SFFMP 129: Using Multi-Author Boxed Sets to Hit Bestseller Lists and Jumpstart Your Career with Gwynn White

This week, we chatted with fantasy/steampunk/fairy tale/memoir author Gwynn White, who has used multiauthor boxed sets to jumpstart her fantasy career and to hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

Here are some details on what we covered:

  • The fact that you can actually sell travel memoirs as an indie author! (This is how Gwynn got her start.)
  • The challenges of selling books that are a mashup of subgenres and weren’t written to market.
  • Using boxed sets for getting your Book 1s in front of a lot of eyeballs.
  • Gwynn’s experience being in two big boxed sets that hit the USA Today and NYT lists and what she learned that she’s now applying to two sets she’s organizing.
  • Getting 20 authors involved and leveraging them for mailing list promotions and other types of marketing.
  • Utilizing pre-orders to help get the necessary numbers to hit the lists.
  • Setting your goals ahead of time: are the bestseller letters the most important thing, or do you want to make money (especially through Kindle Unlimited page reads), or are you most interested in sell-through to other books in your series?
  • Going wide with a boxed set (this is necessary if you want to hit lists) versus launching it into KDP Select/KU.
  • Using Pronoun to get a much longer pre-order period on Amazon (the usual is only 3 months) and also to be able to put huge files (such as you get with 20 novels in one ebook) through at 99 cents (Amazon tends to increase the price to $1.99 with big boxed sets).
  • Also using Pronoun because you can get 70% even on 99-cent novels.

You can visit Gwynn on her website or check out her books on Amazon. Her first fantasy novel is Rebel’s Honor.

Also, if you want to support the two boxed sets she has going now, you can grab 20+ authors for 99 cents in Dominion Rising and Marked by Fate.

Note: In a correction related to last week’s episode, where audiobooks came up, I mentioned that you can have individual titles and one boxed set per series when it comes to audiobooks for those going directly to Audible through ACX. Here’s the link to their FAQ with more information on that: How do I create a bundle version of the audiobooks I have already released?

 

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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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SFFMP 111: Keeping Old Books Selling, When to Hire Help, and Should You Be Where Your Readers Are?

On this week’s show, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay discussed tactics for marketing your backlist, bringing a dying series back to life, or giving a kick to one that never took off in the first place. They also talked about which tasks they hire out, whether they’ve used virtual assistants, how they stay on task and keep the books rolling out, and whether it makes sense to hang out where your readers are hanging out.

Here are a few more specifics on subjects covered:

  • Is it acceptable to use very similar covers for books in a series?
  • Whether you need to worry about your real name coming out anywhere if you publish under a pen name.
  • Using free/99-cent ebooks combined with periodic advertising to keep people coming into your series funnel.
  • When to put together a boxed set of the early books in a series and using that as another type of Book 1, perhaps with a different cover and blurb to appeal to a slightly different audience.
  • Places besides the bookstores to list your free books.
  • Publishing new short stories or installments in old series in order to help revitalize the interest in the earlier books.
  • Remembering to promote old books, as well as new releases, to your newsletter subscribers.
  • When it makes sense to rebrand a series with new covers and maybe new blurbs.
  • Hiring freelancers for editing, cover design, formatting, audiobook narration, etc.
  • When it makes sense to consider hiring a virtual assistant.
  • Whether you should be visiting the fantasy/science fiction groups on Reddit, Goodreads, etc.
  • Using deadlines and goals to get books finished and out more quickly (here’s the link to the show where Rachel Aaron talked about her 2K to 10K book and increasing productivity).

Thanks for listening!

 

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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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SFFMP 80: Dissecting Steampunk + Creating a Multi-Author Anthology in a Shared World

Today, we had a podcast first: three guests at the same time. They are all steampunk authors and are a part of a shared world anthology called The Faraday Cage. (If you happen to catch this in the next few days, head over to the site; they’re doing a book giveaway.)

