SFFMP 108: Amazon Ads, Mastering Email Marketing, and Effective Social Media

Today, Jo and Lindsay chatted with Tom Corson-Knowles, non-fiction author, host of the Publishing Profits podcast, and entrepreneur. He does a lot of work with authors and has seen what’s working well for branding and improving sales, so we had a good discussion, covering everything from Amazon advertising (which has recently opened up to be available to everyone, not just those exclusive with KDP Select) to email marketing to social media.

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

  • What exactly Amazon ads are and how they work for authors.
  • How much you can expect to spend and what a respectable ROI or ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales) looks like.
  • Product Display ads versus Sponsored Product Ads.
  • Keyword targeting and scaling up if you’re not getting enough impressions/clicks.
  • Making sure your cover/brand is appealing, since you’ve got to lure browsers away from the book page they’re on to click your ad.
  • Whether Amazon ads can make sense with a 99-cent book or a permafree one (and series starters versus stand alones).
  • Best practices when it comes to email marketing.
  • What your first follow-up message should look like after a new subscriber signs up.
  • The types of goodies you can give away to entice readers to sign up.
  • Whether you should start separate email lists if you branch into other genres.
  • How often you should be emailing your list as an author.
  • Whether you should worry if you get unsubscribes after sending out a newsletter.
  • If you should consider a pop-up to get more reader signups from your blog or website. (Tom uses SumoMe for handling pop-ups and signups.)
  • When it makes sense to ignore the common advice of “You have to be on Facebook” or “You have to be on Twitter.”
  • Finding ways to market online that jive with your personality and what you’re willing to do.

You can check out Tom’s courses on his site, take a peek at his books on Amazon, or subscribe to his podcast.

 

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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 35: The Challenges of Selling Cross-Genre Fiction with Derek Siddoway

Tonight we chatted with “medieval western” fantasy author Derek Siddoway. We discussed the challenges of marketing cross-genre fiction and also grilled him for tips he could share based on his experience in his day job at a PR agency. Before we got into the interview, we talked a bit about the recent changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program and what we think about them. You can get a summary of the changes on Kboards (and hear a lot of other opinions too).

Here’s some of what we went over during the interview:

  • Writing in a tiny cross-genre niche versus trying to break into a bigger genre, such as epic fantasy
  • Choosing cover art when you’re straddling genres
  • Choosing an Amazon category for your book when nothing really fits?
  • Are there some genres that just shouldn’t be crossed?
  • Getting started with social media (and how not to do it)
  • Being aware of your reputation and being a positive part of the online community
  • Does hiring a PR agency ever make sense for an indie author?
  • Should indies try some of the marketing that traditionally published authors (with publishers paying their way) do? Such as book signings and book tours?
  • Blogging as a form of marketing
  • Using “subscriber perks” as part of newsletter marketing

You can find out more about Derek on his site and check out his first book online. Also, get self-publishing tips for authors who can’t quite quit their day jobs yet on his Everyday Author blog.

 

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SFFMP 26: Self-Publishing and Marketing Tips for Children’s Genre Fiction with Ben Zackheim

Tonight we chatted with Ben Zackheim, middle-grade fantasy author, or “writer of smart books for smart children.” He’s worn a lot of hats in his working life and a few years ago switched from the game industry to self-publishing his own novels. He’s also a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where he shows creative people how to market their work. You can say hi to him on Twitter and check out the first book in his Camelot Kids series on Amazon.

Here’s a little of what we talked about tonight:

  • The challenges of marketing middle-grade books
  • How independent publishing differs from film-making and video game creation
  • Working with artists for quality covers and possibly in-book material
  • Thoughts on blogging, social media, and “building a platform”
  • How many people are overlooking local markets in their marketing attempts
  • Utilizing visual artwork to help sell your books (Don’t have any? Commission some for your world and your character.)
  • Costly ads and other marketing schemes that should be avoided
  • Focusing on a series and publishing regularly
  • Is it worth trying to target fans of a popular series by writing something similar?
  • Getting a table at conventions and selling directly to your target audience
  • Amazon ads (and what analytics Amazon shares with authors) — will they be better in the future?

 

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Patty Jansen Talks Selling on Kobo, Google Play, and Networking with Other Authors

For the second time in the history of the podcast, we had a guest on tonight (we’ll be having guests on a lot more often, so if there’s someone you would like to see — who might actually deign to talk to us — let us know). Australian science fiction and fantasy author Patty Jansen came on to talk to us about self-publishing, marketing fads, and how she has ended up selling well on the non-Amazon platforms, especially Kobo.

Here are a few of the topics we covered:

  • Patty’s publication history (including a Writers of the Future win) and why she opted for self publishing
  • The benefits of belonging to an online workshop
  • If there are any specific challenges to selling science fiction and fantasy, as opposed to other genres
  • What’s helping her to sell on Kobo and some of the other platforms where many authors struggle to gain traction
  • Some tips for selling books on Google Play
  • Is it worth following the trends and trying to write what’s popular?
  • Organizing multi-author promotions and why you would want to
  • Is it still a good time to be an indie author, even if things may be getting tougher, and it’s not as easy to break in?

 

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You can visit Patty on Twitter or on her website. She sometimes blogs about self publishing on her site (check out her recent post,”Kindle Unlimited: a few observations“). The first book in her Icefire Trilogy is currently free on Amazon.

Facebook Marketing: Selling Books, Building a Community, and Does Advertising Ever Help?

Today’s show is dedicated to Facebook marketing. How do you use the popular social media platform to sell more books and keep current readers engaged? We took turns answering questions, based on our experiences. We may not be gurus, but we’ve all been on Facebook as authors for 2-4 years, and we had quite a bit to say!

Here’s a little of what we covered:

  • Separate author page or personal page, what’s best?
  • One page or one for every series?
  • How do you get readers to find you and like your page?
  • How important is interaction, and how do you get people to engage with you?
  • Facebook advertising, pay-per-click and boosted posts, are they ever worth it?
  • Groups, can they help with anything?
  • What about events?
  • Has there been a decline in the effectiveness of Facebook over the years?
  • What’s the future going to bring, and how will it impact authors?

 

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