How can you reinvigorate your writing process, breathe life into your backlist, and prepare your author business for the rollercoaster that is publishing? Tracy Cooper-Posey gives her tips.
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Tracy Cooper-Posey is the multi-award-winning author of over 200 romance novels. Today, we're talking about her first non-fiction book for authors, The Productive Indie Fiction Writer: Strategies for Writing More, Earning More, and Living Well.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- Changing as a writer and reinvigorating writing habits with a new genre
- Deciding what to focus on when there seems to be limitless options
- How a backlist underpins an indie author business
- Deciding when to update books or retire books
- Stash the cash, stash the books, stash the email list
- Tips for dealing with discouragement
- Utilizing BookFunnel promotions as a discovery tool
You can find Tracy at StoriesRulePress.com
Transcript of Interview with Tracy Cooper-Posey
Joanna: Tracy Cooper-Posey is the multi-award-winning author of over 200 romance novels. Today, we're talking about her first non-fiction book for authors, The Productive Indie Fiction Writer: Strategies for Writing More, Earning More, and Living Well. So welcome to the show, Tracy.
Tracy: Thanks, Joanna. It's absolutely fabulous to be here.
Joanna: Oh, it is. And of course, you and I met years ago now in Oregon. I don't even know what year it was.
Tracy: I have forgotten too. I think 2017, or something like that.
Joanna: Something like that, so we've known each other a while. But first up—
Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing and publishing.
Tracy: Well, honestly, the first thing I wrote was the unofficial sequel to Star Wars when I was in high school in the late 1970s. My English teacher read it, she found it, told me to write something original, so I did.
I kept on scribbling after that, but I hid it from everyone because, well, I came from a working-class Australian family who thought a reliable job after high school should be the sum total of my ambitions.
I was basically in my mid-30s and a single mum before I took writing seriously and started aiming for publication.
I sold my first two books in one week in 1999. After that, because traditional publishing was the only option back then, I had 35 books traditionally published.
It's such a soul-destroying industry, I ended up angry and frustrated most of the time. I switched to indie publishing in 2011. It was like thank god, there is an alternative.
Now I have more than 200 titles under three different pen names, spanning romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical suspense, and a lot of stuff in between. And now, of course, non-fiction, The Productive Indie Fiction Writer book, and most recently, I've done a memoir.
Joanna: Oh, wait, I didn't know about the memoir. I just have to ask about that, then we'll come back to the other stuff, because you've had some health issues the last year or so.
Joanna: And obviously, sometimes this is when we do write this kind of work.
What is that memoir about?
Tracy: Well, obviously, yes, it's a cancer memoir because I've been dealing with cancer. It's called Cancer Curated, and it literally came about because I have readers that were looking for my next book when I was dealing with the cancer.
We ended up updating people in public on Facebook and stuff like that, letting readers know about what my health status was all the way through the cancer treatments and stuff like that.
There was a lot of stuff that didn't hit the public announcements, the public updates. So basically, the book is everything that happened up to the first of the public updates, and everything that happened in between.
So it's really a story of my journey through the cancer and exactly what I thought about it, exactly what I thought about the consequences of the cancer, which in some ways are very unexpected. Especially, like getting older, you sort of age overnight with cancer, which for some people, including me, because of my huge vanity, is a bit of an issue. So yes, it was the book that I sort of wanted to write because it filled in all the gaps.
I was getting a lot of feedback from people with the public updates saying, “Oh, your posts helped.” And I thought, well, if the posts help, then maybe the book will help, too. So I sat down and wrote it very quickly. I think it needed to be written. It just emerged.
Joanna: Well, that's really interesting. So like you said there, people found your public posts useful because a lot of people either themselves have cancer, their family has cancer, or other health issues that impact them. I mean, this is just the reality of life.
Just personally, as a writer, because 99.9% of your writing is fiction, and now you've done a memoir and a non-fiction, do you feel like this kind of writing is helping you in a different way?
Are you finding that you are becoming a different writer because you're writing different things?
Tracy: Well, yes, absolutely, because writing non-fiction is not just simply switching genres, it's a whole new thing.
