Thursday, June 30, 2016

Building an Author Platform - Some Lessons Learned

I have a reasonable grasp on how a built a successful Author's Platform for a non-fiction series of books. Now that I have decided to take the leap and enter the world of writing fiction, I have to start the process of building an Author's Platform to support my new writing endeavor. 

Based on my own experience, I have started a new blog to serve as a focal point for my planned series of fictional novels. The blog will serve two primary purposes for potential and actual readers of my fictional universe and characters.

The first function, and perhaps most important to readers, will be to serve as a source of backstory information about the characters, the universe they live in and from time to time, short stories in the current time frame the stories take place, filling in story or simply ideas that won't fit in a novel but are fun for the readers, if I can attract them, so the readers can follow their favorite character's lives outside of the story line of a novel.

The second function will be to announce when new books, short stories or updates are available. Sales, free books, etc. will be announced on the blog, all in an effort to increase readership of my books, boost those Amazon sales rankings, and in general market my books as they become available.

As time allows, the blog may include some brief looks into my thinking about the characters, stories and how I view the universe I have created for my stories to take place.

E-mail lists can get expensive. Experience with so called free e-mail lists has not been positive. In time, as sales permit, I will start an e-mail list that will support the blog. Or I may not. Many fiction authors do send out e-mails, primarily to announce new titles or special offers.

For that reason, I am leaning towards building an e-mail list as time and money allow me to.

E-newsletters can eat up a lot of time and motivation. For that reason, I am going to take a wait and see approach.

Facebook and Twitter (Instagram, etc.) are not platforms I spend anytime on at all, either as a creator or consumer. I tried both and did not see any benefit in sales from all the time I invested on those two platforms. So for now, I'm not going to enter the world of social media. I'd rather spend my time writing and engaging in marketing efforts I have been successful with.

This is not to say I won't take up social media in the future. Right now, I need to get the first two novels done and in print. Time is a limited commodity. There is little doubt social media can be an effective marketing tool, I just don't have the energy and time at the moment to master the skills necessary.

For those of you who were friends of the sadly short lived Sci-Fi series, Firefly with the follow up movie Serenity, you might be interested in my novels. While not a western style sci-fi space opera, my stories will be a cross between classic noir detective stories and science fiction.

Inspector Thomas Sullivan, a tall, scarred veteran of the Space Marines and a no no nonsense cop with a past filled with secrets has been sent to the planet Beta Prime of the Beta System. Ostensibly his job is to clean up the crime ridden planet and the corruption rampant there. Others have something else in mind for the gritty, tough Inspector with a past that haunts him.

If you like science fiction and gritty noir detective stories, this might be a series you'd like! To follow my efforts, please visit Thomas Sullivan: Lawman of Beta Prime.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Trends of Interest in the Publishing World

The speed with which things change in the publishing world can make it nearly impossible to keep track of what is happening and with good reasons. Technology keeps moving along and market trends that we all rely on to sell our books seem to change with the blink of an eye. Sometimes I believe the tech people behind social media move the target for those who rely on the format to reach out to their readers just because they can, making it more difficult to keep one's head above water as a writer.

I try to read 20-30 minutes a day about the industry in a vain effort to keep abreast of what is going on. This post, the first sadly in a while, is a list of a few of recent posts and articles I found to be of interest or help. 

Temporary shift in the publishing world or positive trend in the bookstore industry? Time will tell. More bookstores can't be a bad thing in a world that needs more contact with books.

I'm not a fan of Led Zeppelin, I personally believe The Rolling Stones have it right when they're announced before their shows as The World's Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Band, but anything that involves copyright law and creative endeavors is important. How many fiction authors have been influenced in their storytelling by the dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of novel and stories they have read in the past.

In case you haven't heard, Led Zeppelin is being sued over copyright infringement in regard to their classic song Stairway to Heaven. The ruling may possibly have far reaching impact on the creative world. Worth the time to read.

This article got my attention. My overall non-fiction sales have been in decline in the past year, particularly my ebook sales. Yet my POD paper sales have held steady during the same time period. I write for a niche non-fiction marker and have saturated it pretty well. My logical conclusion was I had sold as many books as an author could expect given the limited size of the pool of readers.

Could so-called digital fatigue be behind my drop in sales and not market saturation? My paper sales seem to provide some anecdotal evidence this might be true. Who knows? 

Still, it is worth paying attention to anything that dramatically impacts self-publishing authors ability to sell their work. Since ebooks are such a big part of the market for so many indie authors, any trend that impacts ebook sales is worth paying attention to.