Today we had Beth Cato on the show. Her steampunk novel, The Clockwork Dagger, is published with Harper Voyager, and she’s had numerous short stories published in semi-pro and pro magazines, including Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She’s also sold numerous non-fiction tales to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We chatted with her about what her publisher brought to the table, in terms of marketing and selling books, and also what she’s done on her own to help promote her stories and her world.
Here are a few of the topics we touched on:
How and why Beth got started with short stories and how writing and selling them helped her improve her craft, gain confidence as a writer, and eventually find an agent and a publisher.
Selling stories to popular fiction podcasts as well as magazines and anthologies.
Tonight we interviewed Bryan Cohen, the author of the YA science fiction/fantasy series Ted Saves the World and the co-host of the Sell More Books show. Bryan is a relatively new fiction author, but he’s been publishing non-fiction for a while longer, and he’s sold 35,000 books across all of his titles. He’s definitely got the entrepreneurial spirit, and we got some great tips by talking to him.
Here’s a look at some of what we covered in the interview:
How to run a successful Facebook Event that actually sells books
Starting a YouTube channel to entice more people to check out your work (Bryan’s new video project is the Bryan Cohen Showen)
Tonight, we talked all about editing. We had author and editor Tammy Salyer on, and she answered our dozen-odd questions about copy-editing, proofreading, and substantive editing (the latter being something that proved difficult for some of us to pronounce… not saying any names here!). Since Tammy writes military science fiction and is working on an epic fantasy trilogy, she was a great person to have on our particular show, to give us information about genre stuff as well as regular editing issues. Here’s a taste of what we covered:
What are the differences between proofreading, copy-editing, and substantive editing, and how does an author know what he or she needs?
How can good editing make the marketing side of things easier?
Are there any common mistakes that new authors (or old ones!) make?
What should you do if you can’t afford to hire an editor? Are there are any tips or is there editing software that can help?
What are red flags that you should look for when hiring an editor?
What are samples pages and how can they help you find a good editor?
How slavishly should authors cling to grammatical rules?
For the second time in the history of the podcast, we had a guest on tonight (we’ll be having guests on a lot more often, so if there’s someone you would like to see — who might actually deign to talk to us — let us know). Australian science fiction and fantasy author Patty Jansen came on to talk to us about self-publishing, marketing fads, and how she has ended up selling well on the non-Amazon platforms, especially Kobo.
Here are a few of the topics we covered:
Patty’s publication history (including a Writers of the Future win) and why she opted for self publishing
The benefits of belonging to an online workshop
If there are any specific challenges to selling science fiction and fantasy, as opposed to other genres
What’s helping her to sell on Kobo and some of the other platforms where many authors struggle to gain traction
Some tips for selling books on Google Play
Is it worth following the trends and trying to write what’s popular?
Organizing multi-author promotions and why you would want to
Is it still a good time to be an indie author, even if things may be getting tougher, and it’s not as easy to break in?
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?
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)
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
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
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)
We had our first official guest on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast tonight! Jason Chen, the founder of StoryBundle.com, joined us to talk about how he started the site, how he’s gone about creating book bundles full of awesome titles by traditionally published and indie authors, and how he sells upwards of 3000 bundles in a 3-week period over and over again. And these are not 99-cent bundles, my friends. People often pay over $10 for the collections on his site, meaning a nice cut for the authors and also for the charities that Jason works with.
We pumped him for information on:
Creating bundles, including approaching big-name authors
Marketing bundles and ebooks in general
Finding ways to promote on tech sites, as opposed to the usual book venues
Choosing cover art for bundles
His experience with advertising on Google, Facebook, and other sites
Whether StoryBundle still accepts submissions (the answer is yes, but many of their collections are curated by authors who know other authors)