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Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast

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Arts
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Books
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Interviewing and Learning from Successful Authors

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Interviewing and Learning from Successful Authors

iTunes Ratings

113 Ratings
Average Ratings
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8
2
2
3

Best podcast!

By Amaaaazed - Apr 15 2019
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You guys are my favorite podcast! Seriously missing new episodes. Hope you guys come back!

Great podcast about indie/self publishing and marketing.

By tmcatron - Apr 11 2018
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I look forward to this every week!

iTunes Ratings

113 Ratings
Average Ratings
98
8
2
2
3

Best podcast!

By Amaaaazed - Apr 15 2019
Read more
You guys are my favorite podcast! Seriously missing new episodes. Hope you guys come back!

Great podcast about indie/self publishing and marketing.

By tmcatron - Apr 11 2018
Read more
I look forward to this every week!
Cover image of Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast

Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast

Latest release on Mar 13, 2019

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Interviewing and Learning from Successful Authors

Rank #1: SFFMP 166: Best Price Points, Does Book Length Matter, and Tips for Selling More Books Wide with Mark Coker

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One of our earliest guests on the podcast, almost 150 episodes ago, was Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. We had him back on this week to talk about some of his predictions for the coming year and marketing tips derived from the 2017 annual survey of the Smashwords sales and distribution data.

Note: we had some technical issues so weren’t able to stream live, but we hope to be back at our usual time of Tuesday 6pm PT/9pm ET next week.

Here are some further details of what we discussed with Mark:

  • Changes in Smashwords over the last three years.
  • How much more successful authors are on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. when they make use of pre-orders.
  • Mark’s new podcast Smart Author (check out the episodes on analyzing best practices of bestselling authors and how to sell more books with pre-orders for starters).
  • Being careful about being too dependent on one retailer and helping to ensure other retailers stay relevant.
  • Data showing that, despite people forever talking about short attention spans, longer books sell better.
  • Some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy that are doing well — but Mark advises that you should write what you love rather than following trends.
  • Which price points are most effective, and data showing that $4.99 has become more viable (if you’re charging $2.99 or $3.99, you might not lose sales by going to $4.99).
  • Pricing for boxed sets, whether by individual authors or as multi-author collaborations.
  • How many of the bestselling Smashwords authors are using free series starters.
  • What to do with a $500 launch budget.
  • Tips for selling in the Smashwords store itself.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out the first episode he did with us: SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker.

Here’s his blog post from last year that includes his slides covering the 2017 Smashwords survey data.

You can visit Mark on Twitter or on the Smashwords blog. You can find more information on his Smart Author podcast here.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-166_-_Best_Price_Points_Does_Book_Length_Matter_and_Tips_for_Selling_More_Books_with_Mark_Coker.mp3

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Jan 17 2018

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Rank #2: SFFMP 178: Making Good Money with Serial Novellas and YA Fantasy with Sarah K.L. Wilson

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On this week’s show, YA fantasy author Sarah K.L. Wilson joined us to talk about the successful Dragon School serial she’s publishing on Amazon (and in Kindle Unlimited). She’s put out nine installments since the beginning of the year, publishing a new one every 18 days, and she’s kept them selling with Amazon ads and sheer momentum.

Here’s a little more of what we covered:

  • Going from writing novels to publishing a (planned) 20-installment fantasy serial.
  • How complete each story is and whether Sarah employs cliffhangers.
  • Whether she’s got it all outlined or she’s pantsing it.
  • The challenges of finding your readership on Amazon (or any online store) when you’re targeting a teen audience.
  • Handling cover art for serial installments that you’re publishing frequently.
  • Sarah’s pricing strategy of 99 cents for the first installment and 2.99 for the others and whether there’s been any pushback from readers.
  •  Finding success with Amazon ads by monitoring them daily and tweaking whenever necessary, including adding new ads to the rotation regularly.
  • Sarah’s less than stellar results with Facebook ads.
  • How her income breaks down, sales versus KU.
  • What a typical launch looks like for her now that she’s almost 10 installments into her serial.
  • The link to Michael Cooper’s read-through calculator, which Sarah is using to calculator her ROI: https://www.facebook.com/groups/781495321956934/1111894655583664/

You can visit Sarah on her website and also check out her books on Amazon. The first installment in her serial is Dragon School: First Flight and is currently 99 cents or free to read with a KU subscription.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-178_-_Publishing_Quickly_and_Making_Good_Money_with_Serial_Novellas_and_YA_Fantasy_with_Sarah_KL_Wilson.mp3

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Apr 25 2018

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Rank #3: SFFMP 176: Launching Well as a New Author, Writing Quickly, and Keeping the Momentum Going

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This week’s interview features NYT best-selling indie fantasy author Jasmine Walt. She talks about how she burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with her popular Baine Chronicles series and breaks down why she think it hit big even though she was a new author at the time. We also ask her about her various collaborations and how she’s kept the momentum going with the numerous new series she’s started.

Here are some of the specifics:

  • Expectations for urban fantasy, fantasy with romance, and reverse harem fantasy.
  • Writing stories that combine a lot of elements and aren’t exactly to market.
  • When taking on a collaboration partner can make sense and mistakes to avoid in co-writing.
  • Jasmine’s process that helps her publish a novel almost every month.
  • How much outlining she does before she starts writing.
  • How her first launch went and what she did to get pre-orders and sales as a brand new author.
  • What a launch looks like for her these days as a more established author with a fan base.
  • The challenges of having success with a second, third, etc. series after the first one was a hit.
  • When it’s time to move some series out of Kindle Unlimited and try to build a readership in other stores.
  • The factors that go into deciding how long a series should continue.
  • What Jasmine does for the back matter of her books.
  • Whether hitting bestseller lists (New York Times, USA Today, etc.) are useful for marketing or just nice accolades to have.

You can visit Jasmine on her website and check out the first of her Baine Chronicles novel, Burned. It’s available in all stores. Her Dragon’s Gift series (reverse harem fantasy) and recent release Cursed by Night are available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

Also, if you listen in time and you’re interested in going to the conference Jasmine is putting on in May 2018, here’s the link for that:

http://bostonfantasyfest.com/

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-176_-_Launching_Well_as_a_New_Author_Hitting_Quickly_and_Whats_Hot_in_Fantasy_Jasmine_Walt.mp3

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Apr 11 2018

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Rank #4: SFFMP 215: Working Hard, Ignoring Naysayers, and Becoming a Full-Time Author

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For this week’s show, we talked to return guest Jeffery H. Haskell, who first joined us in December of 2017 for the show “Successfully Launching as a New Author and Is Kindle Worlds Worth It?” (Yes, Kindle Worlds was still a thing back then!)

Jeffery is a superhero fiction author and also has a new non-fiction title out, Writing for Life: Living the Impossible Dream. We talked about superheroes and how the fantasy subgenre is doing, and we also talked about some of the mindset issues that beginning authors face and that may be holding them back from publishing and becoming successful.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • Keeping a series selling past six installments.
  • Launching a new series in the same universe.
  • The state of the superhero subgenre as of January 2019.
  • Whether traditional publishers and authors are in the superhero genre or it’s more dominated by indies.
  • The earnings potential in the superhero genre.
  • Overcoming negative feedback and challenges to pursue your writing dream.
  • Making smart decisions, working hard, and not relying on luck to succeed.
  • Whether you have to be born with what it takes to become a writer or if anyone can learn.
  • When it makes sense to bank novels and rapid release and when you should publish right away to test the waters.
  • How long an author should give a series before accepting that maybe it’s time to try something else.
  • Setting realistic expectations for your first books and series.
  • What marketing Jeff has found works well for him in the superhero genre.
  • Increasing productivity to publish more books as one shifts to full-time.

Find Jeff on his website or Facebook or check out his books on Amazon.

For inspiration, take a look at Writing for Life: Living the Impossible Dream.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-215_-_Succeeding_Against_the_Odds_and_Becoming_a_Full-Time_Author_with_Jeffery_H._Haskell.mp3

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Jan 09 2019

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Rank #5: SFFMP 204: Selling 10,000 Copies of Your First Novel with Joseph Malik

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Today, we were joined by fantasy author, Joseph Malik, who published his first novel, Dragon’s Trail, in 2016 and has managed to sell 10,000 copies over the last two years, despite being a new author and new to marketing. We talked to him about some of the things he tried that didn’t work, plus what he tried that did.

*Note: a couple of swear words slipped out in this episode, so be careful if you’re listening in the car with young and impressionable kids (or dogs).

Here are some of the specifics that we talked about in the show:

  • Trying out a lot of hobbies such as sword fighting and martial arts to better learn how to make your fantasy novels seem realistic.
  • Tips for authors who wouldn’t mind trying to learn some of the combat stuff even if they’re busy with life and not athletically inclined.
  • Balancing including details and strong world building with keeping the story moving along and readers entertained.
  • Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland (and why your characters probably shouldn’t be eating stew after a long trek).
  • Publishing on a more traditional release schedule (Joseph published his first two novels about two years apart) and keeping the books selling when it’s a while between releases.
  • How his experience as a panelist at NorWesCon helped a lot with book sales for him.
  • Why Joseph publishes hard cover copies of his books and where he sells them.
  • How he’s sold most of his books at full price and intends to stick with that going forward.
  • Some of the marketing things he tried early on that didn’t move the dial much and what did work.

If you want to learn more or check out Joseph’s books, please visit his website: http://josephmalik.com/

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-204_-_Selling_10000_Copies_of_Your_First_Novel_with_Joseph_Malik.mp3

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Oct 24 2018

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Rank #6: SFFMP 171: Lindsay’s Launch Numbers (Earned vs Spent), Targeting International Sales, and Increasing Mailing List Open Rates

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Our three hosts were by themselves today and answered some listener questions that had been stacking up. They ran the gamut and included selling more audiobooks, selling more paperbacks, selling more in international markets, increasing newsletter open rates, and what you should do to start gathering a mailing list of interested readers before you launch your first novel. Lindsay also shared her numbers from her recent fantasy launch.

Here are a few more of the specifics that we covered:

  • What it takes to get a KDP All Star bonus these days.
  • Whether Lindsay found Bookbub CPM, Facebook PPC, or Amazon CPC ads more useful for her epic fantasy/sword and sorcery launch, and how much she spent overall on advertising, cover art, and editing.
  • Jeff’s foray into audiobooks — can you have a narrator that speaks too slowly?
  • Jo’s experiments with reworking some of his old newsletter bonus material and publishing a short story a month (are ebooks published at 99 cents worth it?).
  • Tips for increasing open rates with mailing lists and what’s considered a good rate.
  • What kinds of subject lines work best with newsletters.
  • How ACX users can promote their audiobooks (we forgot to mention getting codes from ACX for giveaways, but you can email for those and use them selectively with new releases).
  • Tips for getting more sales in the UK, Australia, Canada, and other English-speaking (and reading) markets.
  • Tips for selling more paperbacks.
  • Whether Wattpad is worth it for a marketing platform.
  • Whether a pen name needs its own Facebook author page.
  • If an author in the UK needs to make a special edition for American English readers.
  • If it’s okay to publish shorter novels so you can get stuff out more frequently.
  • What’s the best way to start your writing/publishing career if your number one interest is gaining a steady readership?
  • Your hosts share which of their characters are most like them and what the hardest things for them to edit out were.

