New fantasy short stories for Ral Partha's Chaos Wars!

Through a great stroke of luck, I managed to score the booth next to the fine folks from Iron Wind Metals at CincyCon this year. They make all sorts of cool miniatures games and their flagship line, Chaos Wars, is an awesome fantasy setting complete with goblins, centaurs, undead, wizards, dwarves, orcs, lizardmen, and pretty much everything else you could imagine. After a few hours, I knew I had to make a few stories for them. Every great miniatures game has a rule book full of flavor and backstories for your favorite characters - commonly called 'fluff' - and I am now that writer for Ral Partha's Chaos Wars. 

Check out the first two installments of the Chaos Wars "Chronicles of Estria" series:

Author SWAG!!!!

AUTHOR SWAG - SERIOUS BUSINESS

Everyone needs swag. Authors who attend conventions need LOTS of swag. So what do I take to comicons all around the country? Check it out:

CincyCon 2016

The general set-up looks like this. Market research shows people don't look down, they look across (hence the good cereal is on a top shelf while the generics are down below) so I use a book rack to get my image up to eye level. Also, use a tablecloth! It costs like $6 (Wal-Mart) and looks waaay better than the booth to my right and left. Those dangling white posters are price lists. The image poster is info on my pre-order, which is also seen on the left side. Why have stuff down there? Where I'm standing to take the picture there are a bunch of tables for people to game. Those hanging posters market constantly to people seated at the tables, right at eye level. 

Bookmarks!

 

My first bookmark. These are good, but not great. The font isn't wonderful. The biggest issue is my lack of website. I didn't have this website at the time, so I had no url to post on my bookmark. I originally ordered 1000 of these for about $50 (UPrinting) and gave them all out in less than a year.

My second bookmark. This one (obviously) promotes my horror novel For We Are Many. Again, it came out before I had this website, so I have no url on it. That's a mistake. Also, it doesn't even say Amazon.com or any other retailer. Oh well. The art is great an the bookmark is striking - it works well enough. I ordered 2000 (about $70) of these bookmarks and have handed about roughly 60% of them in 2 years.

These are the best bookmarks I have. They promo the entire Goblin Wars series and mention Amazon, B&N, and this website. These are the real deal. Striking art, good font (especially color), and all the right info. I ordered 5000 of these for about $100 and have given out maybe 200 in the past 3 weeks since I received them. I plan on giving out all 5000 in 2 years or less. 

The business card. Simple, elegant, accessible. Perfect to hand out on the fly since you can't put bookmarks in your wallet. I ordered 3000 of these for about $65 I think. 

2" x 2" stickers. These are great to hand out at conventions because people will put them on notebooks, laptops, etc. which serve as free advertisements for my brand. 500 of these cost about $35.

Once you have all your swag under control, check out the Marketing Series for tips and tricks on picking the right conventions and selling!

Have your own author swag? Post it in the comments!

Social Media for Authors

BUT HOW DO I TWEETS?

I can't tell you how many older authors I've met who have no clue how to use social media. Many of them simply forgo the entire process and never create accounts. 

I MADE THE TWITTERS, WHERE ARE MY SALES?

Tweeting about your book constantly is about as good as placing pup-up ads with flashing lights in comic sans on your website. In other words, it actually makes people hate you.

SO WHAT DO I DO?

Firstly, you should use social media. Get on Facebook (make an author page), make a Goodreads account as an author, and get a Twitter. Obviously, more platforms can't really hurt if you use them correctly, so make accounts pretty much everywhere. 

Once you have your platforms under control, there are programs out there to help you streamline them and link them together so one post goes everywhere, increasing visibility. HootSuite is a decent one I know a lot of people use. Check it out.

Now that you have the basics under control, what do you post? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't spam your book every chance you get. What authors want to gain from social media is this: visibility, recognition, and impressions. How often have you taken a picture of a billboard outside and posted it to your Facebook? I really hope the answer is never. So when you tweet / post things that are just billboards for your books, no one interacts with them. No one shares those. You don't make impressions or gain visibility. In fact, you alienate people. No one likes ads. Ever notice any sidebar or header ads on this website? Nope. I hate ads too.

CONTENT!

Firstly, and you'll see this advice everywhere, be yourself. Post things you are interested in. See a cool article on your favorite sports team? Share it. Have a music video you love? Share it too. Have a wealth of funny jokes rotting in your brain? Tweet them out. Are you good at cosplay? Post your pictures all around. No one wants to feel like you are trying to get them to buy something, even if you are. What authors should focus on is developing a following related to their book ventures, but not directly tied to it. 

How do you do that? It actually isn't that hard. Make posts relative to your content area. Do you write horror? Tweet your favorite horror movies. Tweet articles about horror. Tweet horror art. Build up a following of people interested in your genre and then when those people find out you've written a book, they will be interested because they already respect you as an online entity.

Do you write fantasy? The same thing applies. Make posts about fantasy you enjoy. Share awesome fantasy art from all over the web. Grow your followers through your passion.

BUT WHEN DO I SIPHON THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS?

Once you have an established base of people who enjoy certain content from you, tweet about your book only when it is relevant. Don't just post a static link to your Amazon page. That harkens back to a bad billboard. What is relevant? Post when you have a sale. Post when you have a contest running on your website. Tweet new concept art for an upcoming book cover. That kind of thing. Don't just spam people with your links when nothing special is going on or you'll erode the base you worked hard to build. 

An author on a social media marketing panel I took part in once said only 25% of your tweets should be related to your books. I would argue to make it somewhere around 10%. People simply don't want to see that kind of thing. Think about it this way: if you were a reader in your genre, what kind of stuff would you like to see from an author? 

SHOULD I REVIEW OTHER BOOKS ON GOODREADS?

This one gets a lot of debate. Posting reviews is something every reader should do, author or not. But what if you hated a book? Check out my reviews section - I've hated a few. Do I post those reviews? I do. And I do it under my own name. A lot of people say to not post negative reviews as an author, but for me, my honest reviews are part of my image. People come to this website looking for honest reviews. People enjoy reading them. 

What's the downside? Starting a troll / flame war online is never a good thing. If you post a bad review calling someone out for typos, make damn sure you don't have any typos in your own work, and be ready to back up your claim with a picture or two if you must. To me, posting only good reviews is disingenuous. It feels fake and flaky. I have opinions and I have no problems backing them up. But again, that's my style. That image might not work for everyone. 

This post isn't meant to be an end-all guide to social media, just what I've learned over the years. Have your own advice? Post it in the comments. I'd love to see more / other perspectives.


Looking for your next favorite book? Click here.

Ethan Fox - mystery extraordinaire!

Firstly, thanks for doing an interview! Tell us a little about yourself and your book, The Scissors and the Sword.

The Scissors and the Sword arose from my own experiences living in both Japan and the UK - both island nations, with proud histories, superstitions and quirks. I've always felt that the two nations have much more in common than most people realise.

The story is an urban fantasy. The main character, a scene-of-crime officer, investigates a murder that provides her an "in" to a world of the supernatural that she would never have previously believed existed. I don't want to say too much more for fear of spoiling the plot, but I hope people will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Your bio states that you're into anime and gaming. What makes your favorite anime series so good? Do any of those elements find their way into your writing?

The book draws on a series I've always loved, Rurouni KenshinKenshin isn't particularly supernatural, but it has a main character who lives almost to spite the expectations placed upon him (he's an assassin who now refuses to kill people).

In many stories, samurai characters follow a stereotype. They are honorable, strong and fearless. This often extends to how foreigners perceive the Japanese people in real life (stoic, unfeeling, driven by loyalty and familial honor) - naturally this is an outdated stereotype. Beneath that exterior, they're a people who are as kind, emotional and passionate as anyone else.

I wanted a samurai character who was impetuous, and driven by his feelings - and this would not be his "downfall". Instead, it's part of who he is. It's part of what makes him strong.


Do you play any games with a dark atmosphere of mystery similar to your book?

Strangely enough, for a novelist, I'm a peculiar sort of gamer. I prefer games with an arcadey feel, with short play-durations. I'm a big fan of fighting games, for instance, or Nintendo's recent Splatoon for WiiU.

I occasionally get into an RPG, or the latest Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but I always come back to bright, colourful experiences with fast gameplay.




There can be huge disconnects between writing a mystery movie script and writing a mystery book. How do you capture suspense without the aid of background music, lighting, and other theatrical elements?

I'm a big believer in the scene>sequel approach for novel writing; namely that you divide all of your plot threads into scenes that represent either an action or reaction.

Action scenes tend to involve a very pro-active movement on parts of the characters, and usually end with a discovery or a disaster.

Reaction scenes tend to involve the characters reflecting on a prior experience, and using their new knowledge to form a decision.

When you have three plot threads, you can quite easily go "Action A > Reaction B > Action C > Reaction A > Action B" etc., jostling back and forth. This means the reader is always waiting to hear the result of another thread.

This is only a small part of the picture, but I think it's a good example.

What do you have planned next in terms of writing? Any sequel?

The Scissors and the Sword is intended to be part of a series. I intend to write & publish book 2 before the end of 2016, and make a start on book 3.


Which famous writer, if any, compares best to your writing style? Is there any particular style of voice you try to showcase?

Readers have, in the past, compared my work to Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher. That being said, I don't think this is necessarily about my writing style or "voice", but rather because they are giants in the Urban Fantasy field.

One reader compared my work to Rumiko Takahashi, particularly Inuyasha, which was interesting to hear.

I don't consciously try to emulate any particular author, though naturally, like all writers, I'm a product of what I personally have read.


As a self-published author, is there anything you would do differently if you could? What is the best advice you could give to an aspiring author?

The best advice I could give is to make mistakes - at least, don't be hesitant. Writing and publishing are both complex and you're going to make many mis-steps on the way. It's difficult, but you need to strive through those or you're never going to get anywhere. I spent several years worrying about this, when really I should've got started in 2011.


Lastly, where can we find your work? 

My work can be found in many places:

Details about The Scissors and the Sword:

http://by-ethan-fox.com/TheScissorsAndTheSword


Amazon: http://getbook.at/TSATS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/By_Ethan_Fox

Tumblr and blog: http://by-ethan-fox.com

Mailing List: http://by-ethan-fox.com/mailinglist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ByEthanFox/

Self Publishing, Small Press, Traditional - How to decide...

So you've written your first book. What now?

 

If you're like me, I had no idea what to do when I finally finished my first manuscript. I knew self publishing existed, but I really thought it involved owning a physical book press and printer to make the actual books myself. The only other option I knew was traditional publication through a major house.

So what's the third option most people never hear of? Small press. A small press like mine, Hydra Publications, tries to combine the best aspects of traditional publishing with the best aspects of self publishing. Of course, not all small presses are the same, but I can speak from experience about a dozen or more small presses I know and how the business is generally run. Here's what I know from a few short years in the industry and heavy involvement with my own press:

Self Publishing pros and cons: When you do it all yourself, you need to spend a lot of money. Editing can cost anywhere from $250 - $3000, a cover can run from $20 to $1000, formatting will set you back a hundred or more, and that is just to get your work ready for publication. First and foremost, the downside to self publishing for most people is the cost. It can also be time consuming, but pretty much everything in the writing business is. Once you've got everything paid for and your book is ready for sale, you need to do all of your marketing yourself. While that isn't difficult, it could be expensive. Buying tables at conventions, buying all your own marketing material (i.e. bookmarks, posters, banners, cards, artwork, audiobook production, etc.), travel expenses, online advertising, the list goes on and on. For most self published authors, I tell them to have at least a few thousand dollars saved to drop on their expenses in the first year. That should cover all the basics of pre-sale preparedness and cover initial marketing costs. (These costs include the obvious like covers, editing, formatting, etc. and also cover the often-overlooked costs of marketing, first couple hundred paperbacks, a dozen or so tables at conventions, bookmarks, a banner, and other promo items.) The benefits of self publishing? Control, control, control. You make every single decision. For many people, that is the deciding factor hands down. You pick your cover art. You pick your fonts and formatting. You pick your marketing and event schedule. Period. 100% control is given to the author. Again, that takes a lot of time away from writing, but if you want your books to make money like a full time job, they need to be your full time job.

Traditional Publishing pros and cons: With a big publishing house, you don't have the primary benefit of self publishing: control. The house gets your editors, covers, promo material, etc. Furthermore, big houses are notoriously difficult to get into without a nepotistic connection. Even finding an agent can be brutally difficult for many. The pros? Obviously, it comes down to money. You are nearly guaranteed to make more money with this option than any other, especially if you are just starting out and don't have a following. Huge distribution means your books go to all the major retail outlets.

