SFFMP 24: Why Reviews Are So Important, Getting Them Early On, and Dealing with Bad Reviews

Today Lindsay had some laggy internet going on, so naturally we did a show with just the three of us, where we all needed to talk a lot! With a few more pauses than usual, we discussed all aspects of book reviews: why you need them, how to get them, and how to deal with those pesky 1-stars. Here are a few more specifics of what we covered:

  • Why it’s so important to get reviews (social proof, proof for advertisers, and also possibly getting a bump from the Amazon algorithms for lots of reviews right after a release)
  • Things we did to get reviews of our early books and whether give aways and blog tours are worth it
  • What we’re doing now, as more established authors, to get reviews, especially for new series and new genres we may be exploring
  • Looking beyond Amazon to Goodreads and getting reviews in the other stores
  • How we deal with bad reviews
  • Whether we think you should ever respond to reviews
  • Ways to possibly make a bad review work in your favor

 

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SFFMP 22: Book Bundles, Marketing Successes and Failures, and Creating Author Swag

We’re late getting a show up this week, but we are here! Tonight Jeff, Lindsay, and Jo chatted amongst themselves, covering a number of topics such as…

  • How Jeffrey had good luck boosting his sales by tinkering with keywords on Amazon.
  • How Jo making his first book temporarily free helped boosted sales of his Book 2 preorder.
  • How Lindsay increased sales on her omnibus by redoing the cover and blurb.
  • A few marketing/publishing things that ended up being a waste of time, or at least not very profitable for the time invested.
  • Our experiences with multi-author book bundles of which we’ve been a part.
  • Can too many authors make a multi-author bundle less effective? Can too few sabotage the potential? What’s the right number?
  • How Lindsay got a lot more interest in one of her series by putting together a bundle of the first three books.
  • Why the guys decided to put together a permafree epic fantasy book bundle with a few other authors
  • Jo’s experiments with creating 3D book swag on Shapeways.com and ordering blook plates for signings from Bookplate Ink.

 

 

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SFFMP 18: Buying Advertising, Twitter, Conventions, Book Signings, and Swag

Tonight, after Lindsay coughed her way through the introduction, we chatted amongst ourselves on a number of topics related to online marketing and offline marketing.

  • How do you measure your return on investment when it comes to online marketing? When is it time to pull the plug on a method? (We discussed social media, Wattpad, and guest posts/interviews.)
  • Does it ever make sense to abandon a series, if the sales/reviews/interest isn’t there?
  • What’s an online marketing tactic that you tried, didn’t expect much from, then were pleasantly surprised about because it was helpful?
  • What’s something everyone does and everyone recommends doing but just seems like a waste of time to you?
  • Do giveaways actually help sell books?
  • Twitter — what’s the point, guys?
  • When is it worth buying sponsored spots on book blogs/mailing lists for your books?
  • Have you done anything in your own hometown to try and sell books locally?
  • Is there any value in going to conventions or doing book signings? Investing in some author swag to give away?

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SFFMP 17: Kindle Unlimited, Pre-Orders, and Smashwords Formatting

After a week off, we’re back, and we had a good long chat tonight, covering all sorts of useful topics (we hope they’re useful, anyway!). We didn’t have a guest, so we interviewed each other on marketing/publishing subjects that we’re experienced with. Jeff answered our questions on Smashwords formatting, Jo talked about his experience with pre-orders and whether they’re a good idea for increasing book sales, and Lindsay talked about her experience in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited (with her pen name).

Here’s a list of some of the topics we hit upon:

  • In the opening news, Lindsay argued why it’s a good idea to bundle the early books in a series
  • The gang discussed the fact that the SFWA is now allowing in small press and indie authors
  • Pre-orders on Amazon, yea or nay?
  • Why pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo are a good idea
  • How far out you can list pre-orders and what happens if you fail to get your finished manuscript up in time
  • Lots of formatting tips for dealing with the Smashwords meatgrinder
  • How KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited can increase visibility and be useful for new authors
  • Whether the perks of KDP Select are worth the exclusivity requirement or whether it’s better to go wide

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Marketing and E-Publishing Predictions for 2015 — what we believe will still work and what won’t

We have guests scheduled for January, so this should be the last show with just the three of us for a while. We discussed whether marketing and selling books got harder for indie authors in 2014 and, since there are only a couple of days left in the year, we gave some publishing predictions and some marketing trends that we believe could come to pass in 2015. At the end, we also shared a few of our own writing/publishing resolutions for next year.

