SFFMP 132: Are Spinoffs a Good Idea, Costs of Cover Art, & Marketing Unique Stories

For the first time in a couple of months, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay didn’t have a guest tonight. They answered listener questions and talked about their own experiences with spinoffs and the pros and cons of doing them from a financial and creative standpoint.

Here are a few specifics that they talked about:

  • Kindle Worlds and whether Jo’s experience writing in Lindsay’s world was worth the time that was invested.
  • Whether book trailers ever work and are worth doing.
  • How much to expect to spend for the various types of cover art (i.e. illustrated, photoshop/illustration combination with stock art or with models and photo shoots of your own).
  • The challenges of using stock photos and finding good images when you’re writing people of color (or just need period-appropriate clothing for fantasy/science fiction).
  • Whether it’s possible for an epic fantasy story that’s not in a traditional setting or not a traditional story to do well.
  • Whether you need to create a DBA or anything special when you start publishing under a pen name.
  • Advice for getting Amazon to make an ebook free when it’s already free in other stores.
  • Some of the reasons that writing a spinoff might make sense if you had a series that did well (i.e. an almost guaranteed audience, no need to start from scratch with world-building, easier to guess how much the books will earn, based on the sales from the past series).
  • Some of the reasons you may not want to do a spinoff (i.e. may only appeal to readers of the original series, may lose some of the magic of the original, may be constrained by events that happened in the original).

 

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11 comments

  • I don’t know about “rocking it” with a spin-off … but I wrote an action-adventure love story (novella) set 50 years before a series featuring a secondary character. I’m now using it as promotion.

  • Referring to the bit about diverse fantasy set in an African/Middle-eastern setting: you aren’t alone. For the longest time, I felt as though I shouldn’t write heroines that were like me because it wasn’t marketable (I’m an African-American). But I am currently writing an urban fantasy series with a black heroine and the market is opening up for those of us who want to write diverse characters.

  • Jeff asked about Nontraditional ME/African Epic Fantasy. Check out Nnedi Okorafor. I just read her *Who Fears Death* and found that it both hit a lot of the tropes and pulled from the setting. In an odd way, it reminded me of what Robin McKinley did with the Damar Series (*The Hero and the Crown*), though McKinley’s Damar is YA and Okorafor is not. One of the ways they’re similar is that they’re both shorter than, say, a Robert Jordan.

    https://www.amazon.com/Nnedi-Okorafor/e/B001IYTVPM

  • Somehow I missed the fact that Deviantart has jobs forums. I’ve hired a couple of artists by just searching and clicking around deviantart before, but that would be way easier. I have had mixed results hiring off of fiverr and generally good result with artistsncliets.com. The thing I like about those latter two sites is that they escrow your money away, so if the artist disappears or whatever, you can get your money back.

    • SFFpodcast

      The escrow things sounds like a good idea, for sure. As we’ve all talked about before, we’ve had artists get flakey on us!

  • I have a PNR spinoff series that’s done well. There was a character in my first series that readers really wanted more of, but his role in the series was over and I wasn’t going to force it. I ended up writing a spinoff series for him, and it’s done well in the charts, even getting me an audio deal.

    What helped was that I treat it as its own series, so new readers can definitely come in without any knowledge of the first series. I bring in characters from the original books, but in such a way that I don’t need to dump back story. It makes fans of the first series happy, and the new readers are none the wiser. 🙂

    It’s a lot of fun to write, and as Lindsay said, having already done the world building makes the writing a lot easier.

  • Tom

    Lindsey, where are you at? Are you on vaca again? I see dogs in the background.

    I really enjoy these podcasts where you guys share your own experience, successes and failures. Keep up the great work.

    • SFFpodcast

      Thanks for stopping by, Tom! I’m in Montana for a couple of weeks. I actually get more work done when I’m off on my road trips, so I don’t know that I would call them vacations, but it’s super pretty up here this time of year. 🙂

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