SFFMP 49: Productivity and First Book Success with Zach Bohannon

Today we interviewed fresh new horror/dystopian fiction author, Zach Bohannon. Despite a full time job and a family, he’s managed to write and publish five novels (and some short stories) already this year. He also got off to a great start with excellent sales and reviews of the books in his Empty Bodies series. We asked him how he got those early sales, whether being in Kindle Unlimited helped, and why his dog is named after a beer company.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Managing a full time job and a family while writing and publishing multiple novels a year
  • Calls to action (CTAs) in the back matter of the book to ask for reviews and mailing list sign-ups
  • Calls to action in the front matter of a book, yea or nay?
  • Can you have too many CTAs? Should you just stick to one?
  • Challenges of marketing dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction versus horror
  • Having a great first book launch based largely on a good cover and low price in a popular genre (Zach also started in Kindle Unlimited and had lots of good things to say about his experiences in KDP Select thus far)
  • Appearing on podcasts as part of a promotions strategy
  • What Zach does for social media, and does he think it’s important for book sales?
  • Connecting with readers on Instagram (check out Zach’s page) versus Twitter — people pause and you can more easily grab their attention with images on Instagram (he goes and comments on other people’s photos, rather than worrying too much about putting up photos of his own)
  • Using auto-responders for your mailing list to connect with readers.
  • How Zach feels about advertising and sponsored posts on blogs/newsletters.

Visit Zach at The Horror Writers’ Podcast and on his website. You can check out his first book, Empty Bodies, on Amazon.

 

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SFFMP 43: Bestseller Joshua Dalzelle Talks Space Opera and Selling Books Without a Website

Tonight we interviewed hugely popular space opera author, Joshua Dalzelle. The guy doesn’t have a website, an Amazon bio, and he’s only recently started a mailing list, but he sure sells books. Here’s some of what we discussed tonight:

  • How Joshua got this far without a website, and are websites/social media/mailing lists really needed, or are they overrated?
  • The state of space opera right now (is it more popular than ever?)
  • What makes space opera space opera? Versus some other type of science fiction?
  • Light-hearted sci-fi adventures versus darker, techier sci-fi–is there room for both?
  • Cover art that portrays the tone of the book as well as branding the series
  • AskDavid.com for getting reviews
  • Advertising sites that Joshua hasn’t gotten much mileage out of
  • Are multi-author bundles still useful for getting the word out?
  • How having multiple series going can help feed the sales of both
  • Pricing for novels — is $2.99/$3.99 a good bet or are you leaving money on the table?
  • Incentives for readers to get them onto a mailing list–especially if you get started with one late!

You can find Joshua on Facebook and Twitter, and check out his Omega Force books and the Black Fleet trilogy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

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SFFMP 41: From Indie to Small Press (why and how) with Claire Frank

Tonight, after dealing with a few technical difficulties, we interviewed up-and-coming epic fantasy author Claire Frank. She got started in December, 2014, and did well enough to attract a publisher (Realm Walker Publishing), and we asked her about what it’s like for new authors getting started today. When our guest went AWOL briefly, Lindsay started talking about pre-orders and some of her notes from panels at the big RWA Con; we’ll continue discussing pre-orders, iBooks, Facebook advertising, and some of those other interesting topics in next week’s show.

Here are some of the highlights from Claire’s interview:

  • Finding time to write when you’re homeschooling three kids and working a part time job
  • Some of the perks of bouncing ideas off your Lego-loving significant other
  • What made Claire decide to sign on with a small press versus sticking with indie publishing
  • What can a small press offer, and are they more flexible with contracts than the Big 5 publishers?
  • Getting invited to cons and onto panels with a publisher’s help
  • Getting reviews as a first-time author
  • Finding cover art designers and how a good cover can help with everything from reviews to sales
  • Participating in anthologies to increase awareness of all authors under a publisher
  • Who should consider a small press publisher, and how do you get in touch with one if you’re interested?

Make sure to check out Claire’s books and the lego art on her website too!

Update Feb 2016: Claire sent me an email, letting me know she decided to part ways with her publisher and is going it on her own now. Best of luck to her in the future!

 

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SFFMP 38: Writing 5,000 Words an Hour and Selling Zombies and Werewolves with Chris Fox

On today’s show, we chatted with Chris Fox about marketing zombies, werewolves, and vampires, and also about how he writes incredibly quickly. He holds down a 60-hour-a-week day job as an app developer and doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to fiction, so he’s learned to be productive, logging 5,000 words in an hour. He’s even written about it in a book designed to help other authors: 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter.

Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

  • Using the start-up mentality for indie publishing
  • Investing in your product (including scouring DeviantArt for hours to find just the right artists!)
  • How audiobook sales (from Audible) can help Kindle sales on Amazon
  • Is it helpful to use popular tropes, such as werewolves, zombies, and vampires? Or do readers have expectations that can be hard to meet if you’re doing something slightly different?
  • What advertising Chris has done and what’s been effective
  • Why it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend much time and money on marketing when you only have one or two books out
  • Utilizing a mailing list to make promoting future books easier
  • How Chris is writing so darned many words in an hour
  • Addressing the argument that writing faster means writing poorly
  • Using voice recognition software effectively as a fiction writer

If you’re looking for more information on marketing, you might want to visit Chris’s site and check out some of the articles he’s written for writers:

If Chris’s fiction sounded interesting to you, give his first book, No Such Thing as Werewolves, a try.

 

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SFFMP 37: Amazon Algorithms and Making a Book Stick

Today, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay shared what they know about how the Amazon algorithms work, about categories and keywords and sales rankings, and about what’s working now to make a book stick and start selling on its own. They also discussed KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited and how borrows from that program are currently affecting visibility and sales rankings.

