SFFMP 17: Kindle Unlimited, Pre-Orders, and Smashwords Formatting

After a week off, we’re back, and we had a good long chat tonight, covering all sorts of useful topics (we hope they’re useful, anyway!). We didn’t have a guest, so we interviewed each other on marketing/publishing subjects that we’re experienced with. Jeff answered our questions on Smashwords formatting, Jo talked about his experience with pre-orders and whether they’re a good idea for increasing book sales, and Lindsay talked about her experience in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited (with her pen name).

Here’s a list of some of the topics we hit upon:

  • In the opening news, Lindsay argued why it’s a good idea to bundle the early books in a series
  • The gang discussed the fact that the SFWA is now allowing in small press and indie authors
  • Pre-orders on Amazon, yea or nay?
  • Why pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo are a good idea
  • How far out you can list pre-orders and what happens if you fail to get your finished manuscript up in time
  • Lots of formatting tips for dealing with the Smashwords meatgrinder
  • How KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited can increase visibility and be useful for new authors
  • Whether the perks of KDP Select are worth the exclusivity requirement or whether it’s better to go wide

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SFFMP 16: Marketing and Promotion for Traditionally Published Authors with Beth Cato

Today we had Beth Cato on the show. Her steampunk novel, The Clockwork Dagger, is published with Harper Voyager, and she’s had numerous short stories published in semi-pro and pro magazines, including Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She’s also sold numerous non-fiction tales to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We chatted with her about what her publisher brought to the table, in terms of marketing and selling books, and also what she’s done on her own to help promote her stories and her world.

Here are a few of the topics we touched on:

  • How and why Beth got started with short stories and how writing and selling them helped her improve her craft, gain confidence as a writer, and eventually find an agent and a publisher.
  • Selling stories to popular fiction podcasts as well as magazines and anthologies.
  • How her publisher helped get her books off on the right foot (she has awesome covers, so take a look).
  • What promotional expectations publishers have from an author when it’s time to release a new book.
  • Book signings, yay or nay? (Here’s the link I promised to Parnell Hall’s musical rendition of his book signing experiences)
  • Whether publishers ever lower prices for sales/promotions and if authors have any say in that.
  • The pros and cons of having a new book included in Amazon’s Vine Program (where it receives pre-release reviews).
  • The Holy Taco Church and networking Beth has done with other authors.
  • Beth’s stance on social media and how much marketing she does there.
  • Tips for new authors.

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For more about Beth’s books, you can visit her website. You can also download some of her shorter works for free. Red Dust and Dancing Horses is a story delivered in podcast format, and Stitched Wings is a free steampunk story up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

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

Tonight we interviewed Bryan Cohen, the author of the YA science fiction/fantasy series Ted Saves the World and the co-host of the Sell More Books show. Bryan is a relatively new fiction author, but he’s been publishing non-fiction for a while longer, and he’s sold 35,000 books across all of his titles. He’s definitely got the entrepreneurial spirit, and we got some great tips by talking to him.

Here’s a look at some of what we covered in the interview:

  • How to run a successful Facebook Event that actually sells books
  • Starting a YouTube channel to entice more people to check out your work (Bryan’s new video project is the Bryan Cohen Showen)
  • Networking with other authors
  • Tips for getting more people to sign up for your mailing list (Bryan referenced Joanna Penn’s recent post: How To Grow Your Fiction Email List Subscribers. My Own Case Study)
  • Are any of the other social media platforms (Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.) worth the time investment?
  • Having a photo shoot done to ensure you get some great (and original) cover art for your series

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Editing for Self Publishers with Tammy Salyer

Tonight, we talked all about editing. We had author and editor Tammy Salyer on, and she answered our dozen-odd questions about copy-editing, proofreading, and substantive editing (the latter being something that proved difficult for some of us to pronounce… not saying any names here!). Since Tammy writes military science fiction and is working on an epic fantasy trilogy, she was a great person to have on our particular show, to give us information about genre stuff as well as regular editing issues. Here’s a taste of what we covered:

  • What are the differences between proofreading, copy-editing, and substantive editing, and how does an author know what he or she needs?
  • How can good editing make the marketing side of things easier?
  • Are there any common mistakes that new authors (or old ones!) make?
  • What should you do if you can’t afford to hire an editor? Are there are any tips or is there editing software that can help?
  • What are red flags that you should look for when hiring an editor?
  • What are samples pages and how can they help you find a good editor?
  • How slavishly should authors cling to grammatical rules?

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For more information or to check out Tammy’s editing services, visit her at Inspired Ink Editing.

If you’re interested in Tammy’s books, you can check them out on Amazon or visit her author page for more details.

Patty Jansen Talks Selling on Kobo, Google Play, and Networking with Other Authors

For the second time in the history of the podcast, we had a guest on tonight (we’ll be having guests on a lot more often, so if there’s someone you would like to see — who might actually deign to talk to us — let us know). Australian science fiction and fantasy author Patty Jansen came on to talk to us about self-publishing, marketing fads, and how she has ended up selling well on the non-Amazon platforms, especially Kobo.

