Tonight, after Lindsay tripped her way through the introduction (talking *and* pressing buttons… too much pressure), she and Jeff interviewed Ferol Vernon from Written Word Media. He and his wife are the founders of such sites as BargainBooksy, FreeBooksy, and New in Books. We wanted to know what he could tell us from the point of view of someone running one of the sites where we authors like to advertise.
Here’s some of what we talked about:
What are the Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy sites, and why should readers and authors be interested?
Ferol’s thoughts on what makes one book perform better (more clicks and sales) than another for any given genre.
The importance of good cover art and whether there are any genres where cover art doesn’t matter quite as much.
Authors getting more bang for their advertising bucks by stacking promotions.
Is it possible to promote a mid-series book or are series starters always going to be more effective?
Do certain genres have a higher percentage of click-through?
Should you write different blurbs for these sponsorships than you do for your book on Amazon?
Can putting a book’s accolades (i.e. USA Today Bestseller or winner of such-and-such award) help get more clicks and sales?
For more information, or to submit your book for an advertising slot, check out BargainBooksy, FreeBooksy, and New in Books (the last one is a new site of theirs that features new releases, so no minimum review requirements and no need to put the book on sale).
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.
On this week’s show, we chatted with fantasy author Amelia Smith about a bunch of data that she crunched based on the Author Earnings Survey over at Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report website. The survey and the raw data have been online for a while, but nobody seemed to have tackled putting it together into useful information until Amelia came along. We asked her a bunch of questions about what she found in regard to author income, books on sale, and whether indie or trad publishing is more likely to get a person to a living wage (which she defined as the U.S. average of $32,000 a year).
Here’s some of what we covered:
What is the Author Earnings site and where does this survey come in?
Who responded (indie, trad published, hybrid, small press, etc.) and how many authors were interviewed?
How many books do people have out on average before they reach that living wage?
As Amelia says in her analysis, “The majority of authors will never make a living at this, but chances increase both with number of books written and with years in the game. They get as good as 50/50.”
Were authors of certain genres more likely to make a living than others (not surprisingly, lots of romance authors of all kinds are doing well, and very few short story, poetry, memoir, etc. folks are making significant money)?
What was the common theme with the failure stories (authors with a lot of books out but a low income)?
Did it matter what year people started publishing in, or could they put out a lot of books in their first year and get to that living wage quickly?
Were slower writers penalized because of the 30/90-cliff and the way the Amazon algorithms work?
Were small presses helpful or were most indie authors better off on their own?
Amelia’s own experience with Netgalley (she mentioned the Patchwork Press Co-Op as a way to buy into Netgalley, a big company that assists with getting book reviews, for less than an individual membership)
Tonight we interviewed hugely popular space opera author, Joshua Dalzelle. The guy doesn’t have a website, an Amazon bio, and he’s only recently started a mailing list, but he sure sells books. Here’s some of what we discussed tonight:
How Joshua got this far without a website, and are websites/social media/mailing lists really needed, or are they overrated?
The state of space opera right now (is it more popular than ever?)
What makes space opera space opera? Versus some other type of science fiction?
Light-hearted sci-fi adventures versus darker, techier sci-fi–is there room for both?
Cover art that portrays the tone of the book as well as branding the series
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
Tonight, after dealing with a few technical difficulties, we interviewed up-and-coming epic fantasy author Claire Frank. She got started in December, 2014, and did well enough to attract a publisher (Realm Walker Publishing), and we asked her about what it’s like for new authors getting started today. When our guest went AWOL briefly, Lindsay started talking about pre-orders and some of her notes from panels at the big RWA Con; we’ll continue discussing pre-orders, iBooks, Facebook advertising, and some of those other interesting topics in next week’s show.
Here are some of the highlights from Claire’s interview:
Finding time to write when you’re homeschooling three kids and working a part time job
Some of the perks of bouncing ideas off your Lego-loving significant other
What made Claire decide to sign on with a small press versus sticking with indie publishing
What can a small press offer, and are they more flexible with contracts than the Big 5 publishers?
Getting invited to cons and onto panels with a publisher’s help
Getting reviews as a first-time author
Finding cover art designers and how a good cover can help with everything from reviews to sales
Participating in anthologies to increase awareness of all authors under a publisher
Who should consider a small press publisher, and how do you get in touch with one if you’re interested?
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?
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: