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What's changed in the last 3 years in the self-publishing world? What's working right now? In today's show, I talk to Lindsay Buroker, fantasy author and podcaster.
In the intro, I mention my new book, Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish an ebook and print book, available now on all ebook platforms.
Also, the launch of BiblioManager, a print on demand service for Latin America. Although it's not open to indies as yet, it's another step towards a global eco-system of technology that allows authors to reach readers all over the world.
Plus, I'll be speaking in Austin, Texas on March 30-31 for the Smarter Artist Summit, run by the Self-Publishing Podcast guys, Johnny, Sean & Dave. I hope to see some of you there!
Lindsay Buroker is the bestselling fantasy author of the Emperor's Edge, Rust and Relics and Dragon's Blood series as well as other fantasy books.
You can also listen to Lindsay's first appearance on the show here, back in 2012, when we discussed building a full-time living slowly.
You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the video here or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- On the long build to success as an indie author and the value of sticking with it.
- Lindsay's writing process.
- The pros and cons of writing under more than one author name.
- Strategies for authors who are just beginning, including releasing three books within a few weeks of each other.
- The advantages and disadvantages of going with Kindle Unlimited and whether Lindsay will stick with KU for her pen name.
- The split of Lindsay's income between Amazon and the other retailers.
- Embracing the mindset of selling globally.
- Advertising, marketing and book launch strategies that work for Lindsay, and the mindset behind her strategies.
- How to decide if a series is popular or not, and why fiction doesn't age.
- On Lindsay's podcast and how that intertwines with her life as a writer and seller of books.
You can find Lindsay at www.LindsayBuroker.com and on twitter @GoblinWriter
Transcription of interview with Lindsay Buroker
Joanna: Hi everyone, I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com and today I'm here with Lindsay Buroker. Hi Lindsay.
Lindsay: Hello, it's great to be back about three years later I think.
Joanna: I know it's so funny and we will come to that in a minute but just a little introduction. Lindsay is the bestselling fantasy author of “The Emperor's Edge” and “Dragons Blood” series. As well as loads of other fantasy and other books.
Lindsay, you were last on the podcast in September 2012 and I can't believe it's been so long. Give us an update on what your author business looks like right now.
Lindsay: All right, yeah I had to go back and look and see what I had published at that time because I don't even remember. I'm coming up on five years now and I guess that would have been about a year and a half into things and it looks like I had about five books out, maybe the sixth one coming out back then. And now I have I counted just for you Joanna just because you're special. 21 novels under my name.
I have a bunch of novellas. Seven novels under the pen name that I started last year. I'm closing in on 30 and lots of shorter stuff too. I just don't count anything under 80,000 words or so. Yeah, and that's been good and the I've got two mains series now and a bunch of smaller things. And the income has continued to grow so that's good.
I feel like if you could just stick with this long enough that more people find you and assuming people actually like your writing that help that they go on and read your other stuff. Coming up on five year anniversary.
Joanna: Which is amazing. And yet I originally had you on this show because we talked about building an author business slowly and what I love is that, well, I don't know if anyone would call it slow considering you now have 30 books in five years. That's not slow by anyone standards. But I think that you still have grown incrementally.
You haven't had the one breakout book that gave you all of your income, right? All your income breaks down across your books.
Lindsay: Yes. I've never really had like some humongous best seller. I did have in January of this year I put the three books in my “Dragon Blood” series into a box set and made that 99 cents for a BookBub ad and that's the first thing that I've had that really after the ad stuck at the top of the rankings. It was in the top 200 on Amazon for months it seemed like. So it really helped that series a lot.
But you know, you see what I have to do. I write steampunk. It's just not going to be contemporary romance or something that there's just tons and tons of people reading it. So even with that, that has some crossover appeal into epic fantasy and sword and sorcery so I think that's kind of what people gravitated toward but that helped. And then when you do get a boost like that it helps if you've got eight books that people can go on and buy. A couple other series. I've never just crushed it with anything and I don't know how likely that would be in epic fantasy genre. I can't think of too many indie authors who have stuck up there for a while. Maybe in the top 1,000. Maybe some will get under 500 in the Amazon store but that's pretty rare I think. It's definitely a smaller genre.