There's quite a learning curve to it and things that like you don't have to worry about with fiction, making sure your sources are correct and things like that. So there's a bit of a curve there.
Also, writing the memoir, of course, basically I was pulling back the curtain and saying, “Tada! Here I am. This is me, unclothed and vulnerable.” So it's a completely different pace for writing, I think. And also, writing the two non-fiction books helped me get back to writing fiction again, which I was having trouble with. It's helped round me out as a writer, I think.
Joanna: How did it help you get back to fiction? Was it just that you kind of relearned to get back to the page as such?
Tracy: Yes, it helped me relearn that daily habit of writing. And because I wasn't like pulling on the, I have to write this story, I have to develop all the scenes and all that sort of stuff, it was using different muscles for writing.
It was a lot easier to do that daily writing and get into it. And because the memoir just about wrote itself, it did, I think I wrote it in about 10 days, it really helped me get back into that daily habit and get me enthusiastic about writing once more, which I had lost for a while.
Joanna: So when is that out? Or is it out right now?
Tracy: It comes out at the end of the month, late October on our site on StoriesRulePress.com. Then it will be released at all the other bookstores in January.
Joanna: Fantastic. Well, I'm fascinated by memoir. Now, obviously, I've done this Pilgrimage book this year, and also my Writing the Shadow has a lot of memoir aspects. I think what's interesting, so this cancer book you've done right now is a very immediate memoir of this kind of particular period of your life.
I'm going to predict that over the next few years, you're going to end up writing another memoir, maybe more than one, about different things. Because, of course, your experience is going to continue, and your perspective is going to change, and your writing business is going to change.
So I think this is so interesting that you've got so many hundreds of novels, and suddenly you're moving into new things.
I want to encourage people there because some people feel quite siloed, I think, and maybe, like you said, 1999, you've got 20-plus years in fiction, and now you've broken out, which is fascinating to me.
Tracy: Well, I always was writing non-fiction, but it was all short stuff. So blog posts, and essays, and articles, and things like that, but this is the first time I've actually done a memoir.
And yes, it's a very different change of pace. I think you're right, I think there may be more of it in my future because it really does tap into a different side of your brain.
Joanna: For sure.
All right, let's come to The Productive Indie Fiction Writer because this is a really good non-fiction book. Again, you've got so much experience and this book is jam-packed full of tips, in that we can't even touch the surface with this interview. There's a few quotes I thought were brilliant. So you open the book with:
“It's time to stop the madness.”
Which is great. What madness is that, and why have things changed?
Tracy: Oh, goodness me.
When I first got into indie publishing, you could write, publish the book, and go back to writing while your book sold very well. It was very new industry, you just had to put the book out there and it sold.
Now, of course, it's a lot harder to achieve that sort of visibility. There's a lot more books out there demanding readers' attention, you have to work for your sales. I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily, but now we all have to figure out how to make the sales happen. How that happens is different for every author.
So there's a lot of moving parts we have to cover.
There's a lot of things we must do, there's a lot of things we should do, and some of the things we should do, we simply don't have time to do.
So we stew in guilt, and we worry because we're not godlike and omnipotent and can get it all done.
Then on top of that, we have this global sea of advice out there about how to thrive as an indie author. I mean, some of it's flat out wrong, some of it's out of date, and some of it is advice for traditionally published authors.
There's no signal out there that that information is for traditional published authors, so newer indie authors get all confused about this thing that they're apparently supposed to be doing, which actually won't help them.
Then there's advice that only works for certain genres or only works for the author who's giving the advice. I mean, some of the content, too, is promotional content that's designed to sell authors on courses and coaching and books and even more stuff.
Joanna: We should say that's ironic because this is a book with advice, and I have lots of books of advice! So we're adding to it.
Tracy: Yes, we are. But I also think that the more voices out there talking about the same subjects, the way you talk about a subject may help people, whereas how someone else describes that subject may not click with them.
So I think there is room for people to talk about it, even though there is a lot of stuff out there, which is why eventually I took your advice and actually wrote a how-to book.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of the advice is presented to new indie authors as mandatory. You know, they must do this or they must do that, or their business will fail.
So you get scared, and you're worried that you're gonna miss something important. So indie authors are sinking beneath this huge deluge of information, and advice, and services, and resources that hit us from every angle, every day.
I mean, our social media feeds have got it, advertisements are everywhere we go, you get promotions and author groups. I mean, I get text message advertisements now. I get adverts from my operating system. I mean, that's the madness. That's the insanity-making pressure we're under these days.
There's this huge overwhelming number of things we should be doing that we can't possibly fit into our days, and a whole lot of advice and information telling us about even more things we're failing to do. It's just crazy making.
Joanna: It's completely true. It is difficult to sift through it all. So you've got a chapter on managing the tsunami of information, but how are you managing? Because also your health issues—
If you only have a certain amount of energy, how do you decide what to do?
And how can people listening decide what to do?
Tracy: Well, I think the biggest step is to accept that you can't do everything. You can't read everything, you can't listen to every podcast out there, you can't know everything. Not today, and certainly not in the future, because it's only going to get worse.
So that requires, I think, you have to get rid of the fear of missing out on that one magic thing that's going to make all the difference. I mean, the one magic thing doesn't exist anyway. The experts that sell you on a course or a book about that one magic thing aren't lying, but the one magic thing they're selling worked for them, it might not, and probably won't, work for you.
So, I mean, all authors and all indie businesses are unique. They work in different ways, they respond to different things. So you have to find your own one magic thing that works for you.
You don't have to worry about missing out on that key piece of information just because you can't consume all the information. I think if you can get rid of that fear, then you can relax, then you can resume the tsunami of information.
Joanna: I mean, I co-wrote a book, The Relaxed Author, but I know relaxing is a difficult thing. Just on that, you said “find the one magic thing that works for you,” but I don't think that is one magic thing.
You have to decide on what your strategy is and then pick your direction.
Tracy: I don't think there is a single one magic thing either. It's probably going to be a combination of things that are unique to you and your business. So you have to keep swapping things in and out and trying different things, and if something works, you continue doing it.
Unfortunately, in this industry, it may not work forever, so you'll be looking for something else later. You have to keep working your business and finding there is no one thing for anyone, it's just finding the next little piece of information that might help you.
I think worrying about not consuming it all and missing out on something is a waste of time and energy. So let go of having to cover it all.
Pick quality sources, and then when you get that information, do something with it.
If you're smart with your time, you'll get maximum value out of it, whereas someone trying to cram in as many books and blogs and podcasts as possible might not be using that information as well as they could. I think the key is prioritizing.
Joanna: Yes, and I mean, obviously people listening to this are listening to us right now, but I think the important thing is to find people to model who are doing what you want to do.
So there's no point asking me about romance, for example. You have a lot more knowledge about that than me. There's no point in people really asking me about kids books. I don't do that. I don't think you do that either.
Tracy: No, neither do I.
Joanna: Exactly. And also find people whose voice and whose attitude you resonate with because there are lots of people with great information and experience who you just don't necessarily resonate with. So I think that's important too.
But let's come to some things that mainly work for most people. So you do have in the book, “Backlist is holy.” So tell us a bit more, like why is that and—
How does the backlist underpin your author business?
Tracy: Well, it's not just mine, it underpins all indie author businesses. It's just a fact of the way the indie industry is set up.
Traditionally published authors rarely have older books available for sale. They're focused on the current release, and everything depends on them selling super well in the first 30 days. After that, the book is a memory. You can't find it in the bookstores, and bookstores won't give up shelf space to stock previous books either.
So all the traditional author has is the next book, the next release. Even the traditionally published eBooks sink out of sight because the publisher doesn't promote them, and they price them out of the market.
Indie publishing, on the other hand, at the moment, is unique in the publishing world. It lets us keep our previously published books available for sale forever.
Even better than that, we can review and update those backlist books whenever we need to. I mean, they can age like fine wine, and they can get better as time goes on.
Our backlist catalog is where indie authors make their money in the long term.
So if you've just released book seven in a series and you're promoting it, a reader who's new to you as an author might be interested, but they'll go back to book one of your series and start there.
I can track whole series sales, because I track my sales every day, and I can see a whole series get picked up by a reader. Usually, they don't pick up book one, it'll be book two to book seven, or however many are in the series. Because they've already read book one, they've got hooked, and they just buy the rest of the series.
So an indie authors latest release will funnel readers into their backlist. Readers who like what they find will spend all their time and money in that backlist. So your backlist deserves time and attention. I mean, devotion, if you like. That's why it's holy.
Joanna: I think the customer value is so important. There's so much focus on the sort of first book, and it's hard if you're starting out and you only do have a couple of books, it's hard to see a decade ahead or two decades ahead to when you do have a lot of backlist.
I did want to ask you on the challenge of this because you said you can review and update books. But—
When do you update books? When do you just let them go?
Or you can spend your whole life updating books.
Tracy: Yes, I don't think people really understand how much of a time-sink it can be until they've suddenly got 50-60 bucks on their hands and realize that the old ones are looking very dusty.
Basically, you have to get systematic about reviewing the backlist books regularly and keeping them updated. I mean, links go out of date, they break. I mean, links are like weeds, they break without warning, and suddenly you've got a broken link on your hand.
You have to make your books look fresh and new so that readers who are digging into your backlist don't feel like they're picking up really old books. They're new to them, so if they look new and fresh then that keeps the reader experience pleasant.
I don't think we should ever let books go either. I know that some authors consider retiring books, but for me, the way I see it, they're a potential source of income even if they're only selling a copy a year. It doesn't cost anything to keep them available, so why wouldn't you?
I base this on the fact of how I deal with authors who are new to me. If I like a new author, I'll dive into their back catalog and read everything they have. If I really liked that author, I'll get obsessive, and I'll start hunting down their shorter works too.
Have you seen the mega books that are out there? John Gregory Betancourt puts out a lot of mega books that are collections of stories that have been out of print for a while. He'll hunt down the estates of deceased authors and arrange with their heirs to republish the author's catalogue.
He also collects short fiction of still living authors that is now out of print, and he republishes it. So I mean, I love these because they're very cheap, and you can pick up a lot of really old great fiction. So when I'm obsessively collecting a new author, I can quite often find their older short fiction in one of the mega volumes.
This is the thing, I'm always disappointed if I can't find everything that author has ever written. I don't want to disappoint readers in the same way. So I mean, I know of at least two readers of mine who've made it a project to collect everything I've ever written, and that's just two readers that I know about, so there may be more out there.
I will always republish anything of mine that's fallen out of print. When the rights are returned to me, I don't just leave it sitting around.
Even the books and the stories I wrote before I was first published in 1999, I now use as magnets for readers who are new to me on TracyCooperPosey.com.
So for me, I don't think you should retire books, I think you should do the complete opposite. But if you really think you should retire a book, then I think you need to make sure they're truly dead before you inter them. I mean, update the cover, or re-edit the book, do a small re-release, make a fuss, do some promotion, see if you can move copies. If you get sales, it might be worth leaving the book up. If you can't make sales, despite promotions, then maybe you can think about retiring it then.
Joanna: This is interesting because I would say this is because you've only written one non-fiction because—
Non-fiction ages really fast.
Tracy: Fair. Okay, yes, that is a very good point. I'm thinking just fiction. So yes, you make a very good point. I think perhaps there are some non-fiction titles that could be retired or updated or something like that. I think updating it may get to the point where you just don't want to do it anymore, or the industry has changed so much the book is not relevant anymore. So perhaps that is a very good argument for retiring a book. But as far as fiction is concerned, I can see no point.
Joanna: Yes, and it's one of the benefits of fiction is that it doesn't age. But if you do have, let's say you have 10 series, and you're like, “Okay, these covers.” I mean, we can all look in a secondhand bookstore and see covers that really date books.
Tracy: Oh, yes.
Joanna: Exactly. It's like, well, if you have to do that, if you have to re-cover an entire series. Maybe this is a tip for people, is you don't have to update everything all the time. If you've got a new book coming out in a series or that is related somehow, go through and update those things that are related. You don't have to keep everything up to date all the time, basically.
Tracy: No, and I do re-cover series. I've just spent a lot of money re-covering one of my most popular series. I looked at the covers, which were getting quite dated, and had a new release come out in the series, so I just went through and re-covered all of them and updated the interiors.
That was a huge job, but now I shouldn't have to deal with that series except to update links that get broken and things like that for quite a few years.
You sort of rotate through your series that way, every now and again you'll realize that, wow, that one's looking really old.
Or you may have a book come out or it gets put in a promotion that's part of that series. There's usually a reason that prompts you into updating a series like that, especially doing a major re-cover and things like that.
Generally, the updating is just internal stuff, making sure the metadata is fresh and things like that.
Joanna: Well, you mentioned money there, and you do have a chapter on, “Nine high-level hacks to preserve your indie revenue in hard times,” which of course, it's fantastic. Hard times come and go, they can be in the economy, they can be in your personal life. So maybe you could talk about that because money is a big deal for everyone.
You just said you spent lots of money there on a rebrand, but also with your health issues, you weren't necessarily earning tons except from the backlist, which is very good.
Give us some tips on the money side.
Tracy: You're right, I've had a horrible couple of years as far as revenue is concerned. I think most hard-time thinking can be summed up as stash whatever you can. A lot of people only think of that in personal terms, but it applies to your business as well. I mean, obviously, you cut your expenses to the bone. You'd be surprised what you can live without, what you can do for yourself.
This is for both your business and your personal expenses, which the business is covering as well. So cut everything you can cut. There's more there you can cut than what you think when you really sit down and look at it.
Obviously, you stash your cash. I think every business should have a savings account, especially creative businesses like indie writing. I mean, whole segments of the industry can implode without warning.
It's very uncertain, it has cycles, it goes up and down. I mean, this summer was really bad for indie sales for everyone because the pandemic was over and everyone was out doing anything but reading.
Hard times can come and go, and unexpected things can happen.
So I think every creative business should have a savings account with as much in there as you can possibly get to cover those hard times and those unexpected things.
The other thing you can do is you can stash your books, I mean, write lots of them, but keep your normal publishing schedule. That gives you time to do things that you used to pay other people to do.
In really hard times, people look for cheap distractions and entertainment, and fiction fits that bill. So this is what I was saying, during the pandemic, I dropped prices on a few of my series so people without work could afford my books, and I watched readers buy their way through all my series as a result.
Then there was the expected depression that didn't really happen. Economies are bouncing back as people head out and enjoy themselves once more, so we've all had this really bad summer. I think if you've got the reserves there already, you can live through those hard times. But above all, you have to keep writing and keep putting the books out there.
Joanna: Well, what about other revenue streams? So for example, you mentioned your store selling direct.
By selling direct, you are going to be able to make more of the profit.
You can also sell memoir and non-fiction for more than fiction. So these other revenue streams that are book-related are a good idea, I guess.
Tracy: They are, but they can be very time-consuming, and they can be long-term to put into effect. I happen to be good at getting books out pretty fast. So I got two non-fiction books out there just in a few months.
But for writers who can't spend as much time as I can writing, or are a bit slower at writing, adding in new revenue streams, which is always a good idea, I think.
J. Michael Straczynski, actually, in his memoir, was talking about the three-legged stool theory, that all writers and all creatives should have three different forms of revenue coming in. And I mean, this is J. Michael Straczynski, who's a wunderkind in Hollywood. You'd think he'd be fine just screenwriting, but no, he actually has two other forms of revenue coming in at all times, too.
So getting new revenue streams in there is always a good idea. It's diversifying, it means that you're not relying on the one form of income all the time. But as I was saying, it's a long-term process to get those three different revenue streams into place. So when you hit hard times unexpectedly, it helps to have the stash there, the book stash or cash stash, and things like that too.
Joanna: Well, I think that's interesting. And you're right —
You have to have a long-term view on this, and you have to build for hard times before the hard times hit.
Otherwise, as you say, it's not so quick.
