SFFMP 140: Publishing in an Underserved Genre and Helping to Build a Community with Veronica Scott

On today’s show, we talked about publishing in an underserved niche that’s too small to attract the attention of the Big 5 but that could potentially be lucrative to authors. Our guest was paranormal and science fiction romance author, Veronica Scott, and we also discussed some of the many things she’s doing to foster growth and awareness of the SFR genre among readers who might be interested. Even though we talked about scifi romance specifically, the interview might be of interest to other authors writing in smaller niches or doing cross-genre fiction. We discussed some of the challenges of marketing these types of books.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • The challenges of marketing books that don’t fall into the main categories on Bookbub and other promo sites.
  • The opportunities that indies have by writing in sub-genres or niches that are too small to interest traditional publishing.
  • Surfing through also-boughts on Amazon and also using the YASIV tool for finding related books and authors to target as keywords for ads.
  • How scifi romance has gotten more competitive over the last few years and whether it’s still possible for new authors to break in and reach the Top 100.
  • Some of the key reader expectations in SFR and differences between romances and scifi with “romantic elements.”
  • Common mistakes authors make with covers.
  • The blurb-writing service that Veronica uses: Cathryn Cade.
  • The cover designer that she uses: Fiona Jayde.
  • Why fostering a community can be useful, especially in a smaller niche, and how Veronica has gone about doing it.
  • Veronica Scott’s USA Today Happy Ever After blog column.
  • Her stance on newsletter swaps and newsletters in general.
  • Whether permafree series starters are viable in this genre.

You can find Veronica on her website, on Amazon, and on Twitter, and also check out her book inspired by the Titanic, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, or her latest release, Danger in the Stars.

 

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SFFMP 138: Trad vs. Indie for New Authors, How Marketing Has Evolved, and Starting Your Own Press with Kevin J. Anderson

Long-time science fiction author and NYT best seller Kevin J. Anderson joined us on the podcast today to talk about his recent projects, how the industry has changed since 1988 when he published his first novel, and what made him decide to start his own press.

Here are a few of the specifics we chatted about:

  • How Kevin is continuing to learn and try new marketing things, even after almost thirty years of publishing novels.
  • A project he’s excited about where he’s sharing his new epic fantasy novel, Spine of the Dragon, with newsletter subscribers as he works on it. (If you’re interested in seeing his process and reading the story long before it’s published, you can visit his site to sign up.)
  • How the landscape has changed over the years, and how it can be tough to make a living as a steady, mid-list author in the traditional publishing scene now.
  • Kevin’s enthusiasm for dictating his novels as he hikes in the mountains of Colorado (Lindsay would try this while hiking if she wasn’t constantly stopping to whistle for her dogs and telling them to stop chasing squirrels).
  • Why he thinks more authors should try dictation, since he finds it a very natural way to get the story down.
  • What it’s like writing in established universes and doing media tie-in novels.
  • Why Kevin decided to start Wordfire Press to publish his out-of-print books that he had the rights to.
  • How he ended up taking on a lot of other science fiction and fantasy authors who wanted to breathe new life into their out-of-print titles.
  • What Kevin has learned about starting a press that might be helpful for other authors thinking of doing the same.

Visit Kevin on his site and check out his Spine of the Dragon project.

 

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SFFMP 136: Successfully Indie Publishing and Marketing While Running a Family

YA fantasy author Katie Cross joins us this week to discuss how she’s published eleven books while working and raising a family, and how she’s sold a lot of those books too!

Here’s a closer look at some of the topics we covered:

  • Finding time to write when you have a job and a family.
  • Whether YA ebooks do well and some of the challenges of self-publishing for that audience.
  • Some of the defining features of young adult fiction.
  • Keeping books selling when you’re not able to publish super frequently.
  • Selling well in the YA market.
  • Using Wattpad as a platform to gain readers and potentially get recognition.
  • Getting invited to the Wattpad advertising program and how much authors can make.
  • Getting more interaction and reads on Wattpad by asking questions at the end of installments and posting regularly (Katie was posting M/W/F for one of her books).
  • Tips for getting a Bookbub ad.
  • Facebook marketing and Facebook groups.
  • Determining which marketing is worth your time when your time is limited.
  • What Katie’s typical launch strategy looks like.

Visit Katie on her website or on Facebook and check out her YA fantasy books. You can also join her “indie author life” Facebook group for advice on self-publishing and marketing.

Note: Katie realized she had her numbers a little off in our chat about her Bookbub ad, so she sent me this correction to post here:

In the podcast I share my BookBub numbers several times and mention selling 3,500 books on Amazon with my recent ad, but I checked back on those numbers and it was close to 3,000 books WIDE on all distributors including paperback and audiobooks (which are also affected by BookBubs) and includes all sales overall (including spillover into the other books in my series). <— This encompasses just the first week. 

So it was not just my BookBub ad book that reached those numbers. I wish! Historically, however, by the end of the month, it’s likely I will reach 4,000—or beyond it—in sales from the BookBub tail. I have in the past seen upwards of those numbers from BookBub ads.

So sorry for that mess up! Transparency is really important to me so I wanted to add that caveat here. 🙂

 

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SFFMP 135: Amazon Bestseller Charts, Using Goodreads to Sell Books, and Listener Questions Answered

Today, the guys answered listener questions, and Jeff and Lindsay interviewed Jo about what he learned at the big Book Expo America convention last week. There were reps from Bookbub and panels that discussed Goodreads, ebooks in libraries, and the new weekly Amazon best-seller and most-read charts, so there was plenty to discuss.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Is it possible to find the next big trends early?
  • When it comes to success in self-publishing, how much relies on craft and how much on business and marketing?
  • When it comes to audiobooks and ACX, are you better off paying up front or doing a royalty split with a narrator?
  • How to market the second book in a series.
  • How many books did the guys have out before they were able to switch to writing full time?
  • How the BEA conference was different this year from last year when Jo went.
  • Uses for the new Amazon Charts showing the most purchased and most read books each week.
  • Ebook trends in libraries.
  • Getting ebooks into libraries and the increase in audiobook borrows, including digital ones.
  • What Bookbub gives preference to when deciding whether to choose or accept a book for a sponsored ad.
  • Bookbub’s new pre-order alerts and other ways you can market with them beyond the typical ads.
  • The Bookbub Insights blog where they share their tips for authors.
  • What’s working at Goodreads these days to help authors sell books?
  • The Goodreads ebook giveaway program is supposed to be coming out of beta testing soon.
  • Posting your book on Goodreads before it’s released so you can get early reviews.

 

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SFFMP 130: Better Marketing, More Productivity, and Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Career with Monica Leonelle

Today, we interviewed young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance author Monica Leonelle. In addition to writing fiction, she also blogs at Prose on Fire and writes the non-fiction “Growth Hacking for Storytellers” series. We talked about improving productivity for writers and some of the basics of marketing that get overlooked in the urgency to just make more sales.

Here are a few more details of what we discussed:

  • Going from writing 1,000 to 3,500 words an hour.
  • How doing some extensive pre-planning (world-building and creating characters) before getting started can make the writing process smoother.
  • Using “thematic” world building as a way to help discover motivations for characters and also various factions in your worlds.
  • Outlining stories and scene beats before sitting down to write for the day.
  • Breaking up your goals into manageable chunks (i.e. I’m going to write 15 or even 8 minutes today rather than starting out saying you’re going to write for 2 hours).
  • Setting yourself up to meet your goals by having a good mindset.
  • How important is a regular schedule for productivity?
  • Monica’s Spanish translation of one of her books and whether it’s been worthwhile.
  • When it comes to marketing, giving out samples to get new readers to try you rather than simply trying to go straight to the sale.
  • Moving a person from being a reader to a fan to a true fan or evangelist.
  • Doing things to “activate your fans” to get them to take actions to help you get the word out.
  • Whether you should focus your efforts on your most recent release or if the back list should always get attention.
  • Whether permafree is still working as a way to get “samples” out there.
  • Taking your writing efforts from hobby to career.

You can find Monica online on her website or at Prose on Fire. If you’ve found her advice useful, you can check out her books such as 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle and Prosperous Creation: Make Art and Make Money at the Same Time.