Joanna: And again, that's why I think your story's so encouraging. Because it's smaller genres but by writing a lot of books you make a good income. And it keeps ticking up. Which is fantastic.
What is your writing process? How does your writing process look now as somebody who has this many books and is basically a mature fiction writer? Mature in a writing sense.
Lindsay: Wow, you called me mature. No, it's kind of funny. I still think of myself as pretty new to this all. You've had Kathryn, Kris Kathryn Rusch I think maybe on here. I can't remember who else has been on.
Joanna: Dean was on.
Lindsay: Dean. Yeah, so those guys obviously that's what I think as somebody mature who has been in the business for 30 years. But I have see a lot of people come and go in the last five years. For those listening, it's really been in the last couple years that my productions really got in quite a bit. I don't know, I've just gotten to the point where I kind of know where the story's going.
I outline it at the beginning and I write a draft in like two to four weeks. And I don't write short books. Those are usually 100, 000 words. Just throw that out there. The first year I was still working full time and I think I managed to publish about – I had two novels when I started – and I think I published three that year. So it's gradually improved. I used to just shoot for like 1,000 words a day. Now it's like five to 10,000 words a day when I'm working on a rough draft.
I don't necessarily write when I'm editing. I kind of switch back and forth so like finish the rough and then ready to do something different. So here's editing. So let's start on that for a week. But it is a constant production schedule. I'll finish a rough draft. I just quickly go over that. Send it the beta readers. I've got a couple sets for the different series. Folks that are nice enough to follow along with my rather rapid schedule.
And then while they have it I'll usually be starting on the next book, whatever it's going to be. The next project. And then I get it back from them, make whatever edits that I agree with you know, that they've brought up. Send it off to my editor. And by the time I get that back I'm pretty much almost ready to send the next thing off to the beta readers.
It's probably been about a book a month between myself and the pen name for the last 18, 24 months and maybe I'll slow down at some point. Right now I have so many ideas. You know how it is; I know you've got a bunch since the last time we talked. You're halfway through with the first one and then you've got this shiny new idea and you can't wait to get started on the next one so.
Joanna: Which is really hard.
And for that word count of 5,000 to 10,000 a day, are you dictating or are you typing? Or how are you managing the physical exertion of that type of production?
Lindsay: I'm mostly just a typer but I will do the outlining sometimes. I live in the mountains and I take my dogs out almost every day for like an hour or two just hiking and let them run like crazy. And I'll be sitting and thinking, plotting out the next couple of scenes that I'm going to work on for that day. Maybe the next day. I'll sometimes dictate into my iPhone the beats as the self publishing guys call them. I think that's from screenwriting is it? I don't know.
Joanna: That's a screenwriting thing, yeah.
Lindsay: I will do that so when I do sit down at the computer I pretty much know exactly what I'm going to write. And if I'm not screwing around on the internet, which we can't always promise that's not happening. I'll knock out 2,000 words an hour so if I'm pretty focused I can be done with my writing for the day by like four or five. In the evenings I can mess around and that's kind of when I try to catch up on email and things like that.
But sometimes when I'm doing a rough draft I will just ignore email for like a week at a time. Sorry, it's hard to ever feel like you're getting ahead with email because as soon as you write something answer something they respond and you're like “No, no, I'm trying to clean my email box. Don't write back at least until tomorrow.”
Joanna: I know what you mean. Wow, that's incredible.
I've had Liliana Hart on, Russell Blake other people who write a lot and talking about burnout with the kind of production. Do you ever feel like that? I mean you're pretty chirpy. Do you ever feel this kind of burnout?
Lindsay: It's morning.
Joanna: It's morning, yeah.
Lindsay: I have my latte here. I'm perky. Gosh, not yet. I think it helps, I started the pen name, I almost felt like I was publishing too quickly. I think if you're doing romance or something they really devour the books quickly. They probably don't care. You can probably publish every two weeks and people are like more, more, more. I do have some readers like that for sure but I think fantasy readers in general are less of the read a whole series in a weekend kind of thing.
So doing the pen name, for the record it's science fiction romance, and I'm probably the only person who has a pen name in a less popular genre than her main name. Those are fun and it's something different and I kind of divided it. Those are a little smuttier, a little more details in the happiness area.
By having the two different genres I work in, even though they're similar types of stories in many ways, Science Fiction and Fantasy, I think it does help keep things fresh too. And having a couple different series that I work on.
