Pitching Literary Festivals, Genre Boundaries And Crime Fiction. With Clare Mackintosh

I attend quite a few literary festivals and I always come away having learned something.

I definitely think they are worth going to for the new perspectives as well as the networking opportunities.

literary festivalToday on the blog, I interview crime author Clare Mackintosh, who also runs a literary festival in Chipping Norton in the UK.

She answers some of my burning questions about literary fiction and genre boundaries, running literary festivals and how authors can maximize their chances of being involved. You can leave Clare any questions about these topics in the comments at the bottom of the post.

Where does literary fiction cross over into crime?

The term ‘literary fiction’ makes me roll my eyes a bit! More and more it seems to be used by authors who think they’re a cut above the rest, but I think the distinction between literary and commercial fiction is becoming very blurred. Crime novels in particular often offer commentary on social or political issues: take Eva Dolan’s excellent Long Way Home, in which she tackles the issues of immigration and migrant workers.

What do you think about genre boundaries in a world where readers increasingly shop online even for print books?

In principle I really dislike the idea of genre boundaries, which trap books in pigeonholes. Readers can be very quick to say that they ‘never read chick lit’ or ‘don’t like historical fiction’, when it’s very possible they would really enjoy the very book they are dismissing as ‘not for them’.

That said, I’m not sure what the alternative is. Genre categories provide signposts for readers, and when so much of our browsing is done online, such signposts are crucial. Personally I find myself relying more on lists of ‘popular books’, than on restrictive genre lists, and I’ve discovered some real gems that way.

You also run a literary festival – why did you start that and what are some aspects about it that you love?

chip lit festI started Chipping Norton Literary Festival in 2011, and it ran for the first time in April 2012. I started it because I wanted to put authors into intimate venues in the heart of a town, instead of in enormous marquees. The experience is quite different.

ChipLitFest is a huge project, with thousands of pounds to raise every year, but its been very successful, thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers I work with.

We produce around 50 events, as well as an extensive schools’ programme, and receive fantastic feedback from our visitors. I love meeting authors, and reading outside my comfort zone (I try to read a book from every author who appears at the festival), and I like the challenge of running such a big project on a budget.

If authors want to pitch literary festivals, what are some of the things they should consider?

Don’t just send details of your book!

Literary festivals are about events, not just authors, so think about the sort of event you could provide. Craft a pitch of no more than a couple of paragraphs, telling the organiser what the event would look like, who it would appeal to, and what your credentials are for appearing in it. If you want to appear on a panel, suggest other authors you could appear with: make it easy for the organiser to say yes.

Finally, take the time to find out who to pitch to. I receive around 300 pitches, and the vast majority are addressed ‘dear festival organiser’. It’s impolite, and it’s counter-productive – I’m far more likely to read one addressed to me.

Switching your head from festival organizer back to author speaking at festivals :)

The author often has to pay to appear at these events – what are the benefits for authors in speaking at events, and when is it best to do other forms of marketing?

I don’t believe authors should pay to appear at literary festivals. Events at festivals should be programmed for the benefit of the (usually paying) audience, with carefully chosen topics that will sell well. Authors should then receive some sort of fee (ChipLitFest works on a profit-share basis, other festivals pay flat fees) and have their books made available for sale.

There are, of course, huge benefits as an author to speaking at festivals and other events, but it’s important to choose carefully.

Make sure the festival has a good online presence, and that their off-line marketing strategy is solid. Even if your own event is small – perhaps you’ve been asked to run a workshop for 20 people – find out what the total anticipated visitor numbers are, as these are the people who will see your name on the programme and your books in the festival shop.

You won’t sell lots of books at a festival.

At an event of, say, 100 people, less than 10% will buy books. But appearing at a festival helps to cement your brand and build loyalty, and you may well find that your book sales improve immediately following the event. Success tends to breed success, so a few events at small festivals can lead to speaking gigs at larger ones, where book sales may be better and promotion more wide-spread.

