November 2017 - Elena Paige

EPISODE 27: In Which Elena Forces Marti To Spill the Beans on How She Sold Over 50,000 Books

Today’s interview is with our very own show host Marti Dumas. (Yes it’s true – I forced her!)

Marti’s books are indie published through small press Plum Street Press and include JALA AND THE WOLVES, and JADEN TOUSSAINT, THE GREATEST series of which there are four books (The Quest for Screen Time; The Ladek Invasion; Muffin Wars; and Attack of the Swamp Thing) and her newest release JUPITER STORM.

     

Marti has sold over 50,000 copies of her Jaden Toussaint series. Here’s how she did it:

  • First of all, Marti started off with a budget. The small press that she published through allocated her book a budget ($$$) for publication and marketing costs.
  • She knew her target market for this book series. Jaden Toussaint the Greatest was written to help reluctant readers, and make “smart the new cool” as well as being a book about an African American main character.  With this clarity in mind in terms of the books’ target market, she then targeted parents and teachers who were (and still are) looking for books to help their reluctant readers be successful.
  • Got the books into the hands of readers through:
    • local radio interviews
    • review team giveaways
    • local bookstore launch
    • free feature on Bookbub that resulted in 16,000 downloads
  • Still when not many sales happened, and Marti questioned whether it was worth pursuing, she came back to her mission. Why was she writing in the first place? This, and in person positive feedback and letters from families kept her going and believing in her book series.
  • The turning point came when the third book in the series was being released. Marti then made the first book in the series permafree – and it all started to take off!
  • The new goal became to get more reviews – once she reached 100, reviews then took off – now sitting at over 400 on the first book.
  • Facebook advertising was central to what worked – librarians and bookstore owners hang out on facebook! She uses it to direct traffic to the first FREE book in the series.
  • While 50,000 books sold is amazing, she is looking to expand this in the new year with strategies that allow direct to bookstores and direct to library sales.
  • Well done Marti! You are a legend and so generous to share your knowledge with us all. Love you xox

Enjoy the show.

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EPISODE 26: The ingredients of an indie bestseller with Crystal Swain-Bates

Today’s interview is with author Crystal Swain-Bates.

A native of Atlanta, GA, Crystal Swain-Bates is an author and the owner of Goldest Karat Publishing, a boutique publisher that aims to fill the diversity gap in traditional publishing by providing readers with high-quality books featuring characters of African descent. Crystal’s children’s books include “Big Hair, Don’t Care”, “Naturally Me!”, “Supermommy”, “The Colorful Adventures of Zoe & Star”, “The Colorful Adventures of Cody & Jay”, and the natural hair inspired coloring book “Color My Fro”. Crystal holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Florida State University and is an avid world traveler.

                          

Crystal offered such a wonderful mix of advice in this interview. Here are the highlights but you’ll learn a great deal from listening to her interview:

  • Don’t write for everyone. Know what demographic you’re targeting.
  • It’s important to have a good support person. It made all the difference when Crystal published her first book. With her Mom by her side, she gained the confidence to approach stores and put herself out there. And to be proud of her product.
  • Get out there! If no one sees your books, no one can buy them. Crystal is confident that when a child or parent sees her book in person, they are more likely to buy it. Crystal did lots of festivals in the early days. Now she is much more selective, attending only bigger festivals where there are at least 3,000 people attending, and events where her target audience are. Also, you never know who you will meet: one time Crystal was lucky enough to have her books chosen as props for a television show. Live events are also a great way to get real-life feedback on your books. People will comment on the covers, book quality and the price while at your stall – great information that you can learn from and apply. Crystal takes about 80-100 of each book title to festivals she attends.
  • It’s helpful when your book has a theme and a good description that describes the benefits of reading the book. “Big Hair Don’t Care” has a theme that really took off. It ended up being listed in many places including popular blogs and other key lists such as the Huffington Post.  This hugely increased the visibility of the book.
  • Don’t take offense when family and friends don’t buy your book/s. Go and find your target audience instead.
  • You are the brand so it’s important people like you. Crystal prides herself on being an accessible author. When people email or reach out, on social media, Crystal always responds. She isn’t salesy, but instead focuses on giving value. She’s never too busy to interact with and respond to her fans and readers.
  • You should never just have a book. Use your illustrations to create t-shirts and other products. Crystal even has a paper party set she sells. You can see her products at www.browngirlsclub.com.
  • Stop seeking perfection in your book. Your book will never be perfect. Good enough, is good enough, otherwise, you’ll never have anything to sell.
  • Have a website URL such as www.booksbycrystal.com that takes people straight to your Amazon Page.

You can find Crystal online at www.crystalswainbates.com, follow her on AMAZON, and get social with her on Facebook and Twitter. Crystal also offers Author Coaching. You can find more information about it HERE.

Enjoy the show.

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EPISODE 25: Benefits of publishing as a small press with Darcy Pattison

Today’s interview is with author and indie publishing expert Darcy Pattison.

 

 

 

 

 

Darcy Pattison is a writer of fiction and nonfiction children’s literature, a blogger, writing teacher, and indie publisher. Her books have been translated into nine languages. Although she is best known for her work in children’s literature, she is also a writing teacher traveling across the nation presenting her Novel Revision Retreat. She has been featured as a writer and writing teacher in prestigious publications such as Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, and 2012 Writer’s Market. Darcy’s latest book The Nantucket Sea Monster – A fake news story, is the 2017 Fall Junior Library Guild selection.

This is our second interview with Darcy. The main topic we discussed today was how and why Darcy has published her books as a Small Press (Mims House) rather than simply under her name, Darcy Pattison.

  • Darcy made the decision to start her own small press after attending a workshop with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
  • As part of the process, Darcy got a business license and decided to present herself as a business rather than as an author. The key difference is that she thinks and acts more like a publisher than as an independent author. She puts out a catalog of her books and looks for opportunities and gaps in the market to write for.
  • Even Darcy’s marketing approach is influenced by being a small press. She sends out her books for reviews (two good ones she suggested are School Library Journal and Booklist Online), includes a CiP block in all her books (find out more from Darcy’s last interview about CiP’s), and has her books available for sale through educational distributors. Also when selling books she includes packing slips, invoices, knows clearly the discounts she gives and has policies she follows as part of running her small press – all little (or big things) that make her publishing house professionally run.
  • Essentially Darcy looks for the things that traditional publishing houses do with their books and tries to do the same things, as much as possible.
  • Darcy also carries out research to find out what the most popular books or topics are. She recommends following listservs for librarians and seeing what books are accelerated reading books, as a guide to what’s popular. She looks at Locus magazine for what’s hot in science fiction, Voya magazine for all thing young adult and the Cybil Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary nominated books and award winners. Again, as a small press, she stays on top of the hot topics and publishing trends.
  • Darcy recommended joining The Children’s Book Council. Here is the Australian version.
  • Check out the Independent Book Publisher Association mentioned in the interview through the link and Net Galley.

You can find Darcy and her wealth of knowledge at www.darcypattison.com, www.indiekidsbooks.com, and www.mimshouse.com.

Enjoy the show.

LISTEN HERE

WATCH HERE