Joanna: And I mean, on that pen name, because that was a really interesting experiment because you built up this audience with your fantasy. You have a blog, you're on Twitter, you have a podcast.
And you did an experiment with a pen name, you didn't actually tell anyone did you? You didn't tell your existing audience who it was. Can you talk a bit about that process and how did you launch a new author brand and make any decent money?
Lindsay: Part of the reason I actually wanted to do it that way was because I would do a blog post and I'd get most people would were like oh yeah, congratulations, good job, I'm glad that what you tried worked. And there'd be some bitter people they're like of course it worked for you, you have a fan base the rest of us don't have readers yet. So I was no, you can still develop a fan base and get readers and sell books. This was October 2014 that I launched the pen name.
I kept it secret for the first couple of months so, I launched three books there kind of quickly. First one I put out at 99 cents just to see if I could get some traction. And then the second one I released a week later. I'd written the first three so I was just editing so I could release them pretty much one after the other. As soon as I released the second one I made the first one free and surprisingly Amazon actually price matched it earlier than I expected so, one was free everywhere, book two was $3.99, and I believe two and three I put into KU just it seemed like you get in the rankings boost and I thought it might be easier to get into the top 100 in a category so.
Third book came out after about four weeks and I bought ads for the first book as soon as it became free. I got the cheap ones that you know we don't care if you have reviews. It was like BKNights on Fiverr. I don't even remember. A couple other sites that were like $5 or $10 kind of thing and that was enough. I had a decent cover for that niche. Science fiction romance – go look at the covers. They're all photoshopped. It's hard to find…it's the same with steampunk, it's hard to find models.
Joanna: Wearing the right stuff.
Lindsay: Yeah, please be wearing science fiction clothes if you don't mind. Or they have to be shirtless, which is fine because that's trendy in any century.
It went pretty well I think by having the three books ready to throw out there pretty quickly. I'd actually tried Wattpad for the pen name the few months before the launch. Didn't really see much from that so I think the best thing was just making that first book free and getting some ads and having the next book ready to go right away.
I think the pen name made about 10,000 in that first two months. Of course it falls off because I don't work on it as much. It's probably too much on my plate really to try to keep and maintain and build two author brands. But I still launched a serial in August for the pen name. Like a six part serialized story and that did really well. I've put it in KU because it hasn't had too much traction on the other sites. And I don't really care because it's the pen name. It's just easier just to have to advertise and play around on Amazon.
At the time Rachel Aaron/Rachel Bach just posted her numbers for her, this was around when the new KU change came which I don't know if you want to talk about. So it's pages read. Anyway, so the serial did really well and way made more than I was expecting. Thanks in large part to Kindle Unlimited. But you know, I don't do it with my regular name. Much like you I prefer to be out there everywhere and just try to grow my brand on all of the platforms. But with the pen name it's just, eh. It's too much work to try to do all the social media and try to do everything for all the different sites.
Joanna: Right, pretty much you're launching a new name. It was having the three books. It was putting the first one for free and promoting it for free, pretty much.
And is that still what you would recommend for anybody starting out? I mean it's fairly hard for people to hear that they need three books and it's that advice I remember hearing when I only had one book. And I was no, I'm putting it out there I'm going to be the one that will make this work. What do you think? Is there any hope for people with just one book?
Lindsay: No I get it. It took me seven years to finish my first novel. There are some World of Warcraft years in there too kind of distracting things. No, I know it takes a while.
It's later after you've written more books that the process gets easier and faster usually. If you just don't have huge expectations for the first book just put it out there, sure. But if you actually think that you really want to make some money or you really want to build up your fans. It's tough. I don't really know what to say when people only have one book. I say go write a couple more. For myself, if I was doing another pen name or starting from scratch right now I would just try to do the first three in a series. At least have the rough drafts done.
And then, I could release them if not all at once the first three one month after the other. I've just seen with other series, even in my own – on my regular name – I've got some series when I finished my Emperor's Edge series I wasn't sure what was going to be the next big project. So I started three or four to see what had potential. I think it would have been better if I'd just committed to doing three or four books in the new series and then seeing if it had potential. Because in the series where I only have one book out or two books out those definitely they might start out okay. I've got readers that will try my new stuff but they fall off then there's not any thing else coming out and you don't have a reason to promote one lonely book.