Want to see what the hosts are up to?

You can check out Jo’s new 99-cent prequel novella, Beta Testers or preorder the Book of Deacon short story collection he mentioned in the show.

Jeff’s latest release is one of his mystery novels, Case of the Pilfered Pooches (Corgi Case Files Book 4).

Lindsay’s short sci-fi story “Bearadise Lodge” is up for free on her blog.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-171_-_Lindsays_Launch_and_Listener_Questions.mp3

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Feb 28 2018

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Rank #7: SFFMP 128: Kindle Unlimited, Perma 99-Cents, and ACX vs. Traditional Audiobook Publishers with Anthony J. Melchiorri

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It’s not every week that we get authors with PhDs in science on the show (though we’ve had a few!), but today Anthony J Melchiorri joined us. By day, he uses his PhD in bioengineering to develop cellular therapies and 3D-printable artificial organs, and by night, he writes medical thrillers, post-apocalyptic fiction, and space opera. So far, he’s best-known for his Tide series.

Here’s some of what we chatted about:

  • How Anthony’s background led him to start writing medical thrillers with a science fiction twist.
  • How those books didn’t sell as well as he’d hoped and he ended up writing post-apocalyptic fiction.
  • PA fiction having a really rabid reader base that wants more books than are out there.
  • How you might be able to find a good subgenre on Amazon to exploit by looking for ones where books with poor covers are selling well.
  • Whether his Kindle Worlds project was worth it as far as time and money invested in it went.
  • If authors with tons of in-depth scientific knowledge can still expect to get “corrected” by well-meaning readers.
  • Concerns about possibly including too much science in the stories when you have that in-depth knowledge.
  • Marketing in the various different genres (space opera, post apocalyptic, and medial thrillers) and why some do well in Kindle Unlimited and others don’t.
  • Trying a perma- or long-term 99 cent price on a Book 1.
  • The differences in producing your own audiobooks through ACX and going with a publisher — Blackstone Audio is doing Anthony’s Eternal Frontier series.
  • Challenges in marketing audiobooks and what works.

You can find Anthony on his website, on Facebook, or check out his books on Amazon. If you want to try his fiction, Book 1 in the Tide series or Book 1 in the Eternal Frontier series would be good starts.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-128_-_Kindle_Unlimited_Perma_99-Cents_and_ACX_vs._Traditional_Audio_Publishers_with_Anthony_Melchiorri.mp3

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Apr 19 2017

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Rank #8: SFFMP 175: The Rapid Release Strategy, Getting Reviews as a New Author, and Where to Spend your Advertising Money

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This week, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay answered listener questions on a variety of topics such as how to spend $1,000 on advertising to get the most out of your launch, how to get reviews as a new author, whether we use review or street teams, and how often to release books if you’re banking them to do a rapid release. We also answer the question Jeff always asks our guests… if you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Here are a few of the more specific topics we covered:

  • Writing and publishing in multiple sub-genres at once, yay or nay?
  • Advertising strategies for a book launch.
  • Street teams and whether we use them.
  • Amazon closing its submissions to Kindle Scout.
  • Selling boxed sets at more than $9.99 and still getting a 70% royalty at Kobo.
  • Doing hard cover omnibuses and large print editions of your books.
  • Going wide with audiobooks or staying exclusive with Audible.
  • Jo’s experience with Kindle Worlds since they started including KW stories in Kindle Unlimited.
  • Whether it’s worth maintaining an author presence on Facebook even if you’re not planning to spend money on ads.
  • When you’re doing a rapid release strategy for a series, how often you should get those first few books out there.
  • Where to invest $1,000 on advertising for the launch of a new series.
  • How long to let Amazon AMS ads run.
  • Our previous podcast on Amazon AMS ads with Tom Corson-Knowles.
  • Will people do newsletter swaps with you if your list is small?
  • Finding fantasy and science fiction authors to swap with via the SF/F Cross Promo Bulletin Board Facebook group.
  • Whether single-author boxed sets are still useful to put together.

If you have better answers to any of the questions than our venerable but not infallible hosts had, feel free to chime in below!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-175_-_Rapid_Release_Launch_Strategy_with_Limited_Funds.mp3

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Apr 04 2018

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Rank #9: SFFMP 144: Breaking Six Figures as an Author – What Does It Take?

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It’s a long show today, but we covered a lot of ground, so hopefully you’ll find it interesting. We discussed last year’s Author Earnings report that showed how many authors were making over $100,000 a year at Amazon.com, and we also talked about the findings of a survey by Written Word Media that came out a couple of months ago, giving the lowdown on habits of six-figures authors (i.e. how many books out, how long it took to get there, how much they’re paying for editors and cover art, etc.)

Here are some specifics from the crib sheet (click the links to the reports to read them in far more detail):

May 2016 Author Earnings Report (http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/):

Based on print, audio, and ebook of the Amazon US store only:

  • 1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales. But half of them are indies and Amazon-imprint authors. The majority of the remainder? They come from traditional publishing’s longest-tenured “old guard.”
  • Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authorsand 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
  • More than 50% of all traditionally published book sales of any format in the US now happen on Amazon.com.
  • 85% of all non-traditionally published book sales of any format in the US also happen on Amazon.com.

Written Word Media’s June 2017 Survey: What Makes a $100K Author (https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author/):

  • 88% of 100kers have been writing more than 3 years.
  • None of their survey responders making 100K were trad published.
  • There were hybrid authors, who either got a contract due to their indie success or decided to make the higher royalties as an indie for some of their stuff.
  • You don’t have to be exclusive with Amazon, there was a mix.
  • Rates for editors varied, as well as cover art, but none of the 100Kers were paying more than $1000 a cover.
  • The 100Kers try paid marketing and handle it themselves (nobody’s hiring a PR person here or handing off their FB ads)
  • 20% of 100Kers still had day jobs, but they averaged 30 hours a week of writing as a group.
  • The 100Kers had an average of 30.3 books in their catalog (the most an author had was 63 and the minimum was 7)

Busting/discussing some myths:

  • You have to network tons and/or get a lucky break.
  • You have to write in romance or another huge, hot genre. (Big fish/small pond)
  • You have to be in KU/exclusive with Amazon.
  • You have to do everything right from Day 1.
  • You have to sell non-fiction or courses on the side.

Listener questions we answered in the show:

Ashley: I’d like to know the general time split (ex. 40/60) for marketing/creating time. I find myself liking marketing but not making time for it.

Ashley: Also how much of income comes from paid ads vs organic/networking?

Jesse: When should we spend money on advertising? After 1 book? A full series?

Kristy: Do you need to have audio and foreign translations to hit 6 figures?

Madeleine: What was the tipping point for number of books? What advice isn’t relevant any more e.g. landscape has changed?

Hannah: From a new author perspective: is it worth putting in a lot of money up front? Or starting with the essentials editing/cover design first.

Dale: I’m probably channeling Jeff: “What’s the single most effective thing you can do in to help become a six figure author?”

Dale: “What’s the least effective thing that will help you become a six-figure author.”

Ryan: Is it worth trying a new pen name when switching from fantasy to space adventure when you currently have a small fanbase?

~

If you want to support the hosts, or just check out their fiction, Jeff has a new Book 1 out in his Lentari fantasy world, May the Fang Be with You.

Jo has a fun summer project out, Structophis, and the first book in his popular steampunk series is free everywhere (fourth book coming in September).

Lindsay has taken her Fallen Empire series wide, and you can pick up the first one, Star Nomad, for free in all the major stores right now.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-144_-_Breaking_Six_Figures_as_an_Author_-_What_does_it_take.mp3

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Aug 09 2017

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Rank #10: SFFMP 211: How to Use Your Newsletter to Build Engagement and Fan Loyalty

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Not only was this week’s episode jam-packed with newsletter tips for authors but it turned out to be our longest show ever! You may want to turn it into a two-parter or at least get a beverage so you stay hydrated while you listen.

Our guest was Tammi Labrecque, author of Newsletter Ninja, along with numerous books under various secret pen names. She’s published in romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, LitRPG, and horror, so she’s got a wide range of experience as an author, but she’s also super excited to talk newsletters.

We covered a ton of great information and answered Twitter questions. Here are some of the highlights (and continue to the end for a huge list of resources that Tammi sent along to share):

  • Whether having two (or more) pen names is twice the work.
  • How Tammi got so interested in newsletters.
  • Why newsletters are so important for authors and why you shouldn’t listen to those people who say they’re dead.
  • Setting up an autoresponder sequence to send a series of welcome emails to new subscribers.
  • How long of a sequence of emails authors should send out and what kinds of things to cover.
  • Adding a tip for readers about how to “white list” your email address to the top of each email.
  • Which mailing list providers Tammi recommends.
  • How to keep subscribers engaged and how to keep your emails from going into spam or promotions folders.
  • How often you should be sending out newsletters.
  • Whether you should send out plain text emails, use images, or mix it up.
  • Why your “email reputation” is important to the various email providers and how to boost it.
  • Three things authors should pay attention to when sending out newsletters: open rates, click rates, and responses.
  • What realistic numbers/percentages are for those.
  • The most effective method for getting subscribers to forward your emails to friends.
  • Whether to share short stories in emails, share snippets, or just provide a link to the story on your website.
  • What sets one newsletter apart from another and makes people look forward to receiving it?
  • Should you have separate newsletters and/or landing pages if you write in different genres?
  • How often should you cull your list?
  • How can you reactivate a list you haven’t used in a long time without getting a bunch of unsubscribes?
  • What are some examples of engaging questions you can ask to encourage readers to respond?

If you’ve found Tammi’s information useful, make sure to check out her book Newsletter Ninja for more tips and advice. You can also visit her online at https://newsletterninja.net/ and (for editing and formatting) http://larksandkatydids.com/.

Resources Tammi suggests:

Articles on avoiding SPAM filters:

https://www.yesware.com/blog/email-spam/

https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/avoid-email-spam-filter/

https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-avoid-a-spam-filter-5-rules.html

https://econsultancy.com/blog/64878-45-words-to-avoid-in-your-email-marketing-subject-lines (plus all the links in “Further reading” at the end of the article)

Just straight-up lists of SPAM words:

https://emailmarketing.comm100.com/email-marketing-ebook/spam-words.aspx

https://www.mannixmarketing.com/blog/spam-trigger-words/

https://www.simplycast.com/blog/100-top-email-spam-trigger-words-and-phrases-to-avoid/

https://prospect.io/blog/455-email-spam-trigger-words-avoid-2018/

http://blog.automational.com/2016/03/08/spam-trigger-words-to-avoid/

https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30684/the-ultimate-list-of-email-spam-trigger-words.aspx

Subject line articles:

https://sumo.com/stories/best-email-subject-lines

https://www.digitalmarketer.com/101-best-email-subject-lines-2014/

https://optinmonster.com/101-email-subject-lines-your-subscribers-cant-resist/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-email-subject-lines-list

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/31/email-subject-lines

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-211_-_How_to_Use_Your_Newsletter_to_Build_Engagement_and_Fan_Loyalty_with_Tammi_Labrecque.mp3

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Dec 12 2018

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Rank #11: SFFMP 165: Relaunching a Series, Bookbub Ads, and Does Podcasting Help Authors?

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A return guest joined us on the show this week, Bryan Cohen, non-fiction author, podcaster, and author of fairy tales and superhero fiction. We talked about the fairy-tale-writing pen name he launched in 2016 and the big relaunch (including edits, new covers, and new ASINs on Amazon) he did of his first fiction series in 2017, where he turned it from a sort-of-urban fantasy series to something clearly in the superhero genre. We also discussed tips for getting the cost per click down on Bookbub ads and whether podcasting can be useful for authors.

In the end, Bryan told us about the Sell More Books Show Summit, a conference he’s helping host the first weekend of May in Chicago this year, and what prompted him to start a new conference for authors. If you’re interested in going, tickets are still on sale (with the Early Bird price good through January 12th this week).

Here are some more specific details of what we talked about:

  • How Bryan’s foray into fairy tales and a new pen name went.
  • What he learned from launching into a new genre.
  • How organizing and putting together a fairy tale anthology with some other well-known authors helped earn a good amount through Kindle Unlimited and also drive readers back to his novel.
  • Some things he wishes he had done differently when launching the pen name.
  • How he juggles writing fiction, hosting a podcast, and working in the author services industry with having a family.
  • Whether it makes sense to be a podcaster as well as an author — ie. will it sell any books?
  • What kind of podcast would make sense if an author was interested in starting one?
  • Current events in the publishing world that authors may be overreacting to.
  • What made Bryan decide to not only relaunch his series with new covers, blurbs, titles, and in a new genre, but also why he went back and did some major editing on the early books.
  • Budgetary and time concerns to think about with a relaunch.
  • Whether to keep your existing Amazon ASIN and book reviews or to start from scratch.
  • Whether it’s necessary to clear a relaunch with fans or if Bryan dealt with any blowback from readers upset by the edits.
  • Bookbub ads and ways to tinker to get the CTR up (and the cost per click down).
  • Whether Bookbub ads are more effective in some genres than others.

If you enjoyed listening to Bryan chat, you can also check him out on two of our earlier episodes:

SFFMP 15: YouTube Marketing, Facebook Events, and Increasing Mailing List Sign-Ups

SFFMP 84: Creating Better Book Descriptions (Blurbs) to Improve Your Sales with Bryan Cohen

Also, make sure to visit his site, check out his books if you like superheroes or fairy tales, and the Summit if you’re interested in going.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-165_-_Relaunching_a_Series_and_the_Value_of_Podcasting_with_Bryan_Cohen.mp3

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Jan 10 2018

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Rank #12: SFFMP 162: Finding Success in a Niche, When 99-cent Novels Make Sense, and Bucking Cover Trends with Amanda Milo

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Our guest this week launched her first novel in April of 2017 to great success. Amanda Milo’s science fiction romance, Stolen by an Alien, stuck in the Top 250 overall in the Amazon store for months and remained near the top of the scifi romance Top 100 too. She’s since published two more novels in the series for the rabid fanbase that she’s already established.

We brought her on to ask about how she launched to such success, why she’s continued to launch her books at 99 cents, and how she used some atypical (for the genre) cover art to find her target audience.

Here’s some of what we covered in more detail:

  • How Amanda launched her novel without professional editing or a cover that she loved but made it work anyway.
  • Combining 99 cents, Kindle Unlimited, and a story written for a niche audience to find success.
  • What level of sex readers are looking for in the science fiction romance category.
  • Some popular story types in the genre.
  • What readers expect from the alien abduction trope.
  • The challenges of writing strong female characters and balancing them with some of the romance tropes of rescues or abductions.
  • Using the cover, especially in romance genres, to signal to the reader what to expect as far as heat level, in particular.
  • Why Amanda has stuck with 99 cents so long for her books.
  • Whether novellas and shorter stories can work in scifi romance.
  • Using a Facebook page and Facebook groups to connect with readers.
  • Pre-orders or no pre-orders?

You can visit Amanda Milo on Facebook or check out her Amazon page to try out her novels. Her Facebook group, Amanda Milo’s Minions, is also accepting new minions.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-162_-_When_99-cent_Novels_Make_Sense_Kindle_Unlimited_and_Bucking_Cover_Trends_with_Amanda_Milo.mp3

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Dec 20 2017

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Rank #13: SFFMP 155: What It Takes to Shift from Hobby Writer to Full-Time Author with Ben Hale

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This week, we chatted with non-fiction and YA fantasy author Ben Hale. A former business owner, he did a lot of research before jumping into self-publishing his first fantasy novels in 2012. After six months, he was able to go full-time. His recent non-fiction release, co-written with Honorée Corder, talks about the business side of writing and publishing, with tips for taking your career to the next level.

Here are a few of the specifics we talked about:

  • Researching the market and what’s working for successful authors before jumping in to publishing.
  • Why being fluent in a language may not be enough when it comes to translating your own books.
  • The changes to the market that Ben has seen since he first started publishing in 2012.
  • Creating multiple series that interlink and are set in the same world so that readers will naturally want to go from one to the other.
  • Some of the challenges of marketing to young adult readers and why some YA books appeal to adults more than others do.
  • The importance of releasing regularly — Ben tries to put out a new novel every 3 to 4 months.
  • Developing a business mindset as an author.
  • What to look at if you have a number of books out, but they aren’t selling as well as you expected.
  • How far ahead goals or visions should extend.
  • Starting out with the business mindset so that you’re ready for success farther down the road.

Learn more about Ben Hale and grab his starter library at his website, Lumineia. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and check out the helpful book that he and Honorée Corder wrote, Write Like a Boss.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-155_-_What_It_Takes_to_Shift_from_Hobby_Writer_to_Full-Time_Author_with_Ben_Hale.mp3

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Nov 01 2017

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Rank #14: SFFMP 191: Most Popular Science Fiction and Fantasy Sub-Genres and Analyzing Data Guy’s SWFA Slides

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On this week’s show, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay discussed the information on Data Guy’s slides from his 2018 SFWA presentation in May. The slides are up here if you want to take a look. They also discussed some of the news in the indie world this summer and how the Amazon hammer has been coming down on those partaking in Kindle Unlimited shenanigans. Here are Lindsay’s notes (but you’ll get more out of just looking at the slides!). Also, the tool Jo mentions partway through the episode is KDP Rocket.

Notes from the SFWA 2018 slides:

Adult SF/F sales peaked around 2009 and then, according to Nielson/NPD Bookscan, have been on the decline since.

Result? The SF/F sections in bookstores shrank and author advances did too.

It’s true that after 2009, print sales dropped twice as far as in most other book genres, but digital sales have taken up the slack. While only 25% of overall sales for traditional publishers are ebooks, it’s different with SF/F. Ebooks make up 37% of traditionally published purchases. Add in SF/F audiobook sales, and things seem to be even or even slightly on the rise.

And on the indie/small press side…

SF&F sales by traditional publishers have become the minority. Big Five takes 21% of the pie, Amazon publishing imprints 7%, other small/med/large publishers 9%, and then indie self-pub w/o imprint, with their own imprints, or in indie self-pub collectives make up more 52% (the rest uncategorized stuff).

This is units sold. He looks at dollars earned too.

The average purchase price for a trad published SF/F ebook was $8.04 (May 2017 – April 2018)

For self-pub and Amazon imprints: $3.20 (sweet spot of $4 the highest with $5 right behind it).

Put them together and the average purchase price is $4.43.

How does KU factor in?

$30 million a year in US subscription revenue is from KU which accounts for 25% of non-traditional SF/F ebook dollar sales.

When it comes to money, self-pub SF/F authors are now earning a much larger share of the royalty dollars generated by SF&F books than traditionally published SF&F authors. SF/F sales are disproportionately ebook and audio now – digital. This may explain why incomes of traditionally published and self-published authors appear to be moving in opposite directions.

Most traditionally published SF/F ebooks purchased in the last 12 months were deep backlist titles published prior to 2015. Nontraditional SF/F ebook purchases were mostly frontlist and recent backlist (since 2015).

“What happens when the non-trad “deep backlist” fills in?”

Science Fiction Top subgenres by ebook sales:

  1. Military SF – over 4 million
  2. Adventure SF – just shy of 4 million
  3. Post-Apocalyptic – about 3.5 million
  4. Dystopian – about 3 million
  5. Space Opera – shy of 3 million

Toward the bottom: steampunk, alternative history, LGBT, Humorous

“Traditional publishers outperform in some SF categories but underperform in many of the highest selling ones.”

Fantasy Top subgenres by ebook sales:

  1. Paranormal & urban – over 11 million (PNR/romancy in there but top selling by almost a factor of 2)
  2. Epic fantasy – close to 6.5 million
  3. Sword & sorcery – 4 million
  4. Coming of Age – 3.5 million
  5. Romantic fantasy – 3 million

Toward the bottom: Alternate history, dragons & mythological creatures, humorous, Christian fantasy, Gaslamp

End stuff:

This means SF/F sales (print, ebook, audiobook) are actually significantly up overall from that supposed high point in 2009. A lot. They’ve doubled since 2010 with the majority of sales just going unreported right now and thus understating SF&F true popularity with readers.

Why? Speculation: new SF/F readers, old readers reading more, former used book readers now buying ebooks instead, or former library users brought in because ebooks are more affordably priced?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-191_-_Most_Popular_Science_Fiction_and_Fantasy_Sub-Genres_and_Analyzing_Data_Guys_SWFA_Slides.mp3

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Jul 25 2018

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Rank #15: SFFMP 132: Are Spinoffs a Good Idea, Costs of Cover Art, & Marketing Unique Stories

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For the first time in a couple of months, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay didn’t have a guest tonight. They answered listener questions and talked about their own experiences with spinoffs and the pros and cons of doing them from a financial and creative standpoint.

Here are a few specifics that they talked about:

  • Kindle Worlds and whether Jo’s experience writing in Lindsay’s world was worth the time that was invested.
  • Whether book trailers ever work and are worth doing.
  • How much to expect to spend for the various types of cover art (i.e. illustrated, photoshop/illustration combination with stock art or with models and photo shoots of your own).
  • The challenges of using stock photos and finding good images when you’re writing people of color (or just need period-appropriate clothing for fantasy/science fiction).
  • Whether it’s possible for an epic fantasy story that’s not in a traditional setting or not a traditional story to do well.
  • Whether you need to create a DBA or anything special when you start publishing under a pen name.
  • Advice for getting Amazon to make an ebook free when it’s already free in other stores.
  • Some of the reasons that writing a spinoff might make sense if you had a series that did well (i.e. an almost guaranteed audience, no need to start from scratch with world-building, easier to guess how much the books will earn, based on the sales from the past series).
  • Some of the reasons you may not want to do a spinoff (i.e. may only appeal to readers of the original series, may lose some of the magic of the original, may be constrained by events that happened in the original).

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-132_-_Answering_Listener_Questions_and_Are_Spinoffs_a_Good_Idea.mp3

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May 17 2017

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Rank #16: SFFMP 170: Keeping an Older Series Selling, Nebula Awards, and What SFWA Can Do for You

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On this week’s show, military science fiction author and retired Marine colonel Jonathan Brazee joined us. We talked about the wisdom of sticking to one genre and writing a series and spinoff series all in the same universe, and how that can help with marketing. It doesn’t hurt to be prolific, either! We also talked about SFWA, where Jonathan is the Chairman of the Education Committee and doing a lot to help indie authors inside of the organization.

Here are some more specific details of what we covered:

  • Jonathan’s road from his first published short story in 1978 to being a full-time indie author of more than thirty novels of (mostly) military science fiction.
  • Why he recently decided to accept a traditional publishing contract.
  • The wisdom of focusing on one genre, for the most part, and building a universe where multiple series intersect with each other and can each work to lead readers into the universe as a whole.
  • Some tropes in the military SF genre that authors would be wise to pay attention to.
  • Whether it’s harder now to break into military SF than it was a few years ago.
  • How Jonathan got involved with SFWA and why authors may want to consider joining if they qualify.
  • The networking benefits of going to conventions and getting involved as a panelist.
  • Being nominated for the Nebula awards.
  • What forms of advertising Jonathan is using now that are working for him.
  • What he’s doing these days when he launches new books.
  • The importance of setting realistic expectations and realizing it’s probably going to take more than two novels if you want to make a career of writing.
  • The types of covers Jonathan likes for his military SF and why he’s thinking of redoing some of his early ones.
  • How he keeps his older series selling years after he’s completed publishing them.
  • Advertising older books in a series when it’s time to release a new installment.
  • Keeping in touch with one’s fans and realizing how much your work can mean to some people.

As we mentioned in the show, Jonathan is one of the nebula award finalists in the novelette category with his story, “Weaponized Math.” If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it in the 99-cent Expanding Universe: Volume 3. You can also find the rest of his titles on Amazon.

If you’re a member of SFWA and want to vote for the nebulas this year (or if you just want to read the stories), you can find the list of the 2017 nebula award finalists here.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-170_-_Focusing_on_a_Genre_Keeping_Older_Series_Selling_and_SFWA_with_Jonathan_Brazee.mp3

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Feb 21 2018

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Rank #17: SFFMP 179: Marketing Wide vs Marketing in Kindle Unlimited + Turning Strangers into Super Fans

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We had a great chat with David Gaughran this week. He’s a historical fiction author who dabbles in science fiction now and then, and when he’s not writing fiction, he’s keeping an eye on the publishing scene and analyzing what’s working for authors who are going wide and selling well on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. and also what’s working for those who are sticking with Amazon exclusivity and Kindle Unlimited.

We chatted about all that and also about the tactics he outlines in his new book, Strangers To Superfans and some of the mistakes authors are making.

Here are a few specifics of what we discussed:

  • Using “Audience Insights” on Facebook to figure out who your Ideal Reader is.
  • Why David recommends Stephen King’s On Writing.
  • Realizing that you can choose to sell your books all over the world or to be exclusive with Amazon but that whether you’re in Kindle Unlimited or not, you’re affected by it.
  • Why David prefers a lower spend over time rather than blowing a bunch of money on Facebook advertising in a couple of days.
  • He’s open to doing boosted posts to get more followers but says you shouldn’t advertise for likes.
  • Making sure to mention your Facebook page at the end of your books, so you can get your readers to like and follow (and you’re later able to get more complete demographic information on your fans).
  • Understanding that “most digital advertising platforms actively reward good targeting through delivering cheaper clicks or free exposure for well targeted ads.”
  • Realizing that if you’re not in KU, you’re competing with people who are earning more (70% on 99 cent books during Countdown Deals) and can afford to spend more on advertising.
  • How Kindle Unlimited has a separate recommendation engine for subscribers.
  • Taking advantage of places where fewer people are being advertised to, such as countries and platforms where Amazon KU isn’t a thing.
  • Advertising something written for mass appeal versus something written for a smaller niche audience.
  • What David calls the Discoverability Myth and why we shouldn’t get caught up in it.
  • Being careful not to confuse the Amazon algorithms or mess up your also-boughts when you launch a book, especially if you’re switching genres.
  • The different types of advertising that work for Kindle Unlimited books versus books on all the platforms, a steady drip versus a big blast.
  • Some mistakes David sees “wide” authors making (those who are marketing books on Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc.).
  • Best practices for mailing list building and emailing subscribers.

Visit David’s blog to stay up to date on Amazon, scammers, and nefarious entities taking advantage of authors, as well as other important topics that he feels compelled to write about. If you sign up for his mailing list, you can get his book, Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store.

Also, pick up a copy of Strangers To Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-179_-_Marketing_Wide_vs_Marking_in_Kindle_Unlimited__Turning_Strangers_into_Super_Fans_with_David_Gaughran.mp3

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May 02 2018

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Rank #18: SFFMP 193: Marketing and Publishing Advice for Newer Authors

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This week, Lindsay, Jo, and Jeff geared the show toward newer authors getting ready to publish their first books or with a few titles out. They answered some questions and tried to offer advice based on what’s working for folks getting started now.

Here are some of the specifics that were touched on:

  • More options for photoshop fantasy and science fiction covers with models from NeoStock and Period Images.
  • Google Play coming on strong as a contender.
  • Profiting from AMS advertising.
  • Moving from CreateSpace to KDP Print.
  • What to do to gain traction when you move from KDP Select and out into the other stores.
  • What to do when your first book is cross-genre and doesn’t fit well into the current categories on Amazon and other stores.
  • How do you find a good editor?
  • Should you try to save up three or more books for rapid release when you’re a new author?
  • The importance of having realistic expectations.
  • What you can do to start building up a list of buyers before you launch your first novel.
  • What are some low-cost advertising options.
  • What can you do for marketing if you’re shy?
  • If you’ve written three books in a series and haven’t had much success, should you pull the plug?
  • What are some of the best marketing services for space opera/SF?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-193_-_Marketing_and_Publishing_for_Newer_Authors.mp3

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Aug 08 2018

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Rank #19: SFFMP 133: Serials, Reader Magnets, and When to Jump to Full Time

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We switched things up this week and had a guest come on and interview us. Lindsay, Jeff, and Jo did their best to answer questions on marketing and publishing from science fiction author (and contest winner) Lon Varnadore.

Here are some of the questions he asked us:

  • Is permafree still viable? What about the 99-cent model?
  • Are there any sub-genres where indies aren’t well-represented?
  • Are authors still publishing serials and how well are they working now?
  • When does it make sense to make the jump to being a full-time author?
  • Are you guys using “reader magnets” to get people onto your lists, and how effective is this?
  • Kindle Unlimited or wide?
  • Has your marketing advice changed from when you started this podcast in September 2014 to now?
  • And the most important: if you could switch place with one of your characters, which would it be?

You can visit Lon on his website and also grab his first novel, Mostly Human, for free on Amazon and in other spots.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-133_-_Guest_Interview_from_Lon_Varnadore.mp3

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May 24 2017

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Rank #20: SFFMP 135: Amazon Bestseller Charts, Using Goodreads to Sell Books, and Listener Questions Answered

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Today, the guys answered listener questions, and Jeff and Lindsay interviewed Jo about what he learned at the big Book Expo America convention last week. There were reps from Bookbub and panels that discussed Goodreads, ebooks in libraries, and the new weekly Amazon best-seller and most-read charts, so there was plenty to discuss.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Is it possible to find the next big trends early?
  • When it comes to success in self-publishing, how much relies on craft and how much on business and marketing?
  • When it comes to audiobooks and ACX, are you better off paying up front or doing a royalty split with a narrator?
  • How to market the second book in a series.
  • How many books did the guys have out before they were able to switch to writing full time?
  • How the BEA conference was different this year from last year when Jo went.
  • Uses for the new Amazon Charts showing the most purchased and most read books each week.
  • Ebook trends in libraries.
  • Getting ebooks into libraries and the increase in audiobook borrows, including digital ones.
  • What Bookbub gives preference to when deciding whether to choose or accept a book for a sponsored ad.
  • Bookbub’s new pre-order alerts and other ways you can market with them beyond the typical ads.
  • The Bookbub Insights blog where they share their tips for authors.
  • What’s working at Goodreads these days to help authors sell books?
  • The Goodreads ebook giveaway program is supposed to be coming out of beta testing soon.
  • Posting your book on Goodreads before it’s released so you can get early reviews.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-135_-_Amazon_Charts_Recommendations_from_Bookbub_and_Doing_More_at_Goodreads.mp3

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Jun 07 2017

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SFFMP 223: Marketing Audiobooks, Pen Names, Differences in Distributors, and What to Do When You Just Have One Book

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The guys are taking a break from the podcast (if you have comments or suggestions for what you’d like to see if we bring it back in a couple of months, please leave them!), but we answered another pile of listener questions today amid a few doggie interruptions, ahem.