What I think is amazing about the selling direct model is—plus an email list—so let's say you build your store and you have an email list, and you can put a book up or you can do a bundle, right? I mean, you have so many possibilities for bundles.
You send an email, and because when you sell direct, you can get money immediately. That, I think, is magic. Like the money is in your account that day, and that, we haven't been able to have before.
Tracy: No, and I think this is one of the cool things about direct selling. There's so much flexibility in it, as you mentioned. The bundles are great. You can put formal bundles out on the retailers, but if you're selling direct, you can bundle anything you want.
One of the things we're actually thinking about, coming up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday, is doing really crazy things like we're going to create a bundle of every book I've ever written that's available for sale and put it out at a discount just for Thanksgiving. And for every other author that sells through Stories Rule Press we'll do the same thing. That's not something that you can do on the retail stores.
As you said, once you do that, the money is—well, technically you don't get it exactly that day, depending on how your payment system is set up. I go through Stripe, so I get it a few days later. But it's still far more immediate than it is waiting 45 days to get the money from the retailers.
Joanna: If you have PayPal it can happen immediately, basically.
Tracy: Yes, yes, it can happen immediately with PayPal, which is nice.
And that's the other thing too, the email list is so, so important. You've got to have that. I think that's whether you're selling direct or not. But when you're selling direct, you can do cool things like mention a backlist book that may be a bit dusty that nobody really has looked at for a while, talk about it a little bit, talk about why you wrote it, and readers really love that stuff.
So if you spend a little time talking stories about the book itself, you can suddenly get a rush of sales for a few days, which is really nice. And again, that's not something you can do with the retail stores because you don't know who your customers are there.
Joanna: Yes, exactly. I do think this idea of building for hard times. I like this model:
“Stash the cash,” and “stash the books,” and “stash the email list.”
Tracy: Yes, yes, stash the email list.
Stash time. I mean, there's all different ways that you can stash things. And if you're putting things aside for when the hard times hit, you can ride out the terrible summer we just had and still thrive.
I know personally, because I've had not only just the terrible summer everyone else has had, I haven't put any books out for a couple of years, except I had two books that I put out. So I've lost readers, and my sales have tanked. And for me, because I had reserves there, I mean, basically, my reserves are gone now, but I got through a terrible summer anyway because of those reserves.
Joanna: You've had really hard times, and you do actually have a chapter on dealing with discouragement.
So of course, I think a lot of authors are probably discouraged with the industry, with how much people feel they have to pay for marketing, for the fact there are so many books available, and we're not going to talk in detail about AI, but I know a lot of authors are discouraged by the potential of a lot more content with AI creation. So there are a lot of reasons to get discouraged.
What are your tips for dealing with discouragement?
Tracy: Well, I think there's two sort of different discouragements there.
I think we should talk a little bit about the ongoing career-halting discouragement, basically a depression. If you're in that situation where you just really cannot get out of your own way, where your business is being impacted, where it's long term, I think then that is definitely a time where you need to get professional help. You need to talk to someone, find out other ways to help you get back to a more even keel.
Having said that, everyone can have a bad day, or even more than one bad day. I've had a bad summer. I mean, anything can give you discouragement.
You can have crappy reviews, you can have drooping sales, you can have an author snark at you in a group and that can ruin your day. Or I mean, this is a really common one, and I found I had this a lot when I was less established than I am now, an author that you thought was at the same professional level as you goes supersonic overnight, wins awards, and TV deals, and hits bestseller status. And that can depress you for a long, long time.
For all of these things, I think the best antidote is to journal it out.
I mean, self-awareness is marvelous. It shrinks problems. But writers often can only figure out what they're thinking when they see what they've written. So in that case, writing things down, and journaling, and just trying to get at the source of your issues can help take all that pressure away, and you can find your way back to being encouraged about your industry and your business.
Another thing that I find often helps is to read my own books. Go back and read your backlist.
It reminds you why you're writing and actually how good you can be, because depending on how long it's been since you read the book, you can read it and be surprised, and think, “Wow, that's really just not quite as bad as I remember it being.” So I mean, that's encouraging too, and that can fire up your enthusiasm to get back to writing.
