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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SFFMP 141: Succeeding in Urban Fantasy, Collaborating, and Quitting the Day Job with CN Crawford

This week, we chatted with urban fantasy authors Christine and Nick Crawford who write under the name CN Crawford. Christine has recently been able to quit the day job and go full time with the writing. After starting out publishing one book in 2014 and one in 2015, they got rolling in 2016, and now have several series going and selling well. We talked about urban fantasy and what it’s taking to succeed right now.

Here are some of the specific details from our conversation:

  • Collaborating as a husband and wife team.
  • Dealing with differences of opinion when your writing partner is your spouse.
  • Whether it takes anything special to break into the popular urban fantasy niche.
  • Thoughts on upcoming trends for urban fantasy.
  • Whether the genre expects male or female protagonists.
  • Giving away a free extra that ties into your main series in order to entice newsletter signups.
  • Using Bookfunnel to facilitate ebook giveaways.
  • Predominantly using Amazon and Facebook ads and not doing much with the typical promo sites.

Find them on their website or join their CN Crawford Facebook group. If you’re on Amazon, you can check out the first books in the Dark Fae FBI series or Demons of Fire and Night.

 

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SFFMP 140: Publishing in an Underserved Genre and Helping to Build a Community with Veronica Scott

On today’s show, we talked about publishing in an underserved niche that’s too small to attract the attention of the Big 5 but that could potentially be lucrative to authors. Our guest was paranormal and science fiction romance author, Veronica Scott, and we also discussed some of the many things she’s doing to foster growth and awareness of the SFR genre among readers who might be interested. Even though we talked about scifi romance specifically, the interview might be of interest to other authors writing in smaller niches or doing cross-genre fiction. We discussed some of the challenges of marketing these types of books.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • The challenges of marketing books that don’t fall into the main categories on Bookbub and other promo sites.
  • The opportunities that indies have by writing in sub-genres or niches that are too small to interest traditional publishing.
  • Surfing through also-boughts on Amazon and also using the YASIV tool for finding related books and authors to target as keywords for ads.
  • How scifi romance has gotten more competitive over the last few years and whether it’s still possible for new authors to break in and reach the Top 100.
  • Some of the key reader expectations in SFR and differences between romances and scifi with “romantic elements.”
  • Common mistakes authors make with covers.
  • The blurb-writing service that Veronica uses: Cathryn Cade.
  • The cover designer that she uses: Fiona Jayde.
  • Why fostering a community can be useful, especially in a smaller niche, and how Veronica has gone about doing it.
  • Veronica Scott’s USA Today Happy Ever After blog column.
  • Her stance on newsletter swaps and newsletters in general.
  • Whether permafree series starters are viable in this genre.

You can find Veronica on her website, on Amazon, and on Twitter, and also check out her book inspired by the Titanic, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, or her latest release, Danger in the Stars.

 

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SFFMP 139: Marketing Basics, Launching Your First Book, Translations, and Selling More Internationally with Joanna Penn

We had tons of great information on the show today, thanks to our experienced guest, Joanna Penn. You probably already know Joanna from The Creative Penn podcast and blog, but if you don’t, she’s a self-published thriller author, as well as the author of several non-fiction books on self-publishing and marketing. Right now, she’s releasing a new edition of How to Market a Book, so we asked her for her advice on long-term vs. short-term strategies, selling internationally as well as at home, and whether it’s worth worrying about translations and foreign rights as an indie.

Here are a few of the specifics we covered:

  • Some factors authors should consider in regard to what’s most important to them (i.e. do they have one book and want to maximize income or are they establishing a brand and a career full of books) when making a marketing plan.
  • Marketing a book versus marketing a series.
  • Building a platform as a new author.
  • What to do if you’re starting a pen name (or two) and worry about dividing your focus and getting spread too thin.
  • Realizing that you don’t need to do everything to be successful. Figure out what suits you, and do that. “Strategy is not just what you do but what you don’t do.”
  • Is it better to focus on your newest book or to spend as much or more time marketing your back list?
  • The difference between tactics you use in the short-term versus building up long-term resources that can continue to bring in sales over time.
  • Different ways to target international audiences, such as scheduling tweets/posts for certain time zones and using Bookbub’s PPC ads with country-specific links.
  • Whether it’s worth it to pay for translations of your books.
  • When foreign rights deals can make sense, if you’re offered them.
  • Whether it’s worth tinkering with keywords and changing up blurbs on Amazon to keep a book “fresh” for the search algorithms.

You can visit Joanna at her non-fiction site, The Creative Penn, or her fiction site, J.F. Penn. And be sure to check out How to Market a Book, which is a great foundational marketing book that also covers some more advanced tactics.

