Podcast: Scott Sigler On How To Be A NY Times Best-Selling Author

It’s great to learn from authors who have ‘made it’ in traditional publishing but who have got there through unconventional means.

Scott Sigler is the NY Times best-selling author of ‘Infected‘ and ‘Contagious‘ and his new book ‘Ancestor‘ is out on June 22 with Crown Publishing. Before being published, Scott podcasted his novels for free building up a huge fan base for his writing which attracted an agent and publisher. He still podcasts weekly now.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Scott’s writing and publishing career has unfolded. He spent 11-12 years trying to get published the traditional way, getting rejections at first and then publishers didn’t know which genre to put his books in. He discovered podcasting in 2005 and was one of the first people to put out a podcast novel. (Tee Morris also did this at the same time).
  • On cross genre writing. Scott writes hard science horror but is also described as a thriller writer/ sci-fi. It is hard for publishers to put books in a genre if it is not obvious, but there is a place for multiple markets these days. Just be aware of author branding.
  • Recommendations on becoming a NY Times bestselling author. Write every day, write the best story you can. Edit heavily so you produce the best work. Get your content out online and start building an audience. The days of ‘being discovered’ are gone. You need to build an audience and bring that audience to a publisher.
  • Publishers and agents are picking up people with platforms and audiences already. Scott is with an agent who finds people online, he also represents Sh*t my Dad Says.
  • How to balance writing and promotion. There is no balance! It is hard work to write and podcast every week but Scott is dedicated to building a fan base who spread the word about his writing. Scott’s writing schedule has been modified to ensure he has material to podcast weekly. When he started podcasting, he was working a full-time job but already had 4 complete novels ready to go. It is a reality that 99% of authors have to work very hard to make a writing career and make their book stand out. You have to be a full time writer AND a full-time marketer now.
  • Podcasting is still the most effective method to get your writing out there, but it is also the most work. It establishes your personality and your brand as well as well as your writing. Audio connection is important for story in all cultures. It is extremely powerful and makes for lifelong fans, but it is a tremendous amount of work in terms of recording. You could also blog your book in text format. But you have to get it out there. Example David Wellington Monster Island.
  • Self-publishing/podcasting will not compromise your publishing ambitions. The publishing industry is desperate for books that have proven sales so it will help you to get your work out there. (Scott’s book Ancestor was originally small press published and podcast before being picked up by Crown and re-released)
  • On piracy vs obscurity. Stop worrying about it and get your work out there! It’s a cost/benefit ratio. Example given is Cory Doctorow who gives his work away for free. Obscurity is the enemy of book sales, not piracy. It’s a way to get fans. You are competing with video games, TV, movies and millions of other books in the entertainment industry. You have to get people trying out your stuff somehow.
  • On Scott’s blended publishing model. Crown publishes Scott as a modern day horror/ thriller writer vs his other book The Rookie being “Star Wars meets Any Given Sunday meets The Godfather”. It didn’t fit the brand Crown have for him. So he put The Rookie out as a limited edition, self-published small print run and makes money in 2 different ways – through the trad published novels and the self-publishing. This may well be the model of publishing that people move to as if you have an audience, you can sell straight to them. (Clearly, you have to build an audience first!)
  • Ancestor is a blockbuster movie in book format. A biotech company creates a creature that will provide organs to humans for transplantation. But instead of a docile herd animal, they create a 650 pound extraordinarily hungry predator! Ancestor is out in the US on June 22.
  • Scott has also created an awesome book trailer that is just like a movie trailer. Trailers are a great way to get attention from readers but also can be a way to attract a movie deal itself. Visual culture and YouTube is so ingrained in culture that a book trailer can convert people who might not go to bookstores into buyers. Trailers are also ‘evergreen’ marketing and get views daily. This is so much better than print advertising so it is worth spending time and effort on.

All the Ancestor information is here, plus you can find out more about Scott as well as listen to some of his podcasts/audiobooks. Scott is also on Twitter @scottsigler

Here is the transcript in PDF format => Transcript Scott Sigler

Podcast: Using Video For Book Promotion With Gideon Shalwick

When mega-publishers Simon & Schuster say authors should be on video sites, we should all be listening. In March, I posted 7 reasons why authors should use video sites and this podcast expands on the topic by interviewing internet video expert, Gideon Shalwick.

Gideon Shalwick is an internet entrepreneur with businesses that include BecomeA Blogger.comGetYourVideoOnline.com and KillerYouTubeStrategies.com. He specialises in online video marketing and certainly has a lot to teach authors and writers.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Gideon got started as an entrepreneur, writing self-published books as well as publishing very successful ebooks using internet marketing to spread the word online. He has spent several years working out how he could make money online, and has now committed to using online video.
  • Why video is so important for online marketing. It can give you fantastic traffic to your main blog and get people really engaged into your product. You can use it to build an email list very fast and it can be a primary traffic source. YouTube is the no. 1 video site.
  • Tips for people who are not so comfortable with being on video. You could use screen capture for your videos e.g. with slideshows or other information. Using video with yourself starring is awkward at first, but it gets easier over time. No one likes their own voice or the way they look, but you will get used to it and you will get results!
  • Video can be quite basic. You don’t need fancy, expensive equipment and in fact, the more authentic, the better on a site like YouTube. So keep it simple.
  • Create an authority channel on YouTube. If you post regular, quality content on a topic then you will get a following and you will rank in your niche. For this amount of leverage, you do need focus. If you are into video, this can be a good approach. But even if you don’t want to completely focus on video, it is still a good idea to have some videos to make your site multi-media.
  • It is easier to dominate on a video based blog than a text based blog so video can get you a lot more exposure. People buy from people that they like and online video can make a great impression.
  • Video demographics. It’s not just teenagers anymore! (Watchers of my channel are aged 45-64). YouTube is also on the growth curve and the mainstream is expected to come online in 2012. Now is the time to be on video in order to take advantage of the future.
  • Easy and free/cheap ways to get online. Free site Screenr.com allows you to do screen capture. You can also buy Screenflow for Mac, or Camtasia for the PC. For quick and cheap recording, try the Flip Ultra HD (and some tips for using it).
  • A couple of killer YouTube strategies. It is a social network so you do need to interact, leave comments and friend people. Also, use a long keyword rich description as well as tags (the description box is longer than you think!) It is also better to do more frequent, shorter videos i.e. under 3 mins.

You can connect with Gideon and sign up for his free report at his blog GideonShalwick.com , at his YouTube channel and also on Twitter @GideonShalwick

You can download the transcript in PDF format here => Gideon Shalwick Transcript

OR/ Click right to Show the transcript of the podcast =>show

Podcast: Crime Writer Seth Harwood On New Publishing Paradigms And Author Marketing

It’s great to have crime novelist Seth Harwood on the show talking about the new publishing paradigm for his latest novel, Young Junius available for special edition pre-order on May 5th.

Seth Harwood is the author of several crime novels including ‘Jake Wakes Up‘ published last year and his latest book, ‘Young Junius‘ . Seth is also a podcaster, writing teach and co-creator of the Author Bootcamp program.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The publishing world does not quickly recognise new novelists, so Seth used podcasting to build an audience for his crime novels.
  • Pre-release of ‘Young Junius’ is inspired by Scott Sigler’s self-publishing run of ‘The Rookie’ and now ‘The Starter‘ which his publisher didn’t want to publish as it didn’t fit the genre. Seth has partnered with a small press, Tyrus Books to organise a special edition that is only pre-sold on the internet with tons of special extras, photos, cover art, embossed and more. People pre-order on Amazon so why not skip them as the middleman and do this directly.
  • The possibility of mainstream authors doing this is out there i.e. avoid the middleman and publish straight to the market. We will likely see more authors using this model for publishing.
  • Young Junius’ is a crime novel, fans of ‘The Wire’, ‘Dexter’, ‘Law & Order’ and authors Richard Price, David Simon, Michael Connelly will enjoy it. It’s available for pre-order on May5th – Cinco de Junius! If you use promo code ‘PENN’, you’ll get $3 off. Go to SethHarwood.com on May 5th.
  • How podcasting can still benefit new authors by getting your work out there to new fans. You need to have a presence where people can find out about you, and podcasting is ideal as you can podcast your actual work and people can listen when they are doing other things. [Seth has an online workshop with Writer's Digest webinar on podcasting coming up if you want to know more]. The podcast version of ‘Young Junius’ is here.
  • Don’t worry about your voice! Fans like to hear the author’s voice reading the book.
  • How to balance your time between writing, marketing, revisions, online promotion. It varies depending on the phase you are in for your book. But it is definitely tricky!
  • It’s important to write well but also sell a lot of books. Write what you love to read and create, not something that is ‘literary’ if that is not the genre you love.

You can order ‘Young Junius’ special edition at SethHarwood.com on May 5th. You can connect with Seth on twitter @sethharwood

Podcast: Writing Romance And First Time Novel Experiences With Dean Mayes

On writing romance and the experience of being a first time novelist with Dean Mayes.