Of course, the ultimate antidote is to write another book or finish the one that you're currently on.
I mean, getting lost in a story is really good medicine for just about everything.
The other thing to remember too, I think for a lot of authors, you have to remember—and I think you're alluded to this earlier too—indie publishing is at a historic point, and there's more authors able to support themselves and write full time than at any other time in publishing history.
So remind yourself that you're in a fantastic industry with great opportunities, pay your bills at the end of the month, and appreciate that you're able to do it, and keep on writing.
Joanna: Yes, and I mean, you're one of those people who has absolutely no problems writing tons of books. That is one of your superpowers is writing fast.
But I think what's interesting is it isn't just the writing, I feel like sometimes we do say, just writing another book. But what I'm interested in, and we talked about email marketing, but what else are you doing to market?
Because of course, having your own store, I talk about that a lot at the moment, but having your own store or having loads of books, you still have to get traffic to those books. So what do you feel, at this point, 20-plus years on—
What are you doing for marketing now that is working for you?
Tracy: For me, platform is the big key. I don't do pay-per-click advertising. I find that doesn't work anymore.
If you can't do it well, you can lose a lot of money very quickly doing it. So I tend to avoid the pay-per-click advertising. Instead, I work my platform so that readers can discover me.
One of the biggest tools for discovery I found is BookFunnel promos, and BookFunnel sales. I go in a lot of those every month for all my pen names, and that feeds readers into the sales funnel.
They discover me, they get to read a free book if they want, and hopefully, usually, they like the book so they buy the rest of the series, and suddenly, they're a reader of mine. They join my email list, and once I have them on my email list, I can keep providing them with new ideas and new possibilities for them to read.
So the combination of using BookFunnel for readers to discover me and the email list to keep their interest up and work their way through my backlist is the best thing that I've found that works right now. Whereas other things have kind of faded away and don't work as well anymore.
Kickstarter was not good for us, I've tried Patreon, but I keep coming back to BookFunnel. It works.
Joanna: That's so great. Because I mean, obviously, I've had Damon on here talking about BookFunnel, and I use them to deliver books from my store and things, but I don't really do their promo. So great to hear that you do that.
I think that's quite different, and it also will help and encourage people who maybe also don't have a budget because you can get into these promotions anyway. But I mean, give people a tip on that because I have had a look at some of them, and it's quite hard to know what ones you should be involved in.
How do you judge what is a good promotion to be involved with?
Tracy: Well, you get to know the organizers, the people that are coordinating the promotion. It seems to be the same people over and over again, so you get to know which ones attract a lot of other authors, which are good promotions to go in. That's one thing. But if you're brand new to BookFunnel, you're not going to know that.
I think my guidelines tend to be if the promotion is longer than a month, I won't go in it because that's tying your book up, possibly in a discount situation, for quite a long time. So it's quite a commitment. So I tend to avoid the promotions that lasts longer than a month.
I also tend to avoid the promotions that are very, very general. So if it's just romance, I won't go in it because it's not genre specific enough, particularly for romance readers who can get very, very narrow in what they will read.
So the authors that are in it may be bringing, say, contemporary romance readers to the promotion, while you've got a historical romance in that promotion which all those contemporary romance readers are not interested in. So if it's a very general just romance or just science fiction or something like that, I tend to hesitate before I'll go into that promotion. I much prefer the promotions that get very, very specific.
So that's a couple of tips. I think those are some quite big ones that will help new authors that are just going into BookFunnel promotions.
Joanna: That's really helpful. It's always good to learn what other people are doing, and I think that's fantastic. So we're out of time—
Where can people find you and your books online?
Tracy: I've got websites all over the place, but the headquarters is StoriesRulePress.com You can find me and all my books there, including some that aren't available anywhere else.
There are also links there to your preferred retailer if you really don't want to buy books directly from me. And there are links to all my other sites, including The Productive Indie Fiction Writer. So that's StoriesRulePress.com.
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Tracy. That was great.
Tracy: Thank you. It's been fun.