 

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SFFMP 138: Trad vs. Indie for New Authors, How Marketing Has Evolved, and Starting Your Own Press with Kevin J. Anderson

Long-time science fiction author and NYT best seller Kevin J. Anderson joined us on the podcast today to talk about his recent projects, how the industry has changed since 1988 when he published his first novel, and what made him decide to start his own press.

Here are a few of the specifics we chatted about:

  • How Kevin is continuing to learn and try new marketing things, even after almost thirty years of publishing novels.
  • A project he’s excited about where he’s sharing his new epic fantasy novel, Spine of the Dragon, with newsletter subscribers as he works on it. (If you’re interested in seeing his process and reading the story long before it’s published, you can visit his site to sign up.)
  • How the landscape has changed over the years, and how it can be tough to make a living as a steady, mid-list author in the traditional publishing scene now.
  • Kevin’s enthusiasm for dictating his novels as he hikes in the mountains of Colorado (Lindsay would try this while hiking if she wasn’t constantly stopping to whistle for her dogs and telling them to stop chasing squirrels).
  • Why he thinks more authors should try dictation, since he finds it a very natural way to get the story down.
  • What it’s like writing in established universes and doing media tie-in novels.
  • Why Kevin decided to start Wordfire Press to publish his out-of-print books that he had the rights to.
  • How he ended up taking on a lot of other science fiction and fantasy authors who wanted to breathe new life into their out-of-print titles.
  • What Kevin has learned about starting a press that might be helpful for other authors thinking of doing the same.

Visit Kevin on his site and check out his Spine of the Dragon project.

 

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SFFMP 137: Launching Books That Aren’t “to Market,” Agency Pricing, and Are Ebook Sales Down?

Today, we had Nate Hoffelder from The Digital Reader blog on the show to talk about some of the news he’s been covering in the publishing world. The interview ended up being a little shorter than our usual shows, so Jo and Lindsay also talked about their recent book launches in the first segment, including some of the challenges of marketing when books aren’t written to market and don’t fit in with the tropes of the typical subgenres of science fiction and fantasy.

Here are some of the details of what we covered:

  • The challenges of launching books that aren’t written to market and may be cross-genre or just a little out there.
  • What agency pricing is and if it means anything for indie authors.
  • Whether the ebook market has matured and leveled off in the U.S. or if there’s still room to grow.
  • Whether we should be worried when publishers report that author earnings and overall ebook sales are down.
  • Whether Kindle Unlimited earnings (payout for pages read), which has been down for the last couple of months, will continue to trend downward or level off and go back up.
  • The fact that scams are still happening in the Kindle Unlimited world, and that Amazon hasn’t been able to stop them.
  • Whether subscription services are a good idea or not for authors.
  • Whether it’s worth the effort for indie authors to put out paperbacks and audiobooks and put effort into marketing them.

You can find Nate at The Digital Reader and learn more about the author services he offers on his site, where he does website development and critiques. You can also say hi to him on Twitter.

 

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SFFMP 136: Successfully Indie Publishing and Marketing While Running a Family

YA fantasy author Katie Cross joins us this week to discuss how she’s published eleven books while working and raising a family, and how she’s sold a lot of those books too!

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

  • Finding time to write when you have a job and a family.
  • Whether YA ebooks do well and some of the challenges of self-publishing for that audience.
  • Some of the defining features of young adult fiction.
  • Keeping books selling when you’re not able to publish super frequently.
  • Selling well in the YA market.
  • Using Wattpad as a platform to gain readers and potentially get recognition.
  • Getting invited to the Wattpad advertising program and how much authors can make.
  • Getting more interaction and reads on Wattpad by asking questions at the end of installments and posting regularly (Katie was posting M/W/F for one of her books).
  • Tips for getting a Bookbub ad.
  • Facebook marketing and Facebook groups.
  • Determining which marketing is worth your time when your time is limited.
  • What Katie’s typical launch strategy looks like.

Visit Katie on her website or on Facebook and check out her YA fantasy books. You can also join her “indie author life” Facebook group for advice on self-publishing and marketing.

Note: Katie realized she had her numbers a little off in our chat about her Bookbub ad, so she sent me this correction to post here:

In the podcast I share my BookBub numbers several times and mention selling 3,500 books on Amazon with my recent ad, but I checked back on those numbers and it was close to 3,000 books WIDE on all distributors including paperback and audiobooks (which are also affected by BookBubs) and includes all sales overall (including spillover into the other books in my series). <— This encompasses just the first week. 

So it was not just my BookBub ad book that reached those numbers. I wish! Historically, however, by the end of the month, it’s likely I will reach 4,000—or beyond it—in sales from the BookBub tail. I have in the past seen upwards of those numbers from BookBub ads.