If you really want to make a splash I would say plan to write the first three in a series. And if that's not you it's not you, but it just helps that's all I can say. It's not like you can't possibly do well with just one book I do see it. I think right now if you do do KDP Select the fact that you get rankings boost for the borrows on Amazon can help a lot. If you have a great cover and a great blurb. And if it hits on the genre troupes, if it's that wide appeal. I do see first time authors usually who are in KU that will stick up there and sell well with one book so, it can happen.
Joanna: It can happen. But then it will drop off. I think that's the thing. Even if you can get up the rankings. I was having this discussion with someone. It's like even Stephen King or even J.K. Rowling doesn't stay at number one. So you have to be thinking about the next one. And even if it is just the first one.
Let's talk about KU because it feels like the first one because I'm wide and I don't like having one company in charge of my income. Which is why I push going wide. Although I understand why people also go KU too.
Do you think there's been a shift this year? With the pages read going down. The payment for pages read going down. With some of the other things that we've seen with Amazon. Have you felt that the community is changing their mind around going wide in general?
Lindsay: I think everybody pretty much doesn't want to be exclusive with Amazon and so it's sort of they'll experiment and maybe they'll try it. KU really only helps if you can leverage it into being in the top 100 in your category and if you're selling a book or two a week it's probably not going to change anything. So you might as well go out there and be wide and maybe sell a book or two a week everywhere.
If you're a new author and you're not really worried about your income yet, you're not depending on it. That's when maybe it's probably okay to be exclusive with Amazon or start out just to see. You never know. It could it could work with you. I know the pay has gone down every month, kind of like what they're paying for pages read. But it also started out at a point where if you had a epic fantasy novel you were making more for a borrow than you were for a sale of like a $5 ebook. I thought it started out pretty high.
Will I stick with it, with the pen name? I don't know. I'll see how it goes. The pen name never really gained much traction on the other sites and that's not the other sites fault. I'm not interested in doing it with my own stuff and being exclusive with Amazon.
I feel that once you do start to depend on your income… I saw people do the short stories in the first version of Kindle Unlimited and all of a sudden and it was for pages read instead of just flat borrows. So they might have gone from making thousands a month to if they're lucky making a couple of hundred a month so. I just tell people to try it. And if it's not really doing anything great you might as well be wide. Or if you've gotten it to the point where you're thinking “Oh, I want to like, make my mortgage payment every month with this income. I need it to be regular. I want to rely on it.” Then I think it could also makes a lot of sense to be on all the platforms.
Amazon, as much as I would love to say that I make tons and tons of money elsewhere, Amazon's still about 90% for me. But I love that I got to the point where like Kobo and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords, iTunes could pay all of my bills. Even if Amazon went away, which I would assume it won't, but you never know.
I tell people I think it started out at 35% before I came along as to what the payout was. So for a lot of people if you went from 70 to 35 again that would be really scary, especially if you are just relying totally on Amazon. I think most people want to diversify and get paid from lots of places, it's just you have to weigh it against can you make more right now over there.
Joanna: It is a short term thinking. I think going exclusive is very short term. And the other reason I preach the global stuff.
Have you seen this year a shift in American authors' viewpoint of the rest of the world?
Lindsay: I'm not sure what everybody thinks. It's been interesting; for some reason in 2015 my earnings have really gone up a lot in the U.K. and in Australia. I think it's kind of like my “Dragon Blood” box set did well here and it just for some reason that meant it did well in all the other countries even though I have no way to advertise there. I think BookBub now is in India and the U.K.
Joanna: Yeah, BookBub is in the U.K.
Lindsay: But, that's about it. I don't really know how to get German specifically advertised in the U.K. to those people and say, “Hey, come check out my book that's in English. I'm sure you want to read it.” I actually do well in Germany. That's my biggest non-English speaking country that buys my books. So I'm stoked. I love my U.K. people. British pounds, is that right? One thing that's higher than the dollar so I get to convert it and I'm like woo, yes. That's excellent. Most other places you're like…India ooh I made 5,000 rupees. “Oh, I can go out for a burger.”
