SFFMP 128: Kindle Unlimited, Perma 99-Cents, and ACX vs. Traditional Audiobook Publishers with Anthony J. Melchiorri

It’s not every week that we get authors with PhDs in science on the show (though we’ve had a few!), but today Anthony J Melchiorri joined us. By day, he uses his PhD in bioengineering to develop cellular therapies and 3D-printable artificial organs, and by night, he writes medical thrillers, post-apocalyptic fiction, and space opera. So far, he’s best-known for his Tide series.

Here’s some of what we chatted about:

  • How Anthony’s background led him to start writing medical thrillers with a science fiction twist.
  • How those books didn’t sell as well as he’d hoped and he ended up writing post-apocalyptic fiction.
  • PA fiction having a really rabid reader base that wants more books than are out there.
  • How you might be able to find a good subgenre on Amazon to exploit by looking for ones where books with poor covers are selling well.
  • Whether his Kindle Worlds project was worth it as far as time and money invested in it went.
  • If authors with tons of in-depth scientific knowledge can still expect to get “corrected” by well-meaning readers.
  • Concerns about possibly including too much science in the stories when you have that in-depth knowledge.
  • Marketing in the various different genres (space opera, post apocalyptic, and medial thrillers) and why some do well in Kindle Unlimited and others don’t.
  • Trying a perma- or long-term 99 cent price on a Book 1.
  • The differences in producing your own audiobooks through ACX and going with a publisher — Blackstone Audio is doing Anthony’s Eternal Frontier series.
  • Challenges in marketing audiobooks and what works.

You can find Anthony on his website, on Facebook, or check out his books on Amazon. If you want to try his fiction, Book 1 in the Tide series or Book 1 in the Eternal Frontier series would be good starts.

 

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SFFMP 127: Book Launch Tips, Mistakes People Make with Amazon Algorithms, and Writing a Trilogy in 12 Weeks

Today, Chris Fox joined us to talk about book launches, book RE-launches, reasons why the Amazon algorithms may not be plugging your book, and writing a trilogy in twelve weeks. The author of non-fiction titles such as 5,000 Words Per Hour and Writing to Market, he’s joined us twice before on previous episodes:

Writing 5,000 Words an Hour and Selling Zombies and Werewolves

Selling More by Writing to Market + A Novel in 21 Days

Here’s some of what we covered today:

  • What Chris has been up to since finishing his Void Wraith Trilogy, the military SF he wrote to market last year, and how it ended up doing overall.
  • Why he’s writing a trilogy in 12 weeks and planning to release the books in rapid succession.
  • Some of the benefits of writing more than the first novel in a series before publishing any of them.
  • The importance of taking time off and taking time for passion projects.
  • Strategies for launching into crowded niches.
  • Whether Chris will do 99 cents for his launch of Book 1.
  • Using Facebook and Amazon ads to find a target audience and whether they’re proving effective (and affordable) right now.
  • Why it’s worthwhile to think about your character names instead of just throwing things out there.
  • Accountability tricks for sticking to one’s goals.
  • Launching a novel when you haven’t built up a list yet.
  • Why you might not want to tell everyone you know about your new novel — the confusing effect that can have on Amazon’s algorithms.
  • Relaunching a novel or series that didn’t do well out of the blocks.

You can find Chris and his video series on his site or on his YouTube channel. You can order Write to Market and Six-Figure Author on Amazon, and his new book, Relaunch Your Novel, will be out in May. You can also check out his fiction, starting with Destroyer or No Such Thing as Werewolves.

 

 

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SFFMP 126: Breaking Out, Five Figure Months, and Writing in Someone Else’s World

Fantasy author Justin Sloan joins us this week to talk about why the traditional “just write the next book” advice may not always be the right tactic for every author in every stage of his career. He also discusses how he broke out and went from small successes to big ones when he started reaching out to other authors for collaborations. He ended up working with Michael Anderle and co-writing a series with him in his popular Kurtherian Gambit world. Since then, he’s started selling a lot more books, and he just quit his day job to write full time.

Here are a few more details of what we covered:

  • Why Justin thinks some of his series have done significantly better than others.
  • The challenges of writing series in lots of different subgenres of fantasy instead of sticking with one.
  • How he reached out to other authors and was very proactive in finding people to collaborate with.
  • How he got into co-writing a series with Michael Anderle in Michael’s world, and what it’s meant for his career.
  • Whether face-to-face or phone meetings are necessary for co-writing or it can all be done through email and Google Docs or some such.
  • Managing the finances and accounting when writing with several different authors on different projects.
  • Why Facebook can be such a powerful marketing tool and what to post on your page.
  • Posting snippets of up-coming books to get readers excited before the release.

Please visit Justin’s website to learn more about his work and grab some free books, or like his author page on Facebook to see what he’s doing there.

Justin is also the co-author of the Creative Writing Career Podcast. Check it out if you’re looking for another show to listen to.

