Tonight we had dark fantasy author Becca Andre on the show. She’s a relatively new author with three novels and two novellas out so far in her Final Formula series (the first ebook is free at Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers if you want to check it out), but she’s gotten off to a great start.
Here’s some of what we talked about with her:
Writing and publishing while working a full time job and being a mom
The usefulness of writing workshops when you’re getting started
Branding the covers in a series and choosing an Amazon category (and even cover design) based on what’s less competitive (assuming a couple of options would work)
Novellas related to one’s main series and whether they’re worth doing or if readers are mainly interested in novels in the SF/F genre
Pricing for novellas versus novels
Effective ways of marketing a series, such as whether to focus on advertising the first book all the time or whether to spend money on plugging new releases too
Writing to a “key demographic” versus just writing what you want
Launching your very first novel at 99 cents so there’s less of a barrier to entry for potential readers
What to do as an author on Twitter and Facebook (i.e. posting snippets, updates, book news, etc.)
Using a Goodreads Giveaway (of a physical paperback) to get people to add the book and leave reviews there
Trying giveaways at times other than during a book launch, such as between books to generate interest and keep your name out there
Giving away a free “alternate PoV scene” to entice people to sign up for your newsletter
In today’s episode, we talked to John P. Logdson and Chris Young, a comedic fantasy and science fiction writing duo. We covered a lot of ground. Here are some of the highlights:
Any special challenges with writing humor/comedy?
Dealing with one-star reviews from people who don’t “get” the humor
Collaboration — who does what and how do you manage to put out cohesive novels?
Does collaboration offer any advantages over titles written by a single author?
Can any writers collaborate well, or does it take a special personality and/or a certain skill set?
Writing to target less competitive categories on Amazon
Tricks for producing books more quickly
Should you mention that the books are humorous or comedic in the blurb or on the cover? So people looking for serious fiction won’t accidentally grab them?
Are there any marketing advantages to writing fantasy/science fiction comedy?
How to set up your tweets to market successfully on Twitter (effective hashtag use and Hashtagify for seeing what’s popular or trending + BookLinker to send readers from different countries to the right store)
Twitter groups and networking with other authors in a smart way
Marketing/advertising on Facebook, Goodreads, and using giveaways
The types of marketing John and Chris have tried and that hasn’t done well + what has worked
What they do to encourage newsletter signups
A new site for crowdfunding/getting pre-orders specifically for authors: Publishizer.
Tools they use for collaboration: Scrivener, Trelby (screenwriting program), and Dropbox.
Want to check out their work?
For more character-driven stories, try Starliner or the Land of Ononokin books. For more humor, check out Platoon-F. They’ve got a new project coming soon as well, a book called Queen Aurthur, a different (very different) take on the King Aurthur story. You can get in touch with them or find out more at their site, Crimson Myth.
You may have heard that the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association) is now allowing small press and indie authors in, so long as they’ve made the earnings requirements. We invited MCA Hogarth onto the show to talk about some of the changes and what they mean for indies, as well as why you might want to join.
After that, we talked a little about marketing, but Lindsay was curious about some of the extra ways MCA is making money from her work, so we also jumped into Patreon, Kickstarter, Paypal tip jars, and coloring books!
Here’s a list of what we hit on:
The SFWA, which has been around for 50 years, is now accepting small press and indie authors.
What does the organization offer and why might authors want to join? (Networking, invitations to anthologies, legal help, and more.)
We interviewed C. Gockel this week (don’t tell anyone, but we found out that C stands for Carolynn), urban fantasy author of the I Bring the Fire series (the first book is free, so go check it out!). She hasn’t quit her day job yet, but it sounds like she’s getting close to making “professional income.”
Here’s a summary of some of the questions we asked her:
How did writing fan fiction lead to a career as a successful indie author?
Are there any advantages to starting out with fan fiction? Any lessons a new author can learn?
When you start thinking about publishing (and making some money!), is it better to modify a successful fanfic to make it an original story, or are you better off starting something new?
How has having a permafree Book 1 affected the sales of later books in your series? Is it still effective, even though your first ebook has been free for quite a while now?
What do you do to promote your permafree title and keep the sales of subsequent books rolling in month after month?
Have you tried discounting other books in your series, or do you stick with the first?
Are any advertisers more worth it than others, or do some charge too much? (Carolynn wisely did not want to dis anyone, but she gave some tips for evaluating whether a sponsorship site is worth it.)
You use Tumblr for your blogging platform — does it offer any advantages over more traditional spots?
Do you ever get fans offering to help “edit” your books or offering other advice? How do you deal with that?
Looking for the free resource spreadsheets we mentioned in the show? Here are Carolynn’s links:
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.
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)
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?
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?
We had our first official guest on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast tonight! Jason Chen, the founder of StoryBundle.com, joined us to talk about how he started the site, how he’s gone about creating book bundles full of awesome titles by traditionally published and indie authors, and how he sells upwards of 3000 bundles in a 3-week period over and over again. And these are not 99-cent bundles, my friends. People often pay over $10 for the collections on his site, meaning a nice cut for the authors and also for the charities that Jason works with.
We pumped him for information on:
Creating bundles, including approaching big-name authors
Marketing bundles and ebooks in general
Finding ways to promote on tech sites, as opposed to the usual book venues
Choosing cover art for bundles
His experience with advertising on Google, Facebook, and other sites
Whether StoryBundle still accepts submissions (the answer is yes, but many of their collections are curated by authors who know other authors)
Today we interviewed epic fantasy author Jeffrey M. Poole on his experiences with self-publishing, some of the mistakes he wish he hadn’t made when he got started, and growing a rabid fan base that’s always hungry for the next book.
A few of the specific topics were…
Getting started self-publishing when you don’t have much money to invest
Which kinds of “helpful” companies to avoid
Finding an editor and cover art designer
Using permafree to get people to try a new series (and whether permafree is as effective as it used to be)
Blogging and social media for promotion, yea or nay