Joanna: I can buy my coffee now. But no, you're right. And of course for me it's the other way. My biggest income is in U.S. dollars and translating into pounds is always quite disappointing. Goes back the other way. You personally have seen that shift this year but you talk to a lot of people on your podcast.
Is the global viewpoint going up? Because that will also make a difference around the platforms I think.
Lindsay: I feel like a lot of people are still trying to figure out how to sell in the other countries. We've had a couple of Aussie authors on and they seem to do well. They get it. They know how to advertise to Australia, New Zealand, and then of course America and the U.K. We're not quite sure how to get the word out to the other countries.
Maybe I should ask you. How can I advertise…or is it just important to be in the top 100 somehow, some way in the other countries on the Amazon sites. Or you know I love Kobo. Their map that shows you all the different places you've been purchased.
I actually just had a contest on my site to help design a couch. Kind of an ongoing joke in my series. And the winner's in South Africa so I have to ship five books to South Africa. Well, that's cool that I'm being right there. It's going to cost me like a plane ticket worth of shipping to send him his books, but, still exciting.
Joanna: And I think the global thing, as far as I've seen, I've sold books in 68 countries. Most of those I don't do any marketing to. I think the fact is that any markets, any online is marketing. This interview is going to go out to listeners in 17 different countries. And we didn't advertise the show to them. It just arrived on however they found it.
And the same with our books; what you'll find in the smaller markets is because self publishing hasn't taken off so much, your book will do well. At the moment a French translation of How to Market a Book is like number one on iTunes or something for iBooks in French because there's basically no other books in that category.
I think what we have an advantage in the other countries because there are so few books in those categories. So I think that's it. I mean, you don't even necessarily have to do any separate marketing.
Lindsay: Right, and I think there's a lot to be said too for just kind of continuing to publish year after year and putting out more books. You get one person finding you in France and if they read all your books and your stories that's a good chunk of money there. That's more than burgers and lattes. And they tell their friends.
I've definitely had a lot of people tell me that they've told their friends to read my books, which I really appreciate. There's only so much I can do when it comes to marketing and I'm actually pretty lazy in that category. I see what works and I see what doesn't take a lot of time each month and that's what I go for.
Joanna: So what is that for you then?
What are you finding works for marketing right now. In America, in English.
Lindsay: It's just really the obvious stuff that everybody's doing. I try to release something often. In the months where I don't have a release, or nothing much is going on I'll try to do the ads for a book one in one of my series.
Of course I always try to get the BookBub ad who doesn't. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. Especially with a pen name. BookBub doesn't love the pen name that much. Science fiction romance doesn't really fit into any of their established categories that well. They try to put it under paranormal romance.
Joanna: That doesn't do it.
Lindsay: No, these people want vampires, they don't want spaceships.
I'll do the cycle where I'll drop it to 99 cents, or make it free, or I've got two, three box sets now and I've done ads for. One is a complete, what do you call it? A duology I guess. Plus a short story and the other two, the first three books in my respective large series. I'll just alternate what I try to advertise and almost every month. I'll try to go around and I'll try to get a BookBub. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. Try to get an ENT. The bigger sites out there that actually can deliver some downloads.
I just look at it as every month I'm trying to get some new readers who have never heard of me before to check out my stuff. And at this point sometimes something will stick. The box sets have, they'll stick. Especially if I leave them at 99 cents for at least a while. And that can help because there's five more full priced books in the series that people can read after that. But I don't worry too much about that.
I'm just thinking let me see if I can get a hundred new people this month and it just grows. I've got enough people of course that sign up for my mailing list and follow along. Because I keep publishing stuff there's always more stuff for them to by which is good. I think the big thing is writing the next book. Putting the next book out and trying to make them entertaining so people will want to continue on with the series.
Joanna: And this is the thing; it just feels like it's not rocket science anymore.
Maybe it never was or maybe it really is just to write more books and build your email list. Is that kind of sum it up?
Lindsay: Pretty much. I really don't do that much anymore when I launch a book. I'm doing some pre-orders for my series; it's about to be the seventh and final book in the series. Maybe the final book, probably not. The final book in that arc we'll see. And I do the pre-order, hey everybody here's the links to it. I email my lists when it first goes on pre-order. Facebook place the links there and then on Twitter. Then I will of course email again the day it's out. And that's about all I do for marketing of a new book.
