SFFMP 148: 12 Ways to Keep Your Backlist Selling and Maintain a Steady Income

The guys discussed the various tactics they’ve tried and promotions they’ve participated in that have helped keep their older titles selling, especially in finished series that haven’t seen new releases in a while.

Here’s the short list, though they also answered listener questions and expounded on these quite a bit. As usual, it wasn’t a short show!

1. Run a sale on Book 1 (free/99 cents) while booking promos
2. Put together a boxed set of the first 3-4 books and run promos on it.
3. Publish new stories (short stories or novellas, if not novels) that tie into your old, completed series.
4. Publish short stories for your old series in multi-author anthologies that will lead people into your books.
5. Join or put together a multi-author boxed set, using one of your old Book 1s. It’s a chance to basically promo something new for all the authors involved.
6. If you have a number of series, consider putting together a “sampler” boxed set with your own Book 1s (maybe publishing something new to entice regular readers who already have the other stuff to buy).
7. Relaunch with new blurbs, categories, and new covers, especially if your original ones were done on the cheap and/or don’t seem a perfect fit.
8. Facebook/AMS ads for a steady trickle of sales.
9. Sales/freebies combined with joint authors promos or newsletter swaps.
10. Keep your community active and engaged in social media with polls/discussions/artwork. Word of mouth is easier to get when you’ve got people talking.
11. Create print copy giveaways on Goodreads, or on your own blog. Engage the readers. Make them do something different, or fun, to “enroll” in contest.
12. Network with other authors. Offer to write a “guest” blog post. Offer newsletter swaps.

 

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SFFMP 147: Mastering Facebook Advertising for Authors with Michael Cooper

We had a great show tonight with Michael Cooper, the author of HELP! My Facebook Ads Suck and also a science fiction author writing under M.D. Cooper. He’s been experimenting constantly with Facebook ads and had some amazing advice, a lot of it different from what we’ve heard before (Lindsay, who hates Facebook ads, is tempted to give them another try!), and the proof is in the pudding. He went from very modest sales to having months where he made $25,000+ from his science fiction novels (and no, he didn’t spend $30,000 on Facebook to make that much — Lindsay asked).

The show was so jam packed with information that we’re not going to attempt to touch on everything in the show notes here, but here’s a little of what Michael talked about:

  • Why you should never use your book cover (or any text at all) in the image of a Facebook ad.
  • Michael’s spreadsheet to help you figure out the read-through rate in your series, how much you’re earning per customer you get into your funnel, and how much you can afford to spend to acquire a reader.
  • The PDF file Michael mentioned: Facebook Ads for Fun and Profit v2.
  • Why you should start ads at $5 a day max and only increase the spend if they prove they’re doing well.
  • Creating a fan page to launch your advertising campaigns from instead of a business page.
  • Using Books2Read as a place to direct readers if you’re creating ads to appeal to readers on all platforms and not just sending them straight to Amazon.
  • Why Michael isn’t a fan of using Facebook ads to build a mailing list — he sends people straight to buy his books.
  • Doing long-form sales copy rather than simply creating a short snippet.
  • Why you should create different ads for different countries instead of just targeting all English-speaking countries.
  • Why Michael prefers to run ads on 99-cent or full-priced ebooks rather than permafree titles.
  • Creating character-based ad copy to appeal to female readers versus more plot-based copy for male readers.

You can find Michael on Facebook, on his science fiction author website Aeon 14, or he’s also active in the 20Booksto50K Facebook group.

Definitely pick up his book, HELP! My Facebook Ads Suck. And take notes while listening to the show. Thanks for listening!

 

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SFFMP 146: Relaunching an Old Series to Success and Hitting Lists with a Multi-Author Boxed Set with Ella Summers

We recorded early today to accommodate our guest living in Switzerland, urban fantasy author Ella Summers. She has three paranormal and fantasy series that sell very well on Amazon: Legion of Angels, Dragon Born, and the recently relaunched Sorcery and Science. She was also a part of the big Dominion Rising multi-author boxed set that recently released and sold over 30,000 copies (we first interviewed the organizer, Gwynn White, about this boxed set back in April when it was on pre-order). We talked about tropes and expectations in urban fantasy, and also about rebranding and relaunching an old series that didn’t sell well originally.

