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)
We interviewed C. Gockel this week (don’t tell anyone, but we found out that C stands for Carolynn), urban fantasy author of the I Bring the Fire series (the first book is free, so go check it out!). She hasn’t quit her day job yet, but it sounds like she’s getting close to making “professional income.”
Here’s a summary of some of the questions we asked her:
How did writing fan fiction lead to a career as a successful indie author?
Are there any advantages to starting out with fan fiction? Any lessons a new author can learn?
When you start thinking about publishing (and making some money!), is it better to modify a successful fanfic to make it an original story, or are you better off starting something new?
How has having a permafree Book 1 affected the sales of later books in your series? Is it still effective, even though your first ebook has been free for quite a while now?
What do you do to promote your permafree title and keep the sales of subsequent books rolling in month after month?
Have you tried discounting other books in your series, or do you stick with the first?
Are any advertisers more worth it than others, or do some charge too much? (Carolynn wisely did not want to dis anyone, but she gave some tips for evaluating whether a sponsorship site is worth it.)
You use Tumblr for your blogging platform — does it offer any advantages over more traditional spots?
Do you ever get fans offering to help “edit” your books or offering other advice? How do you deal with that?
Looking for the free resource spreadsheets we mentioned in the show? Here are Carolynn’s links: