Using KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited as a Tactic (Self Publishing Podcast #146)

This week, the guys had Lindsay Buroker on to talk about how you can use KDP Select as a tactic to sell books and make money, while not endangering your overall sales strategy long term.
Lindsay seems to know exactly how to work KDP Select for her advantage, since last year she revealed a pen name experiment that made her over three grand in the first month! She wrote a blog post about that, which caught the SPP guys’ attention.
Check out the original article HERE.
Before having Lindsay on and talking about KDP Select, the guys talked about how awesome Scrivener is, which is the writing tool just about every writer serious about their craft uses. They’ve learned a lot from the “Learn Scrivener Fast” course. They recently did a live webinar about the tool, and they plan to do another one soon, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested.
To get Scrivener, go here for Mac.
And here for Windows.
To learn about Learn Scrivener Fast, go here.
When Lindsay did come on the show, she started by talking about her point of view regarding Select, and how she used a pen name and Select to get fairly decent sales in a short period of time.
The secret, it turns out, is a combination of things, including choosing the best categories for your book, not being afraid to jump into a specific fiction niche, and publishing books often, so you never really feel that 30 day drop.
You’ll want to check out the above article, as well as the more recent stuff Lindsay has been up to, here.
You can also listen to her writing/publishing advice HERE, and HERE.
Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing podcast episode number 146.
This episode of the Self Publishing podcast is brought to you by 99 designs, the online marketplace that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at 99designs.com/SPP, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.
Welcome to the Self Publishing podcast where if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself and now here are your hosts, three guys who spend most of their time up in the trees Johnny, Sean, and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing podcast, the podcast that follows three full-time authors as we attempt to change the face of indie publishing. Join us and our trail blazing guests as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment, and occasionally screw up. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. Joining us today will be Lindsay Buroker for her second time on the show; I’m very excited about this.
Sean: Very cool, I like Lindsay and she is a good thinker which is why we are having her on.
Johnny: At the risk of going actually into the topic at the top of the hour which I don’t want to do that it would be nuts.
Sean: We don’t want to do that.
Johnny: No that would be crazy. But just as a preview that the main reason that I said let’s reach out to Lindsay is because she did a thing in I think it was November or December and she put it on her blog LindsayBuroker.com where she started a pen name, kept it totally anonymous and just wanted to see what happened if she dropped something new on the market place. And what I liked most about the post in addition to the fact that she had some really nice numbers to report, some really nice success was that she sort of unashamedly used kindle like KDP Select and the borrows for unlimited.
But her tone throughout the entire thing was sort of how you talk about select and in general is like yeah I don’t think this is a great thing being exclusive, but it’s a tool that’s out there and so I’m going to see how I can use it to my advantage, and I really liked that, so smart lady.
Sean: Yeah it’s definitely in align with that whole thing that we did with you know using Amazon rather than Amazon using you. It’s not turning away from that kind of stuff, but it’s just using it, using it to the benefit. We have a lot to say about that in the next couple of weeks too.
Johnny: Yeah don’t miss next week’s show, that’s the one we are going to keep it secret for another week, but that’s going to be good. Like that’s going to be a keeper. That’s going to be a really interesting show I think for anybody who’s an indie publisher and sort of reposition– you know changing the way that you think about the landscape and the way you go by your business. So there you go. Cool stuff.
Sean: That did sound a little topical for so early.
Dave: It’s interesting.
Johnny: I know. Should I…
Dave: Dave shut up.
Johnny: As if Dave is usually really dock of it.
Dave: I don’t tune in till the next you know about 30 minutes in.
Johnny: But boy does Dave have love in the audience. We– Sean and I did a scrivener webinar with the Joseph Michael from Learn Scrivener Fast yesterday, and it was kind of like Dave didn’t show up but there was a norm phenomenon anyway, where Sean mentioned Dave and everyone Dave, Dave like in the comments, it was great.
Dave: It’s so ironic.
Sean: Dave requested to see the replay of the webinar. And it’s a shame he won’t be able to see– there is no way to see the comments at the time, because it was on a little Facebook plug in. So he can’t see all the love he was getting in the comments which is…
Johnny: He wouldn’t believe it anyway.
Dave: No I…
Sean: You know can I can’t– can I do my awesome thing because it’s directly related to the webinar yesterday.
Dave: No.
Johnny: Yeah do your awesome thing.
Sean: So my something awesome for this week was– so yesterday we did a little webinar for Learn Scrivener Fast…
Johnny: By the way can people still sign up– if what you are about to say is so awesome that people want to see it, do you know if people can still join?
Sean: I don’t think they can but I think we’ll do another one in few months. I really liked it.
Johnny: Okay see I would think that they could still register because it’s go to webinar like the software we used is what sends out the replays. Like he is not going to a…
Sean: Oh.
Johnny: Manual email list. So I think you probably can, maybe Amy can hook us up with the link there that she sent out.
Sean: I don’t know. I know there is an expiration date on that thing. It was a countdown, it’s five days. So by the time this goes live that was…
Johnny: Oh that’s true. But you might be able to– I don’t know– worth a click. Anyway go ahead with your cool thing.
Sean: Well regardless, regardless we’ll do it again in a few months because it was really awesome. I felt like I learnt stuff which I didn’t expect. I mean I know that I will learn more if I actually you know dig in again into the Learn Scrivener Fast you know little train thing because it’s really cool. That’s what it’s for and it has all these little three minute videos. So if you have a question about something you can just go and look up what that question is and get a very quick answer and it’s pretty awesome.
But some of the little stuff that Joseph was demoing during the webinar yesterday which just so delighting me because scrivener is just such a– it’s just such a big robust software app, right? And we use it every single day. And it’s just crazy how much we use it and still how little we know. And yesterday we learnt that you can color code the comments which if you are listening to this and you are like duh well I didn’t know.
Johnny: Nor did I, it was a total shock.
Sean: It was a total shock.
Dave: Well if you read Gwen Hernandez’s book Scrivener for Dummies you guys should know that you dummies.
Johnny: Well I don’t read a reference book; I use a reference book as reference. I’m not going to sit there and sit by the fire.
Dave: You read it from page one.
Sean: Right and so it was just when– like I just felt I felt giddy when I saw him do this because right now you know especially in my drafts with Johnny there are so many comments in there. Not just between the two of us during the actual draft phase, but to myself afterwards when I’m going through it and I don’t want to stop to look something up or make myself a note and I’ll go back. And by the time I’m done there will be a couple hundred comments, and they are all yellow. You know it’s hard…
Dave: Can you open all of your drafts to comments from me and they’ll be all in black like red or black.
Sean: I think you could do black.
