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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SFFMP 33: Selling Tons of Urban Fantasy Books with Annie Bellet

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)

Check out the show, and pick up the first in Annie’s series for 99 cents: Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Book 1).

 

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SFFMP 19: Making Books Permafree, Where to Buy Sponsorships, and Tumblr with C. Gockel

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:

Sponsors Who Advertise FREE Ebooks
Sponsors Who Advertise 99 Cent Ebooks

 

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