Tonight we were joined by a fan of the show and fellow podcaster, Edward Giordano. For a change, he interviewed us, asking questions he had as a new author. We hope our answers will be useful to some of you, as well!
Tonight we discussed Lindsay’s foray into serialized fiction, how it went, what she learned, and whether it’s better to go wide right now or stick that serial into KDP Select so it earns money for page reads in Kindle Unlimited. Some of the specific questions: are serials trickier than novels, should new authors avoid them, and what do you do for cover art when you’re publishing in installments?
We also talked about when it makes sense to quit the day job and become a full-time writer. Jeff is thinking of making the jump soon, so we asked Jo questions about his experiences, how much he saved up, setting aside money for quarterly taxes and health insurance, and how long you should wait, even after you’re earning a good income from your writing.
This evening, the three of us shared what we do to launch new books, and then Lindsay went through the list she’s making for when she gets a new website designed (by no later than 2017, really!). Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Newsletters and social media announcements, staggering for launches
Recruiting reviewers before the book is released
Possibly getting more sales by using pre-orders
Updating back matter in earlier books with links to new books
Sharing preview materials with readers
Facebook boosted posts (the only advertising we do for launches)
Updating Goodreads and Shelfari when you release books, especially if you’re a new author — nobody’s going to do it for you!
Making sure you have an Author Central profile at Amazon and then claiming new books.
Domain names: your author name vs. your world/universe/book series name
Using WordPress as the backbone to your website
Getting author websites up and running inexpensively
Putting newsletter sign-up forms “above the fold” so people don’t have to scroll
Having a “new readers start here” kind of section for people who visit your site for the first time
Static home pages versus having your blog on there with the latest updates
Avoiding too much clutter, making it hard for people to find the links to check out your books, using ads on author websites, forgetting to have links to all stores, not having a list of your books, and getting into posting schemes with other authors
Update: Sorry for the incomplete episode. The entire show is now on there!
Tonight our stalwart hosts discussed the changes to Kindle Unlimited, uploading pre-orders directly to stores, and what we’ve learned about writing in series. This was the meat of our show and we each shared three things that we’ve done (either intentionally or inadvertently) that have helped our series gain traction and attract diehard fans. We also talked about when it makes sense to abandon a series that just isn’t performing, open-ended episodic series versus ones that have a clear overarching storyline, and how to develop characters that keep people coming back for more.
Hey, everyone! We shared a lot of information today. We answered a few reader questions and then jumped into Lindsay’s notes from some of the panels at the RWA Con. The topics included selling more books on Apple’s iBooks, setting up multi-author boxed sets, using pre-orders to hit bestseller lists (such as USA Today and the NY Times), and a handful of mistakes to avoid as an author (these were different than some of the mistakes we’ve already shared in the past).
Here’s a closer look at the notes and the links we mentioned on the podcast:
Making the USA Today bestseller list with a multi-author boxed set
On this hot summer day, we chatted amongst ourselves about going wide and improving sales on the sites other than Amazon, specifically Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. We even brought up the subscription sites (Scribd and Oyster) and Google Play. We also answered a couple of listener questions.
Here’s a closer look at what we covered:
Does it matter what time of year you launch a new series? I.e. are summer sales slow, and should you wait until fall?
When is it acceptable to call yourself an Amazon bestseller?
What are the pros and cons of publishing on all of the stores versus going exclusive with Amazon?
How the heck do you sell books on those other sites anyway? We talked about using the free book or the 99-cent intro boxed set, trying to talk with the distributors to get promotions, linking to all of your books on all of the sites, and including sneak previews to entice the people who read the freebies to pick up the rest of the series.
Should you adjust prices at all on the other sites?
Is it better to go through a distributor such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital or upload directly everywhere that you can?
Today, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay shared what they know about how the Amazon algorithms work, about categories and keywords and sales rankings, and about what’s working now to make a book stick and start selling on its own. They also discussed KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited and how borrows from that program are currently affecting visibility and sales rankings.
