SFFMP 126: Breaking Out, Five Figure Months, and Writing in Someone Else’s World

Fantasy author Justin Sloan joins us this week to talk about why the traditional “just write the next book” advice may not always be the right tactic for every author in every stage of his career. He also discusses how he broke out and went from small successes to big ones when he started reaching out to other authors for collaborations. He ended up working with Michael Anderle and co-writing a series with him in his popular Kurtherian Gambit world. Since then, he’s started selling a lot more books, and he just quit his day job to write full time.

Here are a few more details of what we covered:

  • Why Justin thinks some of his series have done significantly better than others.
  • The challenges of writing series in lots of different subgenres of fantasy instead of sticking with one.
  • How he reached out to other authors and was very proactive in finding people to collaborate with.
  • How he got into co-writing a series with Michael Anderle in Michael’s world, and what it’s meant for his career.
  • Whether face-to-face or phone meetings are necessary for co-writing or it can all be done through email and Google Docs or some such.
  • Managing the finances and accounting when writing with several different authors on different projects.
  • Why Facebook can be such a powerful marketing tool and what to post on your page.
  • Posting snippets of up-coming books to get readers excited before the release.

Please visit Justin’s website to learn more about his work and grab some free books, or like his author page on Facebook to see what he’s doing there.

Justin is also the co-author of the Creative Writing Career Podcast. Check it out if you’re looking for another show to listen to.

 

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SFFMP 118: Writing Longer Books, Pricing Higher, Web Serials, and Generating Multiple Streams of Income to Go Full Time

Drew Hayes, superhero/litRPG/urban fantasy author, joined us for this week’s show. He got his start with web serials before Wattpad was ever a thing, and he grew a fanbase so that when he launched his first ebook a few years ago, it did great right out of the blocks. Since then, he’s started several series, including urban fantasy with a small press, and gone full time as an author.

Here are some of the details of what we talked about tonight:

  • How Drew started publishing his work on the web and wrote the first year of his Super Powereds story before ever creating an ebook.
  • Are web serials still popular, and would it be worth starting one as a new author coming in now?
  • Can a podcast be useful for growing a fan base?
  • Writing longer books (of 200,000 words or more) and pricing a little higher — will the market accept that?
  • Succeeding as a full-time author on about three releases a year.
  • Why Drew decided to sign with a small press after he’d had success as a self-published author.
  • How long books can be great for the audio format, since some listeners buy the longest books they can get for their monthly credit at Audible.
  • How Drew uses Patreon to bring in extra income and also keep in touch with his fans.
  • Why he’s stuck with going wide and hasn’t joined Amazon KDP Select for more than a brief trial.
  • His thoughts on advertising (he hasn’t done much of it!) and what’s working for others he knows who do more.
  • His interesting launch strategy to get a lot of reviews on release day…

Drew’s blog post on the basics of advances.

You can visit Drew on his site, check out the Authors & Dragons podcast, or find his books in any of the online stores including Amazon. You can also check out his Patreon campaign or the new book he has coming out later in February: Forging Hephaestus (Villains’ Code Book 1).

 

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SFFMP 117: Keeping Multiple Series Selling, Jumping Genres, and Launching a New Series with Glynn Stewart

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?

For more information, you can check out our last show with Glynn: Episode 73: Mixing Genres, Best Categories for Cross-Genre Fiction, and KDP Select vs. Going Wide.

Also check out Glynn’s books on Amazon or visit him on his website. He’s also on Facebook!

 

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SFFMP 104: Competing in the Crowded Urban Fantasy Genre with Domino Finn

Tough guy urban fantasy author Domino Finn joins Lindsay and Jeff this week to analyze urban fantasy, talk about why his series took off, why others don’t, and what some of the expected tropes are in the genre.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • Analyzing the market to figure out why your books aren’t selling, then readjusting and launching a new series that’s more in line with expectations.
  • Finding an underserved market within a very popular and competitive genre.
  • Launching a book and having it stick on Amazon even without a lot of advertising dollars behind it.
  • Why Domino broke the mold and went with a first-person blurb for Dead Man.
  • Writing to market versus writing something that’s original and you with some marketable elements.
  • Can posting on forums actually help sell books?
  • Domino’s experiences with going wide, and why he’s sticking with KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited for now.
  • Putting together an anthology/boxed set with other authors writing the same type of UF and contributing original content.
  • Predictions for where the genre might go next.

You can visit Domino Finn at his website and check out his first Black Magic Outlaw book, Dead Man, on Amazon. If you’d like to try the anthology he’s in with several other authors, it’s only 99 cents right now on Amazon: Full Metal Magic.

 

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SFFMP 101: Getting an Agent After Self-Pub Success and a Print Only Deal with Annie Bellet

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

You can grab Annie’s first 20-Sided Sorceress ebook for free in all the major stores (Amazon link here) and also check out the new print omnibus of the first four adventures.

