SFFMP 166: Best Price Points, Does Book Length Matter, and Tips for Selling More Books Wide with Mark Coker

One of our earliest guests on the podcast, almost 150 episodes ago, was Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. We had him back on this week to talk about some of his predictions for the coming year and marketing tips derived from the 2017 annual survey of the Smashwords sales and distribution data.

Note: we had some technical issues so weren’t able to stream live, but we hope to be back at our usual time of Tuesday 6pm PT/9pm ET next week.

Here are some further details of what we discussed with Mark:

  • Changes in Smashwords over the last three years.
  • How much more successful authors are on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. when they make use of pre-orders.
  • Mark’s new podcast Smart Author (check out the episodes on analyzing best practices of bestselling authors and how to sell more books with pre-orders for starters).
  • Being careful about being too dependent on one retailer and helping to ensure other retailers stay relevant.
  • Data showing that, despite people forever talking about short attention spans, longer books sell better.
  • Some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy that are doing well — but Mark advises that you should write what you love rather than following trends.
  • Which price points are most effective, and data showing that $4.99 has become more viable (if you’re charging $2.99 or $3.99, you might not lose sales by going to $4.99).
  • Pricing for boxed sets, whether by individual authors or as multi-author collaborations.
  • How many of the bestselling Smashwords authors are using free series starters.
  • What to do with a $500 launch budget.
  • Tips for selling in the Smashwords store itself.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out the first episode he did with us: SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker.

Here’s his blog post from last year that includes his slides covering the 2017 Smashwords survey data.

You can visit Mark on Twitter or on the Smashwords blog. You can find more information on his Smart Author podcast here.

 

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SFFMP 165: Relaunching a Series, Bookbub Ads, and Does Podcasting Help Authors?

A return guest joined us on the show this week, Bryan Cohen, non-fiction author, podcaster, and author of fairy tales and superhero fiction. We talked about the fairy-tale-writing pen name he launched in 2016 and the big relaunch (including edits, new covers, and new ASINs on Amazon) he did of his first fiction series in 2017, where he turned it from a sort-of-urban fantasy series to something clearly in the superhero genre. We also discussed tips for getting the cost per click down on Bookbub ads and whether podcasting can be useful for authors.

In the end, Bryan told us about the Sell More Books Show Summit, a conference he’s helping host the first weekend of May in Chicago this year, and what prompted him to start a new conference for authors. If you’re interested in going, tickets are still on sale (with the Early Bird price good through January 12th this week).

Here are some more specific details of what we talked about:

  • How Bryan’s foray into fairy tales and a new pen name went.
  • What he learned from launching into a new genre.
  • How organizing and putting together a fairy tale anthology with some other well-known authors helped earn a good amount through Kindle Unlimited and also drive readers back to his novel.
  • Some things he wishes he had done differently when launching the pen name.
  • How he juggles writing fiction, hosting a podcast, and working in the author services industry with having a family.
  • Whether it makes sense to be a podcaster as well as an author — ie. will it sell any books?
  • What kind of podcast would make sense if an author was interested in starting one?
  • Current events in the publishing world that authors may be overreacting to.
  • What made Bryan decide to not only relaunch his series with new covers, blurbs, titles, and in a new genre, but also why he went back and did some major editing on the early books.
  • Budgetary and time concerns to think about with a relaunch.
  • Whether to keep your existing Amazon ASIN and book reviews or to start from scratch.
  • Whether it’s necessary to clear a relaunch with fans or if Bryan dealt with any blowback from readers upset by the edits.
  • Bookbub ads and ways to tinker to get the CTR up (and the cost per click down).
  • Whether Bookbub ads are more effective in some genres than others.

If you enjoyed listening to Bryan chat, you can also check him out on two of our earlier episodes:

SFFMP 15: YouTube Marketing, Facebook Events, and Increasing Mailing List Sign-Ups

SFFMP 84: Creating Better Book Descriptions (Blurbs) to Improve Your Sales with Bryan Cohen

Also, make sure to visit his site, check out his books if you like superheroes or fairy tales, and the Summit if you’re interested in going.

 

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SFFMP 164: 2018 Marketing Predictions, Our Author Resolutions, and When to Advertise What

Happy New Year! The guys chatted amongst themselves on today’s show, talking about some of their predictions of where book marketing is going in 2018 (what’s making a return and what’s falling by the wayside?) and some of their own author resolutions. They also covered a number of listener questions on topics such as whether to advertise later books in a series, Facebook videos, and whether readers cross over to other genres and pen names.

Here are a few more of the specifics we talked about:

  • Jeff moving to Phoenix and leaving the day job to write full time.
  • Lindsay’s recent fantasy book launch and a few things that didn’t go as well as hoped.
  • Why Lindsay started a Patreon campaign for fans that want to get her books early.
  • When should you switch to advertising the newest in a popular series rather than the first book?
  • Some of the guys’ easiest and hardest sells when it comes to their own books, and what they leaned from the experiences.
  • Making sure not to continue to throw a lot of money at books that just aren’t able to sell on their own.
  • Why Jo and Lindsay are both planning to put out more free fiction (short stories) for their fans.
  • Whether it’s better to write and release more short novels or if longer novels give you an advantage.
  • Predictions that more authors will work to lessen their reliance on Amazon in the coming year.
  • Diversifying your author income.
  • Will we see a return of some popular book marketing tactics from a few years ago?
  • More and more authors writing in the same genre forming groups to help each other with promotions.
  • A possible return to an emphasis on finding your true fans and building a relationship with them rather than just worrying about scoring big with the Amazon algorithms.
  • The pros and cons of cross-over when you’re writing in multiple genres.
  • Whether video on Facebook ads will continue to grow and if there’s any use for authors.

If you want to check out your hosts’ work, you can try Jeffrey Poole’s first Corgi mystery novel for free right now, or get his first Tales of Lentari fantasy novel for 99 cents.

You can try Jo’s first steampunk novel, Free Wrench, for free. You can also check out his new fantasy short story Entwell Origins: Ayna.

Lindsay’s Dragon Storm is out on Amazon, and her Dragon Blood boxed set is free everywhere for another week or two.

 

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