Dave: I think you create a lot of bullshit.
Sean: So the side…
Dave: Daniel would never do this.
Johnny: Yeah can we give Dave a copy of Redacted to comment?
Sean: Oh that would be awesome and they are all black. So the side bar is just all perfectly yellow. But not all comments are the same. So sometimes you know it’s fazing that you want to pay attention to. Sometimes it’s a consistency question. Sometimes it’s you know motivation or you just want to make sure that you are…
Dave: [inaudible] [00:07:10]
Sean: What did you say Dave?
Dave: A perverted joke.
Sean: Or a perverted joke, yes actually sometimes it’s just an LOL. And to be able to have different colors for different styles or comments I think that would really-really help in every single stage of the– you know every face of the drafting process. You know when I’m in polish if I just want to pay attention to phrasing you know then I just look at the blue comments or whatever. Anyway it was just a very small tweak that can immediately you know make a difference in our workflow and I love stuff like that.
Johnny: And Dave if you could…
Dave: I wonder if Johnny is on the same page as me right now where you are thinking, oh great another system to learn color codes.
Johnny: Oh no no, I was just as excited as Sean, you are talking to the wrong guy here.
Dave: Oh well then I guess I’m all alone in the corner.
Sean: Dude you are the one who hates systems.
Johnny: Can you color code in black? Can you do black? I think you can pick the…
Sean: The systems for us are [inaudible] [00:08:07] both of us like totally.
Johnny: And the way you do that is you just– it’s like a right click you know control click or whatever the thing is to bring up the contextual menu. And then you– they just select color like you are clicking on a note and it’s so simple. Like it’s a sort of thing of course we should know it. Yeah but I like the…
Sean: I love how defeated Dave just sounded to you he’s like okay.
Johnny: Dave how do you feel about Redacted?
[Foreign language] [00:08:41]
Johnny: Okay thanks for weighing in Dave.
Dave: Hey you caught me in my native German speaking rant.
Johnny: We need the captions, the captions when Dave reacts to. I realized I just created Dave to Hitler, I didn’t mean to do that, all right.
Dave: It’s not the first time.
Sean: Or the first person.
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: So just I didn’t want to mention– I meant to mention this but Sean got– he got right in there topically on the thing is we do have a deadline formally on the summit like if you are tired of hearing about this summit don’t worry we are almost done which is one I like there is a deadline. And so…
Dave: Thank God.
Johnny: I know. There is just a few slots left four I think. And you need to sign up by March 15th and then it closes. Because you know like plane tickets and hotels and stuff, it’s in April. So March 15th and the link is Sterlingandstone.net/colonist. So there you go. Anyway…
Dave: You will just probably see the excitement about that.
Sean: What did you say Dave?
Johnny: To see the excitement about that?
Dave: Well from the people that have contacted us and stuff the discussion is going on about the…
Sean: Oh yeah it’s going to be awesome. The enthusiasm is really-really high and it will be fun with the bigger group. Last fall was really small and really intimate and this will be a little bit bigger. But I think I think Johnny and I are going to have to talk less. You know we are just going to have to.
Johnny: Ironically with one fewer of us there without Dave there, there will be more talking by the people that are leading the things. I think Dave is like a control rod in the Plutonium reactor.
Sean: Do you like being a control rod Dave?
Dave: I love being a rod.
Johnny: Dude do you like to be an animate Carbon Rod that was the hero in the Simpsons if you saw that one? There you go.
Dave: Yes exactly, now the Simpson’s reference.
Johnny: There aren’t enough of them in the world. Do you have a something…
Dave: I had a thought about– I do have something cool. I had a thought about the Simpsons today though when if the guy that plays Homer dies, will they continue with the show or will they kill Homer off? What do you think?
Sean: I think they would kill Homer off.
Johnny: They should have killed the show off about– how long has it been on? 20 years ago…
Dave: It’s going to go on forever.
Johnny: Like common guys it stopped being funny a long time ago.
Sean: Yeah I don’t think they could kill– I mean I don’t think they could go with a new Homer. I don’t think that would work.
Johnny: They killed off Flander’s wife. Like what is that about? Worst episode ever.
Sean: Yeah but they did that in [inaudible] [00:11:20] years ago. It’s like the show has like ceased to do anything…
Johnny: You don’t have a very special Simpsons. That’s not a show where you have a very special episode. You do that on Blossom.
Dave: You guys maybe watched it in the past few years, maybe you know that it’s not funny you are just like you know…
Johnny: I hang in there for a long time. And then I just said okay…
Sean: I haven’t watched it…
Johnny: It might have gotten awesome in the past.
Sean: I haven’t watched it in…
Johnny: Five years.
Sean: I don’t think I’ve watched it since I’ve had children.
Dave: Okay, then you don’t get to have an opinion then.
Johnny: Well I get to have an opinion about that they strung me along for long enough that I felt like I was going to throw up with how terrible it was. And you’re right it might have gotten awesome again Dave, it’s possible.
Sean: I never thought it was terrible. But I did think it was only an echo of the genius that it was at a certain point.
Johnny: Seasons three through eight, that was the sweet spot.
Sean: Amazing, amazing, amazing you got stumpy, you got– what’s the one I love, the…
Johnny: You like the grimy one, but that’s not one of my favorites.
Sean: The grimy one oh my God! That was so funny. But no it just became an echo, it wasn’t– Lisa becomes a vegetarian like those are some great episodes. But yeah it just became an echo. And it wasn’t that it wasn’t funny anymore because I think even the worst Simpsons had a couple of okay that’s funny. But it just– it stopped being you know like a maze ball.
Johnny: So Dave is your something cool Sean this discussion Sean’s having right now about the Simpsons on the show?
Dave: Well I have my run– my run for BOU will be on something that wasn’t cool this week and that was a finale of Two and a Half Men. And I’ll go on about that in the next show. Something good– but that made me think of the Simpsons because Two and a Half Men was the longest running sitcom. But I think Simpson is the longest running like animated show…
Sean: How long did Two and a Half Men run?
Dave: Forever, I don’t know.
Johnny: It had to be at least three or four men by the end.
Dave: We’ll talk about that.
Sean: That was the longest running really?
Dave: Yeah so but we’ll talk about that.
Sean: That’s embarrassing.
Dave: My cool thing was actually Cora sent me an email regarding a YouTube show.
Sean: Was it naked pictures?
Dave: No not this time. Those come on every Wednesday. This was the catering show C-A-T-E-R-I-N-G. Look it up on YouTube, it’s fucking hilarious. It’s these two Australian women in the premises that they are doing a cooking show for a food intolerant and somebody that is in tolerant– wait a foodie and somebody that is intolerant of food. Like all these like [crosstalk] [00:14:02] issues and stuff, but it’s the funniest thing I think I’ve seen in years. It’s hilarious, go check it out, it’s awesome. Has nothing to do with writing and nothing to do with anything but if you want [crosstalk] [00:14:15].
Sean: It’s awesome. Have you guys seen that oh no I actually I know you have because I think Johnny sent it to us in Slack that said too many drugs. But like a month ago it was leaking around…
Johnny: It was– I know exactly what you are talking about, it was like one of those adult swim…
Sean: Too many cooks.
Johnny: Too many cooks. Yeah look up too many…
Sean: Yeah.
Johnny: But do it on you know an empty stomach, like clearly right. No it was just or a lot of hallucinations, one of those two, like it’s just so fucked up and trippy.
Sean: You trip first wow. Yeah it’s 10 minutes long and the first minute is like what I’m I watching?
Dave: I thought it was longer than that?
Johnny: I gave up on that I gave up on it several times before. Like somebody had to send me a link a few times and I’m like…
Sean: No no you can’t give up on it.
Johnny: You swear this gets better? You swear this gets better, because it’s terrible and just repetitive in an Andy Kaufman sort of way, for like the first five minutes and you are like what I’m I watching and then it just something happens. Something goes wrong.
Sean: Right then you realize oh my God this isn’t stupid, it’s actually genius. And…
Johnny: But genius in a way that you are a little afraid to meet the person.
Dave: Is that why you guys…
Sean: Oh yeah.
Dave: Is that why you keep writing LOLs, you figure you know it’s starts off stupid but if you do it long enough it will get geniusy.
Johnny: The– pretty much.
Sean: No that’s exactly– that’s pretty much everything we do.
Dave: So you are approaching LOLs like Andy Kaufman, okay all right I can get that one.
Sean: Now you get it?
Dave: Now I finally get it. It doesn’t make him funny yet, but I get it.
Johnny: My…
Sean: Too many [crosstalk] [00:15:47]
Dave: Does Johnny have a question?
Johnny: Yeah my cool thing is that Sean– was it Sean that recommended it or was it someone else that recommended to both of us. The screen writing thing– I think it’s just called screen writing, right? Or screen– what is that book Sean?
Sean: Oh yeah I’m actually almost done with it. It’s Syd Field, it’s a book just called Screen Play. And it’s– I think most people, I mean most screen writers would consider it if there is one bible like this is it, this is the is the book on screen writing and I want to write a screen play this year. So I don’t know when I’ll get to it, and I don’t know what property, whether it’s going to be something adapted or something original.
But that’s a direction Sterling and Stone is absolutely going to go at some point, so I want to do it. And I don’t want to get like– I don’t want to overdo it and read a bunch of have tos and stuff, I think that will be terrible. I think I just need to do it but I do want to read at least one and this is the one– I want to read a lot of screen plays and I want to read the bible basically.
Johnny: I read the bible.
Sean: But I also recommended it to…
Johnny: There you go.
Sean: I recommended it to both Johnny and Dave simply because I think that we do tell a– you know our stories tend to be cinematic. And I think understanding that structure can just help us be better story tellers you know overall. And so it’s really good. It’s very straightforward just on basically how you, you know architect a scene and a sequence and a whole narrative and build characters. And it’s very, very cool. I’m mostly done with it; I’ll finish it probably on Sunday. I really recommend it to not people who want to write screen plays, but anybody who wants short stories, it’s of value.
Johnny: Short stories.
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: So we have a…
Sean: And also real quick shout out just to our audience who continue to amaze me. I love you guys you know. Ever since I said I want to start– I want to write a screen play this year I can’t count the number of emails that I’ve had with you know recommendations for screen plays I should read or books I should read or just little nuggets of advice. You guys are just really awesome, and thank you. And if anyone cares I’m reading American Beauty next and…
Johnny: That’s a good one
Sean: I’m excited about that one.
Dave: I read the beginning of that and it was way-way different. I think you know the way that– the opening of the movie anyway. I think what they eventually went with was better than the screen play version.
Johnny: That’s an incredible movie.
Sean: It’s an interesting.
Johnny: I remember watching– we watched it a few times and ego like each time I go wow I forgot how amazing this is and it’s not like I thought it was crap, like it’s that’s a really-really good movie.
Sean: No that trailer blew me away and that’s my favorite year for movies of all time 99, and that was one of my favorite movies of that year and I’ve probably seen it ten times. I’ve seen it a lot and I really-really like it, I think it’s just really well composed.
Johnny: What were you going to say Dave, did you have YouTube comments coming up or?
Dave: YouTube comments yeah. We got Tammy Labrec says oh the comments are the best on the scrivener thing. Dave they loved your so many inside jokes. Niklas Klingborg [ph] says yeah I felt sorry for the coach comments went all BOU, oh I’m sorry.
Sean: Yeah there was a moment where he actually…
Johnny: It’s our audience.
Sean: Trying to get into his pitch right which is the end– the end of every webinar like you have all the instruction and then you eventually get to the pitch, right? So he’s pitching learn Scrivener fast and all the comments are like, do we have anything to lose?
Johnny: I didn’t see that.
Sean: It was pretty spectacular.
Dave: Tammy said he seemed like a sweetie though took them all very well, he should be on the show.
Sean: He should be on the show.
Johnny: He should be on the show, I don’t know why we…
Dave: I thought we talked about that.
Johnny: I don’t know why we haven’t talked…
Dave: I thought we’d asked him but the timing wasn’t right, so he said get back to him, I thought.
Sean: We should re-ask him; he’s really-really smart and he just he knows his Scrivener and he’s the kind of guy that despite the fact that he did build an info product, he’s not on Dave’s enemy list.
Dave: Well no it’s a useful product, the videos are fucking amazing. No I’ve always said if you build a useful product you know applause, tip of the hat.
Johnny: That was the tagline for that one movie; it’s if you build a useful product they will come including Dave.
Dave: All over the– yes.
Sean: We’re just going to let you hang on that one.
Dave: Thomas Bennett has Dave what webcams you used I keep forgetting to ask, except now yeey I used a Logitech C920.
Johnny: It’s the same one I use.
Sean: I use the built in one whatever is on my Mac.
Johnny: So…
Dave: What Johnny you use the same one 920?
Johnny: C920 yeah.
Dave: Yeah 920 if you are on a PC you might go with the 910 or 9– I don’t know. It is kind of a debate. Some people like 910 better, but you know 920 is great so yeah that’s it.
Johnny: So there you go. All right I feel like we have a few minutes to feel before we add Lindsay, but maybe instead of discussing that we’ll just ask about how your project– your secret project I don’t even know if we’re naming it, but we have a secret project that Dave is working on, is it secret? And how that’s going?
Sean: I don’t think it’s secret, we can talk about that. It’s just– well here’s the thing about that project, it was secret when we were going to finish it in December.
Dave: Fuck you.
Sean: But now.
Johnny: Is it going to make the launch?
Sean: I don’t think it’s really a secret anymore.
Johnny: The podcast thing, is it going to make it?
Sean: Yeah but that’s now going to be in May instead– originally we were going to launch this thing on January 12, which is just kind of hilarious.
Johnny: You just want me to start something which is gradual I’ll have it for you by the end of the week.
Dave: Fuck all of you.
Sean: Yeah [crosstalk 00:21:46]
Dave: Counting on me to hit a deadline, come on.
Johnny: Well so okay.
Sean: I don’t know what I was thinking
Johnny: Right I don’t want– I do have an ulterior motive to this though because– so don’t go too far down the rabbit hole.
Dave: I know where you are going yeah we’re not going to go too far. Well Sean might, Sean might take it back to American Beauty if you let him.
Johnny: All right so you know right where I’m going, so I won’t…
Dave: Ingenious and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Sean: Did you see the red roses?
Johnny: You know where I’m going and so I don’t even need to say it, do you write nude? Oh is that not where you thought I was going I’m sorry.
Dave: Yes with rose petals over my naughty nether.
Johnny: Over your naughty nether regions, but I think that we need a cover for that and I’m just…
Dave: Okay.
Johnny: It’s giving me palpitations.
Dave: Okay so the project is called 12, the project is called 12, and it’s a story that’s been close to my heart forever, it’s about…
Johnny: Oh my God can you imagine being next to Dave’s heart? This story about a mass shooting is very near and dear to me.
Dave: Yes it’s something I’ve been tinkering with since I don’t know 1999 maybe.
Sean: Actually I am going to derail you for a second because this story called 12 and Dave I kid you not for the inkwell made a coming soon poster in 2009.
Dave: Yeah, okay see and that’s the thing, it’s a very you know I hope it will be a great story, might just fucking suck, I don’t know. But it’s just something that I build up to be this great thing that I’ve been wanting to write forever and I have this idea for a cover but I cannot do the cover. I am so ill equipped to do this cover. I did a coming soon poster, it looked okay but it’s not something that grabs you. So you know what are we going to do? We’re going to put our money where our mouths are and go to 99designs.com/spp and we’re going to have them do the cover.
Johnny: Do you want to use somebody that we’ve never discussed or know anything about?
Dave: No we want to go to the ex– we’ll pull this off and produce a great cover that will just fucking look amazing on a book shelf. They haven’t disappointed us yet, but this is a huge leave. I mean this is the cover that I wanted to do myself so bad, I just I want to get it right. So it’s going to be very interesting and we’ll talk about it on the blog, and we’ll talk about it on the show hell. But yeah if you want a great book cover design, go to 99 designs. They have experts that are just waiting to make your perfect book cover and the best part is if you don’t like it– if for some reason they screw it up, it just doesn’t work you got nothing to lose, you don’t pay. But you know I’m fairly confident that they’re going to do a great job so.
Johnny: All right well that is good to know. So start your custom design today at 99.com– 99designs.com/spp and if you use that link you get the free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks, which on average will give you about 185% more listing because you get prominent placements and all of that, and so do that at 99designs.com/spp. I’m going to invite…
Dave: And for you people.
Johnny: Go ahead.
Dave: Okay you invite Lindsay. If you people playing along at home though we will be next week or the week after I’m not sure when I’ll have– see when you do a design you have to come up with you know what you want it to be like. So I haven’t gotten quite– you know I haven’t managed to write it out just yet. Once I have it though we’ll include you all in so you can see the process and see like the different covers that are presented and that you know that we have to chose from, so it will be a lot of fun.
Johnny: All right, well I have invited Lindsay and we’ll see when she pops in here, but this is…
Dave: I have a comment.
Johnny: This is good; you can check the comments again.
Dave: And Sean’s not talking.
Johnny: I know right.
Sean: I’m not allowed to talk during the ad read, I’m being good. We have a whole list of questions; do you want to get any of those while we are waiting?
Johnny: The way we are, it will be 15 minutes.
Dave: No Tammy says you’re going to love the color code comments, my big reader does green for spelling typos, purple for structure issues et cetera, so I can choose to work easy, the harder big pictures, small pictures, whatever.
Sean: Yeah I can’t wait to start implementing that, it was such a small but kind of monumental thing.
Johnny: There were a few things like that.
Sean: And that’s my favorite thing, small tweak.
Johnny: Yeah I can’t remember what they were, but they were several things like that, that was the big one.
Dave: Yeah Nicky…
Sean: Impacts our work flow.
Dave: Nicholas says I love that Dave introduced that question about homers dying with having a cool thought. I wasn’t wishing for the death of the actor that plays homer…
Sean: I think you were.
Dave: Two And A Half Men made me think about it. Hello Lindsay how are you?
Sean: Hi Lindsay.
Johnny: Hi Lindsay.
Dave: I can’t hear you yet Lindsay.
Johnny: Or I see…
Sean: Incoming muted.
Johnny: Probably muted and with the camera off would be my guess, because we are seeing…
Dave: No I see her.
Johnny: Oh I just see the avatar, what a shock that I’m having some sort of Google issues yeey.
Dave: We see you but cannot hear you– to the right now she’s gone.
Johnny: Oh she’s gone, all right.
Dave: She said fuck this show, it’s very unprofessional.
Sean: Seems like this show is very unprofessional, they’re terrible and she has a point.
Johnny: She’s going to tease us the entire time pop again popping out. I seem to remember she has questionable internet as well so. There you go so…
Dave: Oh you know what she…
Johnny: I’m what?
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: Oh okay.
Dave: I think she was on what the hell– a satellite internet or something like we got to wait yeah.
Johnny: Oh yeah that’s right, I used to have that.
Dave: Best internet ever.
Johnny: Best internet ever, all right well maybe I could start by talking a little bit about her post. I want her to be on for this, but I can give the broad strokes. Her blog is LindsayBuroker.com L-I-N-D-S-A-Y B-U-R-O-K-E-R.com, and just in broad strokes because we will cover this when she comes on. She launched a pen name that was in– it was sci-fi romance was what it ended up being because she revealed what the penname is now and what the books are, but for a while she kept it pure.
And I think that she reported all her income figures and something and I think it was in the first 30 days she made three grand with no platform. And so I have some very specific questions to ask about that because some of the experiments that we’ve seen I just have some very specific thoughts. I feel like I’m vamping and she’s not coming in, so I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole.
Sean: Well it’s because you want to kind of cover what was in the post, but you don’t want to cover it without her.
Johnny: Yes I don’t, well maybe– then maybe we should divert to one of those questions if you want to read one I don’t know how long it’s going to take her to get her crank up the satellite again.
Sean: Yeah I think we could crap one, do you happen to have them up or…?
Johnny: No I don’t, I’m afraid to touch buttons because I’m very– my internet also good.
Dave: Tammy says speaking of school shootings, I listened today to the BOU and Johnny saying that little he’s so confused he doesn’t know where to shoot jingle, and all three of the people in my house laughed ourselves stupider.
Sean: Wow, that makes me feel bad actually.
Dave: Caig Gorman [ph] says first time watching the YouTube version, you guys look a lot different than I pictured in my head. How did you picture us?
Johnny: Yeah I always wonder that too, if you say that we sound different I always wonder what the mental picture was.
Dave: Dave’s a lot beadier in person.
Johnny: But to be fair we’ve described you I think fairly accurately, you know he’s got the beard, we’ve even covered Dave’s hairs that’s evolved, you know it gets long it gets short.
Dave: Sean’s nose?
Johnny: I don’t know.
Dave: Is Sean’s nosier in real life?
Sean: Yeah, I think I am.
Dave: It looks more like Ray Romano meets Erik Estrada.
Sean: Erik Estrada?
Dave: Oh yeah you never got called Erik Estrada?
Sean: No, I got Balki Bartokomous.
Dave: Not Balki, no.
Johnny: No.
Dave: Yeah maybe when you were younger.
Johnny: Ray Romano.
Sean: And I got…
Johnny: Come on where is that question, I feel like we’re dying in the water.
Sean: All right I got it, I got it, I got it. Okay. What do I need to know a guard in ISBNs assuming I self publish or create my own publishing company; do I need to buy my own?
Johnny: Lindsay is possibly popping in again here, so that’s why Sean paused.
Sean: So… okay well we will answer that later. This is the worst show.
Johnny: Lindsay are you there? I can’t hear or see again either– any thoughts on ISBNs Lindsay weigh in on that one. It’s like ground hog Day.
Dave: This is the quiet…
Johnny: There you go okay hold on I have a visual, I have no audio yet.
Sean: We need a producer to cut the crap out of our shows man.
Dave: Johnny you’re going to have to edit this audio.
Johnny: No-no I don’t edit. Are you– can we hear you? Lindsay can you– are you talking?
Dave: Do you know sign language?
Sean: Man nice.
Johnny: Boy I wonder if I should…
Sean: She just waved.
Dave: She just flipped us all off.
Sean: So with ISBNs you can buy those by yourself.
Johnny: Just shout whenever you– I’ll try to connect on email.
Sean: You can get them in bulk, you can get them from I think in Bulkers is the name of the company where we got ours, we bought a batch of 1000. It depends I think if you want it is a more pro move for sure.
Lindsay: Hello?
Johnny: Hey.
Dave: Hey.
Johnny: Okay we’ll get to the ISBN question later, yeey okay good [crosstalk 00:32:44]
Lindsay: My dog was bathing herself really thoroughly, so you probably don’t want to hear that anyway.
Dave: Oh you don’t know what we want to hear.
Johnny: Dave, we’re going to have awesome.
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: All right.
Lindsay: I saw the comments were already really classy, some of them around there.
Dave: Ignore… we just flag every comment he says.
Johnny: All right so…
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: Lindsay’s been on the show before but I did do– I gave you credentials. I gave you blog address and talked about the just very-very briefly about the– that you had done the pen name experiment. So but I didn’t want to go too far in to that before we had you on. So maybe a good place to start is to sort of describe the 10,000 foot view of what it was you were trying and how it worked out.
Lindsay: Oh sure, you want me to reveal my secret– not so secret identity here?
Johnny: Well yes.
Lindsay: Kind of been…
Dave: Lexi Maxwell.
Lindsay: It could probably be an also bought for Lexi Maxwell. So science fiction romance and I decided to do a pen name. I published one of my super detailed sex scenes than more than I usually put in my novels and I had some objections from my readers. Not all of them but a few of them were like you know we like that your stuff is usually kind of PG and you should keep it that way. So I decided to branch off and do the pen name for slightly more detailed novels with some more naughty bits in them.
And what’s probably of interest perhaps to the listener is that for me it was my first chance to try out KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, which I’ve just been kind of eyeing and glaring at all summer because it was affecting my sales ranking. And I really didn’t have any interest in being in with my regular stuff. I do have a lot of readers who… forums. So this was a chance to play around with it because I did keep it secret for the first about two and a half months or so, I launched three books before going public.
And so I did a couple of blog posts that talked about how I was able to launch the books and actually sell some books as a no name new author. And part of it was I kind of wanted to prove that you could still do that, because one of the comments I get to my blog a lot was well that’s great for you, you know you’ve already got the mailing list and you’ve already got some readers. It’s impossible to get started now if you’re just a new author. You know I know that’s not true because I see people that rocket all the time when they get started, so that’s kind of the overview I guess.
Sean: I love how…
Dave: A lot of people that are lying and say oh it’s easy for you are people that don’t realize their own stuff sucks usually.
Sean: Don’t hold back Dave.
Lindsay: Say what you really feel.
Dave: Like I see it.
Lindsay: I have noticed that a lot of times those people are– they only either have like one book out or their books are in different genres and there’s nothing connecting them. So it definitely is harder to get to start if you don’t kind of take the crap… and do a series and stick to the same genres for maybe the first few books.
Sean: I love how pure you kept the experiment, you know that you didn’t divulge your secret identity until you had crossed that threshold, and you could actually say with certainty that no I had nothing to do with my list, or who I was, or anything it was the fact that I did this strategy, and used these algorithms, and did XY and Z. I thought that was really awesome.
Lindsay: But I thought it was a lot of fun too, but I actually did get a guy commenting on my blog that was like, “Oh, but Amazon knows, they know who you are, so they decided to give special preference to you.”
Sean: Oh my God.
Johnny: That’s bullshit right there.
Lindsay: Great, I mean there is romance authors over here selling millions, trust me Amazon doesn’t really think that highly of me, I am sure.
Sean: Yeah, that’s absurd, it’s other people looking– they want to find reasons to justify their own inertia, that’s all, there’s nothing to do with you, I mean I loved your strategy and I loved how you executed it, bravo.
Johnny: I have a question Lindsay…
Dave: And she did– she’s a professional, like that’s different.
Lindsay: Thank you.
Johnny: Lindsay do you think that…
Dave: People will put out professional covers; we got a whole bunch of…
Johnny: Yeah, it’s fun what– do you think genre weighed into that at all because it does seem like certain genres have a little bit more of native momentum if that makes any sense, and I am just wondering if you feel that there was any of that?
Lindsay: I think that it can be useful to kind of cherry pick which category you’re going to get into if at all possible, I mean you have to write what’s exciting to you, but because I did science fiction romance, it’s kind of an interesting category and then it’s a romance, so there are romance readers in general who pick up a lot of books and read a lot of books. But at the same time it’s really a pretty small niche, because how many people want their romance to have people flying around in space ships, and aliens, and stuff at the same time.
It’s not a real competitive niche compared to all the other romance ones, I talked to Zoe Young not that long ago and she was talking about how it takes like a 200 or 300 overall ranking in the Amazon store to make the top 100 in contemporary romance, so I would definitely say avoid something like that if you’re a new author, even if you’re not a new author that’s going to be really super hard to get on the chart and get listed.
With my niche with this science fiction romance I do like the space opera kind of fire fly stuff, so even– it’s a really small niche within a small niche and that helped and hurt a little bit. I think if you do– in this particular niche, if you kind of do stuff that’s based on earth and isn’t quite so far out there, you’re more likely getting people to pick it up. Just what I have seen what’s usually in the top 20 for that niche, but at the same time it’s– there’s a lot of this particular niche is not really touched by the big five publishers, I am assuming because they don’t think there’s enough readers and they don’t think there’s any money to be made.
So if you are a reader and you do really enjoy that particular tiny niche it’s kind of hard to find good quality books in it, there’s very few that have been put up by traditional publishers, and that’s kind one of the reasons I wanted to give it a try, it’s because I read some by an author named Renee Sinclair a few years ago and that’s probably the only author I know of that was traditionally published by big five publisher, that writes that stuff. And then the publisher discontinued or stopped, you know didn’t want to continue publishing it.
So I kept looking for more like that and I couldn’t find it, there was a high quality or at least pretty well edited and pretty entertaining in my opinion. There’s a lot of indie stuff in there now, but I saw it as a place where you could still– if you had a pretty good cover, because there are some really awful covers in there, you can imagine science fiction and romance. It’s super hard to try to find stuff on shutter stock for that, there’s just– you either need naked people so that the clothing doesn’t look wrong, or you need– if you’ve got an alien forget it, there’s not a good supply of aliens on shutter stock.
So it’s tough to do good covers but there so many bad covers out there like I think if I do some halfway decent covers I have a chance in this genre, and if it’s a well edited story there’s a shot. I do think it helps if you can find those smaller niches, but maybe not so small that there’s not that many people reading it. I don’t know if you do some non-fiction, some memoirs, or something, it only takes a few hundred thousand sales ranking to get in the top 100, but how many people are actually going out there and looking for that particular obscure little memoir category. So I do think it’s useful to try to find a smaller niche, but not too small.
Sean: But there is an important take away here too which is that you did look for an opportunity certainly but you still wrote what you wanted to write. And that I think people who are looking for holes in– where they can basically exploit their algorithms, because okay there’s X genre has Y number of readers and that’s an opportunity, but if you’re not– if you don’t read that genre yourself, then that might be a problem.
If you’re not genuinely enthusiastic about writing that book, that might be a problem because you actually– your book has to be good, otherwise even if it’s a flash it’s not sustainable. So you have to– you genuinely cared about what you’re writing about which is one of the reasons this was successful for you.
Lindsay: Yes, I definitely think that’s true and I know there are some people out there some authors that can just say, “Oh, look zombies are in this week, I am going to knock out a zombie novel.” And that’s great if that works for them, I never seem to be able to make that happen. I think the last time I was on your show I talked about how I tried to write a– it was like sweet contemporary romance, that’s what it was supposed to be, and I ended up with like dead chickens on the doorstep…
Johnny: I remember that.
Lindsay: By the end of first chapter so, yeah I kind of turned it into a mystery. That’s just what happens to me, I try to write what’s popular, and it’s just– it doesn’t happen.
Johnny: That’s what happed with Sean and I have our first Lexi title like the– it’s under Lexi’s name but we basically wrote it, and that’s what La Fleur de Blanc was supposed to be, it was supposed to be a romance. And like we were incapable, we just ended up writing something that wasn’t a romance, but I think that the– it seems that the key is you have…
Lindsay: With the dead chickens?
Sean: Dave tried to write a romance, but the husband ended up killing the wife and burying her in the backyard, it was terrible.
Dave: I’ve seen the wife kill the husband and get a stray. Okay, Tammy says, Sean is right I would love to dismiss this and say, “Well probably people did know or Amazon did promote her somehow because that excuses me from having to re-double my efforts. That kind of thinking is a failure trap.
Sean: Yes.
Johnny: But then– I think that’s right, but just to finish my train of thought because I think I glitched out a little bit, was I think that finding the intersection of what you want to write, what is in you to write and what is popular, or does seem– there’s a little bit of an art there. We especially not CI, not Collective Inkwell a lot, but Realm and Sands did, and we knew what we were doing.
But we did hamstring ourselves a lot in the mad production phase by writing stuff that didn’t fit anywhere, like people don’t know what to make of Unicorn Western, and people didn’t know what to make off a lot of the things. And I think that did hurt a little bit, whereas when you say romance people know what that is. If you say post apocalyptic those are categories where it’s like you’re writing in your sweet spot, but you’re going with something that is recognizable and then you’re more discoverable. I think that’s sort of what I took out of a lot of this.
Sean: Yeah, and again pay attention to our show next week, because we’re going to be talking about this on a more personal level too.
Lindsay: Yeah, I definitely– I totally hear you guys because I am the same way with fantasy is that I am not really steam punk, I am not really epic fantasy, not really swords and sorcery, somewhere in the middle. But I have kind of found recently it’s only taken me four years to make a discovery that, even if you write the book you want to write and it’s totally doesn’t really fit in anything– pick a spot anyway and try to make the blurb.
You don’t want to be dishonest in your blurb, but kind of hit on– if you can hit on those things that people– that you do see that are popular in that niche, kind of find the commonality there, it’s sad, but when you look at the blurb to say people really just want to read more of the same thing that they know that they already like, so and then if you get them try the book and it’s a good story then you’ve got a chance.
Johnny: I love that you said that.
Dave: It is funny how the entertainment works that, yeah TV, movies and books, it’s like everybody wants a repeated experience, even though we say we want something breathtakingly original, we tend to like want to see the same thing over and over, or at least something sort of recycled it might have a little bit of difference, but it is weird how people are wired like that.