 

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SFFMP 98: 40,000 Audiobook Sales and Counting with Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Author Kristen Painter

We’re talking to paranormal romance/urban fantasy author Kristen Painter today. She’s been traditionally published and is now self-publishing her popular Nocturne Falls books, a light-hearted paranormal romance series that’s been selling well. She’s also been doing great with the audiobooks through ACX, recently passing 40,000 in sales, so we asked her about what’s led to her great success there.

Here are a few details of what we covered:

  • How Kristen got her start in traditional publishing and when she switched to indie
  • Finding an underserved niche with comedic paranormal romance without the graphic content that is often a part of the genre
  • The difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as far as tropes and what audiences expect
  • The state of the genre and how urban fantasy/PNR are for newer authors
  • When it makes sense to pay for the production of your own audiobooks (Kristen mentioned a 5 to 1 figure, i.e., you might get 5 ebook sales for each audiobook sale)
  • Whether to opt for a royalty split or pay a narrator outright
  • How important choosing a good narrator is with audiobooks (and how to find one you like)
  • Whether it’s better to launch the audiobook as close to the ebook release as possible or whether it doesn’t make much of a difference
  • Why Kristen shoots for at least 8 hours of narration for her audiobooks

You can find Kristen on her website, and check out her first Nocturne Falls book, The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride for free in the various stores.

 

 

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SFFMP 72: Selling More by Writing to Market + A Novel in 21 Days with Chris Fox

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.

 

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SFFMP 64: Rachel Caine Talks Urban Fantasy, YA, Traditional Publishing, and Rocking a Kickstarter Campaign

Today’s guest, Rachel Caine, has been publishing urban fantasy and YA fantasy since 1991. She’s been traditionally published throughout her career, but she recently decided to self-publish a new book in her long-standing Weather Warden series. She launched a Kickstarter to help finance the project, asked for $5,000 and ended up earning $18,000+. We asked her about the Kickstarter and also what she’s seen as far as changes in the industry, along with the differences in self-publishing and traditional publishing when it comes to marketing and more.

Some of the things we talked about were:

  • The state of urban fantasy today and how trends wax and wane
  • Creating a successful Kickstarter campaign (and some tips for how to save more of the money that people pledge to you).
  • Building a mailing list as a traditionally published author (she uses Mailchimp and has done giveaways with Rafflecopter).
  • Creating items for physical giveaways at signings and conventions (Rachel mentioned MakePlayingCards.com for doing character cards and ClubFlyers.com and Vista Print for bookmarks, postcards, and the like).
  • Visiting schools and marketing to librarians to help sell YA fiction
  • What kind of help you can expect from traditional publishers when it comes to marketing and what’s most likely going to be up to you.
  • The challenges of participating in such common self-pub marketing tactics as multi-author bundles and price-related promotions when your books are traditionally published
  • Whether social media and “having a platform” are important when it comes to getting a traditional deal
  • Being careful about signing a contract and watching out for rights grabs

You can find Rachel at her website, on Twitter, and you can visit her author page on Facebook.

She has lots of new books coming out for you to check out. She has a story coming out in the new X-files anthology, she has a collection of short stories from her Morganville Vampires series, and the next book in her Great Library series will be out this summer. Check out the first here (visit her site for more news and links to other stores).

 

 

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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 39: Creating Successful Series, Permafree Boxed Sets, and Epic vs. Urban Fantasy with Robert J. Crane

On today’s episode, we chatted with successful epic and urban fantasy author, Robert J. Crane. He’s sold more than a million books and was able to turn writing into his day job early on. Now, he has four successful series going, including his well-known Girl in the Box books.

Here’s a little of what we covered:

  • Productivity — how Robert has written and published 26 novels in the last four years
  • Writing books as a business and to make money versus treating this as an art and doing it just for the love
  • Cliffhangers and planning out a series
  • How series have been the key to Robert’s success and thoughts on writing/publishing multiple series at once
  • Audience size for epic fantasy versus urban fantasy (stuff set in our world)
  • Is it easier marketing contemporary sci-fi/fantasy versus secondary world stuff?
  • Having a social media presence, since not everyone will sign up for your newsletter (or filters might keep messages from getting through)
  • Doing not only a perma-free Book 1 for marketing but a perma-free boxed set (books 1-3) in a longer series
  • The “Big Name” approach for cover art — is there a point at which the author name should be larger than the title?
  • Getting fantasy maps done at The Cartographers’ Guild.

If you would like to check out Robert’s books, you can jump into his world for free with The Sanctuary Series (Books 1-3) or Alone (The Girl in the Box, Book 1). Find out more about all of his books on his site.

Robert also has some great and solid advice for indie authors on his blog, well worth the read.

 

 

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