OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Marketing fiction is different to marketing non-fiction.
In this interview, internet marketing expert Jim Kukral interviews me about my thoughts on marketing and how the two differ, as well as the business of being a writer. Watch the video below or click here to view the video on YouTube.
You can also download the audio here => MarketingPennKukral.mp3
Jim is the author of No Publisher Needed and a stack of other books, and you can see an interview with him here. This interview was originally posted on Jim's Digital Book Launch blog.
In the interview, we discuss:
- How fiction far outsells non-fiction especially with ebooks. On the day Jim interviewed me I was in the middle of my KDP Select experiment and had just had 5000 books downloaded that day.
- My background in non-fiction and why I started to learn about marketing. In 2008, I started writing fiction during NaNoWriMo. I talk about transitioning from non-fiction into writing fiction. You do have to start all over again. I talk about how I studied James Rollins ‘The Doomsday Key' in order to understand how a novel works. I used what I learned in writing my own fiction.
- Treating writing as a business. Jim talks about the future of non-fiction books as 10-30,000 words – micro-books. What is the expectation of the reader as regards book length for fiction? We talk about short stories vs serialized fiction vs longer books. Fiction has to create a world for the reader. It is deeper than non-fiction. As a writer, you ‘ll be reading what you love.
- People buy fiction to escape and for entertainment. People buy non-fiction to learn or improve themselves. Although there is a lot of potential for making money in fiction, it's not a quick start way to earn. It takes a few years to grow your base of books. Writing a book is still hard though. It's not an easy option.
- Finishing the first draft is the aim. This is the block of marble from which you can carve your manuscript through the editing and rewriting process.
- On marketing fiction. There are specific things that will impact sales, far and above blogging and building a platform which is critical for non-fiction readers. Ebooks mean sampling is critical and you need to blow people away with that first 15%. For non-fiction, your platform is important but for fiction, the author is not the point of the sale. The reader mostly doesn't find you through your platform so other things, e.g. professional cover design is more important. Pricing is critical especially for new authors. 99c – $2.99 – $4.99 is the sweet spot whereas Jim says that non-fiction can be priced higher.
- People buy books from book sites, not the author's website. The category you are in on Amazon makes a difference as well. Understand the expectations of the readers in the category. Also, look for categories you can rank in. Reviews are also critical. All these things go into the Amazon algorithms that help them sell your book for you.
[I expand on these tips in my mini-course, 21 Ways to Sell More Fiction Online – click here for more info.]
- Hitting the big lists is basically out of your control. You don't know which book will catch fire. There is some aspect of luck when books hit the big time. But it's also important to keep writing books. This will maximize your chances of being lucky. Write what you enjoy so you can keep writing over the long term. The overnight successes have been working hard for years. The people who are making millions from fiction have a lot of books behind them.
- Why I went the self-published route for my fiction. I'm a happy indie but if I wanted a traditional publishing deal, I will be in a stronger position for the efforts I have put in building my platform and selling books myself.
- Why I would consider a traditional deal. (Strangely I find myself arguing for traditional publishing here!) I want to be a better writer and I'd like to develop myself as an author. I hire professional editors but I would like a relationship with a developmental editor over time. Traditional publishing can provide this as well as print publishing, which I am not doing myself anymore. I can also write other books at the same time, so I would intend to be a hybrid and do indie books at the same time. It's important to look at what you want for your career as an author. [I've been learning about traditional publishing from NY Times bestselling author CJ Lyons who I am collaborating on for a series of courses, to be announced very soon]
- We also talk about KDP Select and how it can work for authors. Here are my results and here's some much better results for guest poster Jeff Bennington.
Thanks to Jim for the interview, and I hope you have found this useful.
Please do leave your comments on fiction vs nonfiction marketing as well as traditional publishing vs indie below. I'd love to hear your views.