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).


| Open Player in New Window

Click to download the mp3.

Subscribe to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast on iTunes.

Subscribe to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast on YouTube.

Subscribe to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast via RSS.

Like us on Facebook.


  • 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.

    • SFFpodcast

      Yeah, those prequel novellas can be great for promos and mailing list bribes. 🙂

  • 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.


  • 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. 🙂

  • Loved the episode. I learn so much when you folks share advice. It’s like three episodes packed in one 🙂
    Keep up the wonderful work.