SFFMP 123: Gail Carriger on Transitioning from Traditional Publishing to a Hybrid Career

New York Times bestselling steampunk/fantasy author Gail Carriger joined us this week to talk about writing and marketing for traditionally published novels as well as her experiences self-publishing novellas and short stories. She’s very proactive in interacting with her fans and had a lot of great information for listeners.

Here’s some of what we touched on:

  • Gail’s path to traditional publishing and how her books came to find an audience.
  • What her publisher has done as far as marketing and what she’s been expected to do on her own.
  • Why she decided to branch out and start self-publishing some of her novellas and short stories.
  • How she uses social media and her newsletter to interact with readers between releases and keep them excited about being a part of her fandom.
  • Using Amazon affiliate links to monitor what other things your readers are buying after they pick up your books (and why it might be useful to know that).
  • Gail’s experiences with book tours and whether it’s worth it for newer authors to try to arrange local book signings.
  • Is there anything you can do to make a publisher want to spend more money on you when it comes to their marketing/advertising budget?
  • Suggestions on what to watch out for with cover art.
  • Adult fiction versus young adult fiction.
  • What to watch out for when signing a traditional publishing contract, especially if you think you’ll want to self-publish on the side.

You can check out Gail’s books on Amazon and on other retailers, and you can find her on the web at GailCarriger.com or on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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SFFMP 122: Finding Success Self-Publishing Science Fiction After Years of Writing Children’s Books for Trad Publishers

This week, we chatted with Barry Hutchison, a full-time author who started out writing children’s books for a traditional publishing house and who is now dabbling in self-publishing with adult science fiction. After a bumpy start with his first self-published project, a serial called The Bug, he learned the ropes and had a successful launch for his Space Team comedic SF series. With the release of the fourth in the series coming, he expects to hit his first five-figure month in June.

Here are a few more details of what we talked about:

  • Why Barry chose to self-publish his adult fiction after working with a traditional publisher for so many years.
  • Not being discouraged by a less-than-stellar launch with his first self-published project.
  • Why he went into the Space Team series bootstrapping it by doing his own cover art and handling his own editing.
  • Launching at 99 cents and into Kindle Unlimited.
  • Differences in marketing between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Writing quickly and launching subsequent books in the Space Team series with only two months between releases.
  • What kinds of covers make sense for comedic science fiction.
  • The importance of a mailing list over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Whether holiday stories can make sense for writers of space opera.
  • How Barry used a preview of his first Space Team novel on Instafreebie to get people to sign up for his mailing list before the book launched.
  • How promoting other authors on Instafreebie ended up with him being featured by the company.

You can visit Barry on his site or check out his books on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 121: Writing in a Niche Genre and Maximizing Kindle Countdown Deals with Robert Bevan

Robert Bevan joined us this week to talk about writing in a smaller niche (one with no Amazon category) such as comedic fantasy inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. He’s published several novels and collections of short stories in his Caverns & Creatures world, with tongue-in-cheek titles such as Critical Failures, Clerical Error, and Multiple Orc Chasms. He started publishing in 2012, when he was happy to sell a few books a day, and is now able to write full time.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • Trying to publish wide but deciding on KDP Select.
  • Writing in a niche that isn’t well-served by traditional publishing.
  • Some of the challenges of writing humor.
  • Bucking the trend and doing unique covers versus what’s popular in the genre.
  • Publishing short stories and then bundling them to have more offerings out there (and more books to run promos on).
  • Combining Kindle Countdown Deals with Facebook ads.
  • How Robert chooses authors to target for his Facebook ads.
  • Doing Countdown Deals on multiple books at once to flood the charts.
  • Creating free adventures for the sole purpose of using sites like Instafreebie to entice readers onto your mailing list.

To learn more, visit Robert on his website (you can sign up for his mailing list here and check out the now notorious Multiple Orc Chasms adventure). He’s also active on Facebook.

You can find his books on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 119: Surveying Readers, Instafreebie, and Tips for Multi-Author Promotions with C. Gockel

This week, we brought back Carolynn Gockel, author of the I Bring the Fire urban fantasy series and the Archangel Project science fiction trilogy, for a third time. She publishes a book about every 7 months and is making a nice full-time living as an author because she’s very proactive with marketing her work, and she’s participating in a lot of multi-author boxed sets and anthologies, as well as joint author promotional efforts. We asked her about what’s working well for marketing right now and also about surveying readers for useful information.

Here are a few more specifics:

  • Straddling KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited and “wide” — Carolynn has one series exclusive with Amazon and one series available in all the stores.
  • Surveying readers for information useful in writing and marketing.
  • She uses Survey Monkey for her surveys (they have a free version, though it’s limited so she pays the monthly fee for the months she wants to run some).
  • Asking fellow authors in similar genres to survey their readers (she sets it all up and uses her SM account) to get more data.
  • Carolynn continues to find putting together multi-author anthologies and boxed sets to be valuable — she makes money doing it and also gets a lot of new readers checking out her books.
  • Why she does a mix of free and 99-cent anthologies and boxed sets, and why she’s also done some specifically targeting Kindle Unlimited readers.
  • Her thoughts on collections of original material versus putting in older books.
  • What a new author needs to have to be considered for a multi-author boxed set by folks experienced at putting them together.
  • Getting into swapping book announcements with other authors with good-sized mailing lists.
  • The pros and cons of using Instafreebie for giving away books and building a mailing list.
  • Which types of anthologies Bookbub will possibly accept and run.