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

  • How has Kindle Unlimited effected us and will authors continue to have to deal with subscription services (possibly more of them from Amazon competitors) as time goes on?
  • Are things getting tougher, and was it indeed the year of the quitter, as discussed in Kris Rusch’s Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014?
  • How networking and collaboration on projects and marketing may become even more important to authors in the future
  • Will multi-author bundles still be popular, or will they be replaced by something else?
  • We might see more co-authoring, shared worlds, and pen names where multiple authors write under the name to increase the number of annual releases
  • Pre-orders, are they useful now and how might one take advantage of the benefits in the future?
  • How Lindsay started a new pen name in October of 2014 and did well with it, even as a completely “new” (anonymous) author: Pen Name Launch 1 (results after 1 month) & Pen Name Launch 2 (results after 10 weeks)

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Holiday Marketing — What We Do (and don’t do) and Why

Since it’s a few days before Christmas and we’re not scheduling any guests until the new year, we decided to chat amongst ourselves again, this time with a holiday marketing topic. As it turns out, none of us do a ton, but we chimed in on things we’ve tried and things that we believe aren’t worth the time, effort, expensive, etc.

Here’s a little of what we covered:

  • Giving away ebooks with Smashwords coupons
  • Giving away paperbacks and shipping costs
  • Can Christmas and other holidays actually help with ebook sales
  • Writing holiday-themed stories to take advantage of a holiday-loving market (possibly tougher with fantasy and science fiction)
  • Is it worth trying to book ads for Christmas
  • Are there any pitfalls that may come with releasing a book right before the holidays

 

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Ebook Pricing: How Much to Charge, How to Work Sales, and How the Right Price Can Increase Visibility

Tonight, we talked all about how we price our novels, novellas, and short stories. Here are a few of the subjects we covered:

  • What each of us charges for our ebooks and why
  • When bundling makes sense (i.e. an omnibus for short stories or for series books) and why you would want to do it
  • What to do with short stories, especially ones under 10,000 words
  • Can you get away with higher prices with science fiction and fantasy than with some other genres
  • Do we tinker with prices (increasing or decreasing them) as a book ages
  • The trade-off between making less on lower priced books but possibly increasing visibility due to more sales
  • Is there a time and a place for the 99-cent novel?
  • Do we lower prices on earlier books in a series when we release a new novel

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Learning from Our Mistakes with Self-Publishing and Marketing

Tonight, Laura Kirwan, Jeffrey Poole, Jo Lallo, and myself (Lindsay Buroker) went around in a virtual circle, talking about some of the mistakes we’ve made over the years, as related to publishing and marketing our books and, in some cases, choosing what to work on.

Here are a few of the topics we hit on:

  • Editors — how not to find them and how to find them (and don’t forget to ask for a sample edit!)
  • Cover art — the struggles of doing it yourself or even getting it right when you’re hiring a professional cover designer
  • Signing up for one-stop publishing packages — (hint: don’t do this)
  • The potential pitfalls of starting too many series at a time
  • Genre hopping and whether it makes sense to take a pen name
  • What not to do when an agent comes calling
  • Some things to think about when choosing titles

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Tips for a Successful Book Launch

Today we interviewed each other and talked about what each of us does for a book launch these days. Jo and Jeff talked about how things go now as authors with established fan bases, and Lindsay talked about her recent pen name launch, where nobody knew about the books, and she was essentially starting from scratch as a new author.

We covered a lot, but here are some of the topic highlights:

  • What’s changed in the last four years (book launches back in 2010 versus book launches today).
  • What we do pre-launch to build buzz and make sure readers are interested
  • Continuing with a series versus publishing a stand-alone book
  • What we do on the social media sites
  • How having a mailing list helps with increasing visibility at Amazon
  • Whether we send out advanced review copies or lobby for reviews
  • The advantage that KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited authors have right now
  • Whether we believe in going wide or being exclusive with Amazon and the pros and cons of each
  • Should new authors consider launching in KDP Select?
  • Why, if you’re starting from scratch or starting a new series, you might want to wait until you have the first two books ready to go before publishing
  • Some launches that have gone well for us and some that have flopped (and why)

 

Click to download the mp3.

Also, for anyone who might want to hear more about the specifics of Lindsay’s pen name launch, I did a detailed write up on my blog at the one-month point.

Facebook Marketing: Selling Books, Building a Community, and Does Advertising Ever Help?

Today’s show is dedicated to Facebook marketing. How do you use the popular social media platform to sell more books and keep current readers engaged? We took turns answering questions, based on our experiences. We may not be gurus, but we’ve all been on Facebook as authors for 2-4 years, and we had quite a bit to say!

Here’s a little of what we covered:

  • Separate author page or personal page, what’s best?
  • One page or one for every series?
  • How do you get readers to find you and like your page?
  • How important is interaction, and how do you get people to engage with you?
  • Facebook advertising, pay-per-click and boosted posts, are they ever worth it?
  • Groups, can they help with anything?
  • What about events?
  • Has there been a decline in the effectiveness of Facebook over the years?
  • What’s the future going to bring, and how will it impact authors?

 

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