It’s not every week that we get authors with PhDs in science on the show (though we’ve had a few!), but today Anthony J Melchiorri joined us. By day, he uses his PhD in bioengineering to develop cellular therapies and 3D-printable artificial organs, and by night, he writes medical thrillers, post-apocalyptic fiction, and space opera. So far, he’s best-known for his Tide series.
Here’s some of what we chatted about:
How Anthony’s background led him to start writing medical thrillers with a science fiction twist.
How those books didn’t sell as well as he’d hoped and he ended up writing post-apocalyptic fiction.
PA fiction having a really rabid reader base that wants more books than are out there.
How you might be able to find a good subgenre on Amazon to exploit by looking for ones where books with poor covers are selling well.
Whether his Kindle Worlds project was worth it as far as time and money invested in it went.
If authors with tons of in-depth scientific knowledge can still expect to get “corrected” by well-meaning readers.
Concerns about possibly including too much science in the stories when you have that in-depth knowledge.
Marketing in the various different genres (space opera, post apocalyptic, and medial thrillers) and why some do well in Kindle Unlimited and others don’t.
Trying a perma- or long-term 99 cent price on a Book 1.
The differences in producing your own audiobooks through ACX and going with a publisher — Blackstone Audio is doing Anthony’s Eternal Frontier series.
Challenges in marketing audiobooks and what works.
We’re chatting with return guest Glynn Stewart today. He’s the author of three space adventure series and recently launched an urban fantasy/superhero fantasy series. Despite genre hopping, he did great with the urban fantasy launch, so we asked him about his strategies for getting the sales rolling with a new series in a new genre, and we also had him compare his launch experience with superhero/urban fantasy versus space opera/military SF (he also launched a new military SF series over the summer).
Some more details of what we discussed:
How Jeff’s Amazon account was canceled without warning and the hoops he had to jump through to get it reinstated.
What made Glynn decide to start a 3rd and 4th series this year when his old series were still going.
Some of the challenges of publishing in the urban fantasy right now (and why it can be useful if your book can go into another smaller category as well).
Going against the tropes in military SF (and selling well anyway) with a female protagonist.
Some genres Glynn finds interesting but wouldn’t devote time to right now since those categories aren’t big sellers.
The challenges of writing across genres.
Keeping multiple series selling when you’re alternating book releases between four series.
Best strategies for launching a new series right.
Does it make sense to do shared worlds or cross universes between your series when you’ve got different ones going?
Military science fiction author (and former spy thriller author) Richard Fox joined us on the show today. We talked about his early books and his thriller series, which never impressed him hugely with sales, and then how he moved onto a different genre last year. In June, 2015, he published his first Ember War military sci-fi title and has since gone on to publish a total of 8 novels in the series. They’ve sold great, and he has over 400 reviews of his first book.
Here’s some of what we covered:
Transitioning from historical fiction to spy thrillers to space adventure novels (and whether those audiences will cross over at all).
What made Richard decide to genre hop over to science fiction.
How he learned from some of his mistakes on his first series to have a solid launch with the Ember War books.
How he’s used his military experience in his novels.
Finishing one series and starting a spinoff as another entry point for potential readers.
Using Facebook ads on a slow trickle to keep sales up of a Book 1 that’s been out for a while.
How Richard’s Kindle Unlimited borrow money compares to his book sales and why he hasn’t gone wide.
What Richard’s first launch looked like, and what he’s doing with new books today to get his readers to buy right away.
This week we welcome Nick Webb. Nick grew up in the Seattle area, and bounced around California, Argentina, with a quick stop in Utah to pick up a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics. From there it was on to Huntsville where he fends off weeds from his tomato garden, plays legos with his kids, and somehow fits in time to write his novels.
He is the author of the Pax Humana Saga and The Legacy Fleet Trilogy and has hit the USA Today Bestsellers list, as well as selling a lot of books through Amazon in the last year.
If you’re not pushing it (your release) or marketing it and promoting it, the odds are it’s just going to languish there because there is so much competition. — Nick Webb
We hope you enjoy these notes!
Nick read all of the extended universe Star Wars books and sort of grew up in the world of science fiction as a youth. Star Trek even got him to pursue science!
In six months, Nick had played # hours on his new Xbox. When he realized he had spent so much time on the XBox he was shocked to realize how much time he had spent playing video games. He decided to make a resolution to mostly give up video games and to write a book.
Nick didn’t know very much about writing, but he sought out information on the industry on KBoards. He still has some great relationships with people who helped him along his way.