Small Press Publication: With a small press, you get the benefits of control with the benefits of marketing and support like a traditional press. Have your own cover artist or don't want to use the artist employed by your press? No problem. You might have to then pay for it, or at least part of the art, but typically small presses have no problems paying your own artist if they do quality work. The same is true for editing and proofing. If you don't want to use the people already hired by the press, that's fine. You get the control to decide. Again, that might mean out-of-pocket expenses, but many small presses will at least offer to pay your editor the same they normally pay their own. The best advantage of small presses comes in the form of networking and marketing. If you've read my Marketing Series, you know that selling live at conventions is crucial to the indie author's success. Small presses typically buy several tables at conventions and invite their authors to come sell / sign at no expense to the author. Typically, even my food is covered by the press. Plus, you get the community offered by the small press. I've met some of my best friends through my press and we all help each other out every chance we get. Someone finds a promo strategy that works? They tell everyone in the press. Want to bundle your books together to offer a sale? Just ask and the press will facilitate it.

Can a small press get you the distribution of a traditional press? In short, no. But a small press offers one thing that self publishing does not: legitimacy. The average reader (sadly) doesn't respect self published works very much. It can be a detriment at conventions and when trying to get into real stores. Here is a story I've heard pretty often: A self published author gets accepted by B&N. They have to supply 10,000 copies of their book to be sold in stores nationwide. Yay! They spend $15,000 (probably getting a business loan) on book production and mail the books out on their own dime. Guess what? B&N doesn't market for you. If you don't have a BIG following already, your book will rot on their shelves. And since B&N has your books on consignment, they don't pay you until the books sell. So when they don't sell in a year, you have to cover the shipping cost to get all of your books back into your garage. And you are now literally bankrupt. I've met people who have told their similar stories at conventions and literary events, often ending in tears because they lost everything due to B&N's consignment scheme.

So how do you get into bookstores without being traditionally published? Here is where the small press comes in. Small press owners typically go to the store manager personally, pitch the book, and offer to do a book signing / selling event in their store with a few authors, giving the store a cut of each sale. Pretty much every manager is going to take that deal, especially if the books are available through B&N online. Once you set up and sell in the store, offer to sell the remaining stock to B&N at the industry standard 55%, not consignment. Many accept. Obviously, it then comes down to marketing (leaving bookmarks, displays at the cash register, etc.) to actually sell the books from the shelves, but you've already sold them. You transfer the risk to B&N, not yourself. Sadly, approaching stores like B&N with a self published book will usually get you turned down simply due to the stigma. The small press legitimacy gets you in the door. As your book sells and your brand expands, you can approach more and more stores, employ the same method, and before you know it, your books are being ordered by stores in states you've never been to. It grows slowly, but your distribution does grow.

Royalty Breakdown: self publishing offers the best. Period. You don't pay a middle man so no one has their hand in your wallet. Small presses offer the middle ground. You have to pay the press a portion of your royalties, but if you negotiate your contract well  / find a press with a good royalty rate, it turns out very well. Traditional publishing pays very little (I've seen as little as 6 cents per copy sold) but does it on a HUGE scale, often outweighing the small percentage of royalties. 

 

Conclusion: this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of pros and cons. Media rights, translation projects, and all sorts of other things come into play as well. Personally, if you can get accepted by a traditional press, DO IT. But if not, go for a small press. Small presses give you the best combination of both options.

No matter which route you choose, make sure you do your homework first. Know exactly why you are going with your choice. Is the unlimited control offered by self publishing enough to outweigh the initial costs? Is the host of free benefits offered by a small press the deciding factor, even if it means perhaps getting slightly different formatting than you had in mind? Make an educated decision based on your personal goals. My advice should not be taken as definitive. Everything here is simply my opinion after a few years of success in the industry. 


Looking for your next favorite book? Click here.

Special Announcement! Goblin Wars artwork now for sale!

Looking for that special piece of wall art to bring a room together? Looking for a gift for the strange cousin who loves fantasy?

Check it out!

 

It looks a little washed out since I'm a terrible photographer.

It looks a little washed out since I'm a terrible photographer.

Here is the high quality version. It looks stunning on the canvas - I'm just bad at taking pictures.


The Great Myth of Genre

Genre

I've seen tons of online discussions (looking at you, reddit...) pitting genres against each other in terms of sales and profitability.

Consistently, the thing I hear most is this: romance and erotica sell.

Is that true? Can anyone write a romance or erotica story, take a picture of some fit guy's chest for a cover, post it to Amazon, and buy a new Mercedes with their first royalty check? Obviously, the answer to this should be a resounding: NO.

So why do people all over the internet seem to think certain genres are gold mines and others are dusty broom closets full of dead manuscripts?

In bookstores, genre certainly plays a huge part. If 15 of the 100 shelves are full of erotica and romance while only a single shelf in the back holds mystery, guess what? More people will buy romance and erotica. But none of that stuff pertains to the indie author. (If you want to read more about big press numbers in sales, read this awesome article.)

What does genre mean in the indie world?

As an exclusively small-press published author, I live (or die...) in the indie book world. That means attending conventions 30 weekends a year, cold selling my books to people who have never heard my name before, and keeping my travel expenses low by surviving exclusively on Taco Bell. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience in indie books and I know tons of successful and failed indie authors. So here is what I've come to know about genre in the world of indie books: 

Genre means nothing.

Of course, we all have our anecdotes of someone who published in a big genre and saw instant success, and we have anecdotes of the opposite scenario as well. When it comes to selling books as an indie author, finding your audience is everything. If you write paranormal western romance, find conventions geared toward that kind of thing. Yes, they do exist. No, I have not been to one. Yet...

For an unknown indie author without a following (I'm talking less than 10 Twitter followers, no name online whatsoever kind of obscurity) already built up by something else, marketing and quality of product determine success, not genre. Publishing an incredible book is obviously step 1, but marketing that book well and finding an audience are steps 2 - 100. You can write in the most obscure genres out there and if you find your audience, you will sell copies. Similarly, you can write in a very saturated market and have an incredible book go unnoticed. 

When you sit down and finally identify your genre label, you need to then figure out where your audience lives. If you write paranormal western romance, find western conventions. Find blogs about western topics. Go to a UFO convention. Find a reviewer with 15k Twitter minions who loves alien romance stories. Is your main character a cool gunsmith-turned-vigilante-hero type? Try a gunsmith-themed blog for an interview. You can't look for the 6 people who might exist and are in need of your specific book, the handful of people who sit at their desk and Google 'paranormal western romance' every 15 minutes in hopes of finding some incredible new author. You need to look for the thousands of people somewhat interested in your themes and topics and then convince them that your book will fill a deep longing void in their hearts.

