SFFMP 59: Pricing Ebooks for Success (and sales!)

On today’s show, we discussed just about everything we could think of related to ebook pricing. What should the standard price for a novel be? Is it ever worth doing a 99-cent ebook launch? Should you ever price an ebook above $5? What’s the point where you can maximize income? How long after launch should you wait to run a sale? Are we past the era where pricing at 99 cents can help a book to “stick” on Amazon? Should you do anything different with your pricing when it comes to international markets?

All of these topics and many more are in the show, so take a listen!

Also, for those interested in Patty’s group SF/F/H promos, you can sign up on her site.

 

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SFFMP 58: Marketing Stand Alone Novels and Different Types of Series

Today, we answered some reader questions/comments about bank accounts for your self-publishing business and making your author site mobile friendly, and then we jumped into discussing marketing strategies for stand alone novels, as well as several different types of series.

The main types of series we discussed are:

  • Series with continuing characters where each novel is a complete story
  • Series where there is an overarching storyline with multiple plot threads that only get wrapped up in the final book
  • Series with major romance elements that have different characters and happily ever afters in each novel.

Naturally, we spoke of everything in a science fiction and fantasy context. Even though some of these series types are more popular in other genres, there are definitely plenty of examples in SF & F. We talked about the pros and cons when it comes to marketing each.

Here are the links that listener Will Norman gave us for checking to see if your website is mobile-friendly (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) and also for getting pop-up newsletter forms to add to your website: https://sumome.com/

Don’t forget to check out Jo’s first book… in German!

 

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SFFMP 55: Launch Strategies, Pitfalls of Being Prolific, and How to Know When a Book Is Ready

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!

Here’s some of what we went over:

  • How to get books and ebooks into libraries (Here’s the interview with the librarian that Lindsay mentioned.)
  • Keeping characters/settings/themes fresh when you’re prolific and you’re publishing a lot of books
  • How to launch your first book or books as a new author
  • Whether KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited is the way to go as a new author
  • Whether Facebook or in-person launch parties are worth doing
  • If it’s your first book, how do you know if it’s ready to be published?
  • Making short stories or novelettes profitable
  • How to know if a story idea is worth pursuing
  • Are paperbacks and audiobooks worth the time and cost of producing them?
  • Are in-person events worth it for selling books?

Edward hasn’t published his first book yet, but you can visit his SciFan Podcast, where he and his host chat about science fiction and fantasy books and television shows.

Edward also mentioned a helpful book that you might like to check out: Nail Your Story: Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #2)

 

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SFFMP 51: Can Serials Still Be Profitable / When to Quit the Day Job

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.

 

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SFFMP 47: Our Book Launch Processes and Author Websites (what to do and what not to do)

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
  • Some of Lindsay’s WordPress plug-ins: Shareaholic (makes your blog posts easily shareable on social media sites), ContactForm, Google Analytics (tracking stats to the nth level), PrettyLink (free version — shortens and tracks links), Subscribe to Comments (lets those who comment get notified when people respond), WP-Polls (poll your readers in a blog post), WP-Postviews (at a glance, see how many times your posts have been read)
  • 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

 

 

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SFFMP 45: What Does It Take To Write a Series People Want to Buy?

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.

 

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SFFMP 42: Selling More on iBooks, Boxed Set Strategies, and Using Pre-Orders to Hit Bestseller Lists

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
  • Getting bookmarks and other author swag made
  • John L. Monk‘s report on his experiences with Vellum for ebook formatting.
  • Getting started using a pen name and potential selling/legal complications
  • Starting up your own podcast as promo for your work (or just for schmoozing authors)
  • Short stories, selling them individually versus bundling them into a collection (an article on getting inexpensive covers for short stories/serials done on Fiverr)
  • Selling foreign rights as an indie (using an agent who specializes in foreign rights or finding a contract consultant that specializes in publishing for a one-time deal)
  • Paying for your own translations and the costs (upwards of $10,000 for a 80,000-word novel)
  • Where to consider looking for deals/rights sales — for example, Germany is popular with science fiction and fantasy authors.
  • Babelcube and other sites that connect authors with translators for royalty splits might not be quite there yet (tough to find experienced high-quality translators).
  • Respecting the tropes and giving people what they want/expect to sell more
  • Be “the author” on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — readers will follow, expecting to be entertained, so keep personal stuff to a minimum
  • Interested in Facebooks ads? Maybe check out Amy Porterfield’s site and podcast.
  • More on Lindsay’s experience with a boxed set and hitting the USA Today list.
  • Using different pen names for different series in different genres
  • How to appear in more popular authors’ also-boughts on Amazon
  • Apple affiliate program and adding specific iBooks links to the backs of your Apple ebooks
  • Requesting your 250 free promo codes on Apple to giveaway your iBooks to early reviewers/bloggers/etc.
  • The best day to release a book if you hope to make a best seller’s list (and how many sales it takes for the USA Today list versus the NYT list)
  • Using Thunderclap or Headtalker to help with a release
  • Setting up “asset-less” pre-orders up to a year in advance on Apple

 

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SFFMP 40: Going Wide and Selling More on Platforms Besides Amazon

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?
  • The link to the “first in series free” thread Lindsay mentioned (though it looks like it isn’t being monitored by Kobo any more). Someone suggested you can fill out this form on Kobo to be considered.

 

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SFFMP 37: Amazon Algorithms and Making a Book Stick

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:

 

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SFFMP 34: Facebook Marketing, BookBub, and Tips from Book Expo America

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.

Book Bub:

·       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.

      * PiracyTrace: https://piracytrace.com/

      * Service that proactively searches the web for plagiarism of your work.

      * BookMarq: http://bookmarq.io/

      * An iOS App that is looking to be a slicker, dedicated mobile alternative to goodreads.

      * Slicebooks (https://slicebooks.com/en) and YaBeam (http://yabeam.com/)

        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.

      * Lithomobilus: http://lithomobilus.com/

       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.

      * Vellum: (https://180g.co/vellum/)

        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.)

      $30 for single use, $200 for unlimited.

     * Dropcards (http://www.dropcards.com/home/)

     * Enchanted world of Boxes: http://enchantedboxes.com/wholesale/catalog.htm?line=19

       They sell these neato book boxes, which lots of people resell through Etsy.

     * Poetic Earth Designs Handmade Journals (https://www.poeticearthjournals.com/)

       Gorgeous leather bags and hand made journals, also resold on Etsy.

 

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