So sorry for that mess up! Transparency is really important to me so I wanted to add that caveat here. 🙂

 

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SFFMP 134: When to Hire a Personal Assistant, Facebook Live Events, and King Arthur Fantasy with K.M. Shea

On today’s show, we talked to return guest, fantasy author K.M. Shea. She specializes in retold fairy tales and King Arthur fantasy, and she’s definitely exploited the fact that these are fairly small and underserved sub-genres. If you have any interest in fairy tales, check out her last interview with us: Retold Fairy Tales, Kindle Unlimited, and Finding Less Competitive Categories.

We talked more about her King Arthur series today and also about some of the business/marketing things she’s been working on in the last year. Here are some of the details we covered:

  • Whether it makes sense to go back and deeply edit one of your early books or series.
  • Whether the fairy tale niche is still fairly underserved and if it’s easier (compared to popular categories like urban and epic fantasy) to break into the Top 100.
  • Finding a personal assistant to help with your author business, when it’s time and where to look.
  • What the going rate is for an author PA or VA (virtual assistant).
  • How much work do you need to have to outsource before someone might be interested in hiring on?
  • Do you need to worry about non-disclosure agreements? Sharing passwords?
  • Kitty’s experiences experimenting with Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and free Bookbub runs for a couple of her fairy tale novels.
  • Doing Facebook Live Events alone and with other authors, and whether these things actually sell books.
  • Kitty mentioned Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans site and how she works to cultivate a good relationship with her readers.
  • Whether joint author promos can be effective for selling your own books.

You can visit KM Shea at her website or on Facebook, and check out her books at Amazon, including her retelling of Beauty and the Beast and Enthroned, her first King Arthur story.

 

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SFFMP 131: When a Literary Agent Makes Sense for New and Established Authors

Today, literary agent Mark Gottlieb chatted with Jo and Lindsay. He’s from the Trident Media Group and represents a lot of genres, including science fiction and fantasy. We asked him about getting an agent as a newer author and also as an established indie author with some titles under your belt.

Here are a few specifics of what we discussed:

  • Whether print-only deals are still a thing or a likely option for indie authors who sell well.
  • Whether most clients are coming out of the slush pile or if networking at workshops and conventions is important for getting an agent.
  • What kinds of rights (foreign rights, audio rights, film rights, etc.) are useful for indie authors to know about.
  • Whether getting a film deal or an “option” is really that lucrative, or if it’s mostly marketing to help an author sell more books.
  • The role of agents in a hybrid author’s career.
  • Whether the traditional publishing houses are signing as many authors as they used to, and if they’re fostering young authors’ careers.
  • If some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy do better with self-publishing instead of traditional publishing.
  • What’s been trending the last couple of years with trad publishers and what they’re looking for now in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
  • Whether it’s better to query with a series that’s in the middle and selling well, or if you should pitch something brand new.
  • If it’s possible to get an agent and a publishing deal when your self-published book or books did not sell well.
  • How much advertising a trad publisher is going to put behind a typical author.
  • How much marketing you’re expected to do for yourself when you trad publish.

You can find Mark Gottlieb on the Trident Media Group site, and he mentioned that John Silbersack also seeks out SF&F with their agency.

 

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SFFMP 130: Better Marketing, More Productivity, and Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Career with Monica Leonelle

Today, we interviewed young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance author Monica Leonelle. In addition to writing fiction, she also blogs at Prose on Fire and writes the non-fiction “Growth Hacking for Storytellers” series. We talked about improving productivity for writers and some of the basics of marketing that get overlooked in the urgency to just make more sales.

Here are a few more details of what we discussed:

  • Going from writing 1,000 to 3,500 words an hour.
  • How doing some extensive pre-planning (world-building and creating characters) before getting started can make the writing process smoother.
  • Using “thematic” world building as a way to help discover motivations for characters and also various factions in your worlds.
  • Outlining stories and scene beats before sitting down to write for the day.
  • Breaking up your goals into manageable chunks (i.e. I’m going to write 15 or even 8 minutes today rather than starting out saying you’re going to write for 2 hours).
  • Setting yourself up to meet your goals by having a good mindset.
  • How important is a regular schedule for productivity?
  • Monica’s Spanish translation of one of her books and whether it’s been worthwhile.
  • When it comes to marketing, giving out samples to get new readers to try you rather than simply trying to go straight to the sale.
  • Moving a person from being a reader to a fan to a true fan or evangelist.
  • Doing things to “activate your fans” to get them to take actions to help you get the word out.
  • Whether you should focus your efforts on your most recent release or if the back list should always get attention.
  • Whether permafree is still working as a way to get “samples” out there.
  • Taking your writing efforts from hobby to career.

You can find Monica online on her website or at Prose on Fire. If you’ve found her advice useful, you can check out her books such as 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle and Prosperous Creation: Make Art and Make Money at the Same Time.

 

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