SFFMP 142: Mailing List Best Practices and Finding an Editor for Your Genre

On this week’s show, the guys chatted amongst themselves, covering such topics as how their summer book launches are going, finding an editor when you write cross-genre fiction, and basic and more advanced mailing list tactics.

Here are a few of the specifics they discussed:

• Where do the guys host their mailing lists?
• Is a mailing list necessary if you’re already on social media?
• What kinds of things do you say to your subscribers?
• How often should you email your subscribers?
• Should you email twice about the same release to ensure people saw it?
• Using free books or bonus stories to encourage people to subscribe.
• What kind of open rates should you expect as a genre fiction author?
• Should you scrub your mailing list to get rid of the dead weight (people who aren’t opening messages)?
• Should you segregate your mailing list? (i.e. sort by demographics, most opens/clicks.)
• Staggering the way you promote a book launch to create more of a steady trickle of sales during release week than a spike.
• Setting up an autoresponder series.
• Including links to backlist at the bottoms of your first auto-responder email.

 

 

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SFFMP 141: Succeeding in Urban Fantasy, Collaborating, and Quitting the Day Job with CN Crawford

This week, we chatted with urban fantasy authors Christine and Nick Crawford who write under the name CN Crawford. Christine has recently been able to quit the day job and go full time with the writing. After starting out publishing one book in 2014 and one in 2015, they got rolling in 2016, and now have several series going and selling well. We talked about urban fantasy and what it’s taking to succeed right now.

Here are some of the specific details from our conversation:

  • Collaborating as a husband and wife team.
  • Dealing with differences of opinion when your writing partner is your spouse.
  • Whether it takes anything special to break into the popular urban fantasy niche.
  • Thoughts on upcoming trends for urban fantasy.
  • Whether the genre expects male or female protagonists.
  • Giving away a free extra that ties into your main series in order to entice newsletter signups.
  • Using Bookfunnel to facilitate ebook giveaways.
  • Predominantly using Amazon and Facebook ads and not doing much with the typical promo sites.

Find them on their website or join their CN Crawford Facebook group. If you’re on Amazon, you can check out the first books in the Dark Fae FBI series or Demons of Fire and Night.

 

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SFFMP 140: Publishing in an Underserved Genre and Helping to Build a Community with Veronica Scott

On today’s show, we talked about publishing in an underserved niche that’s too small to attract the attention of the Big 5 but that could potentially be lucrative to authors. Our guest was paranormal and science fiction romance author, Veronica Scott, and we also discussed some of the many things she’s doing to foster growth and awareness of the SFR genre among readers who might be interested. Even though we talked about scifi romance specifically, the interview might be of interest to other authors writing in smaller niches or doing cross-genre fiction. We discussed some of the challenges of marketing these types of books.

Here are some of the specifics that we covered:

  • The challenges of marketing books that don’t fall into the main categories on Bookbub and other promo sites.
  • The opportunities that indies have by writing in sub-genres or niches that are too small to interest traditional publishing.
  • Surfing through also-boughts on Amazon and also using the YASIV tool for finding related books and authors to target as keywords for ads.
  • How scifi romance has gotten more competitive over the last few years and whether it’s still possible for new authors to break in and reach the Top 100.
  • Some of the key reader expectations in SFR and differences between romances and scifi with “romantic elements.”
  • Common mistakes authors make with covers.
  • The blurb-writing service that Veronica uses: Cathryn Cade.
  • The cover designer that she uses: Fiona Jayde.
  • Why fostering a community can be useful, especially in a smaller niche, and how Veronica has gone about doing it.
  • Veronica Scott’s USA Today Happy Ever After blog column.
  • Her stance on newsletter swaps and newsletters in general.
  • Whether permafree series starters are viable in this genre.

You can find Veronica on her website, on Amazon, and on Twitter, and also check out her book inspired by the Titanic, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, or her latest release, Danger in the Stars.

 

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

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.

 

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SFFMP 138: Trad vs. Indie for New Authors, How Marketing Has Evolved, and Starting Your Own Press with Kevin J. Anderson

Long-time science fiction author and NYT best seller Kevin J. Anderson joined us on the podcast today to talk about his recent projects, how the industry has changed since 1988 when he published his first novel, and what made him decide to start his own press.

Here are a few of the specifics we chatted about:

  • How Kevin is continuing to learn and try new marketing things, even after almost thirty years of publishing novels.
  • A project he’s excited about where he’s sharing his new epic fantasy novel, Spine of the Dragon, with newsletter subscribers as he works on it. (If you’re interested in seeing his process and reading the story long before it’s published, you can visit his site to sign up.)
  • How the landscape has changed over the years, and how it can be tough to make a living as a steady, mid-list author in the traditional publishing scene now.
  • Kevin’s enthusiasm for dictating his novels as he hikes in the mountains of Colorado (Lindsay would try this while hiking if she wasn’t constantly stopping to whistle for her dogs and telling them to stop chasing squirrels).
  • Why he thinks more authors should try dictation, since he finds it a very natural way to get the story down.
  • What it’s like writing in established universes and doing media tie-in novels.
  • Why Kevin decided to start Wordfire Press to publish his out-of-print books that he had the rights to.
  • How he ended up taking on a lot of other science fiction and fantasy authors who wanted to breathe new life into their out-of-print titles.
  • What Kevin has learned about starting a press that might be helpful for other authors thinking of doing the same.

Visit Kevin on his site and check out his Spine of the Dragon project.

 

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

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.

 

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SFFMP 136: Successfully Indie Publishing and Marketing While Running a Family

YA fantasy author Katie Cross joins us this week to discuss how she’s published eleven books while working and raising a family, and how she’s sold a lot of those books too!

Here’s a closer look at some of the topics we covered:

  • Finding time to write when you have a job and a family.
  • Whether YA ebooks do well and some of the challenges of self-publishing for that audience.
  • Some of the defining features of young adult fiction.
  • Keeping books selling when you’re not able to publish super frequently.
  • Selling well in the YA market.
  • Using Wattpad as a platform to gain readers and potentially get recognition.
  • Getting invited to the Wattpad advertising program and how much authors can make.
  • Getting more interaction and reads on Wattpad by asking questions at the end of installments and posting regularly (Katie was posting M/W/F for one of her books).
  • Tips for getting a Bookbub ad.
  • Facebook marketing and Facebook groups.
  • Determining which marketing is worth your time when your time is limited.
  • What Katie’s typical launch strategy looks like.

Visit Katie on her website or on Facebook and check out her YA fantasy books. You can also join her “indie author life” Facebook group for advice on self-publishing and marketing.

Note: Katie realized she had her numbers a little off in our chat about her Bookbub ad, so she sent me this correction to post here:

In the podcast I share my BookBub numbers several times and mention selling 3,500 books on Amazon with my recent ad, but I checked back on those numbers and it was close to 3,000 books WIDE on all distributors including paperback and audiobooks (which are also affected by BookBubs) and includes all sales overall (including spillover into the other books in my series). <— This encompasses just the first week. 

So it was not just my BookBub ad book that reached those numbers. I wish! Historically, however, by the end of the month, it’s likely I will reach 4,000—or beyond it—in sales from the BookBub tail. I have in the past seen upwards of those numbers from BookBub ads.

So sorry for that mess up! Transparency is really important to me so I wanted to add that caveat here. 🙂

 

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

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

Here are some of the highlights:

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

 

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

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.

 

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

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

Here are some of the questions he asked us:

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

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

 

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