This evening, the three of us shared what we do to launch new books, and then Lindsay went through the list she’s making for when she gets a new website designed (by no later than 2017, really!). Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Newsletters and social media announcements, staggering for launches
Recruiting reviewers before the book is released
Possibly getting more sales by using pre-orders
Updating back matter in earlier books with links to new books
Sharing preview materials with readers
Facebook boosted posts (the only advertising we do for launches)
Updating Goodreads and Shelfari when you release books, especially if you’re a new author — nobody’s going to do it for you!
Making sure you have an Author Central profile at Amazon and then claiming new books.
Domain names: your author name vs. your world/universe/book series name
Using WordPress as the backbone to your website
Getting author websites up and running inexpensively
Putting newsletter sign-up forms “above the fold” so people don’t have to scroll
Having a “new readers start here” kind of section for people who visit your site for the first time
Static home pages versus having your blog on there with the latest updates
Avoiding too much clutter, making it hard for people to find the links to check out your books, using ads on author websites, forgetting to have links to all stores, not having a list of your books, and getting into posting schemes with other authors
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).
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
We interviewed C. Gockel this week (don’t tell anyone, but we found out that C stands for Carolynn), urban fantasy author of the I Bring the Fire series (the first book is free, so go check it out!). She hasn’t quit her day job yet, but it sounds like she’s getting close to making “professional income.”
Here’s a summary of some of the questions we asked her:
How did writing fan fiction lead to a career as a successful indie author?
Are there any advantages to starting out with fan fiction? Any lessons a new author can learn?
When you start thinking about publishing (and making some money!), is it better to modify a successful fanfic to make it an original story, or are you better off starting something new?
How has having a permafree Book 1 affected the sales of later books in your series? Is it still effective, even though your first ebook has been free for quite a while now?
What do you do to promote your permafree title and keep the sales of subsequent books rolling in month after month?
Have you tried discounting other books in your series, or do you stick with the first?
Are any advertisers more worth it than others, or do some charge too much? (Carolynn wisely did not want to dis anyone, but she gave some tips for evaluating whether a sponsorship site is worth it.)
You use Tumblr for your blogging platform — does it offer any advantages over more traditional spots?
Do you ever get fans offering to help “edit” your books or offering other advice? How do you deal with that?
Looking for the free resource spreadsheets we mentioned in the show? Here are Carolynn’s links: