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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

110 Ratings
Average Ratings
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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!

iTunes Ratings

110 Ratings
Average Ratings
96
9
2
1
2

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 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 #2: SFFMP 131: When a Literary Agent Makes Sense for New and Established Authors

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Today, literary agent Mark Gottlieb chatted with Jo and Lindsay. He’s from the Trident Media Group and represents a lot of genres, including science fiction and fantasy. We asked him about getting an agent as a newer author and also as an established indie author with some titles under your belt.

Here are a few specifics of what we discussed:

  • Whether print-only deals are still a thing or a likely option for indie authors who sell well.
  • Whether most clients are coming out of the slush pile or if networking at workshops and conventions is important for getting an agent.
  • What kinds of rights (foreign rights, audio rights, film rights, etc.) are useful for indie authors to know about.
  • Whether getting a film deal or an “option” is really that lucrative, or if it’s mostly marketing to help an author sell more books.
  • The role of agents in a hybrid author’s career.
  • Whether the traditional publishing houses are signing as many authors as they used to, and if they’re fostering young authors’ careers.
  • If some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy do better with self-publishing instead of traditional publishing.
  • What’s been trending the last couple of years with trad publishers and what they’re looking for now in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
  • Whether it’s better to query with a series that’s in the middle and selling well, or if you should pitch something brand new.
  • If it’s possible to get an agent and a publishing deal when your self-published book or books did not sell well.
  • How much advertising a trad publisher is going to put behind a typical author.
  • How much marketing you’re expected to do for yourself when you trad publish.

You can find Mark Gottlieb on the Trident Media Group site, and he mentioned that John Silbersack also seeks out SF&F with their agency.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-131_-_When_a_Literary_Agent_Makes_Sense_and_How_to_Get_One_with_Mark_Gottlieb.mp3

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May 10 2017

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Rank #3: 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 #4: 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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Rank #5: 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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Rank #6: SFFMP 174: Outlining Your Novel for More Efficient Writing and Starting New in Epic Fantasy

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Today, we were joined by return guest Scott King, the author of Outline Your Novel: The How To Guide for Structuring and Outlining Your Novel and The Five Day Novel, as well as numerous fantasy and young adult adventures. He recently jumped into epic fantasy with the first book in his Elderrealm series, Wrath of Dragons. We grilled him on outlining and also how he found starting out in epic fantasy this year after publishing in other genres previously.

Here are some of the specifics that we talked about:

  • How an outline can help an author become more efficient.
  • Whether pantsers can get anything out of outlining.
  • Outlining a single novel versus doing a series.
  • Starting with a pitch and then developing an outline.
  • Mistakes authors make with outlining.
  • What to do if the story diverges from the outline as you write it.
  • How tough it is to break into epic fantasy today as an author new to the genre.
  • Whether Kindle Unlimited/KDP Select is a good idea for epic fantasy.
  • The pros and cons of mailing list swaps.
  • The challenges of genre jumping.

You can find Scott on his website or Twitter, and grab his first epic fantasy novel Wrath of Dragons or his outlining book, Outline Your Novel.

Also, check out his Creators Cast podcast.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-174_-_Structuring_and_Outlining_Your_Novel_for_More_Efficient_Writing_with_Scott_King.mp3

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Mar 28 2018

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Rank #7: 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 #8: 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 #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 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 #11: SFFMP 129: Using Multi-Author Boxed Sets to Hit Bestseller Lists and Jumpstart Your Career with Gwynn White

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This week, we chatted with fantasy/steampunk/fairy tale/memoir author Gwynn White, who has used multiauthor boxed sets to jumpstart her fantasy career and to hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

Here are some details on what we covered:

  • The fact that you can actually sell travel memoirs as an indie author! (This is how Gwynn got her start.)
  • The challenges of selling books that are a mashup of subgenres and weren’t written to market.
  • Using boxed sets for getting your Book 1s in front of a lot of eyeballs.
  • Gwynn’s experience being in two big boxed sets that hit the USA Today and NYT lists and what she learned that she’s now applying to two sets she’s organizing.
  • Getting 20 authors involved and leveraging them for mailing list promotions and other types of marketing.
  • Utilizing pre-orders to help get the necessary numbers to hit the lists.
  • Setting your goals ahead of time: are the bestseller letters the most important thing, or do you want to make money (especially through Kindle Unlimited page reads), or are you most interested in sell-through to other books in your series?
  • Going wide with a boxed set (this is necessary if you want to hit lists) versus launching it into KDP Select/KU.
  • Using Pronoun to get a much longer pre-order period on Amazon (the usual is only 3 months) and also to be able to put huge files (such as you get with 20 novels in one ebook) through at 99 cents (Amazon tends to increase the price to $1.99 with big boxed sets).
  • Also using Pronoun because you can get 70% even on 99-cent novels.

