This week, we were joined by Will Turnage, the founder of the discount book promotion site, Book Barbarian (in addition, he runs Red Roses Romance and Book Adrenaline for mysteries and thrillers). He’s also the author of three science fiction and fantasy novels, and is a fan of the genre. We asked him about some best practices for authors using promotional sites.
Here are a few of the specifics that we covered:
What it’s like writing and running a business from Cartegena, Colombia.
How Will turned from author to founder of a book promotion site, one of the first devoted to scifi and fantasy.
The challenges of building up a subscriber base and keeping new people coming in (yes, these guys have some of the same challenges that we have as authors!).
Some trends that Will has seen — what sub-genres of SF&F tend to be most popular and what types of covers work well.
How many reviews you should have before submitting your book to a site like Book Barbarian.
Whether it’s necessary to have a high normal price and deeply discount to appeal to readers.
Best practices when it comes to free books.
Ad stacking across multiple book promo sites to sell/give away more books and in the hope that your book might stick on the store sites for longer.
How often one should submit books to promo sites and when one might experience diminishing returns.
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.
Science fiction romance and adventure romance author, Anna Hackett, regularly has 80-100 reviews on her books within a few days of release. We asked her about how she created a great team of reviewers who get early copies and leave prompt reviews. She’s also increased her productivity substantially in the last couple of years and often publishes a short novel each month now, so we asked her about that too.
Here are a few more specifics on what we covered:
Mining your existing readers/newsletter subscribers to find people for a review team (and how to get started building that mailing list if yours doesn’t have many subscribers yet)
The logistics of contacting reviewers with advanced review copies and making sure they can download the ebooks to their readers of choice.
How many reviews you should be shooting for with a new release
Increasing productivity by giving yourself deadlines (even if you don’t have to publish on a certain day)
Writing shorter novels, if it makes sense for your style and your genre
Keeping all the balls in the air when juggling multiple series
Tips for newer authors trying to get those early reviews
Focusing on writing and publishing books as the most effective form of marketing
Whether there’s a downside to giving away review copies to readers who likely would have purchased the books
Do book giveaways and contests help garner more reviews?
If Anna’s books sound interesting to you, she has several permafree adventures that you can check out:
We’re joined today by Damon J. Courtney, heroic fantasy author and the founder of Bookfunnel.com, a service that Jo and Lindsay use to distribute eARCs to readers and bonus goodies for newsletter subscribers. Since Damon sees a lot of free ebooks and how people are using them, we decided to ask him about trends and strategies for using our freebies to increase our readerships and grow mailing list subscribers.
Here are a few more details of what we covered:
The challenges of getting ebooks onto readers’ devices without going through Amazon or the various retailers.
A popular tactic for getting newsletter sign-ups as an author with at least three books out: making the first book permafree everywhere and making Book 2 free available to those who sign up for your list
Using exclusive content (such as prequels or unpublished epilogues) to entice people to sign up who otherwise might just pay for the books that are available elsewhere (also an alternative to giving away an entire novel)
Occasionally doing between-the-novels short stories or bonus scenes to keep newsletter subscribers on your list (so they don’t just grab their free book and unsubscribe)
Doing a round-robin multi-book giveaway with other authors in your genre so your book is exposed to other authors’ lists of subscribers
Thoughts on periodic price drops to free versus having a permafree title out there
Is there a danger in over-distributing a free ebook?
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:
You may have heard that the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association) is now allowing small press and indie authors in, so long as they’ve made the earnings requirements. We invited MCA Hogarth onto the show to talk about some of the changes and what they mean for indies, as well as why you might want to join.
After that, we talked a little about marketing, but Lindsay was curious about some of the extra ways MCA is making money from her work, so we also jumped into Patreon, Kickstarter, Paypal tip jars, and coloring books!
Here’s a list of what we hit on:
The SFWA, which has been around for 50 years, is now accepting small press and indie authors.
What does the organization offer and why might authors want to join? (Networking, invitations to anthologies, legal help, and more.)