Basically, the indie author isn't bound or encouraged by any particular genre. The discussion should not be about genre saturation or genre growth in sales at all. The discussion needs to be on marketing. If you find your audience and have a decent product, genre is irrelevant.


Looking for your next favorite book? Click here.


Some humble advice for convention organizers...

Conventions!

For many indie authors, conventions are our lifeblood. Without selling our books at local comicons and other such events, we wouldn't be making enough money to keep producing books.

As an author and huge fan of conventions, I've been to tons of them. Some massive, some tiny, some new, some established, and everything in between. I've pretty much seen it all.

But one thing has been a constant of many conventions, especially the smaller ones, which makes little sense:

TOO MUCH PROGRAMMING

What do I mean? Too many panels, too many discussions, too many contests, movie screenings, gaming hours, celebrity meet & greets, etc.

But Stu, isn't that why many fans go to conventions? Why of course it is. The programming brings in fans from around the country. Especially the celebrity stuff.

So why limit it? Well, we don't need to cut it back much. But here are some of the complaints I've made and heard over the years of attending conventions:

  • Panels with large interest overlapping (common concern at big conventions)
  • Panels drawing 0 audience members because other panels take it all at the same time
  • People waiting in line for hours to get an autograph and missing programming
  • Vendors complaining about people always being consumed by programming and not making it to the vendor hall. This is a huge complaint.

A few conventions I have attended have also had poor floor plans. Hosting all of the panels / contests, etc in a room adjacent to the vendor hall means many people never even see the vendor hall. That's an issue.

How do we fix it? I have an idea I've tossed around to a few vendors and organizers over the years: make a vendor hour an event in the programming.

Make from 7pm - 8pm (or whenever, just not in the morning) a vendor hall hour. No programming, no contests, no dances (yes, some conventions have dances), no celebrity sessions, no screenings, nothing but vendor hall time for an hour. 

Vendors could offer promotions during that time, sales, free stuff with purchases, all that jazz. It gets people to enter the vendor hall, probably spend some money, and see things they might not otherwise see if their day is full of programming. It also lets people grab some dinner (depending on timing) which is never a bad thing.

Just some food for thought.

Interview with horror aficionado C. Bryan Brown, author of Necromancer and They Are Among Us.

C. Bryan Brown, thank you for doing an interview. Firstly, take us through your bibliography. How did Necromancer start and what led you in the direction of Vampires for They Are Among Us?

Hey, Stu, thanks for having me!

Necromancer started, technically, many years ago when I was in high school. I used to play AD&D (2nd Edition, for all you new-fangled d20 people) with my brother, cousin, and grandmother. Necromancer is, in a lot of ways, an homage to that era of my life and to my grandmother. She always played a wizard, fancying herself a female version of Gandalf. But we told stories together, the four of us, and those stories were about warriors and wizards and orcs and trolls and all their lovers and I ported all that into the modern time, changed it to be as realistic as I could possibly make magic, and went from there. As a bonus answer, the original story draft for Necromancer had Bobby as the main character, not Torrin.

They Are Among Us is a lot simpler; I love classic monsters. Vampires and werewolves are my two favorites. I have a werewolf book in me, I’m just not ready to write it yet. And for most horror fans, bloody, killer vampires aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be. The lion’s share of vampire fiction falls into the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres. So that coupled with the fact that I had a story and world building idea in my head, I ran with it.

 

Have you always been a fan of horror? In different media, how does horror change? What are the differences between horror film and horror literature?

I suppose so, yes. I don’t remember ever not being around horror. My mother was a big, big fan of the gore movies in the 80s. As a matter of fact, she still loves her gore, but also pretty much any horror movie in general she’d watch. She was also an avid reader, or so she says. I only ever remember seeing her with Stephen King books. One true fact… when I was 10 or 11, my mother dragged me out of bed to watch the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” because it scared her and she didn’t want to watch alone. Been hooked since, really.

I think horror changes to suit the media it’s presented in. To your question about the differences between horror film and horror literature, specifically, film is bringing horror to life and, in most cases, leaving very little to the imagination anymore. Classic example – Kubrick’s “The Shining” didn’t feature the topiary animals at the end because the FX at the time sucked and it didn’t look real. They can do that now (and have), so if it can be written, it can pretty much be filmed, and for me, once you take it out of the reader’s imagination and put a face on it, it loses power. There are some films that have come out recently that don’t show the horrors and rely more on the watcher’s imagination and these are good. A wonderful example is the film “The Babadook.” The ending has at least two interpretations that I’ve heard.

And that’s what makes horror literature so much more in my opinion. The ability to just sketch a picture or a scene and let the reader do the work, let them scare themselves. Their imagination produces monsters much scarier than any FX company can and so you’re able to delve into psychology of your themes with a soft, deft touch. There’s no need to over describe every detail because the reader is doing it for you. You can tell them a monster has a three inch horn, but they’re going to see a six or seven inches of darkened ivory waiting to impale them when the turn the next page.

 

When did you begin writing? What was the impetus that made you finally start putting words on a page with a specific goal?

I guess I started around 14 or 15, though it wasn’t serious. My sister pissed me off and I filled notebooks with a story about monsters killing The New Kids on the Block.

I kept writing after that, though most of it was for AD&D and online gaming stories back when dial-up was still cool. I was one of those CompuServe and AOL kids in the late 80s. It was just a whole lot of fun, but in my early 20s (which was the mid 90s), the gaming scene changed and the collaborative writing kind of fell away. People got prickly and way to attached to their characters, so stories were then written by one person for their character. Sometimes you’d add in another person or two, but mostly not. You could still game in chat rooms and things like that, but the forum boards, where the real writing was done, became a solo act. A few years later, I quit gaming online, and starting writing my first real stories.

In 2001 and 2002, I got my first publications, but then in late 2002, my wife had our first son and I stopped writing until he made it into kindergarten in 2008. I started writing again and then sold my next story a couple years later in 2010 to Post Mortem Press.

 

What’s next for your writing? Is there a specific direction you want your work to take?

What’s next is to continue the vampire trilogy and finish it, plus continue to work on some other things I have on the stove that involve dark urban fantasy and more straight-line fantasy.

I’ll have some audio stories coming soon, which I’m really excited about, and I can’t say much more than that yet.

And no, I don’t have a specific direction for my work. I’m not trying to point my career or my style in any specific direction other than producing better words than I did the last time I sat down to write them. As long as each book is better than the last, and readers are entertained and maybe enlightened a little bit, I think I’ve succeeded.