You can visit Gwynn on her website or check out her books on Amazon. Her first fantasy novel is Rebel’s Honor.

Also, if you want to support the two boxed sets she has going now, you can grab 20+ authors for 99 cents in Dominion Rising and Marked by Fate.

Note: In a correction related to last week’s episode, where audiobooks came up, I mentioned that you can have individual titles and one boxed set per series when it comes to audiobooks for those going directly to Audible through ACX. Here’s the link to their FAQ with more information on that: How do I create a bundle version of the audiobooks I have already released?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-129_-_Using_Multi-Author_Boxed_Sets_to_Hit_Bestseller_Lists_and_Jumpstart_Your_Career_with_Gwynn_White.mp3

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Apr 26 2017

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Rank #12: SFFMP 134: When to Hire a Personal Assistant, Facebook Live Events, and King Arthur Fantasy with K.M. Shea

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On today’s show, we talked to return guest, fantasy author K.M. Shea. She specializes in retold fairy tales and King Arthur fantasy, and she’s definitely exploited the fact that these are fairly small and underserved sub-genres. If you have any interest in fairy tales, check out her last interview with us: Retold Fairy Tales, Kindle Unlimited, and Finding Less Competitive Categories.

We talked more about her King Arthur series today and also about some of the business/marketing things she’s been working on in the last year. Here are some of the details we covered:

  • Whether it makes sense to go back and deeply edit one of your early books or series.
  • Whether the fairy tale niche is still fairly underserved and if it’s easier (compared to popular categories like urban and epic fantasy) to break into the Top 100.
  • Finding a personal assistant to help with your author business, when it’s time and where to look.
  • What the going rate is for an author PA or VA (virtual assistant).
  • How much work do you need to have to outsource before someone might be interested in hiring on?
  • Do you need to worry about non-disclosure agreements? Sharing passwords?
  • Kitty’s experiences experimenting with Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and free Bookbub runs for a couple of her fairy tale novels.
  • Doing Facebook Live Events alone and with other authors, and whether these things actually sell books.
  • Kitty mentioned Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans site and how she works to cultivate a good relationship with her readers.
  • Whether joint author promos can be effective for selling your own books.

You can visit KM Shea at her website or on Facebook, and check out her books at Amazon, including her retelling of Beauty and the Beast and Enthroned, her first King Arthur story.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-134_-_When_to_Hire_a_Personal_Assistant_Facebook_Live_Events_and_King_Arthur_Fantasy_with_K.M._Shea.mp3

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May 31 2017

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Rank #13: SFFMP 199: Rapid Release, Marketing Serials, and Going Non-Exclusive with Audiobooks

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Today, the guys took on a batch of listener questions that ran the gamut from what’s the best schedule for a rapid release of a trilogy to what kind of markets we’ve targeted with Facebook advertising to what to do (and not to do) when choosing a book title.

And in case you missed it last week, we have a 30% off coupon code for Brian Meek’s Amazon Ads course. For those interested in signing up, you can use the code of SFFMP30Mastering Amazon Ads: An Author’s Course

Here’s a look at the questions the guys answered:

What’s the best lag time between books in a trilogy rapid release? Is it best to dump all at once? 1/week, 1/2-weeks, or longer in between.

In your ideal rapid release schedule, how many days/weeks/months apart would you release each new novel in a science fiction series?

Any tips for marketing epic fantasy novellas/novella serials?

How do you decide when a series and it’s spin-offs should end?

How does (Lindsay) keep romance from overtaking an adventure story?

For Facebook marketing, do you find one demographic marker more useful than it’s counter-parts? Ie: is it effective to target age, income, etc, or are your best results from targeting by interest? Do you still boost posts?

Are you planning your calendar for 2019? will you be at any conferences this year? I missed you at the Sell More Books Show summit this year, but I can go next year. Do Jo and Jeff attend anything?

Promos: is there a deeper marketing reason to choose to run them only on selected markets, or does a world-wide one mean a world-wide bucket of headaches? (See: yours and Jo’s Bookbub books being at the same time discounted on .com and full price on .it)

Lindsay, I’d love to hear about how the blog-novel went. Did it impact the launch much? How about blog traffic? Was there a bump in your other books via affiliate blog links?

Which writing craft books help/have helped you?

What does your outlining process look like?

What’s your best advice for picking a novel’s title?

How do you decide what genre to list as if it’s a bit of everything?

How do you guys get a universal link for one of your Amazon books (Amazon only), or did you not bother? Specifically a link that will send UK readers to the UK store, US readers to the US store, etc. Or did you provide links for all the separate countries?

I would love to hear an updated list of which promo sites you use.

A lot of Book Funnel/Instafreebie group promos I see all have the same group of books, even if there is a “theme” to the promo. Have you seen anyone having success doing a more targeted and small group promo?

I’d like to hear how Patreon is going. Any tips or anything you’d do differently? (I’ve just set up Patreon with early release books + other rewards like personalized copies via Ingram.)

If you need something to read this week, check out Jo Lallo’s The Adventures of Rustle and Eddy.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-199_-_Listener_Questions.mp3

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Sep 19 2018

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Rank #14: SFFMP 139: Marketing Basics, Launching Your First Book, Translations, and Selling More Internationally with Joanna Penn

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We had tons of great information on the show today, thanks to our experienced guest, Joanna Penn. You probably already know Joanna from The Creative Penn podcast and blog, but if you don’t, she’s a self-published thriller author, as well as the author of several non-fiction books on self-publishing and marketing. Right now, she’s releasing a new edition of How to Market a Book, so we asked her for her advice on long-term vs. short-term strategies, selling internationally as well as at home, and whether it’s worth worrying about translations and foreign rights as an indie.

Here are a few of the specifics we covered:

  • Some factors authors should consider in regard to what’s most important to them (i.e. do they have one book and want to maximize income or are they establishing a brand and a career full of books) when making a marketing plan.
  • Marketing a book versus marketing a series.
  • Building a platform as a new author.
  • What to do if you’re starting a pen name (or two) and worry about dividing your focus and getting spread too thin.
  • Realizing that you don’t need to do everything to be successful. Figure out what suits you, and do that. “Strategy is not just what you do but what you don’t do.”
  • Is it better to focus on your newest book or to spend as much or more time marketing your back list?
  • The difference between tactics you use in the short-term versus building up long-term resources that can continue to bring in sales over time.
  • Different ways to target international audiences, such as scheduling tweets/posts for certain time zones and using Bookbub’s PPC ads with country-specific links.
  • Whether it’s worth it to pay for translations of your books.
  • When foreign rights deals can make sense, if you’re offered them.
  • Whether it’s worth tinkering with keywords and changing up blurbs on Amazon to keep a book “fresh” for the search algorithms.

You can visit Joanna at her non-fiction site, The Creative Penn, or her fiction site, J.F. Penn. And be sure to check out How to Market a Book, which is a great foundational marketing book that also covers some more advanced tactics.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-139_-_Marketing_Basics_Launching_Your_First_Book_and_Selling_More_Internationally_with_Joanna_Penn.mp3

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Jul 05 2017

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Rank #15: SFFMP 198: Mastering Amazon Ads with Brian Meeks

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Jo and Lindsay talked with the famous (not infamous!) Brian Meeks today, author of Mastering Amazon Ads, as well as thrillers, satire, and science fiction (under a pen name). He started tinkering with Amazon ads a couple of years ago when they first came on the scene, and they turned into a game-changer for him, allowing him to sell a lot more books and eventually quit the day job.

Now, he spends a lot of time in his Amazon ads Facebook group helping other authors, and he’s also got a course you can sign up for if you want more than is in his book. If you want to check it out, he’s offering our listeners 30% off — throw in the coupon code of SFFMP30.

Mastering Amazon Ads: An Author’s Course

Here are some specifics we covered in the show:

  • The basics of Amazon ads and how they work.
  • The difference between product display ads and sponsored product ads (and why Brian is a big fan of the former even though most people jump on the latter).
  • How long you should wait to see if an ad is going to catch and run well.
  • How recent changes to the ad system (August 2018) have got everyone bidding higher right now and authors may want to wait until things settle down again.
  • Why you should be patient and give everything time before raising the bid or selecting the new option to increase your bid up to 50%.
  • Whether it makes sense to advertise books that are wide and that can’t make money from page reads in Kindle Unlimited.
  • Whether it’s possible to pay for ads on a free ebook and come out ahead (i.e. when it’s a series starter).
  • How good copywriting is important, not just for the ads but for your book description.
  • Having an effective hook and drawing the reader to click more on Amazon.
  • How much time it really takes to get Amazon ads to move the dial for you — it’s not a quick fix or a set-it-and-forget-it method.
  • Once you get some success, scaling it.

Don’t forget to check out Brian’s Mastering Amazon Ads book, and you can also take a peek at his fiction. He’s written some scifi under Arthur Byrne starting with The Magellan Apocalypse.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-198_-_Mastering_Amazon_Ads_with_Brian_Meeks.mp3

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Sep 12 2018

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Rank #16: 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 #17: SFFMP 201: Bookbub Ads Update and Cultivating a Successful Author Mindset

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This week, we had return guest, crime-fiction author Adam Croft, on the show. We asked him about changes to Bookbub ads that have come about in the last year (he joined us in 2017 for Episode 151 All About Bookbub CPM Ads and Becoming a #1 Bestseller on Amazon), what he’s been up to, and why he’s written a book on author mindset.

