On today’s episode, we chatted with successful epic and urban fantasy author, Robert J. Crane. He’s sold more than a million books and was able to turn writing into his day job early on. Now, he has four successful series going, including his well-known Girl in the Box books.
Here’s a little of what we covered:
Productivity — how Robert has written and published 26 novels in the last four years
Writing books as a business and to make money versus treating this as an art and doing it just for the love
Cliffhangers and planning out a series
How series have been the key to Robert’s success and thoughts on writing/publishing multiple series at once
Audience size for epic fantasy versus urban fantasy (stuff set in our world)
Is it easier marketing contemporary sci-fi/fantasy versus secondary world stuff?
Having a social media presence, since not everyone will sign up for your newsletter (or filters might keep messages from getting through)
Doing not only a perma-free Book 1 for marketing but a perma-free boxed set (books 1-3) in a longer series
The “Big Name” approach for cover art — is there a point at which the author name should be larger than the title?
On today’s show, we chatted with Chris Fox about marketing zombies, werewolves, and vampires, and also about how he writes incredibly quickly. He holds down a 60-hour-a-week day job as an app developer and doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to fiction, so he’s learned to be productive, logging 5,000 words in an hour. He’s even written about it in a book designed to help other authors: 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
Using the start-up mentality for indie publishing
Investing in your product (including scouring DeviantArt for hours to find just the right artists!)
How audiobook sales (from Audible) can help Kindle sales on Amazon
Is it helpful to use popular tropes, such as werewolves, zombies, and vampires? Or do readers have expectations that can be hard to meet if you’re doing something slightly different?
What advertising Chris has done and what’s been effective
Why it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend much time and money on marketing when you only have one or two books out
Utilizing a mailing list to make promoting future books easier
How Chris is writing so darned many words in an hour
Addressing the argument that writing faster means writing poorly
Using voice recognition software effectively as a fiction writer
If you’re looking for more information on marketing, you might want to visit Chris’s site and check out some of the articles he’s written for writers:
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:
Tonight we chatted with “medieval western” fantasy author Derek Siddoway. We discussed the challenges of marketing cross-genre fiction and also grilled him for tips he could share based on his experience in his day job at a PR agency. Before we got into the interview, we talked a bit about the recent changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program and what we think about them. You can get a summary of the changes on Kboards (and hear a lot of other opinions too).
Here’s some of what we went over during the interview:
Writing in a tiny cross-genre niche versus trying to break into a bigger genre, such as epic fantasy
Choosing cover art when you’re straddling genres
Choosing an Amazon category for your book when nothing really fits?
Are there some genres that just shouldn’t be crossed?
Getting started with social media (and how not to do it)
Being aware of your reputation and being a positive part of the online community
Does hiring a PR agency ever make sense for an indie author?
Should indies try some of the marketing that traditionally published authors (with publishers paying their way) do? Such as book signings and book tours?
Blogging as a form of marketing
Using “subscriber perks” as part of newsletter marketing
We interviewed Annie Bellet, author of the very popular 20-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series this week. She’s also written epic fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, sold short stories to numerous magazines, and participated in various writing workshops. Here’s a little of what we talked about:
How Annie got started self-publishing and found that it’s much easier to rock it with an ongoing series than with short stories or series starters (that never get followed up)
When it’s worth having audiobooks of your novels produced
Tips on writing short stories (and why you might like to write short stories)
Covers — should you model yours after an existing (and popular!) series in your genre?
Launching the first book in a series at 99 cents (even if you don’t have others out yet)
Pre-orders, why Annie isn’t doing them any more
Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, yay or nay?
Are awards useful in marketing?
Annie talks the stages of being an indie author and how to move from the beginning struggle to selling more books and gathering a regular audience of readers
Advertising, which sites deliver the best bang for her buck?
Mistakes some people make when they actually do have early success (and mistakes people have when they don’t have early success).
Common themes among indie authors who are failing to break out.
Treating your writing like a business (assuming your goal is to make money)
The first half of the show is all about finding a narrator and getting your audiobook produced using Amazon’s ACX platform (we also covered equipment and potential pitfalls you should be aware of if you want to do it yourself). In the second half of the show, we got into the marketing side of things.
Here’s some of what we covered related to production:
What is ACX and how does it work to connect authors to narrators/producers?
The royalty-splitting option, for those doing it on a budget, versus the flat-fee-per-finished-hour option
How to get a $100/hour stipend from ACX to make your royalty split option more appealing to narrators
Hours verses finished hours and just how much work really goes into producing an audiobook (not to mention doing all those different character voices!)
Here’s what we talked about related to marketing:
Which genres seem to do best in audiobook form (hint: longer books are often more appealing, because most Audible customers pay for credits that get them a book a month, so the longer, higher priced books seem to be better deals).
Making use of the 25 review copies that Audible gives you (and how to make sure the people you give those codes to buy your book instead of someone else’s!). Make sure to check out Simon’s video on Making Better Use of Audible’s Promotional Codes. You can also pick up his Audiobooks for Indies ebook for even more information.
How ACX allows you to share a fifteen minute sample on YouTube, your site, social media, etc. Simon recommends grabbing a scintillating few minutes from the middle rather than the title, acknowledgements, etc.
AudaVoxx, a site where you can list audiobook giveaways.
Taking advantage of Audible’s free-first-book-with-a-subscription policy to entice your mailing list subscribers to grab your book, even if they’ve never been Audible members before and don’t usually buy audiobooks.
The importance of reviews (yes, the ones that are specifically for the audiobook are what you need here)
If there are any sites out there like Bookbub that can help authors sell their audiobooks (alas, the answer is not yet, largely because authors can’t control pricing on their audiobooks and put them on sale)
Tonight we interviewed the prolific Anna Hackett, a science fiction romance author from Perth Australia, who has a number of series going. She started with traditional publishing but soon shifted to self-publishing, and she has plenty to talk about for folks who are thinking of adding romance to their science fiction or fantasy.
Here’s some of what we touched on:
Working romance into your science fiction/fantasy — any pitfalls or advantages?
Going from traditional publishing to self-publishing
The benefits of writing in a small niche
Watching successful authors in your niche to see what they’re doing for marketing
Advice for new authors looking to self-publish
Tips for being prolific
What kind of cover art works best for science fiction with romance in it?
Using a free novella to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter
Are blog tours ever worth it?
The challenges of advertising “science fiction romance” when there’s never a category for it on the sponsorship sites such as Bookbub and Ereader News Today
Marketing tips for those who don’t have a big advertising budget
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