Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Writing Podcasts

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I’ve been watching too many darn podcasts on book marketing! 

For the last several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts about indie publishing while driving to work. The two I enjoy best are The Creative Penn podcast and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, but there’s a whole slew of them out there. Although they do cover the craft of writing to some extent, most of the interviews are concerned with how to sell more books, and include lots of marketing tips and tricks. And boy are there a ton of them.  Here's a small sampling of topics:

How to avoid the 30 day cliff on Amazon.
Staying exclusive or going wide. 
How to avoid the 90-day cliff on Amazon. 
Bookbub ads. 
Amazon ads. 
Facebook ads. 
E-mail lists. 
Kindle Unlimited. 

The list just goes on and on. 

But what really drives me crazy is that the number one thing you can do to drive more sales is to write as many books as you can, as fast as you can. It seems most of the writers who’ve been interviewed write a book every two months. What the hell? One author pumps them out so quickly she has to have her cover designer create her covers before she even knows what the stories are about. Seriously? I remember one successful author who lamented being a slow writer, which made me feel a little better—that is, until he mentioned it took him a full 3 to 4 months to finish a book. 

The swine. 

I certainly don’t expect to get rich from writing, but it sounds like the hurdles you have to overcome in order to convince more than 100 people to buy your book (not counting friends and other authors) are depressingly high. 

What marketing tactic works best for you? Please, I need to know!



  1. How many Amazon cliffs are there???
    Yeah, I couldn't bust out a book in two months to save my life, especially one that's ready to be published. I've been working 6 years on my current book and it's still not done!

    1. I've spent 10 years on my fanfic and 3 years on my current book and neither are finished yet. I'm getting faster, but writing at a NaNoWriMo pace for a year is incomprehensible to me.

  2. My quickest book ever, was 5 months, and then almost 6 months of drafts. Who really can write a good book in 2 months?

    I dislike marketing!!! Since I'm unknown and an indie author, the best way to make my book rank on Amazon is putting money into ads and selling your hard work for 99 cents. Lately I hear of doing library readings and signings, but that all takes time and the last book signing I had was full of my family. If they didn't show up, I would've had one person who talked to me and he didn't buy a book.

  3. The swine - hilarious!
    I am a slow writer just like you. I was lucky to do a book every two years. We just have to be comfortable with our own pace.

  4. I am definitely a slow writer and I am think I am better because of it. Sometimes pace may short the richness of character backstory and development. I dislike books where the character is passable. Thank you for the great post :)

  5. LOL! I'm slow too, but there is a threshold. It's typically about 11 books where you don't have to push as hard and sales tend to roll forward. For those of us who are slower, just knowing that's the number to aim for is helpful, then we don't have to stress about the timeline, eh?

  6. I keep a folder on my desktop that has all the successful marketing things I've tried. I know the folder is different for everyone, but keep track of what works for you once you've tried a few things will put you on the road to success.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. Marketing has been driving me crazy for the past year too. It's so tough, especially that no one thing works for everyone. It's a different formula for all authors. One thing that has worked for me is to have a perma-free story. It has attracted readers and they bought my other works.

  8. Your post made me smile. The one author is such a slacker: 4 whole months! :) I wish I could produce a novel that I felt was publication ready in 4 months. A first draft I've done, but those have been stories I've practically written in my head before I sat done and actually typed it. Then it was many more months before I felt it ready to publish. I'm in awe of authors who pump out books every two months.

    I don't think there is one sure-fire trick when it comes to marketing. Marketing drives me crazy too. I think it helps SP authors to release books regularly. Bookbub is great, but can be hard to get your book accepted. I like the idea of a perma free story. I've started one. I probably should go back to it.

  9. I have no marketing tactics. Mostly because I suck at it, and I don't have the production needed to keep up sales. Therefore, I avoid all those things that tell me how to market my book, because I need to freaking finish the writing first. :)

  10. I was just posting about "being prolific" (or not) on Facebook and PepperWords. Short answer is, I'm not, and maybe that's why I'm not more successful? But lamenting it won't make me write any faster. As for marketing, there's just so much (often contradictory) information out there. And it seems like what works for others never does for me. Again, maybe it's that I'm so slow that, by the time I learn a new marketing tactic, it's old and no longer works. Sigh.