You can visit Carolynn on her website or check out her books on Amazon and (for the I Bring the Fire series) all the other vendors. Her latest release, Heretic, is available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

You can also listen to her previous shows here:

SFFMP 19: Making Books Permafree, Where to Buy Sponsorships, and Tumblr with C. Gockel

SFFMP 62: Anthologies, New Covers, and Creating Boxed Sets to Increase Sales with C. Gockel

 

 

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SFFMP 118: Writing Longer Books, Pricing Higher, Web Serials, and Generating Multiple Streams of Income to Go Full Time

Drew Hayes, superhero/litRPG/urban fantasy author, joined us for this week’s show. He got his start with web serials before Wattpad was ever a thing, and he grew a fanbase so that when he launched his first ebook a few years ago, it did great right out of the blocks. Since then, he’s started several series, including urban fantasy with a small press, and gone full time as an author.

Here are some of the details of what we talked about tonight:

  • How Drew started publishing his work on the web and wrote the first year of his Super Powereds story before ever creating an ebook.
  • Are web serials still popular, and would it be worth starting one as a new author coming in now?
  • Can a podcast be useful for growing a fan base?
  • Writing longer books (of 200,000 words or more) and pricing a little higher — will the market accept that?
  • Succeeding as a full-time author on about three releases a year.
  • Why Drew decided to sign with a small press after he’d had success as a self-published author.
  • How long books can be great for the audio format, since some listeners buy the longest books they can get for their monthly credit at Audible.
  • How Drew uses Patreon to bring in extra income and also keep in touch with his fans.
  • Why he’s stuck with going wide and hasn’t joined Amazon KDP Select for more than a brief trial.
  • His thoughts on advertising (he hasn’t done much of it!) and what’s working for others he knows who do more.
  • His interesting launch strategy to get a lot of reviews on release day…

Drew’s blog post on the basics of advances.

You can visit Drew on his site, check out the Authors & Dragons podcast, or find his books in any of the online stores including Amazon. You can also check out his Patreon campaign or the new book he has coming out later in February: Forging Hephaestus (Villains’ Code Book 1).

 

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SFFMP 117: Keeping Multiple Series Selling, Jumping Genres, and Launching a New Series with Glynn Stewart

We’re chatting with return guest Glynn Stewart today. He’s the author of three space adventure series and recently launched an urban fantasy/superhero fantasy series. Despite genre hopping, he did great with the urban fantasy launch, so we asked him about his strategies for getting the sales rolling with a new series in a new genre, and we also had him compare his launch experience with superhero/urban fantasy versus space opera/military SF (he also launched a new military SF series over the summer).

Some more details of what we discussed:

  • How Jeff’s Amazon account was canceled without warning and the hoops he had to jump through to get it reinstated.
  • What made Glynn decide to start a 3rd and 4th series this year when his old series were still going.
  • Some of the challenges of publishing in the urban fantasy right now (and why it can be useful if your book can go into another smaller category as well).
  • Going against the tropes in military SF (and selling well anyway) with a female protagonist.
  • Some genres Glynn finds interesting but wouldn’t devote time to right now since those categories aren’t big sellers.
  • The challenges of writing across genres.
  • Keeping multiple series selling when you’re alternating book releases between four series.
  • Best strategies for launching a new series right.
  • Does it make sense to do shared worlds or cross universes between your series when you’ve got different ones going?

For more information, you can check out our last show with Glynn: Episode 73: Mixing Genres, Best Categories for Cross-Genre Fiction, and KDP Select vs. Going Wide.

Also check out Glynn’s books on Amazon or visit him on his website. He’s also on Facebook!

 

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SFFMP 115: Amazon’s Publishing Imprints, Self-Editing, and Better Plotting to Finish Books More Quickly

This week, we chatted with YA steampunk and non-fiction author Jacqueline Garlick about her experience seeking an agent and a traditional publisher, followed by her decision to self-publish, followed by her signing her YA steampunk series (The Illumination Paradox) with Amazon’s Skyscape Imprint.

Here are are few more details on some of the things we covered:

  • Learning from trying the traditional route first, and how not getting a deal doesn’t necessarily mean your writing isn’t “good enough.”
  • Putting together an amazing cover even on a budget.
  • Getting selected for an Amazon imprint and whether to say yay or nay.
  • Some of the pros and cons of publishing with an Amazon imprint (Skycape traditionally handles YA stuff, and 47North does adult science fiction and fantasy).
  • What happens if Amazon picks up the first couple of books in your series but then passes on the next one.
  • Conventions of steampunk and whether it’s better to stick to the niche when it comes to marketing or to highlight how the story may appeal to a wider audience.
  • Tropes and things that readers look for in the steampunk genre.
  • Editing tips for making your work cleaner and more succinct.
  • Checking for when the “Story Masters” weekend seminar is in your area — Jacqueline thought it was a useful course.
  • Plotting tips to help you get everything hammered out ahead of time so you can write the novel more quickly.

