Book Marketing For Introverts With Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin is selling her romance novels on Kindle and Smashwords and doing really well. In this interview we talk about how she manages as an introverted writer who still needs to market, and also about her writing habits.

In the introduction, I talk about moving back to England and how it makes me feel as well as my European influences for Pentecost. I also talk about how the Amazon algorithms seemed to have kicked in now Pentecost has been in the bestseller list for religious fiction for almost 2 months. I have also started Prophecy, the sequel and I’m about 6000 words in (I will be updating the word count in the sidebar right so you can keep me honest!). I have been researching Milgram’s obedience studies, the neuroscience of belief and eugenics which might give you some plot hints.

Ruth Anne Nordin is a romance writer with 18 books so far in several series and many more in the pipeline. Ruth is doing really well with her independent author sales through Amazon and Smashwords and has recently written a little ebook on marketing available on Smashwords.

  • Ruth started in 2002-2007 with vanity presses and spent $10,000 and earned $300 back so she isn’t a fan of that way of publishing. April Hamilton told her about CreateSpace and then she found out about Kindle from my Author 2.0 program. Ruth loaded her books onto Kindle and Smashwords and these are her figures : Dec 2010 $15,500 and Smashwords $2860, and now Kindle $12,000 but Smashwords $23,000 so it’s definitely worth it to stay on Smashwords. Many people criticize it but the sales grow over time.
  • Ruth writes Christian romance with the difference that the husband and wife characters have sex, which sets her apart in the genre. Initially there was a stigma around writing romance so she wrote fantasy and thrillers but finally she decided to embrace what she enjoys and now writes 4-5 books per year. It takes passion to write like this. (I had the same experience before believing I had to write prize-winning literary fiction until
  • How Ruth writes prolifically when she is a busy Mom. She literally writes in 15-20 minute blocks when the kids are settled but she also stays up late to write. It helps to have a word count goal – she aims for 1000-3000 words per day. She also asks her readers what books they want next in the series. She also involves people in the process e.g. title choice and book cover.
  • Having something out there for free can give people a taste of what you’re doing. She also did do some ads but they work better if you target your specific genre. She used coffee time romance for only $10 for the month and that became her bestselling book.
  • She uses Dreamstime.com to get a cover image and uses a cover program and does them herself. Ruth does still do paperbacks but makes no money from them, it’s more for thanking people and giveaways.
  • On blogging, Ruth has a first draft blog where she posts excerpts from her writing. It actually helps as people chip in with inconsistencies. Blogs help with marketing because they give you exposure and word of mouth. Ruth also has ‘On being an author‘ blog where she talks about writing including some honest posts on the downs of writing like hate mail and downward trending sales.
  • Facebook is where most of Ruth’s readers find her and she has a page there where she gives away coupons and posts book covers etc. Twitter is more about information gathering for book promotion from other writers.
  • On being an introvert. It’s great having people come to you which happens when you are out there on the internet. Ruth finds it hard to just tell people she has a book. It’s better when it’s attraction marketing. You don’t have to be pushy with your marketing and it can really turn people off. There is an etiquette online. It’s best to cultivate a relationship with someone online before you pitch them.
  • The kind of attitude you need is to love what you’re writing. It’s also good to keep a folder of fan mail for when you’re feeling low. As slightly insecure writers, we sometimes focus on the negative. You also need to have patience. It takes time to make some sales and to build up relationships.

You can find Ruth and her books at RuthAnnNordin.com and also on Amazon and Smashwords. You can get the free ebook on marketing tips here.

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Comments

  1. Christina Busby says

    Ruth is the BEST author of ALL TIME! love her work and am an avid follower of EVERYTHING she does! lol I guess I am more of a Stalker lollllll rofl ;)

  2. says

    Great interview! Like Joanna, I recently realized I ADORE genre fiction, but I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to write literary fiction for years. Encouraging to hear about Ruth’s success in her genre.

    • says

      I’m the same Elle. It’s such a great release to write what you love instead of what you “should” write. It will be interesting returning to England where things are quite snobby but hey, we all find our place in the world.

  3. Christina Busby says

    lol.. Ever since I have found her we have I feel this connection when it comes to certain things as far as the general direction a book should go… She may think otherwise But I for one believe it. lol I dont regret finding her books! :) THANKS for this interview! Gave me more insight to her day to day life!

  4. says

    Just litened to the podcast today. Great stuff all round, but I was really struck by Ruth Ann’s first draft blog. It seems a great way to get some buzz going. Not only that, but after hearing it I had the idea of using said buzz to get folks to chip in toward book costs like pro editing and cover art via something like Kickstarter (which I found out about after Mur Lafferty used it to finance getting her Heaven series e-published).

    That written, though, are there any down-sides?

    - Can an author alienate readers who get invested in a first draft by excising reader-favourite characters, scenes and even plotlines in revision / redrafting, or if the whole tone of the book changes as a result?

    - Is there also a risk of being seen as un-professional by airing your first draft?

    - Finally, must the author ensure you state up front that “All Your Idea Belong To Us”, i.e. any suggestions, corrections and constructive criticisms henceforth become the poroperty of the author to use as he/she sees fit?

    • says

      For me, characters, plots, and scenes that show up in my first draft pretty much stays the same. I’m not the kind of author who does rewriting. That’s not to say I’ve never added or removed or changed something, but I typically do that in the first draft stage. I have made an announcement in my blog while writing the book to let everyone know I’m changing X and then write it out to show them what I did differently. Not all authors work like this, though. If I did do rewriting offline, I’d just let the readers now in a post what I was doing and why.

      I’m sure someone out there somewhere sees a first draft as being unprofessional. I’ve some reviews regarding my unprofessaional work, but I’ve learned that there is an opinion on everything. Most of the feedback has been positive, but I wouldn’t let the negatives drag me down. If I held off on a first drag because of unprofessionalism, I never would have met a good percentage of readers who ended up friending me on Facebook and communicating with me about what works, what doesn’t, and how excited they are about my next book. But if you feel unprofessional doing a first draft blog, then I would advise against doing one. If nothing else, I believe the author needs to do what they right doing.

      It never occurred to me to make a disclaimer that any ideas provided by readers belong to me. The ideas I’ve taken from my readers have been surface ideas. For example, someone likes a certain name, so I’ll go ahead and give a character that name or if they’d like to see a baby be a boy or girl, I go ahead and do it. These aren’t things that change the story. I haven’t received any complaints by not giving someone credit for these things. I would think as long as someone wasn’t writing the actual story for me, then there wouldn’t be a problem. If I’m right, copyright laws in the US state that names, titles, and ideas are not subject to copyright. Let me see if I can find the link. I found it. It’s page three that covers what is not copyright protected. I don’t know if you live in the US, but that’s what the law is here. http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf

      I hope that helps.

      • says

        Thanks for replying, Ruth Ann! It does indeed help. I have to admit I’m still fond of the idea of the first draft blog, but I’m still percolating on the overall “marketing / branding / etc.” side of the business of writing, so I’m not doing anything in a hurry either way (aside from working on my first draft, of course).

        The “rights” idea came up because a few years ago, when a roleplaying game company was blogging the process of a new edition of a beloved RPG, they put a specific footnote – an anti-Creative Commons – on the blog stating that “…we reserve all commercial rights, and all rights to prepare derivative material on things posted here. In addition, posters of comments must be aware that we reserve the right to use whatever material they post here, and/or derivative works therefrom, in PARANOIA, supplementary products, licensed products, or derivative work, without any compensation whatsoever… At our discretion, and without obligation, we may… make a good faith effort to credit you for stuff we use… By posting comments, you grant us a non-revocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use whatever you post, in whatsoever fashion we deem useful, here or in any other forum, in PARANOIA or in any and all future products, including but not limited to derivative works…” The whole text was more light hearted, but it made me think something similar mightn’t be a bad idea if I were to incorporate public feedback into a work.

        Of course, the game in question was called PARANOIA…

        • says

          You know, it wouldn’t hurt to have a disclaimer on the blog. It might be a good idea to do it myself. I never thought of it, but the problem is you never know who is on the other end of the computer. Another writer offered to help me write my book summary, and when there was a falling out, she threatened to sue me for copyright of the summary so I removed it and made my own. So I say better safe than sorry.

          • says

            Glad that was of help in the end, Ruth Ann!

            Been thinking about the blog still, and remembered you mentioned that someone suggested podcasting it. I actually did some volunteer radio work a while back and I’ve been meaning to finish a project or two I did for LibriVox a while ago, so I might give that a whirl instead of (or in addition to) a written first draft blog!

        • says

          I tried podcasting my novel and failed miserably. I don’t have the voice for it. It takes a lot of talent to do it. I want to say it was Scott Sigler who mentioned podcasting. He said it was the best way to get out there, but if you couldn’t pull it off, then do a first draft blog. That’s why I did the blog. :D

          • says

            Sorry to read podcasting didn’t work out for you, Ruth. I’ve subscribed to your First Draft blog, though! (Apologies if you already answered this in your interview, but: ) Did you first-draft-blog your very first book?

            Ahh, the Sigler. That dude is amazing. I’ve listened to his podcast of The Starter, and the man put a ton of work into it. (I still love his Coach Hokor!)

        • says

          I didn’t put my first book up on the first draft blog. If I had, it would have been a lot better since people would have called me on my historical inaccuracies. I was writing romance back in December 2007 and publishing them. By the time I found The Creative Penn is was early 2009, and I didn’t start a first draft blog until September or October of 2009. I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the first draft blog and sales, but it was in December 2009 when I earned my first $100, and then things took off from there. Before then, I was using free ebooks, blogging about what I was writing and my experiences as an author, and had a website. I did book trailers, some video blogging, the podcasting, and hung out on Amazon boards, but the first draft blog was where I was most comfortable at.

          Will you let me know if you start a podcast? My email is ruth@ruthannnordin.com.

  5. Christina Busby says

    I dont think that there is anything “Un-professional” by a first draft blog. I think that it was a brilliant idea, and to be honest it is how I found Ruth’s writings. If she had never put it out there I would not have found it. She does have the rights reserved thing when she is fully finished with the book, but I don’t see where she/ would have to say that our ideas belong to them.. I see it more as going back and forth finding exactly what works and if your readers are seeing the book in the same aspect that you are wanting them to see it. I don’t think that they are having to alienate us if they have to change the book. If the story flows better being revised go for it. Mind you I am NOT an author, just an avid follower of Mrs. Nordin’s!

    • says

      Thanks, Christina! Glad to get a reader’s perspective.

      I think I might’ve made a mistake in using the “All your rights…” line; it was meant to reference that annoying meme that was all over the ‘Net back in 2004 (I think) – at least, in gamer circles, anyway! In retrospect, though, it reads a little harsh, which wasn’t what I intended.

    • says

      Smashwords takes longer to take off. In the beginning, Amazon will yield more sales, so I would focus more on Amazon at first while putting my books up on Smashwords. It took me about a year before I received my first check from Smashwords, so while I was getting between $1000 to $2000 a month on Amazon, I only made $25 on Smashwords. Amazon’s been pretty consistent overall. I do earn more as I publish more books and am now publishing new releases at $2.99 instead of $0.99. So that has made my average on Amazon more in the $3000-$4000 a month range. (The ads on Coffee Time Romance and Night Owl Reviews has helped a lot to boost sales of my older books.) Then Amazon’s UK store has now picked up in sales, which currently brings in another $900 to $1500 a month.

      That all being said, I am at the point where the bulk of my money is coming from Smashwords. However, I’m sure there will be a dip somewhere with Smashwords. I hit the #1 spot on Romance at Apple and was in the top 50 on Kobo for one of my books, which boosted sales. Now that I’m no longer at the top of those lists, I expect to see a dip in what I’ll be bringing home from Smashwords next quarter. I’m interested to see if Amazon will start rising over Smashwords again since I have two more books due out by June 1. I’ll be sure to keep reporting on my blog because I try to mark down interesting trends that might help other authors know what to expect. I’m not saying my experience will yours, but there might be something similar. All I know is that I had no idea sales could dip, so I panicked when it first happened to me and assumed that was the end of my writing career. I’d like to put other authors’ minds at ease if possible. :D

  6. says

    I’d never considered using those 15 minutes when the kids are quiet. My kids are still pretty small, but I realized I need to use what time I have, even if it’s not a big chunk. Great interview!

    • Christina Busby says

      I agree Emily. LOL.. I think When I get out of school there will be more time for me to devote to my story! :)

    • says

      It can be a major pain to be interrupted while writing, but if I can set a word count goal and reach it at the end of the day, I see progress and that what keeps me going. I started publishing romances when my kids were 2-5, and I have four kids. So it’s not impossible. Sometimes you’ll want to pull your hair out because you’re interrupted in the middle of a good scene and it can take a few minutes to get back into it, though. :D

  7. Erin Jamison says

    Ruth,

    Do you use promotional materials for your fans? I read an interesting suggestion in RWR about an author that uses promotional material as a welcome package. Do you use book trailers too?

    Check out excerpts of my upcoming book at http://erinjamison.com

    • says

      What I do is offer my fans a coupon for a free download of my latest release on Smashwords if they sign up for my newsletter or ‘like’ my Facebook Author Page. I have also done giveaways of autographed books, and this is open to all of my fans. I announce the giveaway on my first draft blog and my Facebook Author Page. I only give away five books because I do open it up to those overseas, and the shipping rates can be expensive on those books.

      I do use book trailers, but I haven’t noticed a significant spike in sales because of them. They have generated some interested because a few people said they did buy my book afterwards, so I can’t say it was a total waste of time. :D

      I’ll check out your site!

      • Christina Busby says

        i found ruth from her blog, and am a vivid follower of everything she does. She won’t steer you wrong on what works for her! her trailers are great, and if i wasnt already a fan i would have bought a book shortly after watching a trailer!

  8. says

    This was a terrific podcast. Ruth Anne was great and there was a heap of really practical advice applicable to any kind of writer.
    Thanks both of you! I am feeling super-inspired after listening to this.

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