We had tons of great information on the show today, thanks to our experienced guest, Joanna Penn. You probably already know Joanna from The Creative Penn podcast and blog, but if you don’t, she’s a self-published thriller author, as well as the author of several non-fiction books on self-publishing and marketing. Right now, she’s releasing a new edition of How to Market a Book, so we asked her for her advice on long-term vs. short-term strategies, selling internationally as well as at home, and whether it’s worth worrying about translations and foreign rights as an indie.
Here are a few of the specifics we covered:
Some factors authors should consider in regard to what’s most important to them (i.e. do they have one book and want to maximize income or are they establishing a brand and a career full of books) when making a marketing plan.
Marketing a book versus marketing a series.
Building a platform as a new author.
What to do if you’re starting a pen name (or two) and worry about dividing your focus and getting spread too thin.
Realizing that you don’t need to do everything to be successful. Figure out what suits you, and do that. “Strategy is not just what you do but what you don’t do.”
Is it better to focus on your newest book or to spend as much or more time marketing your back list?
The difference between tactics you use in the short-term versus building up long-term resources that can continue to bring in sales over time.
Different ways to target international audiences, such as scheduling tweets/posts for certain time zones and using Bookbub’s PPC ads with country-specific links.
Whether it’s worth it to pay for translations of your books.
When foreign rights deals can make sense, if you’re offered them.
Whether it’s worth tinkering with keywords and changing up blurbs on Amazon to keep a book “fresh” for the search algorithms.
You can visit Joanna at her non-fiction site, The Creative Penn, or her fiction site, J.F. Penn. And be sure to check out How to Market a Book, which is a great foundational marketing book that also covers some more advanced tactics.
Today we chatted with paranormal romance author Anna Lowe. She got her start in 2015, made $26,000 that first year, and then made more than $50,000 in 2016. We asked her about what it’s like for those starting new, and how she’s broken into a fairly competitive genre.
Here are a few more specifics:
Writing stories that can cross genres (Anna’s books can be filed under Romance > Western as well as paranormal romance) and perhaps appealing to more than once audience.
Focusing on shorter novels in genres that are accepting of them, so that you can publish more often, even if you’re not a super speedy writer.
Anna’s thoughts on jumping into a competitive genre as a newer author.
Tropes that people expect in PNR and whether it’s okay to turn some of them on their heads.
How she’s had good experiences with short stories, despite advice to ignore them in favor of writing novels.
Getting involved with Facebook author and fan groups as a way of finding people to network with and also potential ARC reviewers.
Putting together a solid ARC team and following up to make sure people are actually posting reviews.
Setting daily writing goals to keep the books coming out, even when you’re busy with a full-time job and a family.
Experimenting with audiobooks and figuring out how to market them.
We had a few technical issues on the show tonight and ended up recording it in three Zoom sessions rather than in Google Hangouts, but hopefully things will get spliced together, and you won’t notice too many hiccups. Jo, Lindsay, and Jeff chatted about their experiences with being wide (in all the stores) versus having some series in Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited. They also answered some listener questions and covered everything from using Bookbub PPC ads to how long series should be to how they price their books.
Here are a few more of the specifics they went over:
If Kindle Unlimited is bad for authors and whether we should be objecting to being exclusive with Amazon on principle.
Whether you should hold off on releasing your first book until your second book is ready to go.
How the business and taxes side of things works for self-publishers in the U.S.
Using Books2Read universal links to tidy up your newsletters and make it so you only need to share around one link.
Jo’s results and sales percentages after being wide for many years.
How permafree has ceased to get as many downloads and be as effective for Jo in the last two years.
When it’s worth it to release paperbacks (and some of the benefits to having them done).
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
Popular fantasy author Rachel Aaron joined us today to talk about succeeding with books that straddle genres, launching later books in a series, and turning your writing into a business, among other topics.
Here are a few more subjects that we touched on:
The challenges of writing across genres and marketing books that don’t fit tidily into a category
Rachel’s experiments with advertising and what has worked best
Using a pre-order to increase sales of an entire series and how to build launch buzz over several weeks
Some of the perks of being in Kindle Unlimited (Rachel explains why she believes KU readers are less likely to leave bad reviews)
How audiobooks have become a significant source of income for Rachel
The challenges of maintaining a high degree of productivity after this becomes a full-fledged business
Tonight we were joined by a fan of the show and fellow podcaster, Edward Giordano. For a change, he interviewed us, asking questions he had as a new author. We hope our answers will be useful to some of you, as well!
Tonight we chatted with fantasy author Abigail Hilton about making money from Patreon, audiobooks, and web comics as well as full-length novels. She doesn’t write in the most popular subgenre of fantasy, and she creates anthropomorphized characters for her adventures, but she’s diversifying her income and making notable money from her work.
Here’s a bit of what we covered:
Supplementing your monthly income with Patreon
What Patreon is exactly and how it works
Patreon versus Kickstarter
Getting people to sign up for your Patreon page and asking for tips versus monthly payments
Choosing rewards that don’t require extra work on your part, because they’re things you would do anyway
Using Podiobooks to find an audience versus publishing audiobooks straight to Audible
The expense of doing full cast recordings for audiobooks and is it worth it?
Finding artists to illustrate your world (and to create extras for Patreon rewards)
Creating web comics as an add-on for your regular fiction series
Hiring reliable artists and whether the expense can be worth it
Facebook ads when you’re an author in a small, less popular niche
Split testing Facebook ads for covers (figuring out which is your most popular cover option before even publishing the book)
Thanks to Abigail for all of the great information. You can visit her website, where she has free ebooks and audios available, and check out her books on Amazon.
The first half of the show is all about finding a narrator and getting your audiobook produced using Amazon’s ACX platform (we also covered equipment and potential pitfalls you should be aware of if you want to do it yourself). In the second half of the show, we got into the marketing side of things.
Here’s some of what we covered related to production:
What is ACX and how does it work to connect authors to narrators/producers?
The royalty-splitting option, for those doing it on a budget, versus the flat-fee-per-finished-hour option
How to get a $100/hour stipend from ACX to make your royalty split option more appealing to narrators
Hours verses finished hours and just how much work really goes into producing an audiobook (not to mention doing all those different character voices!)
Here’s what we talked about related to marketing:
Which genres seem to do best in audiobook form (hint: longer books are often more appealing, because most Audible customers pay for credits that get them a book a month, so the longer, higher priced books seem to be better deals).
Making use of the 25 review copies that Audible gives you (and how to make sure the people you give those codes to buy your book instead of someone else’s!). Make sure to check out Simon’s video on Making Better Use of Audible’s Promotional Codes. You can also pick up his Audiobooks for Indies ebook for even more information.
How ACX allows you to share a fifteen minute sample on YouTube, your site, social media, etc. Simon recommends grabbing a scintillating few minutes from the middle rather than the title, acknowledgements, etc.
AudaVoxx, a site where you can list audiobook giveaways.
Taking advantage of Audible’s free-first-book-with-a-subscription policy to entice your mailing list subscribers to grab your book, even if they’ve never been Audible members before and don’t usually buy audiobooks.
The importance of reviews (yes, the ones that are specifically for the audiobook are what you need here)
If there are any sites out there like Bookbub that can help authors sell their audiobooks (alas, the answer is not yet, largely because authors can’t control pricing on their audiobooks and put them on sale)