 

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SFFMP 125: Kobo’s New Subscription Service and the State of the Industry with Mark Lefebvre

Today, Mark Lefebvre, horror writer and the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, joined us for his second time on the show. Previously, we chatted about international sales trends and tips for selling more books at Kobo.

Today, we asked Mark about some of the new developments at Kobo, such as a subscription service for readers (one which indie authors can enroll in) called Kobo Plus. You’re not automatically enrolled. If you’re interested, you need to select to participate in the “rights” section for each book, and Kobo asks that you be willing to leave your book in for a six month period (they’re asking the same thing from traditional publishers), to help them plan for promotions.

We also asked Mark about some of the state-of-industry stuff. For instance, is the ebook market now “saturated,” or is it still growing in the U.S. and in other countries? What percentage of ebooks being sold come from traditional publishing, small press, and indie authors? What can newer authors do to gain traction now that there’s more competition in the marketplace? Is a permafree Book 1 still a good marketing strategy for Kobo? And how might one get more books to sell in the growing international markets?

Among other things, Mark mentioned using the universal link creation service at Books2Read to turn one link into links for all your books so that your international readers and readers in other stores can easily find the one that works for them.

If you want to upload direct to Kobo, or read the Writing Life blog or subscribe to the podcast, you can do so from the main site: Kobo Writing Life.

You can also learn more about Mark and his work on his site.

 

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SFFMP 124: Collaborating and Networking with Other Authors to Reach Larger Audiences

We had a full house tonight with Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay talking to J Thorn, J.F. Penn, and Zach Bohannon, three authors Lindsay is currently collaborating with for a dark fantasy project. Not unexpectedly, our show topic is collaboration, something we’ve talked about before but not for a while. We also discussed networking with other authors and even store merchandizers and how you can get more eyeballs on your work by doing some of these group projects or participating in group promotions.

Here are a few of the details of what we discussed:

  • Some of the benefits of collaboration, both from a writing perspective and from a marketing perspective.
  • Growing your audience through exposure to other authors’ audiences.
  • Leaning more about your craft through working closely with other authors.
  • Approaching people you might be interested in working with.
  • How accounting works when you’re splitting the earnings and expenses among two or more authors.
  • Handling differences that might come up during the project.
  • Marketing the finished project and what to do when some of the authors usually write in different genres and have different kinds of lists.
  • Networking with other authors for marketing opportunities that don’t involve actual writing collaboration.
  • Going to conventions, book expos, etc. to meet other authors and also store merchandizers to get on their radar.

You can check out more on the collaborative project (American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice) right here.

Interested in more interviews? J Thorn was also on the show back with Episode 52: Collaborating and Organizing Multi-Author Boxed Sets. Zach Bohannon talked with us on Episode 49: Productivity and First Book Success.

J.F. Penn (AKA Joanna Penn) also runs the informative Creative Penn podcast for author-prenuers.

 

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SFFMP 123: Gail Carriger on Transitioning from Traditional Publishing to a Hybrid Career

New York Times bestselling steampunk/fantasy author Gail Carriger joined us this week to talk about writing and marketing for traditionally published novels as well as her experiences self-publishing novellas and short stories. She’s very proactive in interacting with her fans and had a lot of great information for listeners.

Here’s some of what we touched on:

  • Gail’s path to traditional publishing and how her books came to find an audience.
  • What her publisher has done as far as marketing and what she’s been expected to do on her own.
  • Why she decided to branch out and start self-publishing some of her novellas and short stories.
  • How she uses social media and her newsletter to interact with readers between releases and keep them excited about being a part of her fandom.
  • Using Amazon affiliate links to monitor what other things your readers are buying after they pick up your books (and why it might be useful to know that).
  • Gail’s experiences with book tours and whether it’s worth it for newer authors to try to arrange local book signings.
  • Is there anything you can do to make a publisher want to spend more money on you when it comes to their marketing/advertising budget?
  • Suggestions on what to watch out for with cover art.
  • Adult fiction versus young adult fiction.
  • What to watch out for when signing a traditional publishing contract, especially if you think you’ll want to self-publish on the side.

You can check out Gail’s books on Amazon and on other retailers, and you can find her on the web at GailCarriger.com or on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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SFFMP 122: Finding Success Self-Publishing Science Fiction After Years of Writing Children’s Books for Trad Publishers

This week, we chatted with Barry Hutchison, a full-time author who started out writing children’s books for a traditional publishing house and who is now dabbling in self-publishing with adult science fiction. After a bumpy start with his first self-published project, a serial called The Bug, he learned the ropes and had a successful launch for his Space Team comedic SF series. With the release of the fourth in the series coming, he expects to hit his first five-figure month in June.

Here are a few more details of what we talked about:

  • Why Barry chose to self-publish his adult fiction after working with a traditional publisher for so many years.
  • Not being discouraged by a less-than-stellar launch with his first self-published project.
  • Why he went into the Space Team series bootstrapping it by doing his own cover art and handling his own editing.
  • Launching at 99 cents and into Kindle Unlimited.
  • Differences in marketing between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Writing quickly and launching subsequent books in the Space Team series with only two months between releases.
  • What kinds of covers make sense for comedic science fiction.
  • The importance of a mailing list over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Whether holiday stories can make sense for writers of space opera.
  • How Barry used a preview of his first Space Team novel on Instafreebie to get people to sign up for his mailing list before the book launched.
  • How promoting other authors on Instafreebie ended up with him being featured by the company.

You can visit Barry on his site or check out his books on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 121: Writing in a Niche Genre and Maximizing Kindle Countdown Deals with Robert Bevan

Robert Bevan joined us this week to talk about writing in a smaller niche (one with no Amazon category) such as comedic fantasy inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. He’s published several novels and collections of short stories in his Caverns & Creatures world, with tongue-in-cheek titles such as Critical Failures, Clerical Error, and Multiple Orc Chasms. He started publishing in 2012, when he was happy to sell a few books a day, and is now able to write full time.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • Trying to publish wide but deciding on KDP Select.
  • Writing in a niche that isn’t well-served by traditional publishing.
  • Some of the challenges of writing humor.
  • Bucking the trend and doing unique covers versus what’s popular in the genre.
  • Publishing short stories and then bundling them to have more offerings out there (and more books to run promos on).
  • Combining Kindle Countdown Deals with Facebook ads.
  • How Robert chooses authors to target for his Facebook ads.
  • Doing Countdown Deals on multiple books at once to flood the charts.
  • Creating free adventures for the sole purpose of using sites like Instafreebie to entice readers onto your mailing list.

To learn more, visit Robert on his website (you can sign up for his mailing list here and check out the now notorious Multiple Orc Chasms adventure). He’s also active on Facebook.

You can find his books on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 120: Writing Stories That Keep Readers Coming Back for More

This week, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay talked about the craft side of things and how to write stories that are compelling and that will make readers want to keep plunking down money for more of your books. We argued that books that aren’t written to market and don’t hit on popular tropes may need to be better crafted to succeed, but that if you’re able to gain a readership, those readers may be more loyal in the end and follow you from project to project, as opposed to readers who are just looking for X type of stories and don’t care who wrote them.

Here are a few more details on what we covered:

  • Pretty prose vs compelling stories.
  • Creating characters that people care about and want to follow from book to book.
  • What makes a sympathetic and relatable character?
  • The importance of believable characters and why it’s good to avoid a “Mary Sue” (or “Marty Stu”).
  • Remembering that your protagonists should change and grow (or cause others to change and grow) over the course of a book and also a series.
  • The importance of a mix of internal and external conflict and the idea of “the human heart in conflict with itself” being at the core of good fiction.
  • Avoiding throwing in random battles with bad guys or other obstacles that could seem contrived because they have little to do with the plot.

 

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SFFMP 119: Surveying Readers, Instafreebie, and Tips for Multi-Author Promotions with C. Gockel

This week, we brought back Carolynn Gockel, author of the I Bring the Fire urban fantasy series and the Archangel Project science fiction trilogy, for a third time. She publishes a book about every 7 months and is making a nice full-time living as an author because she’s very proactive with marketing her work, and she’s participating in a lot of multi-author boxed sets and anthologies, as well as joint author promotional efforts. We asked her about what’s working well for marketing right now and also about surveying readers for useful information.

Here are a few more specifics:

  • Straddling KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited and “wide” — Carolynn has one series exclusive with Amazon and one series available in all the stores.
  • Surveying readers for information useful in writing and marketing.
  • She uses Survey Monkey for her surveys (they have a free version, though it’s limited so she pays the monthly fee for the months she wants to run some).
  • Asking fellow authors in similar genres to survey their readers (she sets it all up and uses her SM account) to get more data.
  • Carolynn continues to find putting together multi-author anthologies and boxed sets to be valuable — she makes money doing it and also gets a lot of new readers checking out her books.
  • Why she does a mix of free and 99-cent anthologies and boxed sets, and why she’s also done some specifically targeting Kindle Unlimited readers.
  • Her thoughts on collections of original material versus putting in older books.
  • What a new author needs to have to be considered for a multi-author boxed set by folks experienced at putting them together.
  • Getting into swapping book announcements with other authors with good-sized mailing lists.
  • The pros and cons of using Instafreebie for giving away books and building a mailing list.
  • Which types of anthologies Bookbub will possibly accept and run.

You can visit Carolynn on her website or check out her books on Amazon and (for the I Bring the Fire series) all the other vendors. Her latest release, Heretic, is available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

You can also listen to her previous shows here:

SFFMP 19: Making Books Permafree, Where to Buy Sponsorships, and Tumblr with C. Gockel

SFFMP 62: Anthologies, New Covers, and Creating Boxed Sets to Increase Sales with C. Gockel

 

 

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