Dean Mayes is the author of romance novel, ‘The Hambledown Dream‘ and a pediatric nurse based in Adelaide, Australia.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Dean’s 7 year journey has played out from first ideas to published author, and how the idea for the novel just didn’t go away
  • About his book, ‘The Hambledown Dream’, a paranormal romance, and how it just so happened that paranormal romance became popular while he was writing it
  • How Dean started writing the book on a blog for free, and was ‘found’ by publisher, IReadIWrite Publishing through his site
  • How a typical Aussie bloke came to be writing romance (see The Paperback Hero for inspiration!)
  • Some keys for writing romance: solid and believable relationships based on solid and believable characters
  • Writing sex scenes that are appropriate but also are a key part of romance genre. Drawing the line between romance and erotica. Deciding on what to include is a fine line and you need to be true to your character and what you want people to judge you as.
  • How Dean launched the book and how he is promoting it. A comparison between online and offline promotion, what has worked for Dean and what has been difficult/time-consuming and also the best for sales. How he used his existing online presence to start selling the book (even though it was not in his exact target market). How to use your time wisely for online marketing.
  • How the writing and blog community is fabulous and supportive – we all need to support each other! A great example of marketing is the Reader’s Gallery where you get people to send in pictures of them with the book.

You can find Dean at his blog Dean from Australia, as well as on Twitter @DeanFA and on Facebook here. You can buy ‘The Hambledown Dream’ at Amazon.com or at iReadiWrite Publishing.

Podcast: Crime Writing and Tips On Getting An Agent With Sam Blake

This is a fantastic, lively interview on crime writing and getting an agent, packed full of information for authors and writers!

Sam Blake is a crime writer of 6 books who just signed to literary agency Curtis Brown in London, England, although she is based in Dublin, Ireland. Sam Blake is the pen name of Vanessa O’Loughlin who runs Inkwell Writer’s Workshops.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How Vanessa started writing, and how her journey to becoming a published author has unfolded. 10 years and 6 books later, she has been signed by one of the world’s best literary agencies, Curtis Brown.
  • How she started Inkwell writer’s workshops in order to network with published authors and how that has made a big difference to her own writing, as well as helping other writers
  • On the crime genre: Mo Hayder says “crime novels start with a violent act’
  • Some of the key aspects of the crime genre: violence, plot that suits intelligent people who like solving problems/puzzles. It doesn’t have to have a detective in it, but it does need a character who wants to solve the puzzle.
  • We discuss the difference between thriller, horror and crime as genres
  • Why genre is so important for publishers and authors who want to sell. You need to know where your book will fit on the bookshelves, even if you don’t feel you want to be ‘boxed’ as an author. It is necessary for marketing and sales.
  • The reader also wants to know what genre your book fits into and how to find you.
  • Tips for writing antagonists/bad guys that are 3 dimensional, for example, something that will make the reader empathize with.
  • Getting to know your character – what’s in their pockets, what happened in their childhood that informs them now. Using a character question sheet that you fill in per character. You’ve got to know them. Aspects of the character will change as they develop in your mind.
  • It is surprising, but these characters do come and you find you will be able to write this information. Just try it!
  • Tips for getting a top agent to represent your book. Put your work out there. Enter short story competitions, and network with other authors, publishers and agents. In this way, Sam/Vanessa won 2nd place in a romance contest and then got a story into a compilation book with top authors, ‘Mum’s the Word’.
  • Be careful what you say to people in the industry as it is a small world and it will come back to haunt you
  • Go to events and meet people in person. You have to be out there, away from your desk and making sure people know about your work.
  • Publishing is a business, and you need to know the business and the people in it before you will be able to crack into it.
  • Why Vanessa uses a pen name. It is important for marketing and branding in a genre, plus crime writers try to use ambiguous names as women’s names can be less successful. Also Vanessa O’Loughlin is long and difficult to pronounce, as well as hard to remember. So be open to changing your name to sell books. You need to be memorable.
  • How crime writing is researched. There are great forensic sites on the web with pictures. Vanessa’s husband is also a member of the Garda, Irish police. It is important to get people who know the details to read your book. Details are important. Readers mustn’t be jarred out the story by something that they know is untrue.
  • Inkwell Writers have workshops in Ireland, but also have online workshops. They connect bestselling authors with aspiring writers. The best piece of advice is “Just keep writing“. Also, make sure you know what your character’s fears are(I have asked Vanessa if she might consider making audios available as these workshops sound fantastic!)

Sam Blake has a blog with information about crime writing. It has a page on getting published. You can also connect with Vanessa at Inkwell Writers, and also @InkwellHQ on Twitter.