SFFMP 104: Competing in the Crowded Urban Fantasy Genre with Domino Finn

Tough guy urban fantasy author Domino Finn joins Lindsay and Jeff this week to analyze urban fantasy, talk about why his series took off, why others don’t, and what some of the expected tropes are in the genre.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • Analyzing the market to figure out why your books aren’t selling, then readjusting and launching a new series that’s more in line with expectations.
  • Finding an underserved market within a very popular and competitive genre.
  • Launching a book and having it stick on Amazon even without a lot of advertising dollars behind it.
  • Why Domino broke the mold and went with a first-person blurb for Dead Man.
  • Writing to market versus writing something that’s original and you with some marketable elements.
  • Can posting on forums actually help sell books?
  • Domino’s experiences with going wide, and why he’s sticking with KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for now.
  • Putting together an anthology/boxed set with other authors writing the same type of UF and contributing original content.
  • Predictions for where the genre might go next.

You can visit Domino Finn at his website and check out his first Black Magic Outlaw book, Dead Man, on Amazon. If you’d like to try the anthology he’s in with several other authors, it’s only 99 cents right now on Amazon: Full Metal Magic.

 

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SFFMP 103: From Spy Thrillers to Bestselling Military Science Fiction with Richard Fox

Military science fiction author (and former spy thriller author) Richard Fox joined us on the show today. We talked about his early books and his thriller series, which never impressed him hugely with sales, and then how he moved onto a different genre last year. In June, 2015, he published his first Ember War military sci-fi title and has since gone on to publish a total of 8 novels in the series. They’ve sold great, and he has over 400 reviews of his first book.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • Transitioning from historical fiction to spy thrillers to space adventure novels (and whether those audiences will cross over at all).
  • What made Richard decide to genre hop over to science fiction.
  • How he learned from some of his mistakes on his first series to have a solid launch with the Ember War books.
  • How he’s used his military experience in his novels.
  • Finishing one series and starting a spinoff as another entry point for potential readers.
  • Using Facebook ads on a slow trickle to keep sales up of a Book 1 that’s been out for a while.
  • How Richard’s Kindle Unlimited borrow money compares to his book sales and why he hasn’t gone wide.
  • What Richard’s first launch looked like, and what he’s doing with new books today to get his readers to buy right away.

You can visit Richard on his site or say hello to him on Facebook. Try the first book in his Ember War series on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 102: Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging to Build Your Author Platform (and sell books)

Today, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay talked about a few things they’ve been meaning to cover for a long time, building an author platform (and selling books) through Facebook, Twitter, and an author blog.

Here are some of the highlights of what they touched upon:

  • Is it better to have a Facebook page or use Facebook groups for appealing to fans?
  • What do you post about on Facebook anyway?
  • How can you naturally get more likes and interaction on Facebook?
  • Can a Facebook page actually help you sell books?
  • When does it make sense to pay for a boosted post?
  • Have the guys had any success with Facebook ads?
  • Twitter — What’s the point of Twitter?
  • Is it possible to sell books on Twitter, and, if so, how?
  • Being a content provider on Twitter versus just doing a lot of RTing.
  • Using the If This, Then That service for some automated posting.
  • What are the best practices for starting an author blog?
  • Should you host a blog on your own site or use a free site?
  • What should you blog about as an author?
  • How to get more traffic from the search engines (and how long it takes to build up a site and start seeing that traffic).
  • Is blogging really worth the time?

If you’re interested in writing for Kindle Worlds, in Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire space adventure universe, shoot Lindsay a note for more details. You can reach her through the contact form on her site (http://www.lindsayburoker.com) or poke her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GoblinWriter). She’s happy to provide the books for free to any authors who might be interested!

 

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SFFMP 101: Getting an Agent After Self-Pub Success and a Print Only Deal with Annie Bellet

On today’s show, we chatted with return guest, urban fantasy author, Annie Bellet. She first visited us on show 33. Since then, she’s published her earnings on her blog (she made over $250,000 in 2015) and taken on an agent and a publisher for a print-only deal (she kept her ebook rights).

Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • Leveraging self-publishing success to get an agent
  • How to choose an agent if you’re lucky enough to get some nibbles (and when you might want to pass)
  • Whether traditional publishers are open right now to print only deals
  • Whether trad publishers are currently likely to be interested in series that were previously self published
  • What stats/bragging rights you should have prepared to share that might interest an agent
  • Keeping a series alive and selling even when releases aren’t as frequent as you’d like
  • Whether permafree or 99-cent Book 1s are still working to help get people into a series
  • Staying wide in all the stores vs. dabbling in Kindle Unlimited
  • Running Facebook ads for boxed sets
  • Whether Annie’s publisher has handled marketing for the new paperbacks and hardbacks or if she’s responsible for that
  • Conversion and what’s good sell through in a series
  • The challenges of keeping a pen name active and selling

You can grab Annie’s first 20-Sided Sorceress ebook for free in all the major stores (Amazon link here) and also check out the new print omnibus of the first four adventures.

