SFFMP 124: Collaborating and Networking with Other Authors to Reach Larger Audiences

We had a full house tonight with Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay talking to J Thorn, J.F. Penn, and Zach Bohannon, three authors Lindsay is currently collaborating with for a dark fantasy project. Not unexpectedly, our show topic is collaboration, something we’ve talked about before but not for a while. We also discussed networking with other authors and even store merchandizers and how you can get more eyeballs on your work by doing some of these group projects or participating in group promotions.

Here are a few of the details of what we discussed:

  • Some of the benefits of collaboration, both from a writing perspective and from a marketing perspective.
  • Growing your audience through exposure to other authors’ audiences.
  • Leaning more about your craft through working closely with other authors.
  • Approaching people you might be interested in working with.
  • How accounting works when you’re splitting the earnings and expenses among two or more authors.
  • Handling differences that might come up during the project.
  • Marketing the finished project and what to do when some of the authors usually write in different genres and have different kinds of lists.
  • Networking with other authors for marketing opportunities that don’t involve actual writing collaboration.
  • Going to conventions, book expos, etc. to meet other authors and also store merchandizers to get on their radar.

You can check out more on the collaborative project (American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice) right here.

Interested in more interviews? J Thorn was also on the show back with Episode 52: Collaborating and Organizing Multi-Author Boxed Sets. Zach Bohannon talked with us on Episode 49: Productivity and First Book Success.

J.F. Penn (AKA Joanna Penn) also runs the informative Creative Penn podcast for author-prenuers.

 

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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 120: Writing Stories That Keep Readers Coming Back for More

This week, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay talked about the craft side of things and how to write stories that are compelling and that will make readers want to keep plunking down money for more of your books. We argued that books that aren’t written to market and don’t hit on popular tropes may need to be better crafted to succeed, but that if you’re able to gain a readership, those readers may be more loyal in the end and follow you from project to project, as opposed to readers who are just looking for X type of stories and don’t care who wrote them.

Here are a few more details on what we covered:

  • Pretty prose vs compelling stories.
  • Creating characters that people care about and want to follow from book to book.
  • What makes a sympathetic and relatable character?
  • The importance of believable characters and why it’s good to avoid a “Mary Sue” (or “Marty Stu”).
  • Remembering that your protagonists should change and grow (or cause others to change and grow) over the course of a book and also a series.
  • The importance of a mix of internal and external conflict and the idea of “the human heart in conflict with itself” being at the core of good fiction.
  • Avoiding throwing in random battles with bad guys or other obstacles that could seem contrived because they have little to do with the plot.

 

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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 116: Strategies for Breaking out in 2017 and the 80/20 Rule for Writing, Publishing, and Marketing

On this week’s show, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay chatted about some of the lessons they’d learned in 2016, some of the ways people are breaking out right now, even while other authors struggle to maintain what they’ve had in the past, and also applying the 80/20 Rule to writing and marketing books.

Here are a few more details of what they covered:

  • A lot of authors reported 2016 was a down year for them, with more competition in the marketplace, Amazon possibly underreporting KU page reads, and difficulty keeping the momentum they’d gained in past years.
  • How, despite reports of gloom and doom, some authors came out of nowhere and kicked butt in 2016.
  • Some of the mistakes our guys made in 2016 and some of the things they got right.
  • Writing to market and whether it’s a must if you want to break out and sell a lot of books.
  • The importance of craft and how you may have to hustle more to sell books if you’re not writing to market (but maybe that’s okay!).
  • Can pre-orders be leveraged to help break out?
  • Applying the 80/20 Rule to deciding what to write and publish and also how to market.
  • Tracking your marketing efforts to see what’s effective and what’s a waste of time and money.
  • How important publishing quickly has been for a lot of the authors coming out of nowhere and killing it (and another nod to Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K book — check out our past interview with her).

If you want to check out Jo’s and Lindsay’s work inexpensively, you can grab this StoryBundle for the next two weeks. You can also grab Jeff’s first fantasy novel for free on Amazon and in other stores.

 

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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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