Sean: Yeah, I am reading romances right now just because we did our La Fleur thing but now we want to do it right, and get a Lexi romance out there. And so Johnny and I have been putting a lot of attention into understanding the genre and understanding the conventions. And I have read seven romances in the last couple of months, and it’s shocking how formula they all are and from different authors, indie, traditional or whatever, they basically have the same beat to the same rhythm and…
Johnny: And that’s not a bad thing, like think about your favorite– we have favorite movies that are– we are like that’s really- of course that’s happening, but I still love the movie, it’s not a bad thing, it’s not Nook.
Sean: Yeah, if you can lean into the conventions so that you know what the audience wants, you know what that reader wants, that’s actually a gift because it’s going to be easier to satisfy them. If you can find a way to tell your story in your voice, while staying behind those fences, that’s a pretty decent recipe for success.
Dave: So if [crosstalk].
Lindsay: No, no you go ahead.
Johnny: There is a lag, so I…
Lindsay: Yeah, I still leave out in the [inaudible] [00:46:45] I did get rid of the satellite internet, but it’s still not– I don’t know if it could be me.
Dave: [inaudible] [00:46:51].
Johnny: Right, awesome, okay, so the topic of the show– I actually kind of want to go down that road a little bit more, but I want to make sure we had sorted the main reason that I asked you to be on like when I sent the email was– I mean as you said like this is your first [inaudible] [00:47:10] into Select and that’s something that we talk a lot too.
I just really admired the way that it was a strategic approach to select, it was I understand what I am giving up, I understand like maybe this isn’t the ideal book distribution, like you want to go wide but that there is this tool out there that everybody else is using and why not figure out how you can use it, and I like how in the post that was something you kept coming back to like are they going to sense like forever will know, probably not, but I am going to see what I can do to get momentum. Can you talk about that some?
Lindsay: Yeah, I think that I kind of ignored KDP Select without too much trouble for the first couple of years, although I was very bitter there for a while when people were having their books go free for a couple of days and then suddenly that book was in the top 100 page sales overall on Amazon, I almost made a jump then.
But it’s hard when you see these promotional opportunities, and even though maybe you want to go wide and be available everywhere for the readers that enjoy you there, you can’t help but thinking, “Oh, I am missing the boat over here on the Amazon ship, but maybe I should just use them for a little while and give it a try.” So the pet name was the good opportunity for me to do that, because nobody knew about the pet name, nobody was wanting the books on Nook, or Kobo and still nobody wanting the books on Kobo. I have noticed it’s really hard to gain– as a new author, it’s hard to gain traction, in Amazon it’s a lot easier to…
Sean: Do you have success on Kobo under Lindsay, under your name?
Lindsay: Yeah, I do have some readers there, it’s probably my third highest seller I would say, but I also know that you know I have had Mark Lefebvre, I am sorry Mark you know I can never pronounce your name, I think I was close.
Johnny: I believe that’s right,
Sean: You got, it you nailed it.
Lindsay: Yeah, it’s just this darn French names, but I know I have been in the fast and free, he does that series promotion so that people can find you, and once people download the free book then if he’s got a whole series, you know you get readers that way and I am on their list for every month I usually get an email about you know we’re going to do a promotion– don’t worry about the dog is just trying to chew through her bed so that’s what that noise is.
Johnny: Okay, awesome.
Dave: I have a thing [inaudible] [00:49:34] in the dungeon, don’t worry.
Lindsay: Yeah, my prisoner is trying to escape, but I am– so I am kind on a list there, I have told people to try get on that list if you want to be invited to the Kobo promotions– just a second I am going to the electric shock therapy.
Sean: Lindsay dog [inaudible] [00:49:57].
Johnny: We’re live on the air.
Dave: You know what a [inaudible] [00:50:01] is? She’s like if you don’t shut up I am going to make you Better Off Undead and dog just goes, “Pum.”
Johnny: Or read Redacted.
Lindsay: I made those little noises like Susan Milan does on From the Dog Wears Fur, sometimes and it scares her enough to work. But anyway there is a list on Kobo, if you get– then you get invitations every month to participate in the little promos they do for self publishers. I just tell people, post on their Writing Life Blog and some of the places, just try to get on their radar and maybe you know that can happen as an aside.
But yes back to Amazon, so my point was to try Kindle Unlimited because I think you’ve talked about before on this show, I have kind of noticed from watching other people and from my own experiment that basically a sale is worth or a borrow is worth the sale, and so far it’s affecting the sales ranking, and borrows are a lot easier to come by.
So I saw that a lot of people that were in KU were getting higher sales ranking and more visibility in the charts , not purely based on their sales but based on their borrows as well. That’s kind of what I wanted to take advantage of as a new author. So what I did is for the first book I went ahead and put that everywhere so I can do the perma free thing. Because I had the first three books ready to go in about a month, I just was sitting on them and waiting until I was just about ready so I could have more than one to release– wow Dave is really close to the camera I am a little scared.
Johnny: You’re like staring into me.
Lindsay: So I did the first one perma free– thank you Dave.
Dave: That’s because I can, so when I am reading [crosstalk], go ahead.
Lindsay: That’s okay, first one went perma free after about a week and I think that’s what that one guy on my blog was talking about, he’s like oh my stuff never goes perma free, but what I had done is I went ahead and bought– I started it at a 99 cents and I got a [inaudible] [00:52:03] add from Fiverr and I think genre pause was the other add. I wasn’t originally going to pay for any advertising on that, but I did and it helped make about 50 or 75 sales that the first week worth it at 99 cents.
So and I have a theory that if you’re making sales, Amazon is more likely to be checking more often on their boughts too to see– to check and see if the prices are lower somewhere else. So it didn’t take that long for the first one to go perma free. And then about the same time I published the second one, so that had a good run you know a lot of people were picking up the first one. I think I gave away around 15,000 copies in the first I don’t know four to six weeks of that title, which you know that’s not a lot for a contemporary romance or a really popular genre, but I thought it was pretty good for this smaller niche. And so a lot of people did go right on to buy then second one at 3.99 or they borrowed it.
I would say in this genre for me it has been half and half, about one borrow for each sale. When I release a new book more people buy them now, but in the beginning I think when you’re a new author people are more likely to borrow them and just check them out, and that’s one of the things I mention to people say, “Well the borrows are sabotaging my sales, because I am not making as much on the borrows.” But I think you’re a more likely to get a borrow than you’re more likely to get a sale, because for them it’s this equivalent of downloading a free book. They are paying their $10 per month and they can borrow as much as they want, so I just say it’s a lot easier to come by a borrow.