You’ve been wonderfully supportive to many indie authors, myself included, as well as Dan Holloway, a friend of the blog!

But most literary festivals still exclude indie authors and self-published books. How can we go about changing the culture to include indies at lit festivals?

Yes, they do, and I think that’s a really hard issue to tackle. Ultimately events have to sell, which means programming either a well known author, or a really enticing topic (or both!). We include a self-publishing event every year, but I confess I haven’t yet had a self-published author in a headline slot. Yet…

I’d like to see more indie authors pitching lit fests, but pitching well!

I’ve just glanced at the pitches I’ve had from indie authors for ChipLitFest this year and – sadly – I haven’t pursued any of them. Without exception the emails tell me how many books they’ve sold, how long they were in various online charts, and what the reviews say. That would be great: if I were a bookshop!

I let you goTell us about your book and who might enjoy it in particular.

I Let You Go is a psychological thriller about the consequences of a terrible accident. The story is split between the police investigation, and Jenna Gray’s decision to walk away from her life in Bristol. She tries to leave the past behind, but – as we all know – that’s easier said than done…

It’s an uncomfortable story, described by Elizabeth Haynes as ‘absorbing, authentic and deeply unsettling’, and I’ve been delighted by feedback from crime writers I really admire. Mark Billingham said the twist made him ‘green with envy’, which is as big a compliment as I could have hoped for!

If you liked Apple Tree Yard, Gone Girl, Into The Darkest Corner, or Close My Eyes, I think you’ll like I Let You Go. Let me know if I’m right!

How much of you is there in your characters and in the book? How much does it relate to your own background?

I was a police officer for twelve years, so in choosing to write crime I am undoubtedly writing what I know! I think it’s inevitable that a writer creeps in to their own books a little, but my characters aren’t based on me or anyone I know. DI Ray Stevens is a family man, who becomes so engrossed in a hit-and-run case that he loses sight of what is happening at home. He’s a fictional character, but the essence of his issue – that confusion of priorities – is something very common to police officers, and indeed to anyone with a demanding job.

clare mackintoshI Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh, is published by Sphere. It is available in ebook and trade paperback from 6 November 2014, and in paperback in April 2015. Follow Clare on Twitter @ClareMackint0sh or via her website www.claremackintosh.com.

For information on Chipping Norton Literary Festival, visit www.chiplitfest.com or email info@chiplitfest.com.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Alexandre Dulaunoy

Reinvention And Lessons From The Journey. Special Podcast Episode 200

It’s a big day!

champagneThis is episode 200 of the podcast! The first show went out in March 2009, so this also marks over 4.5 years of podcasting every couple of weeks. That has to be a milestone worth celebrating!

In the extended intro, I reflect on the last 100 episodes and how things have changed for me, and then I have an interview with Alexis Grant, who I met online when we both first started nearly 6 years ago. All the show notes are below.

*Indie Author Power Pack** SUPER DEAL! Get the best in writing, self-publishing and book marketing advice with The Indie Author Power Pack***

Out now for just 99c limited time deal! Features the updated How to Market a Book, Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran and Write, Publish, Repeat by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt.

amazon-iconKobo_Icon-150x150ibooks iconnook-icon

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

Reflection on the last 100 podcast episodes: How my life has changed

Episode 100 was a reflection on the first one hundred episodes, so this is a reflection on episodes 101 – 199.

joanna penn pentecost

The first iteration of Pentecost when I still published fiction under Joanna Penn

When I interviewed David Wood about writing action adventure thrillers in August 2011, my first novel Pentecost was out and I had sold 7500 copies. I also had my original batch of 3 non-fiction books, none of which are available anymore. As I’ve mentioned before, fiction doesn’t age but non-fiction needs updating or retiring!

I had just moved back from Australia to London after being away for 11 years – I left in 2000 to go traveling and just didn’t come back for a while. I was still working as a business consultant, implementing accounts payable systems into large corporates (deathly boring!)

At that point, the big names in self-publishing were Amanda Hocking, John Locke and JK Rowling had just launched Pottermore – her own company selling ebooks and helping fans create things in her world. Rowling had never sold her ebook rights, and rather than let the publisher sell them, she started Pottermore to sell direct – essentially, the first big name to go indie, although people always seem to forget that fact!

Now, just over 3 years on, I’m a full-time author entrepreneur, happily living in London.

I have 8 fiction books (novels, novellas and short stories) and 4 non-fiction, that are selling in 58 countries, in 4

Some of my action adventure thrillers

languages and in ebook, print and audiobook formats. Right now, I have 39 separate products available from these properties – and the penny has certainly dropped around exploiting multiple rights!

I’m an international speaker, paid to talk to people all over the world, and in Feb 2014, my book, One Day in Budapest, was part of a boxset, the Deadly Dozen, that hit the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Some memorable episodes that impacted my creative life and business

  • There’s one book that I own in all three major formats – print, ebook and audiobook – and that’s Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield. I re-read it several tiTurning Pro Steven Pressfieldmes a year and it kicks my butt every time. So interviewing Steve about his book, The Lion’s Gate, really made all the years of podcasting and blogging and building a platform worth every second. I was a total fangirl in the interview, but when you meet one of your creative mentors, it’s pretty exciting! I seriously thought about giving up the podcast after that, as I felt it was such a high point in my career!
  • That experience was compounded by interviewing two more veterans of the creative path in the same two weeks – David Morrell (most well known for First Blood/ Rambo) and Bob Mayer, another mentor for me in the indie space. I continue to learn so much from the interviews I do, and these guys can teach us all lessons about longevity in the game, as well as discipline and always learning new things.
  • In terms of my own business development, the interview I did with Orna Ross on rights completed the picture in my head of how rights work. That interview led to others with Jane Friedman and Elizabeth Hyde Stevens on Business for Authors 3Dbusiness, and together they resulted in my move into translations, audiobooks and finally, my book, Business for Authors. There’s no point in interviewing these amazing people unless I take action myself, right! I hope you also get actionable help from the show, however you consume it.

One of the big things I have been working through in the last couple of years is the fear of judgement and how to stop self-censoring.

  • My J.F.Penn side is much darker than the happy, jolly person you see on this show – I am honestly both people – but embracing my shadow side has been a real journey. I talked about this in an

    Brooding thriller author, J.F.Penn!

    interview with Chuck Wendig, who really does let it all hang out!

  • In terms of the writer’s daily word count and work ethic, I continue to be inspired by the boys from the Self Publishing Podcast - Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright, all of whom I have interviewed separately on the show. Also, Kerry Wilkinson, UK crime author, typewritertotally floored me with some of his daily word counts. If you want to be as successful as these guys, you have to put in the hours!
  • Talking strategy with Charlie Gilkey was part of the catalyst for making some decisions around my own business model shift into primarily fiction, and taking the hit on other areas, as well as getting a virtual assistant and outsourcing more things, as well as stopping guest posts on the blog, and focusing on sharing my own voice. We all need to have those re-examination moments as we progress on the journey, or one day we lift our heads and wonder where the hell the time went!

I considered making this the last show …

Because podcasting is a huge time commitment and I need more hours on my fiction if I am to grow that side of things faster, BUT/

The fundamentals of why I do this still stand: I learn something from every person I interview and it enriches my own creative life, plus it (hopefully) helps you along your journey. It also helps me to connect with authors and entrepreneurs all over the world, widening my community and network, which I love.

kobo writing lifeAlso, in terms of the financial commitment, I now have two corporate sponsors who pay for the hosting – which goes up every month as I add new episodes and get more traffic. Thanks to Kobo Writing Life and 99 Designs for their support.

99designsI also have many of you supporting me on Patreon/thecreativepenn giving a few dollars per show, which over time will add up. So thank you VERY much if you are supportonpatreonsupporting the show – the list of brilliant patrons is here. You are all superstars!

So, I’m committing to another year – thanks for joining me :) Please do leave a comment at the bottom if you want to give me any feedback on the show.

Interview with Alexis Grant – one of the first people I met online!

Alexis GrantAlexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist, helping you create the life you want to live. You might know one of her sites, The Write Life, which focuses on helping writers create, connect and earn.

You can watch the video version of this interview here on YouTube or check out the notes below. We discuss:

  • How we first met on Twitter in 2009 when we were very new to the online world, and we were both working in corporates, doing our writing/blogging etc on the side. Alexis now runs a company that primarily runs blogs for small businesses. We both left our day jobs in 2011 within months of each other.

Why we are still here when many of the people we started alongside have fallen by the wayside

  • Persistence. Continuing to create every day, to connect with other people and persisting for the long term. Sometimes it’s just about not giving up.
  • Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It is perceived as riskier than a day job, although actually it can provide multiple streams of income and not just being dependent on one. But it is difficult and particularly hard when you’re just starting out, even when it comes down to what you do every day. I mention in Year 1 reflection how hard it was, how defining your own life is a huge adjustment, and how I needed to get out the house for a commute and a coffee etc. We talk about wobbly moments and how we still have them. You’re always going to have self doubt.

On work schedules and whether ‘balance’ ever happens with creative entrepreneurs

  • I definitely don’t have balance and I love it! I talk about my schedule and how everything in my life is related to writing and my business. Even when I am traveling or with my husband, I am finding material for my books in all of my life. Alexis talks about her schedule and how she exercises during the day, and how she does things like bike rides with her husband when other people might be working during those hours.
  • We have both removed email from our phones (Alexis has personal email but I have no email at all!) We talk about making time for creating and ‘doing’ time, and then responding at different times. We both use schedules and to do lists – I have a Filofax and use Things app; Alexis uses Google Calendar and Tasks, as well as Flow for her team, and says that daily exercise is key for her discipline and wellbeing.

On our business models and how they have changed over time

  • We talk about courses and education, which is how we both started with the ‘monetization’ aspect. Alexis has ebooks and email courses on various topics including How to be a Twitter Power User. I am slowly cutting down on my multimedia courses, although I still offer video courses on book marketing, author entrepreneur, how to write a novel and fight scenes, and I am ramping up audio and books in other formats.
  • Alexis’ main income stream is from clients, as she manages a number of blogs. She mentions The Brazen Life as one of the sites she manages and produces content for.
  • As content creators, we both have a small income stream around sponsorship, advertising and affiliate income, but it’s not a major income stream for either of us. I have income from professional speaking and small amounts of consulting. We also talked about using webinars for growing an email list, developing loyal fans and selling affiliate products, but both of us find them too high maintenance so we don’t use them much now.

On writing books and publishing options

  • We talk about books and how I moved from not writing fiction at all, to now having a large chunk of my business income from fiction. When I met Alexis, she was writing a travel memoir about a solo trip in Africa. She put it aside several years ago when traditional publishing didn’t work out and has just picked it back up again. She talks about how that project is progressing.

On reinvention and reframing failure

  • We talk about our various ‘failures’ and how we both actually just consider things as experience and experiments. We both reframe what we’ve done in the past as just part of what we do. Everything is a lesson learned, and ‘failure’ is just a step on the journey.
  • Your attitude and the way you frame experience will influence the way others see you. When entrepreneurs talk about the ‘pivot,’ it’s actually working out what’s not working and then shifting your direction.
  • Discovering what you love to do is part of the journey as well. Deciding what to say no to, is just as important as what to say yes to. You have to actively choose what to focus on and spend your energy on. I mention the sign on my wall, “Write to live. What is living today?” as a way to keep the focus on living and experiencing as well as writing and working.

Going forwards …

  • We discuss the future of content marketing – the more time goes on, the more high quality content is rewarded, so that will continue to be important. We talk about the fact that we both stopped reading so many blogs, and focus more on creating our own things. It doesn’t matter how the technology changes, people will still want information, inspiration and entertainment.

“It’s about executing, rather than thinking about executing.”

  • The ‘content shock’ and the ‘tsunami of content,’ and thoughts on how you stand out in a crowded space. It’s about personality and sharing your take and your experience, as well as developing trust over the long term. People will want to get their information from you, if they care about you as a person.
  • In our experience, most people aren’t willing to put in a) the time b) the work and c) the personality. It’s about persistence and sticking with it. We’ve both done the same things – created good content, networked with peers and created relationships – every day. We talk about the importance of developing friendships with other creative entrepreneurs who care about the same things as we do.

You can find Alexis at AlexisGrant.com and also at TheWriteLife.com and on twitter @alexisgrant

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons John Wardell, typewriter by J E Theriot,

How To Get A Unique Illustration For Your Book Cover

With the explosion of creativity that is the indie publishing revolution, you may have noticed the array of book covers that use similar stock photos in their designs.

99DesignsKeys1

Selection of the initial key designs submitted. All copyright belongs to the designers.

Some authors these days have private photo shoots to ensure their cover images are unique, but what about if you have a smaller budget, or you want something uniquely special in terms of an illustration?

This type of approach can also work for art that relates to your book, e.g. world building and maps, or artwork for marketing purposes

Using 99 Designs to get a custom illustration

Full disclosure here. 99 Designs now sponsor 50% of my podcast, so I was encouraged to try them out. After hearing great things from other authors, I thought I would do something a little different.

99Designs_vandamme99

FINALIST: Copyright 99 Designs designer lucky bast(art), previously vandamme99

I already have a book cover designer in the wonderful Derek Murphy from Creativindie, so I decided to get an image done for my next book, Gates of Hell. I’m just heading towards the end of the first draft and the book features a hunt for the Key to the Gates of Hell. It should be out before Christmas if you’re interested!

My original brief: Create a key to the Gates of Hell. Let your creative darkness loose!

99Designs_BelleIllumina

FINALIST: Copyright: 99Designs BelleIllumina

I wanted to be quite open with the brief, as at that point I hadn’t decided what the key would look like. Here’s what I wrote:

I want an illustration of a key to the Gates of Hell – with the aim that the image is used on the book cover of the book, titled “Gates of Hell,” and also in promotional material.

And also that I can use the illustration to get a pattern made to actually 3D print the key.

I have visions of screaming open mouths and mis-shapen deformities and demons and oozing blackness – but basically, I want a creative image that is still recognizably a key and I want you to use any images that conjure up hell. I am using a group called the Misshapen in the book, so that word may also help. The book is a thriller with a supernatural edge, so dark/scary is good – edge of horror is fine. I don’t mind black & white or color.

Changing my mind based on the designs

Copyright 99Designs designer josephnovi

FINALIST: Copyright 99Designs designer josephnovi

As the designs started to come in, I realized that I was confusing the issue by saying I wanted to turn the image into a 3D printed design as well as a book cover. The two are quite different, and the book cover was always the most important thing, so I narrowed down the requirements as the competition progressed. I also created a Gates of Hell pinboard on Pinterest for the book to give another flavor to the design.

99Designs_MadMaxx

FINALIST: Copyright 99Designs MadMaxx

I had 125 entries from 48 designers in the end, ranging from some really amazing elaborate designs to some striking images.

You get to rate the images as they come in, and that helps the designers consider another iteration. You can also engage in private or public conversations which helps everyone move closer to the desired result.

With 99 Designs, you only pay if you are happy with the design, so there is no risk. Of course, guaranteeing the payment may make the competition more attractive :)

You can also do Polls by selecting the images and then enabling a shareable link for email and social media so people can vote on the designs. I sent the link out to my J.F.Penn fiction newsletter subscribers, as well as sharing on social media and had several hundred votes on the final Poll.

key to the gates of hell

WINNER! Thanks D.C – Danniel Soares

The Key to the Gates of Hell

And here’s the final design, which I love!

It looks like a real key but also captures the desperation of a soul in Hell (in my mind at least) and it came out top of the final poll as well.

Next, I need to finish the book and we’ll work on the full cover design. Since it will be ARKANE Book 6, there are elements of the cover that are fixed. This illustration will just add another dimension, and in fact, provided a story twist that I’m currently writing!

It was an added bonus to have other creative minds that jump-started my own thoughts as I wrote! I just LOVE collaboration with other artists – it’s so rewarding.

I asked the fantastic designer of the winning illustration, Danniel Soares, a couple of questions:

How did you come up with the design based on the (very loose) brief?

I particularly like this sort of brief, giving enough direction ideas, while not being strictly defined. The downside is that you’ll probably need to narrow down on one or two ideas relatively fast, in this contest scheme, so you can present something that already have a reasonably good rendering. Other important consideration is the time it will take to develop it.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to do a 3D sculpture in the foreseeable time (I’m not really “fluent” with the 3D software I have, and I’m not sure my current hardware would be powerful enough for this sort of thing as the 3D mesh grows in complexity), even though this consideration also had some influence on that particular idea, which is relatively simpler, while still at least just as good. The other idea, actually came first, and morphed more or less gradually into the final one.

What are your tips for authors who want to get designs for their books?

An important thing to have in mind before anything are the different sub-domains of graphic artists. In an ideal world people wouldn’t take jobs they don’t really feel ready to do, but that can happen, and the final product will probably suffer as a result.

The main distinctions among professionals who would do the final work are perhaps “illustrator” and “designer” (who will often have their sub-specialties, based on genre, technique, and intended use). The latter deals more with the overall layout and structure of the whole, while the former is more concerned with “isolated” details, even though it’s helpful to have a notion of the planned design, to make it match appropriately — but perhaps some designers would prefer to have the illustrations roughs to see how to layout things around it! The specialty of one will tend to be the weakness of the other, even though there will be some people who do both equally well.

The best way to proceed then is to take some time to look through several artists’ portfolios, trying to find a few who work in styles that match the book.

Maybe while still writing the book, perhaps it could turn out to be a form of inspiration. And make some inquiries along the way, or at some allotted time.

Established professionals, whether they’re solo, a team, or subcontractors of an agency, will likely have a well defined process, describing their obligations and conditions in a more or less standardized contract. With people who are just starting out things can be probably be somewhat more complicated and insecure, due to inexperience, and a natural lack of expertise in the business and administrative side. But that probably can be dealt with some precautions from the author, like coming up with a reasonable contract beforehand, to be filled in eventually. That’s definitely somewhat more complicated, but may worth the extra work.

Services like 99designs can be seen as an intermediate way, since they’re literally being the intermediaries between the artists and the client, offering some aspects of “insurance”, even though I’m not totally sure about the details. I hope it didn’t sound too much like some sort of infomercial, because I’m not being paid to make this sort of advertisement. But even with this sort of backing it’s perhaps interesting to study how to do a briefing that is specific enough and clear in scope, in order to avoid misunderstandings and frustrations from both sides.

What else can you use 99 Designs for?

99designsIf you need visual work done, then there are lots of options for what the designers on 99 Designs can do for you. The services include:

  • Book cover design and custom artwork and illustrations
  • Logos and business cards
  • Web page and mobile apps as well as banner ads
  • T-shirts (I am seriously considering this at some point!)

You can get a PowerPack upgrade if you use my sponsorship link: 99Designs.com/joanna which will supercharge your contest by highlighting your listing, bolding its font, and bumping it to the top of the page. Basically, you can get more entries from better designers.

I found the whole process pretty addictive and since I love collaboration, it’s definitely on my list to do again.

OK, I’d love to know what you think of 99 Designs, or if you have used custom designs/illustrations from other designers.Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.

 

Indie Author Power Pack. 99c For 3 Of The Biggest Books In Self-Publishing. Plus An Exclusive Interview.

Cue exciting music … dim the lights …

Indie Author Power Pack And get ready for all the writing, self-publishing and book marketing advice that you can handle in the super-duper …

Indie Author Power Pack!

Including 3 of the top-selling books for indie authors

PLUS/ a 1 hour exclusive conversation – never heard before – with me, David Gaughran, Sean Platt & Johnny B. IndiePowerPackAuthorsTruant from the Self Publishing Podcast in audio, video and transcript format.

The PowerPack is at 99c for a very short time in an exclusive deal, and even if you have all the books already, it’s worth it for the extra audio in my humble opinion!

amazon-iconKobo_Icon-150x150ibooks iconnook-icon

Here’s what you get in more detail:

Second Edition of How To Market a Book.

how to market a book second editionI haven’t announced this before now, but in the last month, I released a new edition of How To Market a Book. I kept it (mostly) secret so you could get the new version in this fantastic deal!

I always intended the book to be more about strategies and attitudes to marketing, rather than specific tactics. The second edition is not a radical change to the first, and I’m pleased that most of the information still holds true. However, I have changed so this edition includes updated information about what has worked in my own author life.

There’s a new chapter on the pros and cons of exclusivity, as well as using box-sets as part of author collaboration. There’s a new section on marketing with visual content, as well as the specifics of SlideShare, and the video and multimedia chapters are updated with new examples.

There’s a whole new chapter on using ACX for audiobooks and information on how to market audio specifically. Pre-orders are now included in the launch section, although this is a recent development and the best practices have yet to be teased out in detail.

PLUS/ The Second Edition of Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

lets get digitalDavid’s popular book on everything you need to self-publish successfully has been completely rewritten since the first edition in 2012.

It includes details on how the publishing industry has been disrupted and practical, hands-on advice on the very latest best practices on editing, cover design, formatting, and pricing.

It gives you proven marketing strategies that won’t eat into your writing time and are actually effective at selling books. It also shares tips on platform building, blogging, and social networking, and explains which approaches are best for selling fiction versus non-fiction, and what writers should really focus on.

This new updated 2nd edition now has more options for those on a tighter budget, teaches you how to get your book into print (and why that helps selling e-books), tells you why you should start a mailing list immediately, and shares the pros and cons of going exclusive with Amazon.

Even if you’re an experienced indie, you’ll find some fascinating insights in the interview section of the book where some of the indie success stories share their tips.

PLUS/ Write, Publish, Repeat – from Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt with David Wright

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 6.39.34 pmIn 2013, Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words and made their full-time livings as indie authors.

In Write. Publish. Repeat., they tell you exactly how they did it: how they created over 15 independent franchises across 50+ published works, how they turned their art into a logical, sustainable business, and how any independent author can do the same to build a sustainable, profitable career with their writing.

Write. Publish. Repeat. explains the current self-publishing landscape and covers the truths and myths about what it means to be an indie author now and in the foreseeable future. It explains how to create books your readers will love and will want to return to again and again.

It details expert methods for building story worlds, characters, and plots, understanding your market (right down to your ideal reader), using the best tools possible to capture your draft, and explains proven best practices for editing.

The book also discusses covers, titles, formatting, pricing, and publishing to multiple platforms, plus a bit on getting your books into print (and why that might not be a good idea!). But most importantly, Write. Publish. Repeat. details the psychology-driven marketing plan that Sean and Johnny built to shape their stories into “products” that readers couldn’t help but be drawn into — thus almost automatically generating sales — and explores ways that smart, business-minded writers can do the same to future-proof their careers.

This book is not a formula with an easy path to follow. It is a guidebook that will help you build a successful indie publishing career, no matter what type of writer you are … so long as you’re the type who’s willing to do the work.

IndiePowerPackAuthorsPLUS/ Exclusive conversation in video, audio and transcript

To make this promotion exciting for even the people who already have all 3 books, we organized a private Google+ Hangout and the four of us talked about a whole load of things for both new authors and more advanced stuff.

The chat is available in audio, video and text transcript and includes:

  • The epic fails we have had as authors and how to reframe failure
  • Tips for people with just one book
  • How to begin building your publishing empire
  • Thoughts on KDP Select, Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Publishing
  • On making assets and a long term career as a storyteller
  • How to build your own confidence as an author and as an entrepreneur over time
  • Author branding and reinvention

PLUS/ some personal things that you might not know about the four of us … even if you’re a long term listener of my podcast or SPP!

I know you want this deal :)

Please pre-order or buy now on one of these fantastic stores!

amazon-iconKobo_Icon-150x150ibooks iconnook-icon

PLUS/ You can ask us all questions live on the March to a Bestseller Facebook event – Fri 7 Nov

Just join the event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1642751759284824/ and then come to the page on the day and you can win prizes, ask questions of all the authors and get an astonishing number of amazing books for 99c.

march to a bestseller

 

From The First Book To Running A Multi Genre Story Studio With Sean Platt

For some authors, this creative life is about seeing their one book in the world.

Others have a vision of their stories reaching the world in many forms, over many years. Today I interview Sean Platt about the beginning of his story studio, and his journey from co-author of one book to the multi-faceted creative business he runs today.

In the intro, I mention the history-making deal that Barbara Freethy has made with Ingram for print distribution to bookstores – exciting times for indies as the final frontiers come tumbling down! I also recommend the new book, ‘Discoverability: Help readers find you in today’s world of publishing‘ by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – it’s a goldmine for fiction authors. Plus I mention my design competition for the key to the Gates of Hell, which I ran on 99 Designs :)

99designs-logo-750x200pxThis podcast episode is sponsored by 99 Designs, where you can get all kinds of designs for your author business including book covers, merchandising, branding and business cards, illustrations and artwork and much more. You can get a Powerpack upgrade which gives your project more chance of getting noticed by going to: 99Designs.com/joanna

sean plattSean Platt is a storyteller, creating myriads of bestselling fiction through his story studio Sterling and Stone with co-writers David Wright and Johnny B Truant, as well as being one of the hosts of the fantastic Self Publishing Podcast.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube, or read the notes and links below.

We discuss:

Sean’s journey from his first book to running a story studio.

  • I interviewed him first in Nov 2011 and it’s taken iterative steps to get to the point of having so many books available now, it’s getting hard to count! Sean talks about his copywriting and internet marketing background and how that helped get him started. How the foundational books have led to more experimental work by layering and building on the steps before. Film and TV and all the rest are for the future, but it’s important to take each step at a time.
  • the beamThe long term view. The next 5 to 10 years in the business of publishing. Long term thinking is a mindset thing. We talk a bit about Kindle Unlimited and making choices for the short term vs the long term. Sean mentions that someone will figure out some kind of tool for discoverability in fiction that rivals the way non-fiction is sold. This will disrupt the way books are sold.
  • On gaming and other media. I mention the gaming advert ‘This is for the players,’ and Oculus Rift. We talk about getting our stories into gaming and other media, as well as 3D printing. We’re both super excited about this in the future. On bleeding edge activities for indies – like translation. Sean mentions that people shouldn’t copy his methods e.g. not worrying about sales but focusing on the big picture. We talk about growth hacking and how you need awesome product in order to grow something.

On switching your head from introverted storyteller to CEO of the global publishing empire.

  • Sean’s business model: I build stuff, and I talk about it. That’s two different things, and they go in that order. Every morning he creates beats, creating story and then spends time on the business side of things. There’s a lot of moving parts and all of it is valuable.
  • How to work effectively and collaborate with others and on leaving the ego behind. How to trust your gut when talking to people you might collaborate with. Some tips for knowing when you have a partner you can work with.
  • On finding inspiration in order to keep going with helping other people. On not wanting to be the smartest guy in the room. Making time to have a break, but the reality of a start-up is hard work and long hours. Lucky we love our creative work!

You can find Sean at Sterling and Stone story studio, as well as on the Self-Publishing Podcast and @seanplatt on Twitter.