Usually what I'll do is I'll focus on marketing the first book in the series. Since I can't just have people jumping on my books. My series very much, you have to start at the beginning and read them in order. I am amazed at people who have those open ended series. Like a mystery or you know where it's a complete story in each one but I don't know on the other hand people that get into a series where it's one complete story tend to read all the way to the end. Because they want to see what happens.
So, yeah, so it's pretty simple. A lot of it is just sticking with it. Being there every time. A lot of the other authors that started around the same time as I have, I've kind of seen them disappear and some of them are still there and they're still doing well. A lot have just fallen off the radar.
And it's interesting because some of the people had a really big hit early on and I almost think that can be a curse because then you expect that income every month and you just think that it's just going to keep selling forever. I was the one that they say never happens.
Maybe because I never had that. I did not have high expectations at any point so I made like $20 my first month something like that. I don't even have friends or family that even read this genre. I've heard people say, “I made it 99 cents. I emailed all my friends and then they bought it and then it was stuck on Amazon”. I was like, wow I don't know that many people. Congratulations, that must have been nice.
Joanna: I agree with you. And that's why I feel like you and I are similar in that way. And that my income's the same. It ticks up with every book. I've never had this massive one breakout. But I met an author the other day who's first book made number one on Amazon U.K. store and she's just kind of paralyzed with what's coming next. How can the second one hit number one. You just can't guarantee that every book you put out is going to hit number one. In fact, 99% likely it won't. So I know what you mean. It's like if you're growing slowly over time verses having this massive hit and then it all just falling off. Well, I'd love to have a massive hit as well.
But you can't build a business on a lightning strike. You have to build a business on volume and building an audience as you have.
Lindsay: Yeah, and if you have that massive hit, it's going to be so much more awesome if it comes later when you've got 10 or 20 other books for those people to go on and buy. I just think wow, what a waste if it's your first book and the most that you can make per person is two bucks. If you've got it for $2.99 or $3.99. And so many people forget after one book.
Joanna: Yes, exactly.
And the most important thing for people who are listening who have got that first book coming is to put a link to your email list so that if you do magically sell 100,000 copies of your first book then you get those emails right. Because that's the other thing that's super important.
Lindsay: Yeah, definitely. And I think you kind of have to think of yourself as a reader too. How many authors have you read one book and then “This is my new favorite author. I'm going to remember this author forever and ever and ever.” They probably read three or four books a week and it's really easy to forget someone. I think once they've read a whole series by you seven or eight books or something you're going to stick in their head your main characters are going to stick in their head more. Even if they don't sign up for the newsletter, because not everyone will, you know. I definitely try to get the sign ups but I've noticed that I sell a lot more books than I have people on my newsletter. It's just not everybody's going to follow on Facebook, not everyone's into Twitter. I don't give out my email address. I don't want anymore newsletters.
So you try to get people but then there are going to be a lot of people that just every now and then, they look up the authors that they've enjoyed on Amazon and, “Oh, that person's got a new book. Excellent.” Even if you have success with the book, think about the next one and the next one because it takes a while for you to really become someone's favorite author. Or one of their favorite authors. It's no reflection on your writing. It's just that readers read a lot so it's easy to forget.
Joanna: I have two separate series at the moment action adventure and then the London Psychic Series which is much darker mystery. And I find a completely separate audience.
Have you found that with your series? And how do you know whether to write another book in a particular series?
Lindsay: I see that with a lot with people. Especially if it's different worlds or it's completely different sets of characters. A lot of times I'll try to tie things together, tie them in to my other world. “If you liked this series, come try this other series also set in the same world”.
But I found that with a lot of my stuff I will get people that just read everything. I do have a contemporary mystery/love story. There's only kissing, there's no romance, so I can't market it as a romance. Hardly anybody reads that. That's like far enough afield that every now and then somebody will read it and be like “Oh, I kind of liked that even though there were no dragons and no magic.”
I think that if your series are far enough apart that you're probably going have to commit to doing at least three, four books in it before you really evaluate it. And I do have, I feel like my two main series “Emperor's Edge” and “Dragon's Blood” most people have read both that like my stuff. They're similar enough in style. They're both secondary world fantasy so maybe that helps. Or maybe I'm lucky to have found some readers that like my stuff. My voice, my quirky characters are very sarcastic so there tends to be quite a bit of humor.
