SFFMP 160: Making a Living Selling Physical Books at Conventions with Russell Nohelty

On this week’s show, we chatted with Russell Nohelty, who wrote for film, TV, animation, and comic books, before getting into novels a few years ago. He’s different from many of our guests in that he’s not doing much of his selling online. He makes a good living by traveling and selling his novels at conventions, thirty to forty cons a year.

We asked him all about which cons are worth going to, getting started as a newer author, getting onto panels, the costs of tables, and how to actually sell books while you’re there.

Here are some of the specifics covered in the interview:

  • Some of the reasons Russell likes selling at conventions, such as fewer authors that you’re competing with for attention (hundreds vs. the millions at Amazon), an opportunity to establish authority, and a chance to meet your target audience and also network with other authors.
  • How much you can expect to pay for a table and whether it’s better to be in Artists’ Alley or get a more expensive vendor booth in the Exhibition Hall.
  • When it’s okay to split the cost of a table with other authors.
  • Creating exclusive versions of your books for conventions (Russell uses the option at Ingram Spark to have books with different covers) and being able to charge more for them than at the bookstores.
  • Whether you need to be traditionally published or if anyone can buy a table.
  • Whether larger venues are likely to be more profitable or if it’s easier to be noticed and sell books at a smaller convention.
  • Collecting email addresses digitally at your table by using a tablet that signs visitors up to a list immediately.
  • Using giveaways of some of the popular products at the convention in order to get more list signups.
  • If there’s any chance at selling books if you’re introverted and not a natural salesman or saleswoman.
  • How many print copies of your books you should bring at a convention.
  • How Russell has occasionally found bookstores near the convention that will let him do signings and ship and store the books he’ll sell at the convention to them (as opposed to paying the high storage fees for the hotel or convention).
  • Selling USB drives with your whole library of ebooks on it for a great price to the reader that is still profitable to you.
  • Resources Russell mentioned for finding conventions: Convention Scene, ConCon, and Conosaurus.

Find out more about Russell and sign up to get a number of his books for free on his website.

If you’re interested in getting better at selling your work, you may want to check out Russell’s 20 minute video at Sell More Cool Things.

He’s also written the book Sell Your Soul: How to Build Your Creative Career.

 

 

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SFFMP 85: Amazon Imprints, Fantasy with Erotic Elements, and Science Fiction with Elliott Kay

We chatted with science fiction and urban fantasy author Elliott Kay today. He’s self-published, but he also has two books published with Amazon’s SkyScape imprint, so we asked him about that in addition to what it’s like to write in both fantasy and science fiction genres. Oh, and we also asked him how he’s sold so many books!

Here are some more specifics on what we covered:

  • Getting started on a writing site such as LitErotica, finding readers, and getting their support when you publish
  • The pros and cons of working with an Amazon imprint such as 47 North (SF/F) or Skyscape (YA)
  • The challenges of getting sponsorships when you’ve got erotic material in your fantasy or scifi
  • Going wide versus jumping into Kindle Unlimited/KDP Select (Elliott has gone both ways)
  • Being a panelist at a convention
  • Whether it’s worth getting a table to sell books at a big convention
  • Keeping two series in different genres going when you’re publishing a book or two a year
  • Selling well with audiobooks
  • Getting reviews
  • The challenges of marketing on Twitter, and why Elliott prefers Facebook for selling books

You can visit Elliott at his website or on Facebook, and if you’re up for a science fiction read, try the first book in his Poor Man’s Fight series on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 26: Self-Publishing and Marketing Tips for Children’s Genre Fiction with Ben Zackheim

Tonight we chatted with Ben Zackheim, middle-grade fantasy author, or “writer of smart books for smart children.” He’s worn a lot of hats in his working life and a few years ago switched from the game industry to self-publishing his own novels. He’s also a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where he shows creative people how to market their work. You can say hi to him on Twitter and check out the first book in his Camelot Kids series on Amazon.

Here’s a little of what we talked about tonight:

  • The challenges of marketing middle-grade books
  • How independent publishing differs from film-making and video game creation
  • Working with artists for quality covers and possibly in-book material
  • Thoughts on blogging, social media, and “building a platform”
  • How many people are overlooking local markets in their marketing attempts
  • Utilizing visual artwork to help sell your books (Don’t have any? Commission some for your world and your character.)
  • Costly ads and other marketing schemes that should be avoided
  • Focusing on a series and publishing regularly
  • Is it worth trying to target fans of a popular series by writing something similar?
  • Getting a table at conventions and selling directly to your target audience
  • Amazon ads (and what analytics Amazon shares with authors) — will they be better in the future?

 

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SFFMP 18: Buying Advertising, Twitter, Conventions, Book Signings, and Swag

Tonight, after Lindsay coughed her way through the introduction, we chatted amongst ourselves on a number of topics related to online marketing and offline marketing.

  • How do you measure your return on investment when it comes to online marketing? When is it time to pull the plug on a method? (We discussed social media, Wattpad, and guest posts/interviews.)
  • Does it ever make sense to abandon a series, if the sales/reviews/interest isn’t there?
  • What’s an online marketing tactic that you tried, didn’t expect much from, then were pleasantly surprised about because it was helpful?
  • What’s something everyone does and everyone recommends doing but just seems like a waste of time to you?
  • Do giveaways actually help sell books?
  • Twitter — what’s the point, guys?
  • When is it worth buying sponsored spots on book blogs/mailing lists for your books?
  • Have you done anything in your own hometown to try and sell books locally?
  • Is there any value in going to conventions or doing book signings? Investing in some author swag to give away?

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