Here are the specific questions we addressed:

  • How do you approach marketing an audiobook? Advertising specifically to audiobook listeners? Or reliance on general traffic to your product page combined with having the audiobook simultaneously with ebook release?
  • Would any of you consider doing another “start from scratch” pen name experiment?
  • Let’s say an indie author has exactly one (1) book out. Let’s also say they didn’t do the rapid release thing at *all*, nor much in the way of ads. Is the best practice still “finish the series and build a backlist”? Or should they try some ads?
  • 1. Is $2.99 too much to ask for a 60k urban fantasy as a new writer? 2. Do you guys have any tips on what you would do if you were starting out as a new author?
  • What is the difference between Draft to Digital and Publish Drive? (Joanna Penn’s episode with the founder of Publish Drive.)
  • Do any of you use photos of yourself in the “about the author” section of your books like trade pub does?
  • ISBNs – Should we get our own or just use the free ones provided by Amazon, etc? What’s the difference? Pros and cons of each?
  • Affiliate links – What do they do? Where do we get them? Proper usage?
  • Writing workshops – How can writers find them? Is there a way to see if they are good/worth the money? Are there online options?
  • Top 100 – What does it mean to be in the top 100? What can be learned by looking at the top 100 in genres we might be writing in?
  • What kind of checklist of things do each of you do when preparing to release a book? IE Reviewing editorial notes, getting a copyright…
  • You mentioned in the most recent episode that you thought Also Boughts on Amazon might be on the way out. Does that mean pen names aren’t important anymore? If they are, is it worth republishing books under pen names if they aren’t the same genres?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-223_-_Audio_Book_Marketing_ISBNs_and_the_Top_100.mp3

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Mar 13 2019

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SFFMP 222: Do Pre-Orders Work, What Happens Between Rapid Releases, and Finding a Good Editor

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On today’s show, the guys answered listener questions about pre-orders, rapid releases, how they found their editors, whether it make sense to keep series in Kindle Unlimited while publishing stand-alone novels wide, and lots of other stuff. Here’s a list of the questions they got to in the show (the second half of the batch will be answered next week):

  • For rapid release for a 5 book series, would you recommend the time-gap between releases be 2, 3, or 4 weeks? And for somebody using it to rebuild their readership, would you recommend Amazon Marketing Ads on the first book to help train amazon algorithms?
  • People always ask about rapid release, but never about what happens BETWEEN series release cycles. As they’re stockpiling new titles, I assume there are months where nothing new is up depending on how long it takes for them to write. Algorithm cliff chaos? Discuss.
  • Since everyone is asking about rapid release. How long should you advertise or pre-launch the series before you rapid release the books? Also where does most of your traffic for book buying come from? Is it the mailing list?
  • On one of the shows, someone mentioned that a short preorder lead has less impact on the “spike and decline” than a long one. Can you guys talk about that?
  • I’ve decided to try using some boosted posts from my FB page instead of running ads. I’ve turned off my ads and will instead run the same amount of money per day over a week and see what happens. Have any of you tried using boosted posts only for adverts?
  • I’m planning to write both standalones and series books, is it better to take your standalones wide to help establish yourself in those markets? Or am I better off leaving my standalones in KU?
  • How do you guys handle health care without an employer?
  • How did you find a good editor and what did you do to try them out to decide they were “the one?” (The guys mentioned the Reedsy Marketplace as a possible place to look.)
  • Also wondering about best ways to find an editor for SF (space opera).
  • Thoughts about the new service, Reedsy Discovery?
  • If your book has reviews in non-US amazon stores, is there a way to merge all of them to US store since it’s the exact same book?
  • What are the most surprising/unlikely income streams you’ve developed in your writing career?
  • I’d like to hear your thoughts on the building and usefulness of FaceBook pages and reader groups.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-222_-_Pre-Orders_Rapid_Release_and_Other_Listener_Questions.mp3

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Mar 06 2019

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SFFMP 221: Whether Awards Are Worth Trying for, Marketing Fantasy Romance, and Being Active in SFWA and RWA

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This week, we chatted with RITA award-winning fantasy romance author Jeffe Kennedy. She started her career writing non-fiction, shifted to romance and fantasy romance with traditional publishing, and now does some self-publishing as well. We asked her about whether awards are worth trying for, her thoughts on the professional organizations SFWA and RWA, and what she’s tried and liked for marketing over the years.

Here are some of the specific topics we touched on:

  • Getting started in fantasy romance before it became a thing (we debated if it’s yet come into its own).
  • Whether fantasy romance (secondary world/epic fantasy rather than Earth-centric paranormal romance) is a growing market now.
  • Tropes romance readers will expect, even if a story is SF/F.
  • How much “romance” has to be in a story for it to be considered sci-fi or fantasy romance?
  • Jeffe’s thoughts on whether authors should get involved in RWA or SFWA, the professional organizations for the romance and SF/F genres.
  • Awards you can enter versus awards you have to be nominated for.
  • Jeffe’s experience entering the RITA awards each year and having a winner in 2017.
  • Whether awards are worth pursuing and if they can increase readership.
  • Jeffe’s thoughts on blogging and social media, and her preferred platforms.
  • Getting reviews from book bloggers.
  • Joining with other authors in your genre to put out anthologies of novellas.
  • Jeffe’s First Cup of Coffee podcast.
  • Putting out content each week for readers, whether blog posts or podcasts or social media updates.

You can visit Jeffe on her website and check out the award-winning The Pages of the Mind or the first book in her current series, Sorcerous Moons: Lonen’s War.

You can also check out her First Cup of Coffee podcast.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-221_-_Whether_Awards_Are_Worth_Trying_for_Marketing_Fantasy_Romance_and_Being_Active_in_SFWA_and_RWA_with_Jeffe_Kennedy.mp3

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Feb 20 2019

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SFFMP 220: Succeeding at Traditional Publishing as Well as Self-Publishing and When It’s Worth it to Travel for Conventions

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This week, traditionally and self-published fantasy author Gail Carriger joined us for the second time. She first visited two years ago to chat about all the marketing she does and also about how she was transitioning from traditional publishing to a hybrid career. Since then, she’s continued to self-publish, including a new pen name in a slightly steamier fantasy genre. We asked her all about that and also about conventions and whether they’re worth going to for a self-published author.

Here are the specific topics we covered during the show:

  • What Gail has been up to in the last two years.
  • Updates on the hybrid author lifestyle and why she self-publishes some of her works but prefers to stay with a traditional publisher for other books.
  • The launch of her new naughtier pen name (gay werewolves finding romance in San Francisco!) and how her regular readers responded.
  • The challenges of juggling multiple series and pen names.
  • Whether it’s better to go into a small niche and try to dominate it or jump into a big crowded market where there may be more potential upside.
  • Launching a series wide (Gail doesn’t do anything exclusive with Amazon).
  • Why Gail is a big fan of pre-orders.
  • Experimenting with Kobo’s in-house promotions (available through the Writing Life dashboard).
  • How much great data you can get by surveying your readers (Gail asked where people first found her).
  • Finding more success with library ebook sales as a self-published author.
  • Gail’s thoughts on permafree books and why she doesn’t have any freebies.
  • Gail’s 20 Minute Delay travel podcast with tips and tricks for authors (and others!) hopping on planes. (Search for it on your favorite podcast platform.)
  • When self-published authors (or authors looking to go trad) should consider hitting up some conventions.
  • Gail Carriger’s Master List of Convention Packing & Attending Tips (Important for Writers)
  • Why you should always have a goal when you go to a conference.

You can check out Gail’s website for more information, and you can follow her on the various social media sites such as Facebook.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-220_-Succeeding_at_Hybrid_Publishing_and_When_Its_Worth_it_to_Travel_with_Gail_Carriger.mp3

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Feb 13 2019

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SFFMP 219: Launching a New Pen Name and Getting an Audiobook Deal with Audible

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For this week’s show, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author Chris Philbrook joined us to talk about the success he’s had with ebooks and audiobooks (he’s had several deals with Audible for production), as well as a new YA-writing pen name that he’s starting up.

Here are some of the specifics that we discussed:

  • Publishing fiction to your website and building a readership before starting to publish.
  • Some of the challenges with publishing series in several different sub-genres.
  • How Chris was originally picked up by Audible and how audiobooks have become a substantial part of his income.
  • His experiences with an audiobook publisher and also DIY-ing it through ACX.
  • What marketing he’s done to help his audiobooks sell.
  • Chris’s experience with paying for Kirkus reviews and if it’s worth it.
  • His experience with Amazon exclusivity and Kindle Unlimited versus taking some of his books wide.
  • Why he decided to start a pen name for his YA fiction even though he’s already written in numerous genres under his regular name.
  • Some of the challenges of starting again from scratch and creating a second internet presence.
  • Experimenting with Instagram to attract younger readers.
  • The advantage of a simultaneous release for the ebook, paperback, and audiobook.
  • When it makes sense for a newer author to invest in audiobook production.

You can find Chris on his website or check out his books on Amazon. You can also follow what he’s doing with his pen name by looking up W. J. Orion. The first book, The Phone, comes out in March.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-219_-_Launching_a_New_Pen_Name_and_Getting_an_Audiobook_Deal_with_Audible_with_Chris_Philbrook.mp3

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Feb 06 2019

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SFFMP 218: Taking Advantage of an Underserved Niche, from Blue Collar to No Collar, and Is NINC Right for You?

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This week, we chatted with sea-adventure author and current president of Novelists, Inc. (NINC), Wayne Stinnett. He’s been a full-time independent author for years, has written a non-fiction title (From Blue Collar to No Collar), and has been a frequent poster at Kboards where he shares a lot of wisdom with the writing community. We asked him about his niche on Amazon, how he keeps his books selling when he does about three releases a year, and what NINC can do for authors.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • Getting started in a less competitive category (on Amazon).
  • How to keeps book selling when that category gets more crowded.
  • When it makes sense to keep writing in one long series (Wayne is about to publish his 14th novel in his Caribbean Adventure series) versus starting a new one.
  • Wayne’s plans to shift from a solo writer to running a publishing company and taking on other authors.
  • The changes that Wayne has seen in the 5+ years since he published his first novel on Amazon.
  • Why he’s stuck with KDP Select (Amazon exclusivity) during that time (and why he’s thinking of going wide soon).
  • Whether Amazon advertising is as effective for him as it used to be.
  • Running ads on local TV and radio stations since he lives in the area where his stories are set.
  • How important budgeting is when you’re publishing two or three books a year — having great months around releases but then watching things wane until the next release.
  • How he keeps newsletter subscribers interested in between releases.
  • How he often launches into the Top 100 on Amazon with a new novel.
  • What Novelists, Inc. (NINC) is and why authors might want to join the organization.
  • The annual NINC conference and why it’s more advanced than the majority of publishing conferences.

Make sure to visit Wayne on his website, check out his books on Amazon, and see what Pyrate Radio is all about.

You can find out more about Novelists, Inc. and their annual conference on their website: https://ninc.com/

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-218_-_Taking_Advantage_of_an_Underserved_Niche_from_Blue_Collar_to_No_Collar_and_NINC_with_Wayne_Stinnett.mp3

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Jan 30 2019

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SFFMP 217: Tools and Software for Authors + Getting More Fan Engagement on Twitter and Facebook

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This week, the guys talked about the various tools and services they use as professional authors. Everything is listed below with links to the sites. The guys also gave some tips for increasing engagement on Facebook and Twitter and really using those social media platforms to help turn casual readers into fans–and maybe even attract new fans!