Here are links to some of the sites and books we mentioned:

 

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SFFMP 36: Susan Kaye Quinn on Tips for Going Pro, Genre Hopping, and Selling Lots of Science Fiction

Today we chatted with best-selling science fiction author Susan Kaye Quinn, and she had a lot of amazing advice. Here’s a look at some of what we covered:

  • How important the science is in science fiction (Susan has a PhD in engineering, so she knows her stuff, but says she puts emotion before tech)
  • Trying to develop new worlds and plots versus using popular tropes
  • Blurbing: do you use your own words or fall back on taglines like (this is Jo’s contribution) “Indiana Jones meets Firefly in a submarine” (FYI, Lindsay would totally read that.)
  • Some of Susan’s favorite marketing tactics that have worked over the years and that continue to work (she talked about big levers versus small levers, choosing to do things that get a big response)
  • Genre hopping — avoid or do it if you like it?
  • Kindle Unlimited and thoughts on serials now that the KU rules have changed
  • Overrated and underrated types of marketing (Susan isn’t a big fan of Facebook advertising and doesn’t think social media matters much when it comes to selling books)
  • Strategies for getting readers to pick up other series you’ve written
  • Getting more people onto a mailing list and how often to email them once they’re there
  • Tips for keeping everything in perspective once writing is your full-time job

For more great advice from Susan, check out her books for authors:

Also check out the video Susan mentioned, Facing Your Fears in Indie Publishing.

 

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SFFMP 28: Marketing Steampunk and Working with a Small Press with AW Exley

Tonight we talked to AW Exley, the author of the popular steampunk adventures, The Artifact Hunters. She hails from rural New Zealand and signed on with Curiosity Quills, a small press, to start out. She’s since started publishing some of her work independently and spoke to us about the differences in marketing and control. Here’s a quick look at some of what we covered:

  • Advantages of going with a small press when you’re starting out
  • Why AW Exely decided to self-publish her more recent books
  • Spending time on social media and marketing versus just writing the next book in a series
  • The challenges of growing a private mailing list when a publisher is handling the backmatter (and putting their own newsletter link in)
  • The advantages of wearing a corset when pimping books to the steampunk audience. 😉 (And will Jo buy a corset or will he not?)
  • Tips for new writers
  • Dealing with bad reviews
  • Thoughts on what makes a good cover in the steampunk genre (and overused images/ideas)
  • Being the big fish in the small pond and choosing a smaller category on Amazon

You can check out AW’s first book, Nefertiti’s Heart (The Artifact Hunters Book 1), and visit her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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SFFMP 27: Running Newsletters (how, why, and tips), Entering Contests, and StoryBundle’s NaNoWriMo Opportunity

Hey, everyone! Tonight Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay devoted most of the show to discussing newsletters. What host do they use (or in Jeff’s case, how he does it himself with a WordPress plug-in), how often do they send out letters, what do they write about, how they use affiliate links to monitor sales (and make some extra money), and how to get readers to sign up in the first place.

Here are some more highlights, as well as the links that were mentioned in the show:

 

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SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker

Tonight, we had Smashwords founder Mark Coker on the show, and he gave us a lot of great information on working the pre-order system on Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc., marketing on Smashwords and sites it distributes to, and selling more books overall. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:

  • How Mark’s book, The Boobtube, led him to create Smashwords back in 2008
  • How to take advantage of pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc. (Unlike with Amazon, you get a big boost on release day, because the orders accumulate and all count toward your Day 1 sales.)
  • Possibly getting extra merchandizing love with retailers such as Apple, based on strong pre-order interest and early sales
  • New features coming to the Smashwords pre-order system, such as assetless pre-orders (so you don’t need to have the finished manuscript in order to make your book available for order)
  • Don’t worry — no penalties at Smashwords for missed deadlines on pre-orders, but you can upload up to 12 months ahead, so you can give yourself plenty of time
  • Getting books into libraries through Smashwords (OverDrive/Library Direct) and Mark’s thoughts on new sites such as EbooksAreForever.com.
  • Why still use a distributor? Makes it easy to get books out without having to be on each platform (on Barnes & Noble, you actually end up making more on books priced under $2.99)
  • Scribd, Oyster, and other smaller retailers that you can only get into via a distributor
  • The Smashwords affiliate program (getting other people to plug your book for you — and giving them an incentive to do so)
  • Common mistakes Mark sees authors making
  • Are permafree series starters still working?
  • What’s coming next to Smashwords

Whether you use Smashwords or not, you might gain something from checking out Mark’s helpful books: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Amazon | Smashwords) and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – How to Market any Book for Free (Amazon | Smashwords)

 

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SFFMP 22: Book Bundles, Marketing Successes and Failures, and Creating Author Swag

We’re late getting a show up this week, but we are here! Tonight Jeff, Lindsay, and Jo chatted amongst themselves, covering a number of topics such as…

  • How Jeffrey had good luck boosting his sales by tinkering with keywords on Amazon.
  • How Jo making his first book temporarily free helped boosted sales of his Book 2 preorder.
  • How Lindsay increased sales on her omnibus by redoing the cover and blurb.
  • A few marketing/publishing things that ended up being a waste of time, or at least not very profitable for the time invested.
  • Our experiences with multi-author book bundles of which we’ve been a part.
  • Can too many authors make a multi-author bundle less effective? Can too few sabotage the potential? What’s the right number?
  • How Lindsay got a lot more interest in one of her series by putting together a bundle of the first three books.
  • Why the guys decided to put together a permafree epic fantasy book bundle with a few other authors
  • Jo’s experiments with creating 3D book swag on Shapeways.com and ordering blook plates for signings from Bookplate Ink.

 

 

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