Here are a few of the topics we covered:

  • Patty’s publication history (including a Writers of the Future win) and why she opted for self publishing
  • The benefits of belonging to an online workshop
  • If there are any specific challenges to selling science fiction and fantasy, as opposed to other genres
  • What’s helping her to sell on Kobo and some of the other platforms where many authors struggle to gain traction
  • Some tips for selling books on Google Play
  • Is it worth following the trends and trying to write what’s popular?
  • Organizing multi-author promotions and why you would want to
  • Is it still a good time to be an indie author, even if things may be getting tougher, and it’s not as easy to break in?

 

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You can visit Patty on Twitter or on her website. She sometimes blogs about self publishing on her site (check out her recent post,”Kindle Unlimited: a few observations“). The first book in her Icefire Trilogy is currently free on Amazon.

Marketing and E-Publishing Predictions for 2015 — what we believe will still work and what won’t

We have guests scheduled for January, so this should be the last show with just the three of us for a while. We discussed whether marketing and selling books got harder for indie authors in 2014 and, since there are only a couple of days left in the year, we gave some publishing predictions and some marketing trends that we believe could come to pass in 2015. At the end, we also shared a few of our own writing/publishing resolutions for next year.

Here’s a look at some of the topics we covered:

  • How has Kindle Unlimited effected us and will authors continue to have to deal with subscription services (possibly more of them from Amazon competitors) as time goes on?
  • Are things getting tougher, and was it indeed the year of the quitter, as discussed in Kris Rusch’s Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014?
  • How networking and collaboration on projects and marketing may become even more important to authors in the future
  • Will multi-author bundles still be popular, or will they be replaced by something else?
  • We might see more co-authoring, shared worlds, and pen names where multiple authors write under the name to increase the number of annual releases
  • Pre-orders, are they useful now and how might one take advantage of the benefits in the future?
  • How Lindsay started a new pen name in October of 2014 and did well with it, even as a completely “new” (anonymous) author: Pen Name Launch 1 (results after 1 month) & Pen Name Launch 2 (results after 10 weeks)

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Holiday Marketing — What We Do (and don’t do) and Why

Since it’s a few days before Christmas and we’re not scheduling any guests until the new year, we decided to chat amongst ourselves again, this time with a holiday marketing topic. As it turns out, none of us do a ton, but we chimed in on things we’ve tried and things that we believe aren’t worth the time, effort, expensive, etc.

Here’s a little of what we covered:

  • Giving away ebooks with Smashwords coupons
  • Giving away paperbacks and shipping costs
  • Can Christmas and other holidays actually help with ebook sales
  • Writing holiday-themed stories to take advantage of a holiday-loving market (possibly tougher with fantasy and science fiction)
  • Is it worth trying to book ads for Christmas
  • Are there any pitfalls that may come with releasing a book right before the holidays

 

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Ebook Pricing: How Much to Charge, How to Work Sales, and How the Right Price Can Increase Visibility

Tonight, we talked all about how we price our novels, novellas, and short stories. Here are a few of the subjects we covered:

  • What each of us charges for our ebooks and why
  • When bundling makes sense (i.e. an omnibus for short stories or for series books) and why you would want to do it
  • What to do with short stories, especially ones under 10,000 words
  • Can you get away with higher prices with science fiction and fantasy than with some other genres
  • Do we tinker with prices (increasing or decreasing them) as a book ages
  • The trade-off between making less on lower priced books but possibly increasing visibility due to more sales
  • Is there a time and a place for the 99-cent novel?
  • Do we lower prices on earlier books in a series when we release a new novel

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Learning from Our Mistakes with Self-Publishing and Marketing

Tonight, Laura Kirwan, Jeffrey Poole, Jo Lallo, and myself (Lindsay Buroker) went around in a virtual circle, talking about some of the mistakes we’ve made over the years, as related to publishing and marketing our books and, in some cases, choosing what to work on.

Here are a few of the topics we hit on:

  • Editors — how not to find them and how to find them (and don’t forget to ask for a sample edit!)
  • Cover art — the struggles of doing it yourself or even getting it right when you’re hiring a professional cover designer
  • Signing up for one-stop publishing packages — (hint: don’t do this)
  • The potential pitfalls of starting too many series at a time
  • Genre hopping and whether it makes sense to take a pen name
  • What not to do when an agent comes calling
  • Some things to think about when choosing titles

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Tips for a Successful Book Launch

Today we interviewed each other and talked about what each of us does for a book launch these days. Jo and Jeff talked about how things go now as authors with established fan bases, and Lindsay talked about her recent pen name launch, where nobody knew about the books, and she was essentially starting from scratch as a new author.

We covered a lot, but here are some of the topic highlights:

  • What’s changed in the last four years (book launches back in 2010 versus book launches today).
  • What we do pre-launch to build buzz and make sure readers are interested
  • Continuing with a series versus publishing a stand-alone book
  • What we do on the social media sites
  • How having a mailing list helps with increasing visibility at Amazon
  • Whether we send out advanced review copies or lobby for reviews
  • The advantage that KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited authors have right now
  • Whether we believe in going wide or being exclusive with Amazon and the pros and cons of each
  • Should new authors consider launching in KDP Select?
  • Why, if you’re starting from scratch or starting a new series, you might want to wait until you have the first two books ready to go before publishing
  • Some launches that have gone well for us and some that have flopped (and why)

 

Click to download the mp3.

Also, for anyone who might want to hear more about the specifics of Lindsay’s pen name launch, I did a detailed write up on my blog at the one-month point.

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