Tools/services for authors

Writing

Formatting

Mailing list provider

Easy ebook delivery

Sales tracking

Stock Photos for ads or social media posts

News

Analyzing the market or looking up keywords for ads

  • K-Lytics (Lindsay likes their semi-annual science fiction and fantasy reports, which you can buy without a subscription)
  • KDP Rocket

Creating ads/photo manipulation/temporary covers

Storage/backup

Are there any tools that we didn’t mention that you would recommend (no self-promo, please)?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-217_-_Twitter_and_Facebook_Tips_for_Engaging_with_Fans.mp3

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Jan 23 2019

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SFFMP 216: Reaching $100K+ in Income from Writing Science Fiction with Gerald M. Kilby

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This week, we chatted writing, publishing, and marketing hard science fiction with Gerald M. Kilby. He’s not the fastest writer, putting out around two novels a year these days, but he manages to keep his books selling well between releases, and he earned more than $100K last year. We asked him all about that, Amazon and Facebook advertising, and what he’s doing for newsletters, social media, and the like.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • How the ever-shrinking science fiction section in the physical bookstores helped Gerald decide to start writing his own stories.
  • Bypassing traditional publishing, since agents weren’t looking for hard sci-fi, and going straight to self-publishing.
  • Whether or not hard sci-fi readers are more nitpicky in insisting that the science be right.
  • Some of the mistakes he made with his first novel, a techno-thriller.
  • How the science fiction genre appeared to have much more potential to him.
  • How the popularity of The Martian seemed to help with Mars-related fiction when Gerald was starting out.
  • What he’s done to keep the ball rolling.
  • Realizing he couldn’t rely on Amazon’s algorithms to keep his books selling, especially when he had many months between releases.
  • Getting involved in Facebook and Amazon ads and which he likes better for what.
  • Having luck with letting Amazon choose automatic keywords in their ad system, instead of going in and picking them all by hand.
  • The challenges of maintaining a positive return-on-investment with Facebook and Amazon ads when you don’t have a huge series and can’t afford to spend as much to get a sale of a Book 1.
  • Changes to the Amazon advertising system of late and what authors need to watch out for with the higher suggested bids.
  • How he uses his mailing list and what a book launch looks for him these days.

Make sure to visit Gerald on his website and check out his science fiction on Amazon.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-216_-_Reaching_100K_in_Income_from_Writing_Science_Fiction_with_Gerald_M._Kilby.mp3

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Jan 16 2019

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SFFMP 215: Working Hard, Ignoring Naysayers, and Becoming a Full-Time Author

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For this week’s show, we talked to return guest Jeffery H. Haskell, who first joined us in December of 2017 for the show “Successfully Launching as a New Author and Is Kindle Worlds Worth It?” (Yes, Kindle Worlds was still a thing back then!)

Jeffery is a superhero fiction author and also has a new non-fiction title out, Writing for Life: Living the Impossible Dream. We talked about superheroes and how the fantasy subgenre is doing, and we also talked about some of the mindset issues that beginning authors face and that may be holding them back from publishing and becoming successful.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • Keeping a series selling past six installments.
  • Launching a new series in the same universe.
  • The state of the superhero subgenre as of January 2019.
  • Whether traditional publishers and authors are in the superhero genre or it’s more dominated by indies.
  • The earnings potential in the superhero genre.
  • Overcoming negative feedback and challenges to pursue your writing dream.
  • Making smart decisions, working hard, and not relying on luck to succeed.
  • Whether you have to be born with what it takes to become a writer or if anyone can learn.
  • When it makes sense to bank novels and rapid release and when you should publish right away to test the waters.
  • How long an author should give a series before accepting that maybe it’s time to try something else.
  • Setting realistic expectations for your first books and series.
  • What marketing Jeff has found works well for him in the superhero genre.
  • Increasing productivity to publish more books as one shifts to full-time.

Find Jeff on his website or Facebook or check out his books on Amazon.

For inspiration, take a look at Writing for Life: Living the Impossible Dream.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-215_-_Succeeding_Against_the_Odds_and_Becoming_a_Full-Time_Author_with_Jeffery_H._Haskell.mp3

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Jan 09 2019

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SFFMP 214: 2019 Marketing and Publishing Predictions

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In this short episode, Jo and Lindsay jump on the bandwagon and share some of their marketing and publishing (but mostly marketing!) predictions for 2019.

Will Amazon ads expand and offer more opportunities? Or will authors get fed up with the high cost of clicks and flock to something else? Is the mailing list swap dead? Will group promotions become more sophisticated?

Join us as we discuss these and other topics!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-214_-_2019_Predictions.mp3

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Jan 07 2019

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SFFMP 213: Marketing Plans for 2019, Meta Data and SEO Explained, and Which Advertising Platforms are Best for Authors?

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We recorded early this week, since Christmas is on a Tuesday, so we hope you enjoy the show while you’re traveling or after you’ve had fun with the holidays. The three of us answered listener questions that covered the range from what the heck is meta data and SEO to what kind of marketing we plan to try in 2019 and which advertising platforms we’ve found best for their books.

Here’s a list of the questions as well as some Bookbub-related links that Lindsay promised:

  • How do you market cross-over fiction such as a mix between urban fantasy and near-future-SF?
  • Is urban fantasy with a lighter humorous note a trend now?
  • What is meta data and SEO, and does it matter for authors?
  • How much value is there to in-house promos on the various retailers, such as prime reading on Amazon, the promo tab on Kobo, and Apple and B&N features?
  • What new will Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay be trying in 2019 in regard to marketing?
  • Are book blog tours worth your time as an author?
  • What should you do to build buzz and sell books if you don’t have money to spend on advertising?
  • Who are the guys’ favorite authors and how did they influence them?
  • How do you go about improving as a novelist and keeping new books from being too much like what you’ve written before?
  • Have you tried to publish your audiobooks on Spotify?
  • Do you need an ISBN for an Amazon paperback and a different one for an IngramSpark paperback?
  • What’s the biggest thing you learned/realized in 2018, and how will that change your approach to publishing in 2019?
  • How would you go about calculating ROI for advertising a series that doesn’t have a set reading order? Whenever people talk about this calculation, it always hinges on figuring out your readthrough, but if the series has multiple entry points and you can skip books, what then?
  • What do you find is the most effective platform for authors for ads?
  • What marketing avenues would you recommend for authors who aren’t big fans of marketing?
  • How have your audiobook sales done for your different series? Does releasing a new audiobook for a backlist book help boost sales?
  • What’s going on if you’re struggling to get impressions and clicks are expensive for Bookbub ads? (Links: All About Bookbub CPM Ads and Becoming a #1 Bestseller on Amazon with Adam Croft, Bookbub Insights Blog for Authors, The Best Bookbub Ads of 2018)
  • Can you change your author name on Amazon after you’ve published a book?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-213_-_Marketing_Plans_for_2019_Meta_Data_and_SEO_Explained_and_Which_Advertising_Platforms_are_Best_for_Authors.mp3

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Dec 24 2018

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SFFMP 212: How to Find Success in Urban Fantasy with Ramy Vance

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Lindsay got to meet lots of cool authors at the 20Books conference in Las Vegas this fall, and today’s guest was one of those people. Urban fantasy author Ramy Vance was involved in the traditional publishing world for years, but when it came time to publish his fiction, he decided to go indie. He’s written a number of novels and started a new series this past summer, Mortality Bites, where he’s had some of his best success yet. We asked him about it and what he did right and wrong to start selling a significant number of books in the urban fantasy genre.

Here are a few of the specifics that we talked about:

  • How Ramy was first involved in the traditional publishing world and what it taught him about the business.
  • The logistics of getting into libraries and how subsidiary rights trading works.
  • Tools you can use to do your own public relations if you’re hoping for attention from the traditional world (he mentioned SimilarWeb as a resource for analyzing those business’s websites but also said it’s expensive and that our time, as indie authors, may be better invested in writing the next book).
  • Whether it’s worth jumping into urban fantasy as a newer author or if it’s tough to gain traction since it’s so competitive.
  • Making use of some of the popular tropes to attract regular genre readers but then doing fun and creative stuff on the side.
  • Ramy’s experience with going exclusive with Amazon for this series and how advertising and tactics can be different whether one is only selling books or whether selling is secondary to getting borrows and page reads in Kindle Unlimited.
  • How he experimented with adding a sample chapter at the end of his books and found that sales/borrows of the subsequent books were better when he took that out.
  • How different advertising platforms sent different types of traffic (i.e. he got more sales from Facebook and more Kindle Unlimited borrows from AMS ads).
  • His mailing list versus his Facebook group and what he’s prioritizing right now.
  • Experimenting with Instagram.
  • How writing six books before releasing the first one helped him to rapid release and get a leg up.
  • How he approached more than a dozen big-name authors in the genre and found many willing to support him at launch time.
  • Plans for audiobooks through Podium Publishing.
  • Whether to invest in advertising to direct people to your back-list books or to focus on selling the new stuff.

If you’re an urban fantasy fan, make sure to check out the first book in Ramy’s Mortality Bites series on Amazon. You can also see what he’s up to on his website and check out his reader Facebook group: Ramy Vance’s House of the GoneGod Dead.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-212_-_Killing_it_in_Urban_Fantasy_with_Ramy_Vance.mp3

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Dec 19 2018

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SFFMP 211: How to Use Your Newsletter to Build Engagement and Fan Loyalty

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Not only was this week’s episode jam-packed with newsletter tips for authors but it turned out to be our longest show ever! You may want to turn it into a two-parter or at least get a beverage so you stay hydrated while you listen.

Our guest was Tammi Labrecque, author of Newsletter Ninja, along with numerous books under various secret pen names. She’s published in romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, LitRPG, and horror, so she’s got a wide range of experience as an author, but she’s also super excited to talk newsletters.

We covered a ton of great information and answered Twitter questions. Here are some of the highlights (and continue to the end for a huge list of resources that Tammi sent along to share):

  • Whether having two (or more) pen names is twice the work.
  • How Tammi got so interested in newsletters.
  • Why newsletters are so important for authors and why you shouldn’t listen to those people who say they’re dead.
  • Setting up an autoresponder sequence to send a series of welcome emails to new subscribers.
  • How long of a sequence of emails authors should send out and what kinds of things to cover.
  • Adding a tip for readers about how to “white list” your email address to the top of each email.
  • Which mailing list providers Tammi recommends.
  • How to keep subscribers engaged and how to keep your emails from going into spam or promotions folders.
  • How often you should be sending out newsletters.
  • Whether you should send out plain text emails, use images, or mix it up.
  • Why your “email reputation” is important to the various email providers and how to boost it.
  • Three things authors should pay attention to when sending out newsletters: open rates, click rates, and responses.
  • What realistic numbers/percentages are for those.
  • The most effective method for getting subscribers to forward your emails to friends.
  • Whether to share short stories in emails, share snippets, or just provide a link to the story on your website.
  • What sets one newsletter apart from another and makes people look forward to receiving it?
  • Should you have separate newsletters and/or landing pages if you write in different genres?
  • How often should you cull your list?
  • How can you reactivate a list you haven’t used in a long time without getting a bunch of unsubscribes?
  • What are some examples of engaging questions you can ask to encourage readers to respond?