Here’s some of what we covered in the show:

  • Adam’s latest releases and what he’s working on now.
  • How Bookbub ads have changed in the last year and why he still likes them, especially for advertising to the Apple iTunes store.
  • How he’s found some great success using Facebook ads on some of his novels but hasn’t gotten them to work well on others.
  • Why he’s a fan of thinking long-term and not going exclusive with Amazon.
  • The challenges of selling non-fiction as well as fiction and building platforms to draw in both types of readers.
  • How well non-fiction audiobooks can do.
  • The different things authors should be focusing on to turn writing from a hobby to a business.
  • Some of the struggles authors have when it comes to mindset.
  • How to decide who you’re going to listen to in the indie author space when it comes to taking advice.
  • How flexibility when it comes to pricing, packaging, and marketing a book can help you.
  • Striving to get multiple income streams coming in, even from a single book.

You can visit Adam on his website and check out The Indie Author Mindset at your favorite store.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-201_-_Bookbub_Ads_Building_on_Success_and_Cultivating_an_Effective_Author_Mindset_with_Adam_Croft.mp3

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Oct 03 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 137: Launching Books That Aren’t “to Market,” Agency Pricing, and Are Ebook Sales Down?

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Today, we had Nate Hoffelder from The Digital Reader blog on the show to talk about some of the news he’s been covering in the publishing world. The interview ended up being a little shorter than our usual shows, so Jo and Lindsay also talked about their recent book launches in the first segment, including some of the challenges of marketing when books aren’t written to market and don’t fit in with the tropes of the typical subgenres of science fiction and fantasy.

Here are some of the details of what we covered:

  • The challenges of launching books that aren’t written to market and may be cross-genre or just a little out there.
  • What agency pricing is and if it means anything for indie authors.
  • Whether the ebook market has matured and leveled off in the U.S. or if there’s still room to grow.
  • Whether we should be worried when publishers report that author earnings and overall ebook sales are down.
  • Whether Kindle Unlimited earnings (payout for pages read), which has been down for the last couple of months, will continue to trend downward or level off and go back up.
  • The fact that scams are still happening in the Kindle Unlimited world, and that Amazon hasn’t been able to stop them.
  • Whether subscription services are a good idea or not for authors.
  • Whether it’s worth the effort for indie authors to put out paperbacks and audiobooks and put effort into marketing them.

You can find Nate at The Digital Reader and learn more about the author services he offers on his site, where he does website development and critiques. You can also say hi to him on Twitter.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-137_-_Are_Author_Earnings__Ebook_Sales_Trending_Downward_with_Nate_Hoffelder_Plus_Bonus_Release_Talk.mp3

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Jun 21 2017

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Rank #20: SFFMP 152: Pricing, Category Stuffing, Launching with Three Books, and Marketing Cross-Genre Novels

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This week, we answered some listener questions that had been piling up. We touched on a variety of topics, such as…

  • Should you try to put your books in as many categories as possible, and what can we do about books that shouldn’t be there knocking us out of our Top 100s on Amazon?
  • Amazon’s page of keywords for getting into unlisted categories: Selecting Browse Categories.
  • How many downloads a day can you expect from permafree titles?
  • Is it worth trying to sell English novels in countries where English isn’t the primary language?
  • How can trad publishers get away with charging 9.99 or more for ebooks, and can indies do this if their books are well edited and professionally done?
  • How do you market cross-genre books that fall into more than one category?
  • How do you guys feel about killing characters, and does it ever get easier?
  • How does your plotting process work?
  • Has anyone tried Kobo Plus yet and gotten results?
  • Where you can advertise as a newer author with less than twenty reviews on your book? Here are the links to the spreadsheets Lindsay mentioned (that C. Gockel maintains). We’re not sure if they’re up to date though, so let us know if you know of a good and recent resource. Where to Advertise Free Ebooks | Where to Advertise 99 Cent Ebooks.
  • How did Lindsay relaunch her pen name successfully after a long gap between releases?
  • If you want to write three books before launching any of them, can you use novellas as part of the plan?

Jeff and Lindsay are working on new projects, but Jo has some links if you want to check out what he’s up to right now. Here’s his serial-in-progress: The Adventures of Rustle and Eddy. Also, he’s recently done a series of “How I Write” blog posts, which cover his plotting process, among other things.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/marketingsff/SFFMP-152_-_Category_Stuffing_Pricing_and_Does_Killing_Characters_Get_Easier.mp3

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Oct 04 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!