SFFMP 67: YA Sci-Fi, Being a Hybrid Author, and Tips for Writers with Beth Revis

Today, we’re talking to YA science fiction author, Beth Revis, about being a hybrid author, the differences in traditional publishing and self-publishing, and marketing from both sides of the fence. In addition to her fiction, she has published three books for writers: Some Writing Advice, Some Publishing Advice, and Some Marketing Advice.

Here’s some of what we talked about:

  • Traditionally publishing her Across the Universe series after a thousand rejections.
  • What her publisher brought to the table as far as marketing and promotion.
  • Why she decided to self publish The Body Electric.
  • Marketing venues you can get into with a traditional publisher behind you (and the challenges of getting into the same spots as an indie).
  • Giveaways and contests and what kind of prizes she uses to inspire fan art.
  • Beth’s tips for getting an agent and a publisher (she recommends batch querying to test your query letter, sample pages, etc. before flinging your queries out to everyone in the database)?
  • Using QueryTracker to find agents suitable for your genre (newer agents may be quicker to respond and more eager to find clients than established veterans)
  • How Beth decides if a project is more suitable for self-publishing or if it might appeal to a traditional publisher.
  • Getting involved with more than Facebook when it comes to social media (she recommends Instagram and Tumblr especially for YA authors).
  • Occasionally Tweeting or Facebook posting about the perks of being on your mailing list (such as that you’ll debut book covers or teasers to subscribers)
  • Using apps like Word Swag and sites like Canva.com to take fun quotes from your book and turn them into graphics that are more shareable on social media.
  • Using Wattpad as a way to organize non-fiction projects and also to get exposure to the YA readers out there.

If you’re interested in Beth’s books for writers, the links to all three are up above. If you want to check out her fiction, you can find her novels and short stories on Amazon or get more information on her website. Her latest novel, A World Without You, will be available in July (you can pre-order it now). She’s on social media in all of the usual places too, so stop by and say hi!

 

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SFFMP 65: Optimizing Your Amazon Sales Page + Listener Questions Answered

Today Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay discussed how to improve your Amazon sales page so that people are less likely to click away, especially now that there are sponsored results and other distractions everywhere. They also answered some listener questions and shared some of their recent news and helpful tips.

Here are some of the highlights and the links mentioned during the show:

  • Selling to male readers or getting more readers overall as a female author of science fiction
  • How many words do you have to write for your work to be considered a novel, and at what length is it OK to charge novel prices for your ebook?
  • How can you gauge if a series is selling well enough to continue or if it’s better to move on to something else?
  • Using Bookfunnel to make it easier to give out free ebooks (they handle helping your readers with side-loading)
  • The Kevin Kelly 1000 True Fans idea that you don’t need to be a best seller to make a living as an author, just to gradually accumulate enough true fans
  • Whether entering keywords in your KDP dashboard can actually help
  • Using keywords to get into bonus categories on Amazon (here’s the Amazon help page that tells you the words to use for the various categories)
  • Making sure not to get in trouble with the titles and subtitles you use if adding keywords
  • Using Author Central to claim your book, link editions (ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks), and fill out the extras such as the “critical reviews” and “about the author” fields
  • The need for book reviews to provide social proof and also help you compete against the ads for other books that appear on your own sales page
  • Using taglines and hooks to catch people’s interest before they have to “click more” with the new Amazon page layouts

 

 

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SFFMP 62: Anthologies, New Covers, and Creating Boxed Sets to Increase Sales with C. Gockel

We had our first repeat guest on the show today, urban fantasy author Carolynn Gockel (writing as C. Gockel) from Episode 19, where we chatted about permafree books, getting started on fan fiction sites, using Tumblr to promote, and where to buy sponsorships. Carolynn has been busy with a lot of marketing stuff in the last year, and she’s also jumped into science fiction, so we talked about some of what she’s done and learned recently.

We discussed:

  • The promotional (and monetary) perks of putting a short story into an anthology with other authors in your genre, all of whom throw their marketing weight behind the release.
  • Starting your own multi-author boxed sets and whether it’s better to do permafree sets or 99-centers.
  • How to snag a Bookbub ad on a multi-author anthology.
  • The challenges of launching a new series in a different genre from your flagship series.
  • Having one series in Kindle Unlimited (KDP Select) and one wide (she recommends that new authors start out in KDP Select right now).
  • Getting approached by audiobook producers and if it’s better to sell your audio rights versus spending the money producing your own audiobooks.
  • Whether investing in new covers resulted in an uptick in sales and was worth it for Carolynn.
  • Her adventures in Facebook advertising — is it worth using Facebook to promote permafree Book 1s? Boxed sets? Multi-author boxed sets?
  • Lastly, she let us know that she writes because, “If I wasn’t an author, I’d probably be a nasty internet troll.” We all have our motivations!

Grab her first book in the I Bring the Fire series for free from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, or Apple. You can also check out the first ebook in her science fiction series, Archangel Down.

Visit her online at C. Gockel Writes.

 

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SFFMP 58: Marketing Stand Alone Novels and Different Types of Series

Today, we answered some reader questions/comments about bank accounts for your self-publishing business and making your author site mobile friendly, and then we jumped into discussing marketing strategies for stand alone novels, as well as several different types of series.

The main types of series we discussed are:

  • Series with continuing characters where each novel is a complete story
  • Series where there is an overarching storyline with multiple plot threads that only get wrapped up in the final book
  • Series with major romance elements that have different characters and happily ever afters in each novel.

Naturally, we spoke of everything in a science fiction and fantasy context. Even though some of these series types are more popular in other genres, there are definitely plenty of examples in SF & F. We talked about the pros and cons when it comes to marketing each.

Here are the links that listener Will Norman gave us for checking to see if your website is mobile-friendly (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) and also for getting pop-up newsletter forms to add to your website: https://sumome.com/

Don’t forget to check out Jo’s first book… in German!

 

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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 21: Marketing and Publishing Comedic Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Co-Writing, and Rocking It with Twitter

In today’s episode, we talked to John P. Logdson and Chris Young, a comedic fantasy and science fiction writing duo. We covered a lot of ground. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Any special challenges with writing humor/comedy?
  • Dealing with one-star reviews from people who don’t “get” the humor
  • Collaboration — who does what and how do you manage to put out cohesive novels?
  • Does collaboration offer any advantages over titles written by a single author?
  • Can any writers collaborate well, or does it take a special personality and/or a certain skill set?
  • Writing to target less competitive categories on Amazon
  • Tricks for producing books more quickly
  • Should you mention that the books are humorous or comedic in the blurb or on the cover? So people looking for serious fiction won’t accidentally grab them?
  • Are there any marketing advantages to writing fantasy/science fiction comedy?
  • How to set up your tweets to market successfully on Twitter (effective hashtag use and Hashtagify for seeing what’s popular or trending + BookLinker to send readers from different countries to the right store)
  • Twitter groups and networking with other authors in a smart way
  • Marketing/advertising on Facebook, Goodreads, and using giveaways
  • The types of marketing John and Chris have tried and that hasn’t done well + what has worked
  • What they do to encourage newsletter signups
  • A new site for crowdfunding/getting pre-orders specifically for authors: Publishizer.

Tools they use for collaboration: Scrivener, Trelby (screenwriting program), and Dropbox.

Want to check out their work?

For more character-driven stories, try Starliner or the Land of Ononokin books. For more humor, check out Platoon-F. They’ve got a new project coming soon as well, a book called Queen Aurthur, a different (very different) take on the King Aurthur story. You can get in touch with them or find out more at their site, Crimson Myth.

 

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