Long-time science fiction author and NYT best seller Kevin J. Anderson joined us on the podcast today to talk about his recent projects, how the industry has changed since 1988 when he published his first novel, and what made him decide to start his own press.
Here are a few of the specifics we chatted about:
How Kevin is continuing to learn and try new marketing things, even after almost thirty years of publishing novels.
A project he’s excited about where he’s sharing his new epic fantasy novel, Spine of the Dragon, with newsletter subscribers as he works on it. (If you’re interested in seeing his process and reading the story long before it’s published, you can visit his site to sign up.)
How the landscape has changed over the years, and how it can be tough to make a living as a steady, mid-list author in the traditional publishing scene now.
Kevin’s enthusiasm for dictating his novels as he hikes in the mountains of Colorado (Lindsay would try this while hiking if she wasn’t constantly stopping to whistle for her dogs and telling them to stop chasing squirrels).
Why he thinks more authors should try dictation, since he finds it a very natural way to get the story down.
What it’s like writing in established universes and doing media tie-in novels.
Why Kevin decided to start Wordfire Press to publish his out-of-print books that he had the rights to.
How he ended up taking on a lot of other science fiction and fantasy authors who wanted to breathe new life into their out-of-print titles.
What Kevin has learned about starting a press that might be helpful for other authors thinking of doing the same.
New York Times bestselling steampunk/fantasy author Gail Carriger joined us this week to talk about writing and marketing for traditionally published novels as well as her experiences self-publishing novellas and short stories. She’s very proactive in interacting with her fans and had a lot of great information for listeners.
Here’s some of what we touched on:
Gail’s path to traditional publishing and how her books came to find an audience.
What her publisher has done as far as marketing and what she’s been expected to do on her own.
Why she decided to branch out and start self-publishing some of her novellas and short stories.
How she uses social media and her newsletter to interact with readers between releases and keep them excited about being a part of her fandom.
Using Amazon affiliate links to monitor what other things your readers are buying after they pick up your books (and why it might be useful to know that).
Gail’s experiences with book tours and whether it’s worth it for newer authors to try to arrange local book signings.
Is there anything you can do to make a publisher want to spend more money on you when it comes to their marketing/advertising budget?
Suggestions on what to watch out for with cover art.
Adult fiction versus young adult fiction.
What to watch out for when signing a traditional publishing contract, especially if you think you’ll want to self-publish on the side.
This week, we chatted with Barry Hutchison, a full-time author who started out writing children’s books for a traditional publishing house and who is now dabbling in self-publishing with adult science fiction. After a bumpy start with his first self-published project, a serial called The Bug, he learned the ropes and had a successful launch for his Space Team comedic SF series. With the release of the fourth in the series coming, he expects to hit his first five-figure month in June.
Here are a few more details of what we talked about:
Why Barry chose to self-publish his adult fiction after working with a traditional publisher for so many years.
Not being discouraged by a less-than-stellar launch with his first self-published project.
Why he went into the Space Team series bootstrapping it by doing his own cover art and handling his own editing.
Launching at 99 cents and into Kindle Unlimited.
Differences in marketing between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
Writing quickly and launching subsequent books in the Space Team series with only two months between releases.
What kinds of covers make sense for comedic science fiction.
The importance of a mailing list over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Whether holiday stories can make sense for writers of space opera.
How Barry used a preview of his first Space Team novel on Instafreebie to get people to sign up for his mailing list before the book launched.
How promoting other authors on Instafreebie ended up with him being featured by the company.
On today’s show, we chatted with return guest, urban fantasy author, Annie Bellet. She first visited us on show 33. Since then, she’s published her earnings on her blog (she made over $250,000 in 2015) and taken on an agent and a publisher for a print-only deal (she kept her ebook rights).
Here are some of the things we discussed:
Leveraging self-publishing success to get an agent
How to choose an agent if you’re lucky enough to get some nibbles (and when you might want to pass)
Whether traditional publishers are open right now to print only deals
Whether trad publishers are currently likely to be interested in series that were previously self published
What stats/bragging rights you should have prepared to share that might interest an agent
Keeping a series alive and selling even when releases aren’t as frequent as you’d like
Whether permafree or 99-cent Book 1s are still working to help get people into a series
Staying wide in all the stores vs. dabbling in Kindle Unlimited
Running Facebook ads for boxed sets
Whether Annie’s publisher has handled marketing for the new paperbacks and hardbacks or if she’s responsible for that
Conversion and what’s good sell through in a series
The challenges of keeping a pen name active and selling
Popular fantasy author Rachel Aaron joined us today to talk about succeeding with books that straddle genres, launching later books in a series, and turning your writing into a business, among other topics.
Here are a few more subjects that we touched on:
The challenges of writing across genres and marketing books that don’t fit tidily into a category
Rachel’s experiments with advertising and what has worked best
Using a pre-order to increase sales of an entire series and how to build launch buzz over several weeks
Some of the perks of being in Kindle Unlimited (Rachel explains why she believes KU readers are less likely to leave bad reviews)
How audiobooks have become a significant source of income for Rachel
The challenges of maintaining a high degree of productivity after this becomes a full-fledged business
Tonight’s discussion was with the anonymous Data Guy, curator for the famous (or perhaps infamous!) Author Earnings Report. If you haven’t been by the site, make sure to visit and check out some of the reports (you can also grab the raw data if you’re a data person!).
Here are some of the questions we asked Data Guy:
What exactly is the Author Earnings Report, and how do you get your information?
How are you able to look at a book’s Amazon sales ranking and figure out how many books are selling each day?
How are indie authors doing compared to small press, Amazon imprints, and traditionally published authors?
Which genres are indie authors doing best in?
What’s the reception been from the industry? Has Amazon stepped forward to confirm or deny the accuracy of your reports?
Does the data show that authors need to release frequently (i.e. every few months) to stay on the radar and continue selling well?
Are there any correlations between basic stats and overall income? i.e. total number of books, number in series, number of reviews, etc.
How is sales ranking figured? Is it true that it takes more sales to make it to a certain ranking than it does to stick once you get there? How are past sales weighed in to the current ranking?
How does Kindle Unlimited play into your rankings and income reports?
What do you think is the best route for authors starting out today?
Today we chatted with Liana Brooks and Amy Laurens, sci-fi and fantasy authors who both got their start with short stories and have branched out into novellas, novels, and creating their own press: Inkprint Press.
Here’s some of what we covered today:
The differences in marketing when you’re indie published, small press published, and traditionally published, including how much work you can expect to do on your own.
The importance of networking with other authors, especially as an indie author.
Participating in anthologies (bonus points if you can get into an anthology with a bigger name author)
Getting the rights back to previously published short stories and self-publishing them
The challenges of marketing novella-length fiction
Getting custom business cards for each of your series, so you can tailor what you’re trying to sell to the individual you meet (they use Moo.com NFC-chip cards to allow people to hold the card up to a smart phone and automatically get a free download delivered right to the phone)
Aspects of social media that they’ve found useful
Are blog tours still worth it? And organizing one as an indie
Do you run into problems when cross-promoting between indie and trad pubbed books?
World building tips from a science stud (Amy) who has a book on world building coming out in 2016 — you can sign up to hear when it’ll be out on her site: From the Ground Up, notification list.