Steven Turnbull was the editor and publisher of the anthology. Peter A. Smalley and Virginia Marybury were contributors. We had them on to talk about the steampunk genre and how to go about putting together an anthology full of shared world stories by different authors. It was a little different from our usual interviews, but we hope you find it to be interesting.

Here are the authors’ links if you want to check out more from them:

The book website is: http://the-faraday-cage.com

The Amazon page (geolink): http://bit.ly/the-faraday-cage

And the authors:

Rob Harkess

http://www.amazon.com/R-B-Harkess/e/B0070CCSFG

Social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RBHarkess

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rbharkess/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/114351001736513757578/about

Peter A. Smalley

http://www.amazon.com/Peter-A.-Smalley/e/B0055QE0MS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Peter_Smalley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peterasmalley/

Google+: https://www.google.com/+PeterSmalley

Virginia Marybury

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VMarybury

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaMarybury

Katy O’Dowd

http://www.amazon.com/Katy-ODowd/e/B006292ELG

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katyod

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katy.odowd

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109100749123016978303/about

Steve Turnbull

http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Turnbull/e/B00H20G7P8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/adaddinsane

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steveturnbullwriter

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SteveTurnbull-Writer/about 

 

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SFFMP 66: Writing and Selling Paranormal Romance with Elle Thorne

We chatted with up-and-coming indie author Elle Thorne today about writing and selling paranormal romance. She’s been publishing for less than two years, but she’s been very prolific, has numerous series going, and has contributed to several boxed sets. She’s doing quite well for herself.

Here’s some of what we discussed:

  • Rocking it with novella length fiction
  • The difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance
  • The challenges and rewards of writing in a popular genre
  • Following trends in PNR versus just writing what you’re passionate about
  • Boxed sets — the challenges of committing to writing new fiction for a set and when it’s worth it
  • Effective ways to increase your mailing list sign-ups
  • Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select for PNR and novella-length fiction
  • Looking at the top book covers in your genre for inspiration
  • Becoming a part of existing Facebook groups in your genre as a means of promotion
  • Doing cross-promotion with other closely related authors to increase your reach
  • The challenges of getting sponsorships with the shorter fiction
  • Tips for authors just getting into PNR

Check out Elle’s books on Amazon — right now you can get Protection, the first in her Shifters Forever series, for free. You can also visit her on the web at Elle Thorne and see what she’s up to on Facebook.

 

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

We had our first repeat guest on the show today, urban fantasy author Carolynn Gockel (writing as C. Gockel) from Episode 19, where we chatted about permafree books, getting started on fan fiction sites, using Tumblr to promote, and where to buy sponsorships. Carolynn has been busy with a lot of marketing stuff in the last year, and she’s also jumped into science fiction, so we talked about some of what she’s done and learned recently.

We discussed:

  • The promotional (and monetary) perks of putting a short story into an anthology with other authors in your genre, all of whom throw their marketing weight behind the release.
  • Starting your own multi-author boxed sets and whether it’s better to do permafree sets or 99-centers.
  • How to snag a Bookbub ad on a multi-author anthology.
  • The challenges of launching a new series in a different genre from your flagship series.
  • Having one series in Kindle Unlimited (KDP Select) and one wide (she recommends that new authors start out in KDP Select right now).
  • Getting approached by audiobook producers and if it’s better to sell your audio rights versus spending the money producing your own audiobooks.
  • Whether investing in new covers resulted in an uptick in sales and was worth it for Carolynn.
  • Her adventures in Facebook advertising — is it worth using Facebook to promote permafree Book 1s? Boxed sets? Multi-author boxed sets?
  • Lastly, she let us know that she writes because, “If I wasn’t an author, I’d probably be a nasty internet troll.” We all have our motivations!

Grab her first book in the I Bring the Fire series for free from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, or Apple. You can also check out the first ebook in her science fiction series, Archangel Down.