Which writers do you aspire to be like, if any? Which writers give you the best inspiration?

I want to be like the working writers, the ones who get to do this full time. And by that I’m not talking the level of fame held by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or JK Rowling (though, seriously, I wouldn’t say no to it), but if I could replace my corporate salary with writing income, I’d be golden. And since I don’t really know the salaries of my writing peers, I can’t give any definite names.

The writers that give me the best inspiration are my direct peers. You, Violet Patterson, Tim McWhorter, Brad Carter, and all of us writing in the small press arena. I think it’s a great place to be, and I think we’re writing in a critical time, not only in the industry, but also in the world. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing this with anyone else (except maybe Stephen King, you know…) but who I’m doing it with. And that is inspiration enough to keep writing, keep getting better, and to forge forward.


If Necromancer could be made into a horror movie, who would you want to direct it and why? Who would be cast as the main characters?

Oh man, that’s a hard question to answer. Necromancer is definitely dark, and while it has its horrific moments, I’m not sure I’d qualify it as a horror novel. That said, I’ve been super impressed with Antoine Fuqua’s movies over the years, and specifically, handling Torrin’s characterization would be paramount. But he did a hell of a job with Training Day.

As far as casting goes, that’s a little simpler for me. I’d give the role of Torrin to Kevin McKidd, Bobby would be played by Bradley Cooper, and I’d totally have Kevin Spacey do David Hale. I used to think Warwick Davis would be good for the Salamander, but after Game of Thrones, I’m down for Peter Dinklage. Mercury is a little younger, just under 30, and I could see Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulling him off. I suppose that leaves Mildred and Kara… Kathy Bates and Kate Winslet, respectively.


What makes horror so appealing to horror fans? Why do we like to be scared?

I think in the context of movies and literature, horror makes us feel alive, yet in the back of our heads, we know we’re safe. Nothing bad is going to happen to us, it’s going to happen to the characters in the book or on the television. Hell, I love to watch people getting killed in the movies or write about it in my books, and there’s a great sense of excitement when a movie or book gets my heart pumping, and my ears attuned to the slightest noise in my dark basement or very quiet house. But I know I can flip on a light, or turn off the slasher flick, and that’s it, it’s all over until I want it again. It’s appealing because we’re in control.

But you put me in even a mild car accident, and I’m not chomping to have another. It’s not an adrenaline rush, but rather too close for comfort. Uncontrolled fear, as in the kind I don’t actively give myself, isn’t for me.

Of course, there are those that will jump off a cliff with nothing but a shoestring and a prayer to keep them safe, so what do I really know?


In Necromancer, much of the horror comes from very realistic situations such as failing relationships set over the supernatural backdrop. How does realistic horror stack up against supernatural / fantastic horror? How do you find a balance between the real and the impossible?

For me, realistic horror is far more terrifying than anything else. The thought of losing my sons or my wife to violence, or failing them to the point where our lives are broken, is what really scares me as a human being. One of the scariest films I’ve seen in the last five years is “Compliance” and, worst part, is it’s based on true events.

And for me, it’s not so much as finding the balance between the real and the impossible, but using the impossible to exacerbate the real, make it worse than it is, and ratchet up the suspense. Let’s face it, most people (myself included) see obstacles and problems and we have a tendency to overstate their seriousness. You’ve heard the “woe is me” testimonials, and have probably given one or two in your life. That’s what the supernatural is for me. It’s that obstacle that really isn’t overstated, that thing the character can really cry pity over, and it threatens to make his real problems all that much worse. And, just like with us, that’s what it continues to be, until the character turns the corner and sees the opportunities, the solutions, and moves forward, which is what most people do after a little self-pity.


Lastly, where can we find your stuff and when is your next anticipated release?

My stuff is everywhere! People can catch me on my blog, or on the Facebook at cbryanbrown, or even Twitter @cbryanbrown. I’m up on Goodreads, too, if people are inclined to see me over there. I attend more than my fair share of conventions and events. My schedule for those is up on my blog as well. All the proper linkages are below and I encourage people to stalk me by commenting on blog posts, my Facebook page, or tweeting me.

My next release should be this year, though I don’t have an exact date… my short story, “An Unfettered Life” was picked up for the Hydra Publications Dystopian Anthology and hopefully my next novel, At Dawn They Sleep, will be out next year. That’s the second book in The Blood War Trilogy and it follows They Are Among Us.

Thanks again for having me! I appreciate the opportunity to run off at the mouth!

Blog: http://cbryanbrown.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cbryanbrown

Twitter: @cbryanbrown

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4027709.C_Bryan_Brown


Launching books the easy way.

Launching Books the Easy Way

This is part 3 of the Marketing, Marketing, Marketing series. To check out the other parts, click these links:

So you've covered everything you ever need to do before going live with your novel. The editing is superb, the cover art is flawless, the formatting is great, now you just need to launch the thing. Assuming you don't already have a huge fan base from something else (book related or not), launching a book can be a challenge.

Where should you start?

Step one is obvious: get your ducks in a neat little row. Order a proof copy and actually read the entire thing. Make sure it is perfect. Did the printer poorly cut the cover? Did you find a typo that slipped through? You need to make sure your product is as near to perfection as possible. Even if large changes need to be made which might take months, do them. Get it right the first time.

Step two: select a venue. Where should you host your book launch? There are a few different routes that might work and some of them will depend on your genre. Don't launch a gore fest horror book in a children's themed cafe... Do you want a bookstore launch or something different? Bookstores offer the upside of getting potential buyers as people simply walk through the doors. The downside is that bookstores will typically take a large cut of your profits since you are a direct competitor. My personal favorite? Launch at a bar. Assuming you are of age, find a local pub with a lot of character. Guests would be encouraged to eat and drink as they mingle and usually, that should be enough incentive for a bar to let you host with them. You keep the profits all to yourself.

  • Pro tip: make sure your location is easy to get to with enough parking. Don't make your friends and family drive more than 15 or 20 minutes to support you. A good central location is rather important, even if it means driving an hour yourself.

Step three: select a date. Don't pick a weekend. People are out of town on weekends (as you should be, going to conventions to sell your book...) and bars are packed on weekends already. Go on a Tuesday or Wednesday when the bar will likely be a little empty. Pick your date at least a month in advance. Allow yourself plenty of time to market the event and fix any potential mistakes before it is too late.