  11. My five book series came out within a 15 month span and it did help fuel further sales. Sadly I'm only had one release since that time. Too busy being a publisher.

  12. I want to write more and in theory, I have everything I need to actually publish every three or four months because I have a whole production line waiting for me.

    The only thing I don't have is time, and so I'm struggling to get one single book out and this is the second year. >_<

  13. OK, what's the '30-day cliff on Amazon'. For that matter, what's the 90-day cliff? I guess I'll just have to go listen.

  14. I know, right!? Who writes a book every few months? It takes me at least a year...the best marketing I've seen is BookBub. Also, just getting everyone and their mother to buy the book on the release day so that you can hit a best-seller list and get visibility...

    Nice to meet you :)

  15. I would love to make more money from my writing, but I am so glad I don't have to at this point. I'd be so doomed. A book in a few months? Doesn't seem like something I'd like to read. How could it have any depth?

  16. I'd like to have 3 or 4 ready to go (or almost!) when I finally feel I'm ready to pub. But, I feel like that may be a loooooong time from now! :)

  17. I wish I knew. I've been hoppping from project to project lately, so by the time I finish with one, I might have another ready to go pretty quickly - but that's just the crazy way I work. It may look like it takes me a short time to finish something, but the current projects look this like this: C.W. - 1/2 finished but idea has been around since 2009, Super (no good title) 1/10th with research notes but idea has been around since 2014, Glory (again not the title) 1/3 but idea has been around since 2011, Writing prompt book 3/4 but still far from finished and idea has been in place since 2015. I can't concentrate on one for more than a month or two, so I allow myself to jump around. It means that the first few weeks back at a project are somewhat painful, but I still would rather jump than plow through one project at a time.

  18. I listen to podcast too. Penn is my favorite over all and Self Publishing Podcast with Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt & Dave Wright Authors of Write, Publish, Repeat. I am going to add the 2nd one to my list that one is new for me.

    It can be overwhelming and what works for one may not work for you. I think the more learn the better shot we will have. There are enough readers in the world for all of us it is mostly about getting seen and your name out into the world. You only need about 100 to 200 loyal fans to make a living.

    We can do this.

    Here is my podcast list if interested.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  19. I recently went to a talk with Joanna Penn. She disagreed with the theory you have to put out a gazillion books to make any money. Sure, lots of books helps because the money is in the backlist, BUT it's about finding your right audience. Take it one step at a time. Finish your first book first.

  20. I have no experience, so can't help in any real way. I just read books on what other authors claim works, like finding a niche genre in high demand, but with few authors competing for readers. It's not so easy to find sub-genres like that.

  21. I just went through my first seminar of podcasts on marketing this last month. Most things they mentioned weren't earth-shattering. But everyone seems to say 'write lots of books'. At least 5 in the first series, and that within 2 years. I know authors who pull this off and do a great job. I know authors who pull it off (the larger amount) and the writing reflects it. As to me - -Lol! yeah right. One book a year would be a major accomplishment.

  22. I can't really help with marketing advice because I haven't had anything published yet! I do worry that writing and pushing books out too fast might compromise quality though. There are many different routes and I guess we just need to find what works for each of us.

  23. Ugh. I feel you on the authors who crank out books. How do they do it? Especially the ones with day jobs? Maybe they just need to transfer some of their energy to me so I can write more and not be so exhausted all the time.

  24. What works for me in marketing? The same as with craft: learn everything and then toss out what doesn't work for you. I write about a book every 2-3 years. I've tried writing faster, but it doesn't produce the quality I want. I applaud you for making time to learn about marketing even if you don't have a book to market yet. When you do, you'll be many steps ahead of those who think hitting "Submit" is all they need to do to become bestselling authors.

  25. Well, the best marketing is to write another great book, but we all go our own speeds. For me, I'm in this for the long haul. That's why I've started writing a series first before publishing book one. That way, in theory, I'll be able to release faster and build up the proverbial "backlist" that writers talk about being so important to have. It has merit, of course. It's much easier to sell ten books if you have ten books than to sell ten books with only one title available.

  26. Marketing? I haven't published my own book yet, so I can't really offer advice.

    I haven't watched or listened to any podcasts.
    Well, I suppose that's one more thing to add to the list of ever-growing writing-related activities...
    Dunno where I'll find the time, though...
    I like Cherie Reich's thoughts above.