Here are are few of the details we touched on:

  • Why Ella likes 60-70,000 words for her novels.
  • What readers of urban fantasy expect and when it’s okay to add non-standard elements (Ella mixes in science fiction and steampunk elements in her various series).
  • The strategy she recently used to relaunch her first series, which wasn’t a big seller and didn’t mesh with her existing brand.
  • Not being afraid to edit books in a series and do more than simply changing covers and blurbs when relaunching it.
  • Some popular tropes in urban fantasy.
  • How urban fantasy does in Kindle Unlimited today and if the niche is getting too crowded.
  • The tactics the authors in the Dominion Rising boxed set used to get tens of thousands of sales.
  • Branding covers not just within a series but across an author’s entire body of work.

You can find Ella on her website and check out her books on Amazon, including the first book in her best-selling Legion of Angels series.

 

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SFFMP 145: Using eBook Giveaways to Grow Your Audience and Sell More Books

On today’s show, we were joined by Ashley and Maura from Instafreebie. If you haven’t heard about the service yet, it’s a spot where you can upload free ebooks (previews, short stories, and novellas are fine), and it makes it easy for potential readers to download them and load them on their e-readers. You also have the option of requiring readers to share their email addresses in order to download the ebooks, so it can be a way to start growing a mailing list. A lot of our previous guests have used the service, and many authors attest to its usefulness, especially in conjunction with multi-author promotions.

Here’s some of what we talked about on the show:

  • How Instafreebie works and how it differs from Bookfunnel, another service that can facilitate giving away ebooks.
  • Giving away books (such as series starters) versus giving away short stories or previews of novels.
  • Making sure to put your call to action (i.e. buy Book 2 in the series here!) in the back of the ebooks you give away.
  • Using Instafreebie (and collecting email addresses) versus making books free on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc.
  • Whether cliffhangers, at the ends of free novels or previews, work or if the readers are left irritated.
  • Using a drip campaign (or auto-responder) to reach out to readers after they’ve shared their email addresses.
  • Instafreebie’s recommendation engine and other ways to increase discoverability outside of what you do for promo.
  • Organizing a group giveaway and asking them for a plug (submit requests to production@instafreebie.com)
  • How newer authors can leverage Instafreebie to build a fan base when they don’t have a big social media presence or mailing list for driving traffic.
  • How books are chosen to be shared on the Instafreebie blog for extra promotion.

If you’re interested in signing up for their service, find it at Instafreebie.com.

 

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SFFMP 144: Breaking Six Figures as an Author – What Does It Take?

It’s a long show today, but we covered a lot of ground, so hopefully you’ll find it interesting. We discussed last year’s Author Earnings report that showed how many authors were making over $100,000 a year at Amazon.com, and we also talked about the findings of a survey by Written Word Media that came out a couple of months ago, giving the lowdown on habits of six-figures authors (i.e. how many books out, how long it took to get there, how much they’re paying for editors and cover art, etc.)

Here are some specifics from the crib sheet (click the links to the reports to read them in far more detail):

May 2016 Author Earnings Report (http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/):

Based on print, audio, and ebook of the Amazon US store only:

  • 1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales. But half of them are indies and Amazon-imprint authors. The majority of the remainder? They come from traditional publishing’s longest-tenured “old guard.”
  • Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authorsand 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
  • More than 50% of all traditionally published book sales of any format in the US now happen on Amazon.com.
  • 85% of all non-traditionally published book sales of any format in the US also happen on Amazon.com.

 

Written Word Media’s June 2017 Survey: What Makes a $100K Author (https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author/):

  • 88% of 100kers have been writing more than 3 years.
  • None of their survey responders making 100K were trad published.
  • There were hybrid authors, who either got a contract due to their indie success or decided to make the higher royalties as an indie for some of their stuff.
  • You don’t have to be exclusive with Amazon, there was a mix.
  • Rates for editors varied, as well as cover art, but none of the 100Kers were paying more than $1000 a cover.
  • The 100Kers try paid marketing and handle it themselves (nobody’s hiring a PR person here or handing off their FB ads)
  • 20% of 100Kers still had day jobs, but they averaged 30 hours a week of writing as a group.
  • The 100Kers had an average of 30.3 books in their catalog (the most an author had was 63 and the minimum was 7)

Busting/discussing some myths:

  • You have to network tons and/or get a lucky break.
  • You have to write in romance or another huge, hot genre. (Big fish/small pond)
  • You have to be in KU/exclusive with Amazon.
  • You have to do everything right from Day 1.
  • You have to sell non-fiction or courses on the side.