Visit her online at C. Gockel Writes.

 

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SFFMP 52: Collaborating and Organizing Multi-Author Boxed Sets with J Thorn

Tonight we talked with horror and dark fantasy author J Thorn. He’s sold over 130,000 ebooks since coming on the scene a few years ago, and he’s collaborated with more authors than Lindsay can count without taking off her shoes. We asked him why he’s collaborating with so many folks, some of the challenges and pitfalls (and perks), and then we interrogated him on boxed sets, both bundles he’s done of his own series and multi-author boxed sets that he’s organized.

Here are a few more details on what we discussed:

  • Challenges of epic fantasy versus dark fantasy/horror
  • Networking online as an introvert
  • Forming collaboration teams (finding people whose strengths match your weaknesses and vice versa)
  • Handling finances when you’re collaborating or paying other authors for multi-author boxed sets
  • Some of the challenges of approaching higher selling authors and getting them to be involved in boxed sets or joint projects
  • Whether multi-author boxed sets are still effective, or if the market too saturated
  • Boxing up your own trilogies or series starters and making it look like an even better deal by adding some related short stories or novellas
  • The more options you have for marketing and promotion as your back catalogue grows (the more titles you have, the less emotionally attached you are to one)
  • Podcasting for promotional benefit — can it work? (J runs the Horror Writers Podcast and Dark Arts Theater)

If you want to check out some of J’s work, you can pick up his books at Amazon or check out the Quest boxed set that we’re all a part of.

 

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SFFMP 42: Selling More on iBooks, Boxed Set Strategies, and Using Pre-Orders to Hit Bestseller Lists

Hey, everyone! We shared a lot of information today. We answered a few reader questions and then jumped into Lindsay’s notes from some of the panels at the RWA Con. The topics included selling more books on Apple’s iBooks, setting up multi-author boxed sets, using pre-orders to hit bestseller lists (such as USA Today and the NY Times), and a handful of mistakes to avoid as an author (these were different than some of the mistakes we’ve already shared in the past).

Here’s a closer look at the notes and the links we mentioned on the podcast:

  • Making the USA Today bestseller list with a multi-author boxed set
  • Getting bookmarks and other author swag made
  • John L. Monk‘s report on his experiences with Vellum for ebook formatting.
  • Getting started using a pen name and potential selling/legal complications
  • Starting up your own podcast as promo for your work (or just for schmoozing authors)
  • Short stories, selling them individually versus bundling them into a collection (an article on getting inexpensive covers for short stories/serials done on Fiverr)
  • Selling foreign rights as an indie (using an agent who specializes in foreign rights or finding a contract consultant that specializes in publishing for a one-time deal)
  • Paying for your own translations and the costs (upwards of $10,000 for a 80,000-word novel)
  • Where to consider looking for deals/rights sales — for example, Germany is popular with science fiction and fantasy authors.
  • Babelcube and other sites that connect authors with translators for royalty splits might not be quite there yet (tough to find experienced high-quality translators).
  • Respecting the tropes and giving people what they want/expect to sell more
  • Be “the author” on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — readers will follow, expecting to be entertained, so keep personal stuff to a minimum
  • Interested in Facebooks ads? Maybe check out Amy Porterfield’s site and podcast.
  • More on Lindsay’s experience with a boxed set and hitting the USA Today list.
  • Using different pen names for different series in different genres
  • How to appear in more popular authors’ also-boughts on Amazon
  • Apple affiliate program and adding specific iBooks links to the backs of your Apple ebooks
  • Requesting your 250 free promo codes on Apple to giveaway your iBooks to early reviewers/bloggers/etc.
  • The best day to release a book if you hope to make a best seller’s list (and how many sales it takes for the USA Today list versus the NYT list)
  • Using Thunderclap or Headtalker to help with a release
  • Setting up “asset-less” pre-orders up to a year in advance on Apple

 

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