Here are links to some of the sites and books we mentioned:
We talked among ourselves tonight, discussing a lot of the news and tips Jo brought back from Book Expo America. He went to panels on Facebook marketing/reader engagement and talked to the Bookbub people about what it takes to get listed and about some of the best practices. He also picked up some links to cool resources that you may want to check out.
Here’s a run-down of his notes:
Using Facebook to the best effect:
·Facebook will always do its best to decrease the impact of non-paid advertising.
·If you want to get the most bang for your buck, use whatever Facebook’s pet toy is. They will reward you with greater reach for free. Until they don’t.
·Currently their toy is video. A 15-30 second video will get a much bigger push than post with any other media, or no media at all. (Don’t try to link to a video on another platform; you need to upload the video directly to Facebook to get their loving.)
· A site you can use to create videos without a lot of tech savviness is Animoto
·You can put a link at the end of the video, to actually get some use out of it.
·Also, ask questions, because engagement amplifies reach.
·And if you’re going to pursue something pursue shares. They expand your reach by the most.
·I talked to BookBub and asked for advice on how to make your book more likely to be chosen.
·As expected, there’s a strong emphasis on a good cover and strong reviews.
· The role that price point (and how much of a discount you offer) plays
· Whether being in KDP Select puts you at a disadvantage to books available on a wide variety of platforms.
·The reviews are by are the most important. A book with a great cover and a dozen decent reviews will probably lose to a book with a mediocre cover and fifty great reviews.
·However, even if your book is flawless, with a perfect cover and hundreds of reviews, you might not get picked.
·This is either because they were fully booked for the available period, or because your book is in a genre that has historically gotten poor click through.
·In neither case are you doomed, they CAN still promo your book, but you’ll have to be persistent. New openings occur every day, and there’s always the chance your non-favored genre book will have no suitable competition for a given period.
·They also gave advice on how best to promote your books depending on your goals.
Shooting for a Best Seller:
*Discount the most popular book (if you’ve got one with over 100 reviews, use that).
* Discount to lowest price possible. (99 cents, since free won’t count)
Marketing a Series
* Discount first book.
* Free if possible.
* Discount for three or more days.
*Link to series in back matter.
Products that caught Jo’s interest:
·Note: We aren’t being paid to mention these folks; Jo just thought they were interesting and potentially useful.
Slicebooks is a service that lets you chop your book into chapters for distribution purposes. More useful for nonfiction, because users can create mix and match derivative books by taking an assortment of chapters from different books and share the result.
YaBeam is a service that uses the iBeacon feature of iOS to advertise to people by causing a notification when they walk by a YaBeam beacon. IE stick one at the door of a book store where you are doing a signing to offer passers by a heads-up that you’re in there and a free chapter to entice them.
Think of this as choose your own adventure, or DVD extras for books. It uses the epub 3 enhancements to allow you to link to alternate scenes, fan art, etc that tie in to the current portion of a text. And of course, you can SELL this additional content.
This is an ebook formatting software for Mac that creates BEAUTIFUL template based ebooks in epub 2, epub 3, and mobi. Super user friendly, built in previews, etc. Like Scrivener if it was focused on publishing a book rather than writing it. (Though you can write in it too.)
For today’s show, we talked about how we’ve learned to write more efficiently and get more books out there. After all, a lot of the marketing stuff we discuss on this show becomes more effective when you have numerous books, and maybe even numerous series, out there. It’s also easier to keep the momentum going if you have new adventures coming out every few months.
Here’s some of what we covered:
How each of us approaches plotting and whether we outline or pants
Whether we write down the “beats” for individual scenes before starting on them
Lots of tips that we’ve all learned for hitting our daily word count goals and staying on task
Hey, everyone! Tonight Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay devoted most of the show to discussing newsletters. What host do they use (or in Jeff’s case, how he does it himself with a WordPress plug-in), how often do they send out letters, what do they write about, how they use affiliate links to monitor sales (and make some extra money), and how to get readers to sign up in the first place.
Here are some more highlights, as well as the links that were mentioned in the show: