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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