If you’ve found Tammi’s information useful, make sure to check out her book Newsletter Ninja for more tips and advice. You can also visit her online at https://newsletterninja.net/ and (for editing and formatting) http://larksandkatydids.com/.

Resources Tammi suggests:

Articles on avoiding SPAM filters:

https://www.yesware.com/blog/email-spam/

https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/avoid-email-spam-filter/

https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-avoid-a-spam-filter-5-rules.html

https://econsultancy.com/blog/64878-45-words-to-avoid-in-your-email-marketing-subject-lines (plus all the links in “Further reading” at the end of the article)

Just straight-up lists of SPAM words:

https://emailmarketing.comm100.com/email-marketing-ebook/spam-words.aspx

https://www.mannixmarketing.com/blog/spam-trigger-words/

https://www.simplycast.com/blog/100-top-email-spam-trigger-words-and-phrases-to-avoid/

https://prospect.io/blog/455-email-spam-trigger-words-avoid-2018/

http://blog.automational.com/2016/03/08/spam-trigger-words-to-avoid/

https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30684/the-ultimate-list-of-email-spam-trigger-words.aspx

Subject line articles:

https://sumo.com/stories/best-email-subject-lines

https://www.digitalmarketer.com/101-best-email-subject-lines-2014/

https://optinmonster.com/101-email-subject-lines-your-subscribers-cant-resist/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-email-subject-lines-list

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/31/email-subject-lines

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-211_-_How_to_Use_Your_Newsletter_to_Build_Engagement_and_Fan_Loyalty_with_Tammi_Labrecque.mp3

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Dec 12 2018

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SFFMP 210: Selling More at Kobo, Relying Less on Amazon, and What’s Coming for Authors in 2019

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We talked to return guest Mark Leslie Lefebvre this week. You may remember him as the director of author relations at Kobo, but he’s moved over to the distributor Draft2Digital. We talked about some of the new features coming online there. Mark has recently published a couple of non-fiction books, Killing It on Kobo and The 7 P’s of Publishing Success, so we asked him some Kobo-specific questions as well as his thoughts on succeeding at the non-Amazon retailers and where the self-publishing industry is going in 2019.

If you want to check out the other episodes Mark was on, try Kobo’s New Subscription Service and the State of the Industry (125) and International Sales Trends/Tips and Selling More Ebooks at Kobo with Mark Lefebvre (78).

Here are some of the specifics that we went over this week:

  • Author consulting and what some of the common problems are for newer authors.
  • How the industry is doing as of December 2018 and whether the ebook market is truly saturated.
  • Whether authors need to be smarter these days to succeed.
  • Why the digital ebook world can present some challenges for branding and keeping fans once people find one of your books or series and enjoy it.
  • How social media, if you’re comfortable learning one or more of the platforms, can help you connect more fully to readers and become an author they remember.
  • Some of the basic things you can do to sell more books at Kobo.
  • Using the Books2Read site to create links that will redirect readers to their preferred retailer.
  • Remembering that Kobo is bigger in other countries than in the US and paying attention to global pricing.
  • Kobo’s distribution deal with Walmart in the US.
  • Whether you can “make it” wide (in the non-Amazon stores) without getting Bookbub sponsorships or spending a lot on advertising.
  • Tips for making readers aware of subsequent books in a series.
  • Tips for succeeding in the non-Amazon bookstores.
  • Thoughts on Google Play and whether any authors are doing well there.
  • Some new features coming up at Draft2Digital including print formatting and D2D Universes (something of a replacement for the now defunct Kindle Worlds).

Make sure to visit Mark on his website (you can contact him there if you have any Draft2Digital-specific questions) and check out Killing It on Kobo for tips on selling more books there. You can also subscribe to Mark’s publishing-related podcast, Stark Reflections. And finally, if you’re a horror/ghost fan, Mark published some new stuff this year! Macabre Montreal: Ghostly Tales, Ghastly Events, and Gruesome True Stories (with Shayna Krishnasamy) and Nocturnal Screams.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-210_-_Selling_More_at_Kobo_Relying_Less_on_Amazon_and_Whats_Coming_for_Authors_in_2019_with_Mark_Lefebvre.mp3

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Dec 05 2018

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SFFMP 209: Beyond the Basics with Facebooks Ads, Pinterest Ads, and Amazon Ads with Michael Cooper

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On this week’s show, return guest Michael Cooper (author of HELP! My Facebook Ads Suck under his name and more than fifty novels in his science-fiction Aeon 14 universe as MD Cooper) gave us a lot of great information on what’s working and what’s not right now when it comes to ads for books. He first joined us on Episode 147 where we extensively covered Facebook ads. This time, Michael branched out and gave us information on Amazon ads, Bookbub ads, YouTube ads, and Pinterest ads, as well as updating us on Facebook stuff.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • How Michael started taking on collaboration partners to help him tell all the stories he wants to tell in his universe (and put out books more frequently).
  • Some of the challenges of collaboration and writing multiple series that jump around in a timeline while sharing the same universe.
  • Why Michael has a lot of his stuff in KU but made one series available in all of the stores.
  • The idea that there’s no “algorithm” on Amazon and that our fate as authors shouldn’t live and die based on whether Amazon decides to promote our stuff.
  • Using BookTrackR to monitor sales, rankings, reviews, etc. across all the major store sites.
  • When running Amazon ads, targeting authors (as keywords) who aren’t in KU to potentially attract readers who pay more for books.
  • Dealing with “peak author” and saturation of the ebook market going forward.
  • Learning to be more creative about marketing as there are more and more books out there for the same number of readers to choose from.
  • Advertising in print genre magazines.
  • Gauging sell-through for a series and determining how much you can afford to spend on advertising.
  • Doing Facebook video ads for cheaper clicks than regular ads.
  • Video Hive as a place where you can buy stock footage to use in video ads.
  • Using Etsy to ship paperbacks and other swag (they’ll generate shipping labels to help make it easier).
  • Making an art book of your covers.
  • How to get into advertising on Pinterest and if the ads are useful for science fiction and fantasy authors.
  • Choosing the right tagline for your ads and book description pages.
  • How Michael uses his KDP Select free days and countdown deals.

Remember to pick up Michael’s HELP! My Facebook Ads Suck book if you haven’t already, and if you’re curious about the courses he mentioned at the end of the show, you can join his Facebook group: Michael Cooper’s Ads & Marketing FTW.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-209_-_Beyond_the_Basics_with_Facebooks_Ads_Pinteret_Ads_and_Maximizing_Earnings_with_Michael_Cooper.mp3

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Nov 28 2018

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SFFMP 208: Improving Visibility, Launching New Pen Names, and the “Trifecta of Indie Success”

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This week, we’re joined by fantasy and science fiction author Nicholas Erik, who also writes and experiments under the pen name D.N. Erikson. He’s an analytical guy who’s always observing what’s working and what’s not, both for his own work and for others. Before we jump into the details of the show, here are links to his site where he’s got some great foundational material up:

http://nicholaserik.com/start/

And here’s the guest post on advertising that he did on David Gaughran’s blog:

How to Advertise and Sell More Books

Now, here are some of the details we discussed in the show:

  • Reasons for launching a pen name and whether it should be secret or not.
  • Trying a new series and new genre when you’re not getting the results you hoped for from your first effort.
  • Nick’s “trifecta of indie success” — marketing, craft, and productivity.
  • Tips for increasing productivity and getting more novels written.
  • Linking writing with a certain time of day (i.e. when you get home from work or when you first get up in the morning), so it’s easier to turn it into a daily habit. Here’s a guest post Nick wrote with more details on the habit linking: https://thewritepractice.com/daily-routines
  • Timed writing sprints to help get the words down.
  • Why so many people’s marketing efforts end up failing, because the craft wasn’t there and readers didn’t continue past Book 1.
  • Whether you should wait to start marketing until you’ve finished your first novel or start “building a platform” while you’re still working on it.
  • Some of the basics of setting up a mailing list and where to find cross-promotional opportunities to start gaining subscribers.
  • Using Prolific Works (formerly InstaFreebie) to find promo opportunities and give away free stories for sign-ups.
  • Another give-away site he’s found useful is Ryan Zee’s Book Sweeps (this was down at the time of recording, but we’re including the link in the hope that it’s up again soon).
  • If there’s a number to aim for when it comes to acquiring email subscribers.
  • Whether you should have multiple lists if you write in different genres and/or under different pen names.
  • Nick likes Convert Kit for managing his lists.
  • Whether there’s truth to Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 true fans” essay — is that all you need to become a full time author, and what’s a true fan, anyway?
  • If promo sites are still worth it in this age of Facebook/Amazon/Bookbub PPC ads.
  • Nick’s big list of promo sites and his rankings for how effective they are (updated a couple of months ago): http://nicholaserik.com/promo-sites/
  • Some of the fundamentals of advertising and at what point it has the potential to become profitable (it’s tough these days to even break even on a stand-alone book), assuming you do enough things right.
  • Debating the ideal length of a series.
  • The advertising advantage people in Kindle Unlimited have, from KU reads even on free books to making things appealing through Countdown Deals. (Nick mentions that there’s a lot more information on using the Kindle Countdown Deals effectively in David Guaghran’s free book, Amazon Decoded, which is a bonus when you sign up for his newsletter (sign up over at his site: https://davidgaughran.com/).
  • Some of Nick’s tips when it comes to Facebook ads.

It was a jam-packed show, so hopefully you got something out of it. Make sure to check out Nick’s site, and you can also take a peek at some of his books under his name and others under his pen name on Amazon.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-208_-_Improving_Visibility_Launching_Pen_Names_and_the_Trifecta_of_Indie_Success_with_Nicholas_Erik.mp3

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Nov 21 2018

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SFFMP 207: Podcasting Fiction to Gain an Audience for Your Books

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This week, humorous science fiction author James R. Tramontana joined the guys on the show. He’s podcasting his Ace Tucker Space Trucker novels, and we asked him all about how he’s gaining fans that way, people who go on to buy the books.