So I assume they know that, but yeah I've got other people that have read this series and they love it. They've done fan art, fan fiction. And then they email and say, “Can you please write some more with these characters?” And I'm like I wrote 10 books. Maybe some day. I'm going to work on some other stuff. Now I wonder with authors that have been out there for 20-30 years do they still get letters from stuff they wrote in the 80's? Are you ever going to write anymore of those you know Black Company books, Mr. Cook?
Joanna: I'm sure they do because a book is new to a reader whenever they find it, isn't it? I mean, that's what's so crazy.
And that's what I think people don't understand why we keep advertising the first in series. Tat's why. It's like the first in series was published four years ago, five years ago, whatever. That doesn't matter. It's new to the person who picks it up today.
I don't think fiction readers look at published dates, do they? I mean, not like with non-fiction when you do. Fiction it doesn't matter.
Lindsay: Yeah, it's probably not going to be outdated or you know, it's cute when it's outdated. And they're talking about using phones that are attached to the wall or something. Yeah, so I've had that too. I just got an email not too long ago; it was cursing me for killing a character and I said I killed that character four years ago. What are you talking about? Aren't you over that yet? I'm like oh yeah, yeah he's probably just reading the series, I got it.
Joanna: I actually get that with the podcasts. Someone just emailed me and said “Oh, you're going to be in Charleston and I live near there.” Well, I was in Charleston six months ago or something. You missed that.
I wanted to ask you about your podcast. Just tell people about that and where they can find it and what it's about and whether the podcast thing has been good for you.
Lindsay: It's the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing podcast. It's the longest show name you'll ever encounter. And yeah if you Google that you'll find us. It's under marketingsff.com. I want to say that I hate that domain name. I lost the vote to someone who is no longer part of the show so there you go. We interview and try to find science fiction or fantasy authors that are doing well or doing something kind of unique. Like we had someone on who's doing Patreon. We had a Wattpad person on. Somebody that's doing well or making some extra money in some other area. Or just had a hit out of the blocks and we just kind of want to find out what they did.
I say I'm lazy about marketing but I'm always listening so I can pick out the gems and try them for myself. And I like to see other people that are doing well with the series. We talked about cover art and whats working well for them. Did they do KDP Select or are they wide? There were already a lot of self publishing podcasts, which I enjoy listening to, I've been listening to yours for several years now. I think before you even had any fiction. So we wanted to kind of do a niche. As far as selling books I don't know that it sells any books.
I think it is an opportunity, especially by sticking in our genre, to have some marketing, or not marketing, networking kind of things. We did a perma free box set. Me and the other two hosts and we grabbed a few other people that had been guests on there before. So it's a way to get to know some people in your genre and if you kind of hero worshipping someone you can try to get them on the show. It's always nice when you can actually hold up the book for them and look I have your book I read it, it was good. So I'm not sure it's hugely about me selling books. It's probably like Twitter and Facebook. You might get some networking opportunities out of it down the road. I figure it doesn't hurt. It's mostly for fun to just kind of see what other people are doing and pump them for information.
Joanna: I feel the same way. We spend a lot of time on our own and it's quite nice to connect and you do learn things and you do connect with people. And that opportunity, it's more like opportunities come up that you either didn't know about or that come up due to knowing people online.
Would you recommend podcasting to people as a way of marketing or I guess. It sounds like it's worth it for you, but it is hard to be a podcaster isn't it?
Lindsay: I found I do it with two other guys, Joseph Lallo and Jeffery Poole who are both fantasy fiction authors too. And by doing it with someone else you have to make an excuse to someone if you don't want to do the show next week so. It's kind of like going to the gym, if you're going with a friend you might be less likely to cancel. I've tried in the past where it's just me talking and I find that really, more intimidating and I don't know, I want to edit it more. We don't actually edit anything and we just record it on Google Hangouts.
Unless the intro was really flubbed up or something or the guest dropped out after seven minutes. We've edited it a couple times but mostly we just wing it and put it up as it is. So that makes it a little easier than like maybe a more professional show where you're hiring someone to edit it or you're going over it yourself and fixing things up. So, that helps. As far as should people do one, the plus side is that it's still relatively uncompetitive. If you actually look up all the self publishing podcasts there's probably still only like 10 out there, right. Maybe 20, but that actually have more than like 20 episodes and are regularly producing.