Step four: marketing. You have to spread the word. Do all the obvious stuff first. Make a Facebook event, post on Twitter, do all that online stuff. Post on the bar's Facebook page about it. Get some fliers printed. You can easily have a hundred or so posters printed for just a few bucks at any office supply place. Take your posters to the bar and all the nearby businesses. Ask the managers to hang them up and canvas the local area. Go to bookstores in the region and ask to put them up there (especially if your book is for sale online with that store anyways).

Step five: promotion. Make some bookmarks. You can get 5000+ bookmarks for around $100 and you definitely should. Leave bookmarks at the pub. Ask them to slip one in each customer check to tell people about the event. Leave them at the register of local book shops and coffee joints. Ask a bookstore manager if you can put some inside the covers of books similar to yours. Run a contest on Twitter or pretty much anywhere else on the internet. Maybe things like, "tweet this event to be entered to win a free advanced copy of book 2," or perhaps, "first 5 people at the event get a discount," or even, "every book purchase enters you in a drawing for a free gift card!" Things like that will certainly boost the popularity of your event.

Step six: don't shoot your own foot. Sure, your parents and best friends all want copies of your new work of art. Guess what? Don't give them one. Kindly tell them to attend your book launch if they want their free copy. You want to pack the venue with your supporters and giving out even one or two copies to friends before the launch is only hurting your cause. Don't let your eBook or online paperback ordering to go live before you launch either.

Step seven: get a massive amount of books ordered. Even if you don't sell half of what you take to the venue, the books don't turn to dust. You'll have them for conventions and other live events. Bring at least one copy for each person you expect to show up and bring double that number for people you don't know about. The launch is the one event where selling everything could be bad.

Step eight: get your finances in order. You need to accept cash and credit cards. That means you need a cash box, plenty of money to make change, and a card reader that attaches to your phone / tablet. It might be a good idea to get a friend to handle the actual sales part so you can focus on mingling and signing. That format looks a bit more professional too.

Step nine: weird stuff you might forget about. A costume might be a good idea. Is your novel steampunk? A steampunk outfit would be a good choice. That way, people who show up will recognize you without having to awkwardly ask someone else who the author is. Identification is huge if you plan on mingling (recommended) and not sitting behind the table. Do a reading of your book. Reading your words out loud might be the most embarrassing thing you'll do in your entire life, but it actually works. Sure, the people you know are already planning on buying a book, but other people who happen to be in the venue don't know about it. Doing a reading (or 2) lets the other patrons know exactly what you're about. It also looks and feels more professional. Make sure you stay for the entire time you listed. That should be obvious. Even if only a handful of people show up, just grab a drink and enjoy yourself.

Step ten: take pictures. Commemorate the event with photos and such (especially if you incorporate a cosplay element into your launch. Maybe a 'dress like the character' contest?) and post those photos to your blog. Tell everyone as you take their picture where it will be posted. That drives traffic to your website.

Step eleven: online stuff. I don't want to get into huge detail here, but there are a few things you can do. Send out advance copies to bloggers and reviews a month before the launch. Tell them about your launch and ask if they would please leave a review on their blog / Amazon the day of the official launch. Find other bloggers (like me!) and ask to be interviewed by them and have it posted the week of your launch. Write a guest post about your genre or something interesting and get a friend to post it to their blog the week of your launch. The more steam you can generate in the week prior and week after your launch, the better your online sales will be. Doing a blog tour is a great way to promote. Pair the tour with some paid online promotion (see other marketing posts for info on those) and you can really boost your ranking.

Step twelve: email list. Use your book launch as a way to gather emails for your list. When people buy the book, ask them to write their email on a clipboard. Use that as the seeds of your email list which will become a great tool to let everyone know about your next book launch event. 

 

I hope these tips help you plan a successful launch! If you have any other helpful ideas, feel free to post them in the comments. This is by no means an end all guide to becoming a billionaire, but it should at least get you started on the right track.

 


Looking for your next favorite book? Click here.

So you booked your first live event. Now what?

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing... Part 2!

Actually, let's back up a step. If you don't know where to look to find a place that will host you as an author, you (obviously) need to do that first. Is your book available on Barnes and Nobel? Call them, speak with a manager, and ask to do a signing. Offer them a cut of each book you sell. Offer to sell them store copies at a big discount. You could also get a table at a convention that specializes in your genre such as fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc. Want to try something with a cheaper table cost than comicon? Find a local art festival and grab a vendor booth.

OK, now you have a live event booked. What do you need? You can check out the first Marketing, Marketing, Marketing... post here if you want to get an idea of what my personal setup usually looks like. Bring some sort of stand to vertically display your books. Bring promo materials like bookmarks, cards, etc. If you have a banner, set it up behind you but don't block it. Put it a little off to the side. Lastly, bring tons of books! You need to have at least 6 copies of each title sitting on the table at all times and another 30+ of each in a box under your chair. Never run out. Plus, having so many copies will motivate you to sell.

Dress professionally. If you're at comicon or a similar event, feel free to cosplay. If you're at a church book fair, leave the Cannibal Corpse shirt at home. Especially if you're young, you need to look like a pro.

So you're sitting at your booth and people are walking by... but no one is stopping to look at your books. Guess what? That's your fault. At one of the comicons I attended last year, there was a guy selling a really cool children's book. The event was very family oriented, so there were tons of little kids with their parents. I sold more horror titles than that guy sold children's books. He sat behind his booth, worked on his laptop, and never interacted with potential customers. That's a fine way to lose money, get discouraged, and fail.

I can't tell you how many people have said things like, "I just don't feel comfortable promoting myself." That's like saying, "I'm a really good wide receiver on the football team, but I'm terrified of catching the ball." Suck it up, put on your salesman hat, and start moving books!

The Pitch: you need to have a solid pitch down that conveys the atmosphere and general idea driving your book. No one wants to stand at your booth and listen to the entire plot of your novel. Get something concise and poignant that will drive a sale. It might take a few tries to nail it down, but once you do, it will sell books for you. The legendary bookseller Tony Acree has a wonderful pitch that I've heard several hundred times. When a potential customer shows interest in his series, he describes it like this: "The first line of the book is, 'It was 6pm when the devil walked into my office and had a seat.' The Hand of God is about bounty hunter Victor McCain. His only brother has sold his soul to the devil and he has 24 hours to find a certain girl before the brother goes south. It has lots of action, dark humor, and ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. The Watchers is book 2 and you can find the rest of the series on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel."

That pitch is great. In 20 seconds, Tony conveys the atmosphere of the novel (it helps that the cover says supernatural thriller on it) and gives a brief overview of the plot themes. He lets the customer know that it is a series, that more books are already released, and that all of his stuff is available online as well. 

Want another example? Here's my pitch. When people come up and are interested in fantasy, I tell them something like this: "The Goblin Wars series is non-Tolkien fantasy from the perspective of goblins. I don't have elves in trees shooting bows or dwarves in mines with hammers. My races are goblins, humans, orcs, and minotaurs. The goblins are a hive-mind controlled by a single goblin queen until one of them is born free. He leaves his mountain home and adventure ensues. My books are $12 each or 2 for $20." Most people will ask more questions after my pitch and I try my best to answer them. For whatever reason, fantasy fans like to know a lot about the lore of a world before they buy the book. Personally, I like to give the price in the pitch since I hate asking people for prices myself.

So you have your pitch, but how do you get people to listen to it? When you're standing behind your booth (never sitting) and someone glances at your stuff, ask them a simple question: "Do you like to read?" If they shake their head, let them walk on. If they say yes, ask them what they read. If they respond with your genre, hand them a copy and dive into the pitch. If they say the classic 'everything', hand them a copy and dive into your pitch. If they tell you they like to read western cross-species bunny-themed erotica with a sci-fi twist, kindly inform them that you don't write that smut but you do write (insert genre here) if they're interested.

I'll leave you with one final bit of advice. I'm sure I've mentioned it somewhere else in the blog, but I'll say it again:

If your seat at a convention is warm, you might as well leave.

People want to look you in the eyes when they talk to you. Stand up, hand them a book to check out, and deliver your pitch. Oh, and watch those profits soar.

 

Want some help with your own pitch? Post it in the comments with a link to your book and I'll give my two cents.


Looking for your next favorite book? Click here.

Interview with Steampunk Author Rebekah McAuliffe

 

 

Firstly, tell us about Gears of Golgotha, your debut novel. What inspired it? Where did you get the idea for the world of chemists and scientists?

It's kind of a funny story how I came up with the idea for Gears, actually. The basic ideas of it came from a dream I had after a night of hanging out with friends (and no, it wasn't like that haha). From that dream came Erin, the main character; Dr. Sharpe; the villain (at the beginning, the villain was a man named Xerxes, brother of the Supreme Leader); and the Gears themselves. I knew I wanted to turn it into a novel, but I didn't know where to go with it. That was until NaNoWriMo 2013. I was hanging out at my cousin Amy's house (of Bella Morteand Letters to Daniel fame). I had a basic skeleton of the story, but didn't feel it had any meat on its bones. I had two choices to take on for my NaNoWriMo project: develop this new idea, or refine a murder mystery I had been working on. I eventually picked the new idea, but still couldn't think of a name. The idea of Chemists and Mages, as well as the title itself, are actually fossils from the era of story development where Gears was actually a commentary on the science vs. religion debate.

 

 

 

What made you sit down and start writing? Have you always been a writer?

This is another funny story, I think. When I was in first grade, my class had to participate in the Young Authors competition at my school. I've always been very competitive, and when I heard that there were going to be medals (at the time my life goal was to earn one of them), I jumped at the challenge. With the help of my Eighth Grade Buddy (an 8th grader that was assigned to first grade students to tutor them and serve as a role model), I wrote My Alabama Vacation, a story where I go on vacation to a zoo in Alabama, even though I have to this day never been there haha. There was no real plot to the book; it was mostly just about the trip there, and stopping at places like a barber shop and comparing human and animal behavior ("Do animals get haircuts, too?"). I glued in different pictures of animals, including one of a monkey picking bugs out of another monkey's fur for the "haircut" bit. I was really proud of my work, and submitted it to the contest. A kid in my class named Nicholas won first place with his story The Last Dinosaur. Even though I won second place, I didn't think it was good enough. I swore that day I would hone my skills as a writer, so that next year, I would kick Nicholas' butt. He transferred to another school the next year, and there were no more Young Authors contests, but I still kept writing and writing. In 7th grade, I wrote Chapparelle's World,a short story which can only be described as Edgar Allen Poe meets Alice in Wonderland, in which a woman ends up in her dreamworld and confronts her demons while in a coma after a failed suicide attempt. I won 1st place in my school's Young Author's competition, and even went on to the county-wide semi-finals, but it was then I realized something: I didn't care about the awards. Sure, they were nice, but I loved writing. And I was good at it. I've been writing regularly ever since.

 

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of being a writer? What keeps you writing more?

I love making up things. I love asking "What if...?"  When I was little, I used to make up what I called "step-friends," imaginary characters that I would make up stories for. I think about different worlds, wonder what life would be like if someone changed one little thing, or if something never even happened.

 

Who are your favorite authors? Does any of their work influence yours?

I really love the classics; you can never go wrong with them. I feel like the darkness of my stories was inspired by writers like Poe and the Bronte sisters. I love J.K. Rowling's writing style, too; it's so raw and personal, and gets under the readers' skin, which is something that I strive to do as well.

 

What books did you read when you were young? What was the first book you ever read?

I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on. I would read anything and everything. While I can't remember the first book I ever read, I do remember that I started reading from a very young age. My mom will tell you that I started reading at 2 years old, when I picked up the newspaper off the kitchen table and started reading it to my parents. I mostly read Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, and the Magic Tree House books. I didn't start reading classics until 5th grade, with my first being The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

 

What do you have planned in the future? Anymore steampunk? Anything written in the Gears universe?

I do want to write a sequel to Gears, but I haven't even started it yet, let alone set a release date for it. Right now, my attention is focused on ALPHA, book 1 of The ALPHA Trilogy. Think Bourne saga meets Manchurian Candidate. It's my first spy/political thriller, but I've always been fascinated with MK ULTRA and other legends like it, so writing it has been a lot of fun.

 

What's the best convention you've attended to promote your work?

Imaginarium, by a long shot. It was my first convention, and I had never felt more welcome there than anywhere else. That was where I actually felt like my work could mean something to other people. I was offered and signed two contracts there for Gears and ALPHA from Hydra Publications. I had a lot of fun, and I can't wait to go again in September, where I'll be turning 21!

 

What advice do you have for fledgling writers? 

KEEP WRITING. I can't stress this enough. They say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good at something. And don't let ANYONE tell you to stop writing.

 

Lastly, where can we find your work?

Amazon * Goodreads * Twitter

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing....

