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Robin Sullivan is one of the indie publishing evangelists who embraced online marketing early and is taking the Amazon charts by storm with her small press, Ridan Publishing. In this interview, she shares some of her best marketing tips and advice for authors.
Robin Sullivan is the founder of small press publisher Ridan Publishing. She is also a publicist for her husband and bestselling author Michael Sullivan and public speaker on all things publishing.
In this interview you will learn:
- What Ridan is up to in the small press publishing space in terms of series of books. Robin has expanded the books they offer as well as now moving into the UK market.
- Robin is the primary marketer for the Ridan authors and has tremendous experience with what works. The two most effective marketing techniques are:
The top 2 marketing techniques for book marketing
- Book Bloggers: Target them specifically and stand out by pitching a professional mini-ad. Include a picture, a headline & the back blurb so you can stand out in the crowded market. This will get you to the top of the queue.
- Goodreads: Utilize Goodreads giveaway program. This will give you a lot more traffic than if you give away on your site. You will get hundreds if not thousands of people joining in. These people have raised their hands so you can connect with them more personally by email and offer them free chapters.
- As a small press publisher, Robin focuses on each author in a targeted way and ‘primes the pump' with the hand-selling and then it kind of takes off. She switches her attention around the books as they come out with some excellent results.
On longer-term sales after the launch spike
- The spike numbers often don't even coincide with the launch and in fact, the launch process is very tied to traditional publishing where they have a small window of opportunity. Indie authors don't need to aim for launch only and in fact, it's worth it to keep trying until something works, e.g. an example of an adult book re-released and re-branded as YA.
- The best thing you can do as an author is put out more books. A book every 4-6 months is the right pacing to reinvigorate your sales. (This might be a tall order for some authors!) A new book will always add more sales to the backlist.
- It's also an ongoing process, keep scheduling marketing activities. You don't want a flurry of activity and then to drop off the map. You need to keep it going.
What are small presses looking for?
- The industry wants authors with a platform who can market themselves. Robin is looking for a good book as she can do the marketing. You can't teach someone to be a storyteller but the rest can be fixed. So if you're looking for a small press/other publishing house, consider what your strengths and what their strengths are so you can both benefit. Writing a series is beneficial for small presses and the long tail as this helps with ongoing sales.
- On social networking. It's about connecting and interacting with people – not just shouting about your book. This is important on reader sites like Goodreads. You need to be a very participatory person and what goes around comes around. Robin mentions Simon Sinek who talks about ‘Start with Why'. Robin is also passionate about making authors money and seeing them as successful.
On ebook pricing
- Seth Godin recently rated $1.99 as the go-forward price point for ebooks. Robin notes that with 1 book you won't make much money. The trick in this business for a sustainable income is to have multiple books selling for you. On pricing, $1.99 is the worst price point as you are in the 35% royalty rate and it's above an impulse buy of 99c. Robin is far more interested in making money for her authors at the $4.95 mark and even above that, unless there's a sale on.
- The secret is experimentation and track your results. Remember that the statistics mean nothing if your sales are very low. The market is also always changing.
- On ratings vs sales income. [For example, my Amazon ranking is higher when my price is lower.] Is it better to be ranking on Amazon or making more money for a long term career? Robin counsels me and others with one book to focus on getting to 3 books first and then focus on the marketing. Spend all the extra time writing and finishing the books before going hard on marketing.
- Robin ends the interview by getting very excited about why this is such a great time for authors (and we love that around here!) Self-publishing has been around a long time but now the distribution is available, and it just wasn't before. This is changing the industry and authors are making a lot of money in this new market.
You can find Robin at Ridan Publishing.