Listener questions we answered in the show:

Ashley: I’d like to know the general time split (ex. 40/60) for marketing/creating time. I find myself liking marketing but not making time for it.

Ashley: Also how much of income comes from paid ads vs organic/networking?

Jesse: When should we spend money on advertising? After 1 book? A full series?

Kristy: Do you need to have audio and foreign translations to hit 6 figures?

Madeleine: What was the tipping point for number of books? What advice isn’t relevant any more e.g. landscape has changed?

Hannah: From a new author perspective: is it worth putting in a lot of money up front? Or starting with the essentials editing/cover design first.

Dale: I’m probably channeling Jeff: “What’s the single most effective thing you can do in to help become a six figure author?”

Dale: “What’s the least effective thing that will help you become a six-figure author.”

Ryan: Is it worth trying a new pen name when switching from fantasy to space adventure when you currently have a small fanbase?

~

If you want to support the hosts, or just check out their fiction, Jeff has a new Book 1 out in his Lentari fantasy world, May the Fang Be with You.

Jo has a fun summer project out, Structophis, and the first book in his popular steampunk series is free everywhere (fourth book coming in September).

Lindsay has taken her Fallen Empire series wide, and you can pick up the first one, Star Nomad, for free in all the major stores right now.

 

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SFFMP 143: Writing Quickly, Sci-Fi Anthologies, and Networking with Other Authors with Craig Martelle

Today, science fiction author Craig Martelle joined us to talk about how he’s gotten rolling so quickly, publishing 20 novels in two years, spearheading three anthologies, and becoming super involved in the popular 20Booksto50K Facebook group, where he’s helping to put together a couple of huge conferences for indie authors.

Here are some of the specifics on what we covered:

  • Jumping right in with a schedule to write and publish books quickly.
  • Target word counts and planning out series ahead of time.
  • Differences in post-apocalyptic and space opera genres.
  • Reasons for putting together anthologies and how to make them profitable.
  • Networking with other authors online and in person.
  • Whether marketing and business should play a role in how you choose the next books you’re going to write.
  • Creating a bundle of starter books once you’ve got multiple series out.
  • What Craig posts on his Facebook page to keep readers interested and sell more books.
  • Asking for reviews at the end of books (and linking back to the book’s page in the store to make it easier for readers).

If you’re interested in signing up for either of the conferences that Craig talked about, here are the links:

20Booksto50K Las Vegas (November 2017): http://20booksvegas.com/
20Booksto50K London (February 2018): http://20bookslondon.com/

Be sure to check out his website and his work on Amazon, such as the first book in his Terry Henry Walton Chronicles.

 

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SFFMP 142: Mailing List Best Practices and Finding an Editor for Your Genre

On this week’s show, the guys chatted amongst themselves, covering such topics as how their summer book launches are going, finding an editor when you write cross-genre fiction, and basic and more advanced mailing list tactics.

Here are a few of the specifics they discussed:

• Where do the guys host their mailing lists?
• Is a mailing list necessary if you’re already on social media?
• What kinds of things do you say to your subscribers?
• How often should you email your subscribers?
• Should you email twice about the same release to ensure people saw it?
• Using free books or bonus stories to encourage people to subscribe.
• What kind of open rates should you expect as a genre fiction author?
• Should you scrub your mailing list to get rid of the dead weight (people who aren’t opening messages)?
• Should you segregate your mailing list? (i.e. sort by demographics, most opens/clicks.)
• Staggering the way you promote a book launch to create more of a steady trickle of sales during release week than a spike.
• Setting up an autoresponder series.
• Including links to backlist at the bottoms of your first auto-responder email.

 

 

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SFFMP 141: Succeeding in Urban Fantasy, Collaborating, and Quitting the Day Job with CN Crawford

This week, we chatted with urban fantasy authors Christine and Nick Crawford who write under the name CN Crawford. Christine has recently been able to quit the day job and go full time with the writing. After starting out publishing one book in 2014 and one in 2015, they got rolling in 2016, and now have several series going and selling well. We talked about urban fantasy and what it’s taking to succeed right now.

