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…
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?
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.
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
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
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, 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).
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?
We interviewed Annie Bellet, author of the very popular 20-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series this week. She’s also written epic fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, sold short stories to numerous magazines, and participated in various writing workshops. Here’s a little of what we talked about:
How Annie got started self-publishing and found that it’s much easier to rock it with an ongoing series than with short stories or series starters (that never get followed up)
When it’s worth having audiobooks of your novels produced
Tips on writing short stories (and why you might like to write short stories)
Covers — should you model yours after an existing (and popular!) series in your genre?
Launching the first book in a series at 99 cents (even if you don’t have others out yet)
Pre-orders, why Annie isn’t doing them any more
Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, yay or nay?
Are awards useful in marketing?
Annie talks the stages of being an indie author and how to move from the beginning struggle to selling more books and gathering a regular audience of readers
Advertising, which sites deliver the best bang for her buck?
Mistakes some people make when they actually do have early success (and mistakes people have when they don’t have early success).
Common themes among indie authors who are failing to break out.
Treating your writing like a business (assuming your goal is to make money)