 

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SFFMP 124: Collaborating and Networking with Other Authors to Reach Larger Audiences

We had a full house tonight with Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay talking to J Thorn, J.F. Penn, and Zach Bohannon, three authors Lindsay is currently collaborating with for a dark fantasy project. Not unexpectedly, our show topic is collaboration, something we’ve talked about before but not for a while. We also discussed networking with other authors and even store merchandizers and how you can get more eyeballs on your work by doing some of these group projects or participating in group promotions.

Here are a few of the details of what we discussed:

  • Some of the benefits of collaboration, both from a writing perspective and from a marketing perspective.
  • Growing your audience through exposure to other authors’ audiences.
  • Leaning more about your craft through working closely with other authors.
  • Approaching people you might be interested in working with.
  • How accounting works when you’re splitting the earnings and expenses among two or more authors.
  • Handling differences that might come up during the project.
  • Marketing the finished project and what to do when some of the authors usually write in different genres and have different kinds of lists.
  • Networking with other authors for marketing opportunities that don’t involve actual writing collaboration.
  • Going to conventions, book expos, etc. to meet other authors and also store merchandizers to get on their radar.

You can check out more on the collaborative project (American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice) right here.

Interested in more interviews? J Thorn was also on the show back with Episode 52: Collaborating and Organizing Multi-Author Boxed Sets. Zach Bohannon talked with us on Episode 49: Productivity and First Book Success.

J.F. Penn (AKA Joanna Penn) also runs the informative Creative Penn podcast for author-prenuers.

 

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SFFMP 121: Writing in a Niche Genre and Maximizing Kindle Countdown Deals with Robert Bevan

Robert Bevan joined us this week to talk about writing in a smaller niche (one with no Amazon category) such as comedic fantasy inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. He’s published several novels and collections of short stories in his Caverns & Creatures world, with tongue-in-cheek titles such as Critical Failures, Clerical Error, and Multiple Orc Chasms. He started publishing in 2012, when he was happy to sell a few books a day, and is now able to write full time.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

  • Trying to publish wide but deciding on KDP Select.
  • Writing in a niche that isn’t well-served by traditional publishing.
  • Some of the challenges of writing humor.
  • Bucking the trend and doing unique covers versus what’s popular in the genre.
  • Publishing short stories and then bundling them to have more offerings out there (and more books to run promos on).
  • Combining Kindle Countdown Deals with Facebook ads.
  • How Robert chooses authors to target for his Facebook ads.
  • Doing Countdown Deals on multiple books at once to flood the charts.
  • Creating free adventures for the sole purpose of using sites like Instafreebie to entice readers onto your mailing list.

To learn more, visit Robert on his website (you can sign up for his mailing list here and check out the now notorious Multiple Orc Chasms adventure). He’s also active on Facebook.

You can find his books on Amazon.

 

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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 104: Competing in the Crowded Urban Fantasy Genre with Domino Finn

Tough guy urban fantasy author Domino Finn joins Lindsay and Jeff this week to analyze urban fantasy, talk about why his series took off, why others don’t, and what some of the expected tropes are in the genre.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • Analyzing the market to figure out why your books aren’t selling, then readjusting and launching a new series that’s more in line with expectations.
  • Finding an underserved market within a very popular and competitive genre.
  • Launching a book and having it stick on Amazon even without a lot of advertising dollars behind it.
  • Why Domino broke the mold and went with a first-person blurb for Dead Man.
  • Writing to market versus writing something that’s original and you with some marketable elements.
  • Can posting on forums actually help sell books?
  • Domino’s experiences with going wide, and why he’s sticking with KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for now.
  • Putting together an anthology/boxed set with other authors writing the same type of UF and contributing original content.
  • Predictions for where the genre might go next.

You can visit Domino Finn at his website and check out his first Black Magic Outlaw book, Dead Man, on Amazon. If you’d like to try the anthology he’s in with several other authors, it’s only 99 cents right now on Amazon: Full Metal Magic.

 

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SFFMP 93: Straddling Genres and Succeeding with Multiple Different Series with Rachel Aaron

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

Visit Rachel on her site, check out the fan art she mentioned, or take a peek at her first Heartstrikers book on Amazon.

 

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