PR person here or handing off their FB ads)
  • 20% of 100Kers still had day jobs, but they averaged 30 hours a week of writing as a group.
  • The 100Kers had an average of 30.3 books in their catalog (the most an author had was 63 and the minimum was 7)

Busting/discussing some myths:

  • You have to network tons and/or get a lucky break.
  • You have to write in romance or another huge, hot genre. (Big fish/small pond)
  • You have to be in KU/exclusive with Amazon.
  • You have to do everything right from Day 1.
  • You have to sell non-fiction or courses on the side.

Listener questions we answered in the show:

Ashley: I’d like to know the general time split (ex. 40/60) for marketing/creating time. I find myself liking marketing but not making time for it.

Ashley: Also how much of income comes from paid ads vs organic/networking?

Jesse: When should we spend money on advertising? After 1 book? A full series?

Kristy: Do you need to have audio and foreign translations to hit 6 figures?

Madeleine: What was the tipping point for number of books? What advice isn’t relevant any more e.g. landscape has changed?

Hannah: From a new author perspective: is it worth putting in a lot of money up front? Or starting with the essentials editing/cover design first.

Dale: I’m probably channeling Jeff: “What’s the single most effective thing you can do in to help become a six figure author?”

Dale: “What’s the least effective thing that will help you become a six-figure author.”

Ryan: Is it worth trying a new pen name when switching from fantasy to space adventure when you currently have a small fanbase?

~

If you want to support the hosts, or just check out their fiction, Jeff has a new Book 1 out in his Lentari fantasy world, May the Fang Be with You.

Jo has a fun summer project out, Structophis, and the first book in his popular steampunk series is free everywhere (fourth book coming in September).

Lindsay has taken her Fallen Empire series wide, and you can pick up the first one, Star Nomad, for free in all the major stores right now.

 

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SFFMP 143: Writing Quickly, Sci-Fi Anthologies, and Networking with Other Authors with Craig Martelle

Today, science fiction author Craig Martelle joined us to talk about how he’s gotten rolling so quickly, publishing 20 novels in two years, spearheading three anthologies, and becoming super involved in the popular 20Booksto50K Facebook group, where he’s helping to put together a couple of huge conferences for indie authors.

Here are some of the specifics on what we covered:

  • Jumping right in with a schedule to write and publish books quickly.
  • Target word counts and planning out series ahead of time.
  • Differences in post-apocalyptic and space opera genres.
  • Reasons for putting together anthologies and how to make them profitable.
  • Networking with other authors online and in person.
  • Whether marketing and business should play a role in how you choose the next books you’re going to write.
  • Creating a bundle of starter books once you’ve got multiple series out.
  • What Craig posts on his Facebook page to keep readers interested and sell more books.
  • Asking for reviews at the end of books (and linking back to the book’s page in the store to make it easier for readers).

If you’re interested in signing up for either of the conferences that Craig talked about, here are the links:

20Booksto50K Las Vegas (November 2017): http://20booksvegas.com/
20Booksto50K London (February 2018): http://20bookslondon.com/

Be sure to check out his website and his work on Amazon, such as the first book in his Terry Henry Walton Chronicles.

 

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