You can check out Jacqueline’s first steampunk adventure on Amazon: Lumière

Also look into her books for writers: Tick-Tock Edits: How To Edit Your Own Writing: Ten Quick and Easy Tips To Strengthen Any Manuscript and Tick-Tock Plot: How to Speed-Write the Next Blockbuster eBook.

You can also visit her on her website: http://www.jacquelinegarlick.com/

 

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SFFMP 113: Advice for Newer Authors from Successful Paranormal Romance Author Anna Lowe

Today we chatted with paranormal romance author Anna Lowe. She got her start in 2015, made $26,000 that first year, and then made more than $50,000 in 2016. We asked her about what it’s like for those starting new, and how she’s broken into a fairly competitive genre.

Here are a few more specifics:

  • Writing stories that can cross genres (Anna’s books can be filed under Romance > Western as well as paranormal romance) and perhaps appealing to more than once audience.
  • Focusing on shorter novels in genres that are accepting of them, so that you can publish more often, even if you’re not a super speedy writer.
  • Anna’s thoughts on jumping into a competitive genre as a newer author.
  • Tropes that people expect in PNR and whether it’s okay to turn some of them on their heads.
  • How she’s had good experiences with short stories, despite advice to ignore them in favor of writing novels.
  • Getting involved with Facebook author and fan groups as a way of finding people to network with and also potential ARC reviewers.
  • Putting together a solid ARC team and following up to make sure people are actually posting reviews.
  • Setting daily writing goals to keep the books coming out, even when you’re busy with a full-time job and a family.
  • Experimenting with audiobooks and figuring out how to market them.

Visit Anna Lowe on her website and check out her books (currently in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited) on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 112: Producing and Marketing Anthologies for Fun and Profit with Patrice Fitzgerald

On previous shows, we’ve talked about the various ways to put short stories to use, including putting them into anthologies. But we haven’t talked much about producing multi-author anthologies of short stories–and actually making money doing it. (A lot of people edit and publish anthologies for the love of it, but turning a profit can be difficult, especially if you’re paying the authors decently for the rights to use their work.) Today we chatted with Patrice Fitzgerald, who, in addition to being an author in her own right, has published numerous science fiction anthologies–and done well with them.

Here are some of the details of what we covered:

  • The transition from attorney to author to anthology producer.
  • How Patrice is putting together mystery and science fiction anthologies that sell and make money.
  • How she approaches some of the bigger sellers in the indie community (and sometimes out of it) so she’ll have some stories from popular authors to go along with the stories from up-and-comers.
  • How she goes about recruiting those bigger names, and also how she sets up a way to receive submissions without getting too inundated by entries.
  • Whether it’s better to pay authors a flat fee or do a royalty split.
  • Whether it’s best to include stories that are completely stand alone or if they can tie into an author’s existing worlds.
  • Whether there’s an ideal length for the overall anthology and for individual stories.
  • How she gets past the bias (if there is one) against shorter fiction and sells a lot of anthologies.
  • Using Kindle Unlimited and 99 cents to launch her anthologies (and then going up to $4 or $5 the second week).
  • Gathering email addresses and starting a mailing list as a publisher and also leveraging the large lists that some of the authors have.
  • Doing a series of anthologies in a similar style as opposed to jumping all over the place.

Make sure to visit Patrice Fitzgerald on her website and check out her latest anthologies: Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge and Mostly Murder: Till Death.

 

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SFFMP 110: Succeeding in the Super Hero Genre

Today we chatted with fantasy author Timothy L. Cerepaka who branched out into superhero fiction in 2016 under the pen name Lucas Flint. He talked about how he’s had more success with the superhero stories and believes the genre is less competitive than many of the other fantasy niches.

Here are a few details of what we covered:

  • What makes a superhero novel (i.e. what are the tropes and expectations)?
  • What works well when it comes to covers?
  • What length of novel do people in this genre expect?
  • Is this a good niche for KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited?
  • How Timothy got the ball rolling in the new niche without spending much on advertising (he estimates he’s spent less than $100 all year).
  • When the big superhero movies come out, does it help with marketing similar books?
  • Is there a specific demographic that picks up these novels?
  • What price did Timothy launch his first book at, and what are his prices for the rest of the series?
  • Why he’s stopping at Book 9 and starting an all new superhero series next year.
  • What are some common mistakes made by authors in the genre?

If you have questions, let us know, or if you want to learn more about Timothy/Lucas, visit him online at http://www.lucasflint.com/ or check out his first superhero book on Amazon.

 

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