Here are some of the specifics from the show:

  • What’s involved with podcasting your novel or podcasting original audio fiction (and why you might want to).
  • Getting set-up (equipment and software) for recording and editing.
  • Adding music, sound effects, etc. and creating more of a production than a simple narration of a book.
  • The challenges of selling niche stuff like humorous science fiction.
  • How James uses social media, conventions, and other methods to get the word out about his podcast.
  • The challenges of being found when you upload fiction podcasts, since the searches aren’t always great when you’re not using typical keywords.
  • Going for a comic-book vibe with humorous fiction.
  • Monetizing your fiction when you’re doing something more than just the written word.
  • Why James likes “sitcom length” podcast episodes of less than 30 minutes.

If you’re interested in checking out James’ work, you can visit his website, say hi to him on Twitter or Facebook, and find his books on Amazon. If you want to subscribe to his podcast, the links and episodes are on www.acetuckerspacetrucker.com.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-207_-_Podcasting_Your_Novels_to_Gain_an_Audience_with_James_R._Tramontana.mp3

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Nov 16 2018

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SFFMP 206: How to Rock it in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited

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Jo and Lindsay recorded early this week, since Lindsay is off to the 20Booksto50K conference (inspired by Michael Anderle, as Lindsay said in the show, but put together by Craig Martelle, which Lindsay should have said!). While Jeff was busy packing up his house to make his move to Phoenix permanent, Jo and Lindsay offered some tips on how to do well if you choose to go exclusive with Amazon to enroll in Kindle Unlimited. They also answered some great listener questions related to the topic.

Here’s what we discussed, swiped straight from Lindsay’s notes (they aren’t too tidy; you should definitely listen to the show!):

Is KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited right for you?

Personal considerations (supporting Amazon and possibly hurting other retailers, bowing to their demands for exclusivity, having all your eggs in one basket) + can you do better exclusive and in KU than wide = your unique answer!

Lindsay’s strategy and why?

Staying wide with the back catalogue and launching new series into KU, then eventually moving them out when sales/borrows slow down. How this has resulted in a nice boost in income for her without having to have all of her eggs in one basket.

Launch strategies

  • Rapid release and advantages – momentum, less reader attrition, possibly more visibility, something in the hot new releases every month, possible to get the All-star bonuses by focusing your efforts into a couple of months.
  • Slow and steady – maybe releasing two-four books a year on a regular schedule – we’ve had people who have kept things rolling with promos and sales and just consistently releasing new books. KU can still be useful if you’re able to keep your books selling… these folks often invest more time and money into advertising to keep from falling off the face of the planet

Pricing considerations

  • 99 cents vs. full price – More non-KU people may pick up a 99-center, which helps with rankings, but at that price you’re making less on a novel if people buy instead of borrow.
  • $4-$5 – People get away with this and are more likely to get a book to stick in KU because of the borrows buoying things up. BUT if your book isn’t to market or really going to appeal to a lot of people, this can make you sink more quickly than a 99-cent Book 1.
  • Launching with your 5 free days – I haven’t tried this but I’ve heard from several people now who had some good momentum by trying this right out of the gate.
  • Remember, if you’re doing a series, it’s about what you can earn over the course of the series, not just from one book.

Focusing on one genre and releasing frequently or at least consistently

  • This is an area where I fail a bit, and I would struggle more if I wasn’t fairly prolific. It’s also why I’ve started focusing on one series to completion – drop three quickly and then one more a month or as close as possible. This gives you some of the “sticking to one genre” advantage even if you fully plan to write in another genre next year.

Writing to a hungry market

  • Look in the Top 100s you’re interested (Chris Fox style) and see what’s selling. What sells steadily year in and year out? What’s come on strong in the past year? Think less about trends and more why is something working – because trad publishing isn’t fulfilling a demand? There’s a possible market.
  • When examining potential niches, also consider looking at the Amazon AUS/CA store, etc. to get a feel for what’s selling without AMS ads, since that can really obfuscate things – you have no idea how much the publisher of that perennial bestseller is paying to stay in their Top 100.

Can niche stuff work?

Depends on the niche – is there a hungry market that isn’t being served by trad pub or is it just kind of out there? Something that’s only going to appeal to a small audience like a steampunk fantasy lesbian romance? KU isn’t going to be great for something that a large portion of people just won’t pick up because they’re not into X thing. This is the kind of case where I like going wide with a series because you can do a permafree book 1 and reach a global market (sometimes things that are hangups in one country are less of a big deal in others!), so you just have much more potential to find the people who DO want X.

However, if there’s a hungry market, it can do super well in KU even if it’s niche. You need it to be niche in a way that it’s not off-putting to the majority of readers. That’s when KU is useful. “Well, I’m not sure LitRPG is my thing, or even what it is exactly, but huh, it’s about gamers, and I gamed as a kid… enh, let’s try it.” That’s where KU is ideal because the readers can check out the books for free with their subscription, so they might pick up things they wouldn’t have bought because they’re a little outside their wheelhouse.

Making more money from page reads

Everyone wants this, but Amazon is watching for people gaming the system, so be careful not to do anything wonky with formatting or bonus material. Be safe with that stuff so you won’t be penalized, because you don’t want your attempt to earn a couple hundred extra month to suddenly result in you earning nothing.

Probably okay to add the first chapter of the next book (less than 10% bonus material) and a Q&A or afterword, something the reader will genuinely want to read. But remember the litmus test: ask yourself if you would be adding this bonus material if this book weren’t in KU.

Legitimate ways (craft stuff):

  • Write a page turner!
  • Write a sprawling epic (it still has to turn pages).
  • Teaser/cliffhanger endings to get them to move on to the next book.

Listener Questions:

 Dale: I’m currently wide, but I’m considering KU for my next series. So, my question: What are some approaches/tactics etc for succeeding in KU when you are *not* rapid releasing?

Greg: (1) Is there a “sweet spot” for how many books to have in a series before profits/page reads start falling off? (2) Better to offer a “standalone” freebie or a more “sequel-lite” novella for funnel, list-building, etc.?

MJ: Would you lean more towards FB or AMS ads if you wanted to focus on drivin up page reads and brand building?

Tara: Pricing strategies, especially for romance, especially for books that can be read as a stand-alone. I don’t like pricing at 99c, but it seems to be the popular way to rank well.

Tara: Oh, any insight into sweet spots for word count, though I do understand that it varies by genre.

Jammie: Thoughts on current “glitches” reflecting zero or low page reads and instances of book disappearance. Seems some (usually successful) authors launch to silence or messed up promos. How do you handle Amazon’s glitches and recover from a bad launch as a result? Wait it out?

Jammie: Watching fb groups and feeling skittish as a newcomer. Investing in marketing and promos with Amazon sort of feels like playing the stock market.

Vale: If you’re exclusive to KU on a pen name but want to release a reader magnet standalone novel set in the same world as the main series, would you make it 99 cents and exclusive for the page reads or go the wide route for just that book to get Amazon to price match it to permafree?

Jon: Since KU subscribers can’t preorder, what’s a good way to get KU subscribers interested pre-launch?

Beth: How do you determine that a series has run its course for page reads and should be removed from KU to go wide?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-206_-_How_to_Rock_it_in_KDP_Select-Kindle_Unlimited.mp3

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Nov 05 2018

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SFFMP 205: Writing for Star Wars, Podcasting, Patreon, and if Awards Help with Marketing

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Our guest for this week’s show is long-time podcaster and slightly less long-time science fiction and fantasy author Mur Lafferty. She is the author of the Nebula and Hugo-nominated Six Wakes, The Shambling Guides, and I Should Be Writing: A Writer’s Workshop. Her most recent publication is Solo, the Star Wars movie adaptation, which we asked her all about during the interview. She also hosts the popular I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers podcasts (the latter is about the publishing industry, not actual ditch digging, FYI!).

Here are some of the specifics that we discussed:

  • How Mur got started in podcasting in the early days and created audio versions of some of her fiction.
  • Whether she’s an outliner or a pantser.
  • How the Forest app (here’s the link) helps her avoid distractions.
  • Talking money, agents, experiences with publishers, and the stuff that doesn’t always get mentioned on her Ditch Diggers podcast.
  • Getting involved on Patreon as a podcaster and a writer.
  • Finding the right rewards for Patreon subscribers of different levels.
  • A reminder that it’s tough to make any headway on Patreon or Kickstarter without an existing fanbase.
  • How Mur got involved in the Star Wars universe and landed the Solo gig.
  • The process of writing a novelization of a movie for Star Wars.
  • Whether the pay for movie-tie-in stuff is comparable to a regular traditional publishing deal.
  • How publishers and agents look to see if you have an established platform and following before taking you on as an author.
  • A reminder that the publishing industry is quite small and that the professionals all know each other, so it’s important to be courteous on social media and at conventions.
  • Which social media platforms Mur likes for marketing.
  • Some of the numerous awards she has received and been nominated for and whether they’re helping to sell books.
  • How authors can use podcasting for marketing.

Don’t forget to visit Mur on her website and follow her on Twitter.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-205_-_Writing_for_Star_Wars_Podcasting_and_Patreon_with_Mur_Lafferty.mp3

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Oct 31 2018

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SFFMP 204: Selling 10,000 Copies of Your First Novel with Joseph Malik

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Today, we were joined by fantasy author, Joseph Malik, who published his first novel, Dragon’s Trail, in 2016 and has managed to sell 10,000 copies over the last two years, despite being a new author and new to marketing. We talked to him about some of the things he tried that didn’t work, plus what he tried that did.

*Note: a couple of swear words slipped out in this episode, so be careful if you’re listening in the car with young and impressionable kids (or dogs).

Here are some of the specifics that we talked about in the show:

  • Trying out a lot of hobbies such as sword fighting and martial arts to better learn how to make your fantasy novels seem realistic.
  • Tips for authors who wouldn’t mind trying to learn some of the combat stuff even if they’re busy with life and not athletically inclined.
  • Balancing including details and strong world building with keeping the story moving along and readers entertained.
  • Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland (and why your characters probably shouldn’t be eating stew after a long trek).
  • Publishing on a more traditional release schedule (Joseph published his first two novels about two years apart) and keeping the books selling when it’s a while between releases.
  • How his experience as a panelist at NorWesCon helped a lot with book sales for him.
  • Why Joseph publishes hard cover copies of his books and where he sells them.
  • How he’s sold most of his books at full price and intends to stick with that going forward.
  • Some of the marketing things he tried early on that didn’t move the dial much and what did work.

If you want to learn more or check out Joseph’s books, please visit his website: http://josephmalik.com/

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-204_-_Selling_10000_Copies_of_Your_First_Novel_with_Joseph_Malik.mp3

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Oct 24 2018

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Best podcast!

By Amaaaazed - Apr 15 2019
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You guys are my favorite podcast! Seriously missing new episodes. Hope you guys come back!

Great podcast about indie/self publishing and marketing.

By tmcatron - Apr 11 2018
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I look forward to this every week!