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?
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?
Audio Book Marketing, ISBNs, and the Top 100 - YouTube
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.
Pre-Orders, Rapid Release, and Other Listener Questions - YouTube
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?