This post is primarily addressed to the good people over at www.reddit.com/r/selfpublish. There have always been lots of posts asking for marketing advice and a lot of the advice is either super obvious or terrible. I'm not incredibly successful by any means, but I've made a good bit more than I've put in.

Here it goes...

Step 1: The Really Obvious Stuff

In case you didn't know, you should use social media. You should also have a professional website. If you need a guy to design your website, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up with my web guy. He will get you set up in about a day for $200. Which social media websites should you use? All of them. GoodReads is the most important.  Do some giveaways and start building reviews.

  • GoodReads Pro Tip: at the conclusion of your giveaway, message the winners personally and make sure they like your genre. Do it under the guise of confirming their address. You can weed out the bots and people who actually don't like your genre and just want free crap.

Become active on forums and different writing communities. Join a local author group and make friends. Find the people more successful than you and learn from them. There is a subreddit for every genre - use them! If you write fantasy, hang out and interact on /r/fantasy. After people get to know you, dropping a line or two about your own writing (tastefully...) will be welcomed and respected.

 

Step 2: Printing

If you're really serious about making money in the crazy world of books, you need to spend money first. I highly recommend getting a few thousand (~$100) bookmarks printed at UPrinting that describe your book, have a link to your website, and links to Amazon. If you have multiple series or genres, get multiple bookmarks. Give them out at live events and hand them out everywhere you go. Go to bookstores and ask to leave them by the register or in your genre's section. Drop a stack off at a local coffee shop. Always keep a stack in your car and a few in your wallet to hand out to people you meet who might be interested.

The banner: Having a great banner is critical for live events. A great banner can run up to $400. Honestly, an eye catching banner will not only bring people to your booth at an event, it will sell copies for you.

Here is the basic setup I use at most live events. The banner is behind me and I use 1 or 2 stands to show off my books. I have free bookmarks sitting in front and copies for people to pick up and check out. The table is also covered with the Hydra Publications logo and banner to add further legitimacy. This photo is from a local ComiCon at a small library that drew about 3,000 people. I sold out of books.

Here is the basic setup I use at most live events. The banner is behind me and I use 1 or 2 stands to show off my books. I have free bookmarks sitting in front and copies for people to pick up and check out. The table is also covered with the Hydra Publications logo and banner to add further legitimacy. This photo is from a local ComiCon at a small library that drew about 3,000 people. I sold out of books.

Step 3: Going Live

I've said it before about a thousand times on reddit, live events are the best way to market. Now that you have beautiful bookmarks and a great banner, find every event you can and book a table. If you want to go to a huge event, get other authors to split the table with you and bring down the cost. The table pictured above cost $30 and I made hundreds.

How to sell in person: I've read plenty of posts from other indie authors about how they feel gross selling in person and they can't do it. They don't have the personality for sales. Guess what? The moment you tried to make money from book sales, you became a lifelong salesman. At my first live event, I only sold 3 books. I still blame the frigid weather and outdoors setting for the most part, but I didn't know how to sell. I sat behind my booth and waited for people to come up and ask a direct question. The event drew about 1,000 people and I only sold to 3 of them. Pathetic.

Find people selling books at your own live events and watch them for 10 or 15 minutes to get the feel of how they do it. Observe them make a cold sale to a disinterested passerby. Get a good 30 second pitch down and stick to it. You'll be pulling people in left and right.

  • My actual spiel at live events: stranger walks by and A) if they glance at my banner, ask if they like fantasy or B) ask if they like to read. If they like fantasy, give them a Goblin Wars bookmark and pitch them the book. If they like to read, ask them what genre. I'm in 3 genres, so I can usually grab them from that point. Always end your pitch with a price. Don't make the customer ask for it. Offer them a deal on multiple books, especially if you have 2+ out in the same series.
  • Another great strategy: take pictures (with permission) of cos players at live events and post them to your website in a Convention Recap style blog post. After you take a picture, hand them a bookmark with your address and tell them it will be posted soon. You just sent traffic to your website and every click is a potential sale.

Step 4: What do I write / how much?

The obvious answer is obvious. Write what you love! And never stop. With only 1 book released, physical promotion and live events are tough. People don't take you seriously and you can only market to fans of 1 genre. The truth is, series sell. Standalone novels are outsold by series novels 2 to 1 or better at live events. An article I read once said that you need to spend 90% of your "book time" writing and only 10% marketing. Every time you release a new novel, bump another 10% into marketing. That's a good formula to follow.

  • Don't skimp on a cover and good editing. You'll destroy potential fans if they read your first book and find errors or the cover is crap. The upfront cost might hurt, but you're hopeless without it. If you need a cover artist, I can recommend a few, just shoot me an email. If you need an editor, I know a couple of those too.

Step 5: Online Marketing

Unless you miraculously get accepted to the shrine of holy book sales known only by whispers (aka BookBub), you need to be careful with online advertisers. A few services out there look great, but many of them are expensive scams veiled as instant success. To name a few of the well known scams: Reedsy, BookDaily, NetGalley, etc. Stay away. For a detailed video on how to build ad stacks and make money (including a list of places to use when promoting), check out this post.

  • KDP & Kindle Select - I recommend it. I know a lot of people don't, but I've found the countdown deals to be fantastic.
  • KDP free download days - I sort of recommend it. Only do free days for book 1 of a series that already has book 2 released. You want to gain long term fans. Use those days sparingly.
  • Kindle Unlimited - I recommend it. You still get a cut of the sale price and it encourages people to give it a shot. Plus, there are several websites and subreddits devoted to books on KU and they will advertise you for free. This is especially true for romance / erotica.

Do a blog tour. What's that? Find a blogger (like me) and book reviewers and send them free copies of your eBooks to check out. Ask them to interview you for their blog. Run a giveaway contest on their blog. Ask other authors to be interviewed for your own blog so you can share an audience. Offer to write guest posts on other blogs about anything the owner of the blog wants to read. The more places that have your name and a picture of your book, the better.

Step 6: Mad Profits

Be realistic. Don't set out to self-publish or publish through a small press and quit your day job. Especially in the first year, it won't even pay for itself. Your covers and editor fees will rack up and that mountain of book related debt won't start to erode until you have 2+ novels released. Try to only check your sales rankings once a week and you'll avoid most disappointment. Use your sales rank as a reward: every 10,000 words you write on your work in progress earns another peek into Amazon.com's author central. 

 

 

Feel free to comment and add your own advice. And of course, since this is a post on marketing, check out my books!