You could do that, or with our show we also get traditionally published authors on every now and then. Just because we didn't specifically say this is indie only, and we've had hybrid people and it's kind of interesting to have the dog wander off during the show. It's kind of interesting to hear what they've done.
I have to say as an indie author usually when I hear what they're doing, traditional published authors, I'm like wow. They're not really doing anything that's selling any books. Cause I know, I'm at a book signing. They'll be like, “I went to this book signing and oh I belong to this”, I don't even know. I feel like they actually have a lot to learn from indie authors because so many of the ones that have made it's because their publisher liked them. And put a lot of money into advertising for them and, or had really awesome covers. So, it's been interesting. I definitely say I've learned more from the indie authors overall and some of the hybrid people who have done both.
Joanna: Absolutely. Right well we're coming to the end and of course it's been three years since you came on the show.
If we fast forward and you come back again in 2018, maybe before then but if we say three years, what will things look like do you think then?
Lindsay: I'll have more books out, but I am to the point now where I'm probably going to be getting into real estate and buying some more rental properties. And I hope to leverage this into being financially independent here within a few years, so, I'll still definitely always be writing. I don't see it as anything I want to retire from. But I may not be quite so driven to publish something every month. So we'll see. Three years is a long time and yet three years ago does not seem like that long ago right now so, we'll see. I love self publishing and you know, right now I feel like it's still that golden age. For people that are just getting started it's not too late. It's still possible to do really well. Especially if you're just consistent. Keep writing and keep growing your fan base. I hope I will continue to do all those things and still be pumping them out in three more years.
Joanna: Fantastic. I think I'll be doing the podcast in three years. I mean it's crazy that you know it's coming up to you nearly six years I think of the podcast which is just ridiculous. Time does fly but I certainly think that self publishing well maybe we won't even be calling it self publishing anymore by 2018. It would just be so mainstream that it won't be something separate. So be really interesting. But anyway Lindsay where can people find you and your books online?
Lindsay: All right, I'm at LindsayBuroker.com. And if you even get close to spelling that you'll probably find my site. Because I'm the only one. They're on Amazon, They're on Kobo, they're on iBooks. Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing podcast there's a link it's the URL I hate it remember? That's it, I'm everywhere I'm on social media too out there.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well thanks for your time Lindsay that was great.
Lindsay: Thanks for having me on.
Thanks for having me back on the show, Joanna!
Anja Bauermeister says
Hey Joanna, great show, as ever, thank you so much for your work!
I always enjoy listening to Lindsay’s wisdom (I also loved her Writing Podcast). Lindsay – you mentioned you aren’t sure where or how to advertise English books to German readers. There’s actually one site that does that: http://www.englishbooks.xtme.de/
I’ve listed more German advertising websites on my blog (http://indiesgogerman.com/german-ebook-marketing1/), and I’d be happy to help if you drop me a line.
Have a great holiday week and end of the year, all of you!
Thanks for listening and for the links, Anja! The first book in my series is supposed to come out in German in 2016, so I’ll definitely have to check out the German sites. 🙂
Joanna Penn says
Always lovely to have you on, Lindsay!
Raphyel M. Jordan says
Oh no! You mentioned my Charleston mess up! How embarrassing LOL!
Joanna Penn says
Not embarrassing at all 🙂 I loved it!
Icy Sedgwick says
Listening to the show while heading to see my best friend so I can deliver homemade Christmas gingerbread!
Love the show, I’ve been writing so much since I started listening!
E.G. Michaels says
Great podcast Joanna and Lindsay! I really enjoyed it.
Just wanted to give you a quick heads-up that at the end of the transcript, the URL for Lindsay’s website is misspelled.
Joanna Penn says
Fixed, thanks 🙂
Wonderful interview. Very encouraging to other indie writers like myself.
Kimberly Jayne says
Just wanted to say that you two are inspirations for me. As a new writer of dark fantasy, I’m trying some different things–right now a book delivered to readers in episodes (Demonesse). We’ll see how that all turns out as to whether I go this route for the second book. It’s such a learning curve, but I am consistently motivated and inspired by the both of you.
Thanks for being so supportive of authors, and my best to you.