Here are some of the specific details from our conversation:

  • Collaborating as a husband and wife team.
  • Dealing with differences of opinion when your writing partner is your spouse.
  • Whether it takes anything special to break into the popular urban fantasy niche.
  • Thoughts on upcoming trends for urban fantasy.
  • Whether the genre expects male or female protagonists.
  • Giving away a free extra that ties into your main series in order to entice newsletter signups.
  • Using Bookfunnel to facilitate ebook giveaways.
  • Predominantly using Amazon and Facebook ads and not doing much with the typical promo sites.

Find them on their website or join their CN Crawford Facebook group. If you’re on Amazon, you can check out the first books in the Dark Fae FBI series or Demons of Fire and Night.

 

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SFFMP 140: Publishing in an Underserved Genre and Helping to Build a Community with Veronica Scott

On today’s show, we talked about publishing in an underserved niche that’s too small to attract the attention of the Big 5 but that could potentially be lucrative to authors. Our guest was paranormal and science fiction romance author, Veronica Scott, and we also discussed some of the many things she’s doing to foster growth and awareness of the SFR genre among readers who might be interested. Even though we talked about scifi romance specifically, the interview might be of interest to other authors writing in smaller niches or doing cross-genre fiction. We discussed some of the challenges of marketing these types of books.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • The challenges of marketing books that don’t fall into the main categories on Bookbub and other promo sites.
  • The opportunities that indies have by writing in sub-genres or niches that are too small to interest traditional publishing.
  • Surfing through also-boughts on Amazon and also using the YASIV tool for finding related books and authors to target as keywords for ads.
  • How scifi romance has gotten more competitive over the last few years and whether it’s still possible for new authors to break in and reach the Top 100.
  • Some of the key reader expectations in SFR and differences between romances and scifi with “romantic elements.”
  • Common mistakes authors make with covers.
  • The blurb-writing service that Veronica uses: Cathryn Cade.
  • The cover designer that she uses: Fiona Jayde.
  • Why fostering a community can be useful, especially in a smaller niche, and how Veronica has gone about doing it.
  • Veronica Scott’s USA Today Happy Ever After blog column.
  • Her stance on newsletter swaps and newsletters in general.
  • Whether permafree series starters are viable in this genre.

You can find Veronica on her website, on Amazon, and on Twitter, and also check out her book inspired by the Titanic, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, or her latest release, Danger in the Stars.

 

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SFFMP 139: Marketing Basics, Launching Your First Book, Translations, and Selling More Internationally with Joanna Penn

We had tons of great information on the show today, thanks to our experienced guest, Joanna Penn. You probably already know Joanna from The Creative Penn podcast and blog, but if you don’t, she’s a self-published thriller author, as well as the author of several non-fiction books on self-publishing and marketing. Right now, she’s releasing a new edition of How to Market a Book, so we asked her for her advice on long-term vs. short-term strategies, selling internationally as well as at home, and whether it’s worth worrying about translations and foreign rights as an indie.

Here are a few of the specifics we covered:

  • Some factors authors should consider in regard to what’s most important to them (i.e. do they have one book and want to maximize income or are they establishing a brand and a career full of books) when making a marketing plan.
  • Marketing a book versus marketing a series.
  • Building a platform as a new author.
  • What to do if you’re starting a pen name (or two) and worry about dividing your focus and getting spread too thin.
  • Realizing that you don’t need to do everything to be successful. Figure out what suits you, and do that. “Strategy is not just what you do but what you don’t do.”
  • Is it better to focus on your newest book or to spend as much or more time marketing your back list?
  • The difference between tactics you use in the short-term versus building up long-term resources that can continue to bring in sales over time.
  • Different ways to target international audiences, such as scheduling tweets/posts for certain time zones and using Bookbub’s PPC ads with country-specific links.
  • Whether it’s worth it to pay for translations of your books.
  • When foreign rights deals can make sense, if you’re offered them.
  • Whether it’s worth tinkering with keywords and changing up blurbs on Amazon to keep a book “fresh” for the search algorithms.

You can visit Joanna at her non-fiction site, The Creative Penn, or her fiction site, J.F. Penn. And be sure to check out How to Market a Book, which is a great foundational marketing book that also covers some more advanced tactics.

 

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