SFFMP 132: Are Spinoffs a Good Idea, Costs of Cover Art, & Marketing Unique Stories

For the first time in a couple of months, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay didn’t have a guest tonight. They answered listener questions and talked about their own experiences with spinoffs and the pros and cons of doing them from a financial and creative standpoint.

Here are a few specifics that they talked about:

  • Kindle Worlds and whether Jo’s experience writing in Lindsay’s world was worth the time that was invested.
  • Whether book trailers ever work and are worth doing.
  • How much to expect to spend for the various types of cover art (i.e. illustrated, photoshop/illustration combination with stock art or with models and photo shoots of your own).
  • The challenges of using stock photos and finding good images when you’re writing people of color (or just need period-appropriate clothing for fantasy/science fiction).
  • Whether it’s possible for an epic fantasy story that’s not in a traditional setting or not a traditional story to do well.
  • Whether you need to create a DBA or anything special when you start publishing under a pen name.
  • Advice for getting Amazon to make an ebook free when it’s already free in other stores.
  • Some of the reasons that writing a spinoff might make sense if you had a series that did well (i.e. an almost guaranteed audience, no need to start from scratch with world-building, easier to guess how much the books will earn, based on the sales from the past series).
  • Some of the reasons you may not want to do a spinoff (i.e. may only appeal to readers of the original series, may lose some of the magic of the original, may be constrained by events that happened in the original).

 

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SFFMP 90: From Struggling to Find an Audience to the Top 1000 on Amazon with John L. Monk

This week’s guest, John L. Monk, is the author of The Jenkins Cycle and Thief’s Odyssey, cross-genre books that never sold as well as he wished, despite marketing efforts. About six weeks ago, he published Hell’s Children, a book firmly entrenched in the post-apocalyptic genre. He took some ideas from Chris Fox’s Launch to Market book and managed to release into the Top 1000 on Amazon for the first time, and his book has stuck and continued to sell well even after the dreaded “30 Day Cliff.”

Here are a few things we touched on:

  • The challenges of marketing cross-genre fiction
  • Making life (and marketing) easier by writing in specific genres with commercial appeal
  • Why John chose post-apocalyptic fiction for his new book
  • Staggering your book launch so that you’re selling some copies every day instead of firing everything off at once
  • Making acquaintances with other authors and networking so that they might mention your book to their Facebook followers or mailing lists
  • Launching into KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited and at 99 cents for the first week
  • Why putting fancy new covers on books that weren’t well targeted in a specific genre might not make much of a difference
  • Keeping readers interested in older titles
  • John’s experience with being wide and having an Apple rep and why he ultimately enrolled in KDP Select
  • Working with other authors on an anthology or joint project to spread the word about your work to new readerships

You can find John at his website, on Facebook, or check out his books on Amazon. You can also look into his new joint project, American Demon Hunters. Thanks for listening!

 

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SFFMP 57: Cover Design That Sells Books with Sylvia Frost

Today we chatted with our first cover designer, Sylvia Frost. Not only does she have some tips for authors in regard to getting the cover of their dreams, but she’s done some analysis of the Top 100s in paranormal romance/urban fantasy, science fiction romance, epic fantasy, and science fiction.

Here are some of the topics we touched on during the show:

  • What mistakes do authors sometimes make in their communications with designers?
  • Is it important to look at the Top 100s for your subgenre and to emulate what popular books are doing? What about what traditional publishing is putting out?
  • What’s trending insofar as science fiction and fantasy covers go?
  • How much should you expect to pay for cover art (stock photos, versus custom illustrations, versus a photo shoot with models)?
  • Should the author name be larger than the title?
  • What are some tricks for thinking ahead and branding a series with common elements?
  • If you’re a new author, when should you contact a cover designer, and how long can you expect the process to take for various types of covers?
  • How faithful to the story/characters should a cover be?
  • Nods to other designers: Tom Edwards for spaceships/sci-fi and Gene Mollica for high-end custom illustrations with models + photo shoots.

Sylvia has a couple of blog posts you may want to check out too:

Also take a look at the files Sylvia and her brother put together about some of the common cover elements for best sellers in several categories on Amazon:

She’s still accepting new clients, and as a reminder, she offered our listeners 10% off, so say you heard about her here first when getting in touch! Here’s a look at her portfolio on her site.

Sylvia Frost also writes paranormal romance, so check out her books if you’re looking for a read. The first book in her Moonfate series is free right now, and you can see what she’s doing for covers!

 

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