Fourth book reached top 500 (thanks to mailing list–50 to 100 sales which helped with the algorithms).
Wanted a series that had multiple entry places to give him more options. It helps having different avenues for people to get into the world, and to have more options for BookBub and other places.
Build the mailing list to get thousands of eyes on the new releases
Space Opera versus Hard Science Fiction and his experience… The extra challenge. Nick tries to make his handwaving as believable as possible but doesn’t focus on things or explain everything. The difference between Space Opera and Hard Science Fiction generally comes down to how many technical details there are.
Nick joked that he wished he’d known ‘everything’ before he’d gotten started. But his main wishes would be how to work at marketing, selling, and branding.
He’s working all the time… Even if its just on Facebook and marketing (or ‘goofing off’ but it’s also work… tips and tricks) Working till midnight.
Facebook adds are no longer working as well, and are getting more expensive because writers are sort of competing for the same clicks. Audio adds don’t allow you to track their results.
Mailing list is timeless and an insurance policy. Facebook, Amazon, and website hosting can’t take it away from you. Direct contact with your readers. You can have people sign up to your mailing list to get a free short story.
It can be easy to think that writers who have put in a lot of time and effort simply hit the jackpot when they’ve worked hard toward it. It can give a false expectation when people have both hard work and luck.
You have to expect to succeed in the business, you have to invest something. — Nick Webb
Nick is willing to have a negative turn of investment during launch to get it up there on the ranking. He spent a few hundred in Facebook adds for direct sales during his release for Victory. About $600 for Constitution. (Broke even on the advertisements)
Leads which link readers to the page where there was a direct signup and when they confirm they get free books to download (from Dropbox).
You have to expect to succeed in the business you have to invest something. It might be hard, but it can be worth it.
Places that might give a lot of exposure with your debut novel: Book Barbarian Book Sends, etc. You might get the first 30 or 40 sales.
Preorders can sap/dilute a book’s visibility on launch day/launch week because you spread out the initial purchases instead of boosting your visibility.
It’s the opposite for iBooks.
Nick says the main perk for Select is the borrows boosting visibility (or KU depending on genre).
Nick’s main marketing focus is his mailing list, Facebook ads… But he is careful to spread out his marketing beyond just the first day by doing things like mailing some of his list on one of three days.
Our guest this week is Chris Fox, author of Writing to Market, the Deathless Series, Hero Born, and more. You might remember him from our show in July of 2015. Now he isn’t just encouraging you to write 5k an hour—He has a new nonfiction book out that will help redefine the way you look at writing to make a big splash in the market with potentially less work. Writing to Market shows you how to examine marketing trends and write books that give readers the experiences they want.
Here’s a taste of what we discussed:
The troubles of writing a book that doesn’t quite fit into market—With elements that might be like ‘mixing peanut butter with pickles.’
How it can be easier to establish a presence in the market if you write something a little more mainstream. It should be something that you enjoy writing, but something that offers a more ready market.
That going into publishing with eyes wide open about the market and genres can have a tremendous effect on your career.
The importance of writing to the market and taking care to pay attention to details like word counts for specific genres.
How a writer can succeed even if their original works aren’t very good.
How to ensure your backlist doesn’t go stale.
Ways to figure out if combining specific genres can be a good or bad ideas.
Learning methods to use keywords to help you learn both how successful different genres are and how to find an underserved market.
Tips and tricks for switching genres as an already established author.
Taking on an intense challenge—A 21 Day Novel Challenge. Possible? Tune in—You won’t want to miss it or what he would say to someone wanting to undertake it.
If you enjoyed the show, please visit Chris on his site and check out his Deathless series and books on writing there and on his Amazon page.
Today’s guest is a former NASA employee and U.S. Army soldier who recently made the switch to writing science fiction full time. Terry Mixon is the author of two space opera series, The Empire of Bones Saga and The Humanity Unlimited Saga, and he’s also dabbled in erotica (as he informed us during the interview, he’s now making more from his sci-fi than he did from erotica, so there’s no reason not to write what you love). In addition to being an author, Terry is one of the co-hosts of the Dead Robots’ Society Podcast.
Here’s some of what we covered in the show:
Keeping the story interesting as the series progresses
The state of space opera currently when it comes to marketing and selling books
The pros of starting out in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited
Running Kindle Countdown Deals on older books at the same time as you release a new book in the series
Nailing your genre with your covers (making your book look like it could be on the shelf next to traditionally published novels)
Building your mailing list — do you need to offer incentives?
Amazon’s 30- and 90-day cliffs
Building a fan base by publishing regularly in a series
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