 

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SFFMP 100: Increasing International Sales and Doing Better on Non-Amazon Platforms with Dan Wood of Draft2Digital

Today, we spoke with Dan Wood from the ebook distributor Draft 2 Digital. We asked him a bit about D2D itself and then jumped into marketing questions and best practices based on what he sees.

Here are some specifics of what we covered:

  • Which stores can Draft2Digital get you into and in which countries?
  • Which e-tailers account for the most sales for D2D authors
  • The state of international markets and whether any are coming on strong
  • Some of D2D’s new features, such as the ability to do pre-orders with several retailers and the ability to put your own affiliate links in the back of your books
  • How to get on the radar with the various retailers and get invited into special promotions
  • Who pre-orders are best for
  • How to gain traction on the non-Amazon platforms
  • Whether permafree is still effective with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.
  • Suggestions for reaching international audiences and whether permafree works there too
  • Best practices when it comes to pricing in the different countries
  • When going wide makes sense and when it might make more sense to be exclusive with Amazon
  • If there is anything to watch out for as far as using keywords in titles and book descriptions
  • Whether D2D is going to make a deal with Google Play and start distributing to them
  • Who to email to ask about possibly getting invited into a promotion for a specific retailer (authorrelations@draft2digital.com)

You can visit Draft2Digital if you’re interested in creating an account or check out their blog for marketing advice. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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SFFMP 99: A Quick Release Schedule with Traditional Publishing + Rocking Patreon with Seanan McGuire

Today, Seanan McGuire joined us on the show to talk about her urban fantasy and her science fiction, her rapid releases (under two different names) with traditional publishing, how she got started, and what led her to explore Patreon, where she is currently earning nearly $8,000 per short story.

**Note: a few curse words slipped out during the interview, so you might want to listen to this one with your earbuds in! 

Here are a few more details on what we covered:

  • How writing Buffy porn led to Seanan landing an agent
  • Publishing quickly even with traditional publishers
  • Why she has two pen names (Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant)
  • Seanan’s experiences with two different publishers, each with different ways of going about the business (she’s with Daw and also with Orbit)
  • What kinds of marketing things she does on her own, what she pays for, and what the publisher pays for
  • Why she decided to start a Patreon campaign and how she got the word out
  • Why she feels like you should submit to agents and try to make it through the gauntlet of traditional publishing even if you don’t ultimately sign
  • What a launch of a new book looks like for Seanan these days

For a limited time, grab Seanan’s first October Daye urban fantasy novel for 1.99 at Amazon. Visit her anytime at her website or on Twitter. You can also take a peek at her Patreon campaign.

 

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SFFMP 98: 40,000 Audiobook Sales and Counting with Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Author Kristen Painter

We’re talking to paranormal romance/urban fantasy author Kristen Painter today. She’s been traditionally published and is now self-publishing her popular Nocturne Falls books, a light-hearted paranormal romance series that’s been selling well. She’s also been doing great with the audiobooks through ACX, recently passing 40,000 in sales, so we asked her about what’s led to her great success there.

Here are a few details of what we covered:

  • How Kristen got her start in traditional publishing and when she switched to indie
  • Finding an underserved niche with comedic paranormal romance without the graphic content that is often a part of the genre
  • The difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as far as tropes and what audiences expect
  • The state of the genre and how urban fantasy/PNR are for newer authors
  • When it makes sense to pay for the production of your own audiobooks (Kristen mentioned a 5 to 1 figure, i.e., you might get 5 ebook sales for each audiobook sale)
  • Whether to opt for a royalty split or pay a narrator outright
  • How important choosing a good narrator is with audiobooks (and how to find one you like)
  • Whether it’s better to launch the audiobook as close to the ebook release as possible or whether it doesn’t make much of a difference
  • Why Kristen shoots for at least 8 hours of narration for her audiobooks

You can find Kristen on her website, and check out her first Nocturne Falls book, The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride for free in the various stores.

 

 

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SFFMP 97: The Ins and Outs of Selling Science Fiction Erotica with Addison Cain

We spoke to science fiction erotica author Addison L. Cain about getting started in the business, some of the differences between romance and erotica, how to market it when many of the advertisers aren’t interested in the subject matter, and how to get off to a good start. Addison’s first novel, Born to Be Bound, was just released in April of 2016, and she’s already selling very well, with three books now out in the series.

**Note: a couple of naughty words came up in today’s discussion, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, or frank discussions of what’s allowed and what the tropes are in erotica, you may want to pass on this episode and tune back in next week for a more typical show. Thanks! 

