Garrett Robinson is the author of five different series including: Non Zombie, Hit Girls, Ninjabread Man, The Touch Trilogy, and Midrealm.
He also runs three podcasts including: The Story Telling Podcast, Game Of Geeks, and We Make Movies.
You can find out more about him and his books here: www.garrettbrobinson.com
"Welcome to the Writers Roundtable," Charles Sinclair said, in his krikey be damned Aussie accent. "The show that's a parody of a parody that features a co host of one of the shows we're parodying."
"Watch it Charles, you're going to confuse our listeners," Cristy Ross replied.
"I thought we'd made all our listeners into co hosts already," Don Ward To The Wise added.
"Has anyone noticed that this show is just one big clusterfuck?" Wade Fineagain asked.
"Yeah. Except without the fucking," Charles said.
"That'll come later in the post show party which I'll be too busy ranting about organized religion to take part in," David W. Wrong joked.
"Hey Bill, you're awfully quiet over there. Aren't you going to say anything?" Don asked.
"You can't make me talk. This isn't Toastmasters International," Bill Prowess said.
"Alright, why don't we get on topic before this train derails any further and the government notices I'm podcasting on the job," Charles insisted.
"Oh come on. We don't do topics on this show. We just make random sex jokes and read internet comments responding to the sex jokes we just made," Wade remarked.
"Bill, do you have anything to say about that?" Don asked.
Bill pulled his head out of the clouds. "Oh sorry. I was too caught up reading the internet comments to listen to what you were saying."
"By the way, is there anything good in the comments?" Cristy wondered.
"Why would there be? Human beings should die in a bonfire of their own ineptitude," Dave ranted.
"Does anyone else think that Dave would make a great high school guidance counselor?" Wade joked.
"I hate you all," Dave muttered to himself.
"You know, if we're going to be wasting each others time, I could go back to writing one of the fifteen books I've been working on," Charles said.
"By the way, are you any closer to publishing any of them?" Don asked.
"Perfection takes time," Charles insisted.
"But I thought you were writing dinosaur erotica," Bill blurted out.
Everyone in the roundtable laughed except Charles, who instead looked quizzically at Bill.
"Why would you think that?" Charles asked.
"Well, that's what they're saying on the comments," Bill replied.
"Can we all stop paying attention to the internet comments please?" Charles urged. Charles then looked at a comment himself and got excited. "Oooh, one of the commenters thinks I have a sexy accent." Charles began typing. "How about some thunder down under?"
"Can someone please save this show?" Christy asked.
"Humanity can't be saved. We're all just headed on a downward spiral to disaster," Dave grumbled.
Don shook his head. "I feel like I'm trapped in a David Wrong/Jon Platt book."
"That doesn't make sense. There aren't any children in jeopardy," Wade said.
"And I'm not screaming at my screen over a damn cliffhanger ending," Cristy added.
"Not to mention they're just so fucking bleak. It makes the apocalypse look like a field trip to the zoo," Don said.
"I used to hate field trips. They were just another excuse to have to use my decoy wallet. Now the apocalypse, now that's something to look forward to," Dave said.
"Great. Dave has a boner for the apocalypse. Go figure," Charles deadpanned.
The roundtable then noticed they hadn't heard from Bill in a while.
"Wait. Did anyone see where Bill went?" Wade wondered, not seeing him onscreen anywhere.
"I think Bill decided to go start training for another marathon," Don said.
"Well, he's not missing anything," Wade replied.
"Actually, I think this is one of our better shows," Cristy pointed out.
"I feel sorry for our listeners. I'll be giving out free lobotomy's after the show," Dave insisted.
Charles then tried to corral the group. "Alright, does anyone want to do any talking about writing?"
Everyone just shrugged their shoulders though.
"I don't know, it's getting kind of late. I have kids to edumacate at school tomorrow," Wade said.
"Yeah. Besides, I can't think of any more dick jokes to make," Don added.
Dave put the final nail in the coffin though. "Let's just put this show out of its misery. I have some finger lickers to rant about on another show I'm co hosting," Dave said.
At the same time, I've always been a huge fan of Mad Magazine and considered parody to be one of the best forms of flattery. So I decided to write a little parody of The Story Telling Podcast. Here it is:
"Den Of Dorks Pocast Episode Number 21," Jarrett Robinson said.
Jarrett had a deep, booming voice. The kind of voice you could fall in love with, you know, if you were into falling in love with the sound of your own voice--which Jarett definitely was. But Jarrett was more than just in love with his voice. He was the kind of geek that believed if you couldn't juggle a hundred things at once, it wasn't worth doing anything at all. He could write three book series while making a movie while raising two kids while putting another bun in his wife's oven while leaving a voicemail for the SPP podcast all from the comfort of his podcasting closet. And that was just before his first power nap.
His charismastically cherubic cohost DC Bulges operated differently though. DC liked boobs and writing children's fiction. Not particularly in that order. And definitely not at the same time. DC liked to do his broacasts right outside the bathroom at his workplace, the perfect place to show off his bathroom humor of casual dick jokes and rampant profanity. DC was about more than just having a ready made porn name though. He liked tweeting random celebrities, having a fiance while having no set plans for a wedding day, and kickstarting the shit out of life. Of course he always had room for boobs too, not to mention correcting Jarrett.
DC interjected to Garrett's intro. "Uh, dude--this is the Telling Stories Podcast."
"Oh--right," Jarrett replied. "I'm just hosting so many so podcasts that I can't keep track of them all."
"You should start a new podcast on effective methods of multitasking," DC joked.
Jarrett deflected. "Why don't I just play the show intro?"
"That's probably not a good idea considering we still haven't updated it since we lost our girly girl cohost," DC replied.
"I've been a little busy man," Jarrett said.
"Dude, she left two months ago," DC insisted.
"Too be fair, I did just crank out eighty thousand words on Helm Sweepers in the last two days," Jarrett declared.
"Slacker," DC joked.
"I know. I was hoping for a hundred thousand words, but it's hard to get anything done--what with a pregnant wife and two kids running around the house," Jarrett said.
"Still, 80k is fairly respectable...kind of. Dare I say you were busier than Manny Calloway trying to solve a puzzle house," DC remarked.
"There it is folks, blatant self promo number one of the day," Jarrett replied.
"Then again a Ninjabread Maniac could have cranked out the full hundred thousand words," DC continued.
"How do you like that? Self promo number two. Got anything more in there?" Jarrett asked.
"Nah. I wouldn't want to promote myself too much," DC deadpanned.
DC and Jarrett then both broke out into laughter.
"But speaking of the co hosting situation, we are still actively searching. We'll be sure to give you an update in the next ten to twelve years, give or take," Jarrett announced.
"In the meantime if you have big knockers and want to be our co host, send a picture of those can's to me @DCBulges," DC said.
"DC, you know I'm looking for a feminist cohost," Jarrett argued.
"What, are you saying you can't be a feminist and have big juggs at the same time?" DC replied.
"Why don't we move on to the news of the week?" Jarrett suggested. "So DC, what's new with you?"
"Well, I've decided to take the advice of one of our listeners--" DC started saying.
"Wait, we have listeners?" Jarrett replied.
"And surprisingly it wasn't even Charles Sinclair," DC commented.
"Ok, so what advice did you take?" Jarrett asked.
"I'm going to start a kickstarter campaign to pay for my last parking ticket," DC revealed.
Jarrett shook his head in disbelief. "Is there anything you won't kickstart?"
DC thought long and hard. "I don't know. A colonoscopy, maybe. Although I've heard those butt doctors are pretty expensive, so maybe that would be worth giving a kickstart."
"Thank God David W. Wrong doesn't listen to this show. He'd rip into you like you were a finger licker ready to spread a buffet of bacteria," Jarrett warned.
"Like he has to worry. He can afford an artisan colonoscopy with all the royalties he's been getting from the Tomorrow's Fucked series," DC said.
"And speaking of David W. Wrong, you can catch him ripping into Agents of Snark on the Den Of Dorks Podcast with me every week," Jarrett said.
"Who's the self promoter now?" DC joked.
"Why don't we get into the main topic now, which is...self promotion. And why is this our topic? Because we're awesome at it," Jarrett said.
"Hell yeah. If you haven't heard, we have a book out. It's called Helm Sweepers. It's better than riding a unicorn through a typhoon of awesome sauce," DC touted.
"Look, I know some people think we talk about our mind blowing too much. But that's only because they're the best things in the history of the universe," Jarrett said.
"Besides, it's not like anyone's going to do this marketing shit for us," DC added. "Although how great would it be if I could get a kickstarter going to hire a publicist for us?"
Jarrett groaned. "DC--"
"Right. Well then go buy our books people. Don't make me spam your inbox with kickstarter pleas, because I'll do it," DC warned.
"Alright. And now that we've established that we are writing Gods without equal, what should we cover next?" Jarrett wondered.
"Isn't it about that time for the technical difficulty of the week?" DC asked.
"Oh yeah. We're long overdue," Jarrett realized admitted.
"Or who knows, maybe it won't this week at...," DC started saying. Then--silence.
"Uh, DC...DC," Jarrett called out.
But DC had conectile dysfunction.
"Dammit, spoke too soon. Well, I guess this is as good a time to sign off as any," Jarrett said. "Before I go though, Helm Sweepers is out, you should buy it, it's awesome. And if you don't buy it, I hope you die of chlamydia. Goodnight everyone."
Top Five Things You Can Do To Sell More Books
1. Get A Paid Promotion. Buying advertising is the easiest way to get exposure for your books. And while Bookbub is the big dog in the ebook world, there are a number of good options. Here's a rundown for you:
-Bookbub (www.bookbub.com) No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Pixel Of Ink (www.pixelofink.com) No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Ereadersnewstoday (www.ereadernewstoday.com) Bargain 99 Promo, Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Kindle Books And Tips ( http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/) Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Book Blast (http://www.bookblast.co/) Minimum of 5 reviews
How do you get those reviews?
-Librarything Member Giveaway (www.librarything.com)
-Goodreads Giveaway (www.goodreads.com)
-Story Cartel (www.storycartel.com)
-Beg your friends and/or family
2. Offer A Free Book. I've found the best route is to go permafree with either a prequel to your series or with the first book in your series. Other than a Bookbub promo, having a permafree book is one of the few ways to gain exposure on Barnes And Noble, Apple, and Kobo.
--Note: A free book could be a complete novel, novella, or even a short story. The point is to give readers a taste of your writing and hopefully they'll like it to come back for more. Also, although not necessary, I've found much better success with offering freebies as part of a series. Readers tend to be much more series dependent than author dependent.
The free strategy is also the best way to build a mailing list. And make no mistake, building a mailing list is the best way to bulletproof your career. Seriously, go to www.mailchimp.com or www.aweber.com and start a mailing list now. Post a link to your mailing list sign up page on your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and Amazon Author Central profile. To entice people to sign up for your mailing list, you can offer a free story, novella, or book.
--Note: For best mailing list practices, check out my previous post on the subject: http://ebookmarketingpodcast.blogspot.com/2013/08/ebook-marketing-secrets-part-2-mailing.html
3. Cross Promotion. Marketing is a tough job, so the more help you can get, the better. Not to mention no two authors have the same audience. So by the mere act of teaming up with other authors, you'll reach eyeballs you normally wouldn't have access to.
What are my best cross promotion options?
-Chapter Swap. This option is pretty straightforward. Find one of two authors that write similar material to you and trade sample teaser chapters in the back of each others books. I did a three author chapter swap that worked out quite well.
-Multi Author Boxed Set. This one builds on the chapter swap idea and takes it to the next level. Get a group of authors together (I've seen anywhere between three and ten) and create a mega boxed set. The beauty of this is that the more authors you can get, the better exposure. These boxed sets can be short stories, novellas, or even full novels. And once you have the collection together, there's a good chance you can get picked up for a Bookbub or Pixel of Ink promo, which will maximize your exposure even more.
-Create Listmania Lists. The beauty of Listmania is that it's one of the few ways to advertise your work on Amazon that will not get you torched. It's also relatively simple. If you write fantasy, create a Top 10 fantasy list. If you write romance, create a romance list. So how do you get exposure from this? Under qualifications, you can put "As the author of the (insert your genre) book (insert your book link) I know a lot about the subject." Note: Do not include your book in the Top 10 picks, just mention it briefly as part of your qualifications.
-Create a niche blog/page/feed. This option is the slow burn option. Create a blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook fan page for your niche whether it be Dystopian, Steampunk, Sports Romance, or what have you. Post links to other people's books in your genre. You'll slowly build up a following (not to mention some great pay it forward author karma). Then when your following gets big enough, start mentioning one of your books every week or so. It's a win win for you and your fellow genre authors.
4. Try out new Categories/Keywords. A lot of readers only search for books in their corner of the ebook universe. That means that if you publish only in the same two categories on Amazon, you'll miss out on potential eyeballs. You can branch out in a number of ways--either move your already published books to new categories to try and reach a new audience, or fan out your categories with the release of each new book.
For example, if you have a four book series, you can reach as many as eight different categories from your KDP dashboard. Not to mention the other categories that can be added through keywords.
Then of course there's the option to try out niche categories. You can check out my post on category selection here: http://ebookmarketingpodcast.blogspot.com/2013/08/ebook-marketing-secrets-part-5-right.html
How do I get extra categories through keywords?
There are a number of categories that are inaccessible directly through your KDP dashboard. Things like galactic empire, superheroes, sword and sorcery, colonization, and the like. But by putting in those categories exactly as they appear in the Amazon categories list, sometimes Amazon will grant you a third or even fourth category for your book. This can add some serious extra exposure.
5. Write another book. This is the tried and true piece of advice. The major obstacle keeping most authors from more sales is a lack of visibility. But with each new book you release, there's a better chance of people stumbling upon your material. Also, with the right mailing list, you can get immediate sales with each new book you put out. So get busy writing.
You should never give up on your book...at least not right away. Not until you've given it as many makeovers as you can dream up. But before I get into that, I should probably start at the beginning.
Look, I get it. Your book is your baby. You've poured countless hours into crafting the plot and characters. You've created a unique story that you're sure people will just go ape for. But what if they don't? What if your precious tome just sinks like a stone? What if you can count all the people who have bought your book on one hand?
It happens. I've been there-far too much. And faced with that kind of lukewarm response, it's easy to get discouraged. But just because your book hasn't gotten any love doesn't mean you should give up on it.
Faced with lackluster sales, you have a number of options. You can go right back to writing on book two, then when that is complete, put book one permafree and hope the freebie will spur sales of your second book. (an option I recommend, by the way).
But that option doesn't address book number one. That's the head in the sand approach. While writing a second book in your series is always a good option, it's also one that requires a significant time investment. And while you're writing book two, book one can still be making you money as long as you give it a little makeover.
What kind of makeover?
There's four main things you can do for a book that's lagging in sales.
1. Change the title
2. Change the cover
3. Change the blurb
4. Change the books categories
I know these seem very simple, but that's because they are. Just because they're simple changes though doesn't mean they're not effective. Sometimes a cover change can make all the difference. I've seen some indie books cycle through as many as five covers before they hit on one that works. But each new cover gives your story a chance to attract a different set of eyes.
The key is to make sure your cover looks as professional as ever. You need a striking cover that conveys your books genre and appeals to your target market. And although writing is your specialty, your cover is the last thing you should ever skimp on.
With your title, you want to do one of two things. Either A. Convey exactly and indisputably what the book is about, or B. Try to intrigue them with a mysterious concept hoping they'll want to know more.
As for the blurb, make sure you sufficiently tease the reader. You have to hook a potential buyer on your concept. Make them wonder what happens next. Make them desperate to click that buy button. How do you do this? With a sense of urgency. Appeal to the readers emotions.
The final change is not as direct as it seems. Changing categories can be as simple as going to your book dashboard and popping two new categories in for your books. Sometimes that works. You have to remember, a lot of book buyers only shop in their genre. Sci fi readers sometimes will only look at other sci fi books. Same with fantasy or romance, or what have you. So if you put your book in an entirely new category, you may catch the eyeballs you've been missing. For an idea about potential category changes, check out my previous post about niche categories.
*Note: I'm not advocating putting your book in a category it doesn't belong ever. It's just that most books have a varied enough subject matter that they can fit into more than just the two categories that Amazon allows you to have.
The second option with categories is more akin to rebooting your book. If a tale is universal enough, it can be adapted into multiple genres with a little rewriting.
But no matter what, you should consider rebooting your book if you change the title, cover, blurb, or categories. For one, you're trying to sell a new book. Secondly, if your book was largely ignored, no one will there's no one to take offense with you starting over. Even more importantly, rebooting your book resets the clock on the hot new release book. So if you're going to undertake a makeover, you can take your book off sale if you wish, change the title, cover, blurb, and categories, then hit publish as a completely new book and get a fresh thirty days to try and prove itself. Who knows, a little tweaking just may work.
What if none of that works though?
I know you don't want to hear this, but some books just never take off. I know from experience. I spent the first two years of my self pubbing career writing humor books--twenty of them. And none of them took off. It was demoralizing. So what did I do? I found a new genre. I started over from scratch. New pen name. New genre (romance, if you're interested in knowing). New start.
Then something amazing happened--I started making money. People that weren't closely related to me were buying my books--and lots of them.
It was amazing. The lesson? Sometimes a change in genre can make all the difference. Sometimes it is ok to give up on your books, as long as you never give up on yourself. After all, my writing skills didn't get any better. I just started writing in a more popular genre. And it made all the difference.
I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about niche marketing and categories, so I figured it was time to cover the other end of the spectrum. Namely, what sells best in the book world. Let's face it, some writers prefer to swim in the deep end. So what does it take to hang with the big dogs?
At last calculation, it takes about 1000 sales a day to crack the Top 100 on the Amazon paid list. Granted, that's 1000 sales in a 24 hour period just to be number 100 overall. To break the Top 50 or Top 20, that number goes up to 1500-2500 copies. And although these numbers are approximates because everyday sales fluctuate, there is one thing that never changes--romance and thrillers rule the charts.
I know, that's hardly surprising. But what may make you do a double take is just how dominant those two genres really are. I did a quick tally of the Kindle Top 100 yesterday and found some overwhelming results. Of the Top 100 ebooks on the bestseller list, the genre breakdown went like this:
Romance -- 45 books
Mystery/Thriller -- 24 books
Literary Fiction -- 13 books
Dystopian -- 6 books
Non Fiction -- 5 books
Science Fiction --4 books
Periodicals -- 3
That means nearly every other book in the Top 100 was a romance. One out of every four books was a mystery or thriller. And seven of every ten books was either a romance, mystery, or thriller. That's amazing news if you write in any of those genres, but awful news if you write anything else.
But there's even better news if you write romance. Of those forty-five romances, there was a mix of New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Erotic Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
Even more staggering were genres that didn't make the Top 100 at all. No horror, no humor, and the only Fantasy books were paranormal romances.
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you aren't writing romance or mystery/thriller, it may mean that the odds just got longer for you. Or maybe it just means that chances aren't you won't be a best seller. But there's good news--you can still find your niche and make livable wage. It's up to you though--are you up for swimming in the deep end?
For the longest time, novellas have gotten the short shift in literature. Traditional publishers found it cost prohibitive to put out 60-100 page books. But in the age of ebooks, that has all changed. Now publishing novellas can be both lucrative and a quick way to build an audience.
Novel writing is a long process. Depending on the length of your book and the speed you write at, it can take anywhere between 3 months and 3 years to put out a new novel. But just because you finish a novel doesn't mean you can find anyone to buy it. And just say your novel finds either no audience or a limited one. The prospect of putting out book two becomes even more daunting.
That's where novellas come in. At roughly 60-100 pages, novellas are much easier to write. In the same time it takes you to write 1 full novel, you could put out 2-6 novellas. And if those novellas are part of a series, you can be quickly growing your audience, getting closer and closer to reaching a critical mass.
The allure of novellas is simple. They're short enough to be read in one sitting, yet long enough to provide a satisfying story.
So how do you write a novella?
The easiest comparison is to look at your favorite TV series. Each novella would be the equivalent of an hour long episode. And whereas a novel has both the main story with a number of subplots, novellas tend to focus on just the main drama--or romance--or thread of action. Keep it lean. Get right to the point. Then get out. Just like novels though, novellas are the most effective when they are part of a series. That way you can deepen the characters and flesh out the world with every subsequent book.
How will writing a series of novellas grow my audience?
The main hurdle keeping an author from sales is the fact that they haven't been discovered. It's hard for readers to buy your books if they have no idea who you are. Writing novellas can help with this though.
* First, the fact that they are shorter means you can write them quicker. The more books you have out, the more likely a reader will be to stumble onto your work.
*Also, if you can write two novellas in a short amount of time, you can make the first book permafree with a link in the back to sign up for your mailing list, thus building your fanbase.
*The more books you have out in a series, the more you can experiment with categories. Just say you have 4 novellas in a series--that means you have as many as 8 potential categories to put your books in. This is crucial. A lot of people only search books in their favorite category--whether sci fi, fantasy, horror, or romance. But by fanning out your categories, you can get eyeballs to your book that would be hard to grab otherwise. --Note: I am not advocating putting your books into categories that they don't belong. That's the best way to get a series of 1 star reviews. But given how Barnes & Noble allows you up to 5 categories while Amazon only allows you 2, most books can fit safely into as many as 5 categories.
*With Amazon especially, the first 30 days are crucial. That hot new release window is when you get maximum exposure. Now depending on how quickly you write, you can feasibly have a new title out every 1-2 months, allowing you to nearly always have a book on the new release list.
*Writing a lot of content gives you the opportunity to create boxed sets. When you reach three novellas in your series, you can bundle them up not only giving you a new release, but also the opportunity to sell your book for three, four, or even five ninety-nine. Then you can create another boxed set when you reach five or six titles, followed by a mega six book boxed set, etc...
The potential to make good money on novellas is there, but you don't know until you try. So as always, get writing.