Here are some more details on what we touched upon:

  • Getting started with fan fiction and publishing on free-to-read sites such as LitErotica.
  • How Addison turned the readers of her free material into an ARC team that went out and left reviews of her books when she launched.
  • What’s working with SF erotica covers (and what to avoid if you don’t want your book to be nixed by Amazon)
  • Whether there really is “big money” in writing erotica
  • What the “Adult Dungeon” is on Amazon and how to avoid having your work stuck in it
  • Some of the sponsorship sites that accept erotica: The Romance Reviews, Spanking Romance Reviews, What to Read After 50 Shades of Grey, Excite Spice, Bookbub, BargainBooksy, The Naughty List.
  • How science fiction and fantasy let you play and be creative within the erotica genre
  • The pros and cons of publishing with a small press
  • Pricing considerations for SF erotica and whether or not to go wide or choose KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited
  • Challenges of being a big fish in a small pond (SF or fantasy erotica) versus jumping into more the more mainstream stuff with a larger potential readership
  • Who the primary reader is for these books (male/female)
  • The need to stand up for yourself and make sure your books are getting the attention they deserve when you’re working with a press

You can find Addison on her website or check out her books on Amazon and other retailers.

Her publisher is Blushing Books and she believes they are open to submissions for those who don’t want to go it alone.

 

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SFFMP 96: Switching to Epic Fantasy and Rocking It with Phil Tucker

We chatted with Phil Tucker about his time working at Penguin, his first couple of series (including paranormal romance novels published under a pen name), and his new Chronicles of the Black Gate epic fantasy series, which has been selling great since its release back in May. Even though his previous experience was in paranormal and vampires, he had a solid launch, and we grilled him on what he did in designing and marketing the new series.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the topics we hit on:

  • Phil’s experience working in the content marketing department at Penguin publishing
  • Why he chose self-publishing instead of traditional publishing
  • Learning the ropes with his first vampire series
  • Starting a paranormal romance pen name, finding some success, but then switching away from it
  • Going back to his first love with epic fantasy
  • Going into debt to invest in great cover art
  • Studying the blurbs of top-selling books in the epic fantasy genre and making sure he had the best package possible when he launched
  • Participating in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and gaining some attention and reviews from that
  • Using a free prequel to encourage mailing list sign-ups
  • Keeping to a two-month release schedule even while writing long epic fantasy novels and working full time at the day job

Check out Phil’s books on Amazon or visit his website for more information. Oh, and make sure to check out the beautiful covers on his epic fantasy series. Here’s a link to the first book.

 

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SFFMP 95: Boxed Set Strategies (multi-author and solo novel bundles and short story anthologies)

Today, the guys chatted about their experiences with multi-author and solo-author book bundles of existing material and also anthologies of new short stories or novellas. They offered some tips and strategies based on whether you’re looking for more exposure (getting more people into the rest of your series), to make money, or to hit a bestseller list. They also started out answering a few listener questions.

Here are a few more notes on what they covered during the show:

  • Jesper Schmidt’s Fantasy Map Making: A step-by-step guide for worldbuilders. He’s offering 10 free copies to listeners, first come, first serve: http://dl.bookfunnel.com/xshqdkoirn. If you don’t make it in time to grab a copy, you can buy it from Amazon or learn more on his website.
  • Books on writing and resources the guys recommend: Self-Editing for Fiction Authors, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Brandon Sanderson’s Writing Lectures on YouTube.
  • How the guys approach world-building and a few tips from what they’ve learned along the way
  • The different types of boxed sets/bundles/anthologies and when they’re useful for marketing
  • Bundling books in your own series (how many and where you you price them?)
  • Putting together a collection of your own short stories for a bundle
  • Joining or organizing a multi-author boxed set of novels
  • The various goals of these big, multi-author boxed sets
  • Leveraging the power of many authors’ mailing lists in order to sell thousands of copies and possibly hit a list
  • Whether to go wide with a boxed set or stick it in KDP Select so you can take advantage of the page read payments
  • New fiction for boxed sets versus previously published works
  • Creating a multi-author anthology of new short stories or novellas
  • Possible anthology pitfalls
  • Whether it’s better to pay authors up front or offer a royalty split with an anthology

If you’ve enjoyed listening to the gang and want to check out their work, you can find Jeffrey M. Poole at his website and download his first Lentari book, Lost City, for free on the various sites.

You can find Jo at his website or check out several of his books for free, such as Free-Wrench and The Book of Deacon.

You can find Lindsay on her site and grab The Emperor’s Edge for free or  buy Star Nomad, the first book in her new space adventure series, for 99 cents at the time of this show.

 

 

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