I definitely noticed that between the borrows and the sales it is a lot easier to get those books out. The first two– the third one I published after a month and two and three stayed in the top 20 for my category for quite a while for about the first two months or so. I dint really experience that 30 day cliff that people talk about, so I was pleased about that. Now you know I didn’t have- because I am writing for two authors basically right now, I am not able to keep publishing one every month, which would be great if you could do that. I think it’s really– especially if you’re doing a series you can keep the momentum going and you never really do truly fall off the radar.
But even so I just got the fifth one out, so it’s not– and you know I think that’s about 1000 sales ranking in the store right now, and for that niche it’s pretty good. So I think by getting the momentum early on, by having a plan to and not just saying, “Oh, I am going to be on Kindle Unlimited and that’s going to be my marketing plan.” I think I was able to get off to a good start, then my pet name has 250 or 300 email subscribers now, and even though at Christmas I did go– I did admit– confess to my regular readers that I had these other books for those who didn’t mind the naughty bits.
I noticed some of them definitely they jumped over and try them, but I would say it’s going from fantasy to science fiction you wouldn’t think it would be a big jump, but fantasy readers like their fantasy and space opera yeah, maybe they like it too, but not everybody is going make a jump so.
Johnny: So when you mention the plan and I think…
Lindsay: That’s kind of [inaudible] [00:55:10].
Johnny: I think that this is a key thing. So you mentioned the plan, what was is sort of the plan, because it seems to me like a lot of people who do well in Select or Unlimited it’s with like, “Okay, I’m doing well today, but there is not necessarily a lot of forethought to what might happen.” In no way, shape or form do I think this is going to happen, but of the booksellers like if you look at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, the one who would be most likely to decide to stop selling books is Amazon because the other ones don’t have anything else, that’s all they have. Amazon could be like, “We’re going to sell refrigerators.”
I mean that’s obviously a worst case scenario but they could change the way the things rank, they could change what you get for borrows, like the stipend decreases. So that’s abdicating and hoping in my mind like, okay, while Amazon will do my discoverability for me, Amazon will do my marketing, what do you have going forward in terms of what you think is going to happen with this author and what are you doing to sort of take control rather than just saying Amazon does my stuff for me?
Lindsay: I hope Amazon does my stuff for me, that would be nice. So basically the plan is to not stay in KDP Select forever unless they just keep tantalizing, keep offering new things. Because I did put the first book perma-free everywhere, I do get emails or my pen name gets emails saying, “Hey, where is the eCover files? I want to buy your books but they are not at Kobo.” So I definitely think that after the first– I wasn’t really paying attention when the first quarter was up, so the first book stayed in, but I’m going to watch when I get up to the sixth ones and probably start moving the first couple of books to the series out to the other platforms, and see if having the perma-free has allowed the author to kind of get enough readers waiting for the next book that they will be picked up.
If things stay the same, if the borrowers continue to be counted as sales and it’s an advantage to be in the program, I’ll probably keep putting the most recently releases in there. Fortunately with these books, most of them can be read as standalones, so don’t necessarily have to start with book one. So if book and six are in KU, then somebody can pick those up without having read the other ones. So I’ve got the mailing list, I’m doing that with her, I’m doing the blog. It’s great talking about yourself in third person. It’s really not confusing at all.
Dave: [Inaudible] [00:57:47]
Lindsay: So I’m kind of doing all the traditional things. I’ve stayed off social media just because I don’t know how important that is as far as selling books goes, and I don’t want to confuse things since I do all that stuff with my regular self– my regular self. I’m totally the kind of person that can tweet from the wrong account. I think very briefly my dog had a twitter account and I was always screwing it up. This is like back in 2008 or something. So I just try to keep it simple right now and I haven’t started social media, but what I’m doing is sort of connecting with some of other authors, since it is kind of a small niche.
It’s this sort of thing where if somebody has been on the top 20 for the category for a while, you’ve kind of seen that person and you know them, so you feel comfortable reaching out on Facebook or something, and so I think we’re going to try to do some promotions. I did this with another group of authors for my fantasy book over the holidays and it worked well– is that we all made a book free for a couple of days, either as a perma-free or as a countdown, Kindle countdown, whatever they are. And we all emailed our lists with this big link to everybody’s free book. Then I ended up– I get 2000 downloads of my freebee and it wasn’t even in the right genre.
I had a steam punk romance and there were a bunch of other people doing contemporary romance. If you look at it, that’s a free– normally you’d pay some free book series or something like that two bucks in order to get that same kind of traction. So the main thing I’m doing going forward and I’m trying to do this with my regular stuff too more– is just kind of networking with other authors who write in a similar style too and who have from their reviews and stuff, the books are looking like they are pretty good quality books and ideally you’re reading their books too if you have time. I’m doing that a little bit actually with the science fiction stuff.
I think going forward– of course the mailing list, of course blogging. Well I actually don’t blog much with the pen name to be honest. I just say, “Here’s a new release. Here’s a sample chapter.” But I think networking with authors is going to be important going forward and I think you guys should start a show on that, maybe yesterday. I listened to that. I don’t know when you guys record, I mean when I actually listen to them but I know you had a show about that. So that’s sort of what I’m doing in 2015, is trying to do the joint where your information, your sales is going after other authors mailing lists basically and vice versa, and I’m seeing that being really effective right now.
Dave: Did we actually use your other author name, Ruby Lionsdrake?
Lindsay: Oh you told them Dave.
Dave: It’s on your website.
Johnny: Look at your website, yeah. Come on.
Lindsay: No, but then I have to explain the name so its anagram of my own name that a reader came up with and I told the intender to– real name, even though there’s no picture or anything on Amazon or they tell me that it wasn’t a very good name and they give me like a really serious suggestion, “You should use this kind of name instead.”
Dave: So did anybody find you out on their own?
Lindsay: I think I had a few people because I was tweeting about it. I wasn’t actually showing the name or the genre at the time, but for my first post I did, I think I did a four week of update that was like I’ve made X number of dollars with a pen name and I was really sharing a lot of details. So maybe like 10 really dedicated hardcore readers who enjoyed puzzling it out, kind of wrote to me and said, “Yeah, we found it.” Then I had other people later that said they’d read it and not realized and then they were like, oh that makes sense because it’s kind of similar style, characters and humor.
Johnny: I’m going to be really curious to see what happens when you start going wide with some of these, in terms of a few things. Number one, whether you get traction on the other booksellers, but also what happens on Amazon because I’ll bet that there is a few things that can happen with the whole KU thing. I bet there is several kinds of KU readers, I’ll bet there’s the kind that will only borrow, and I’ll bet there’s the kind that would buy but if it’s in select then they’ll borrow. So I’m wondering if you’ll see– I wonder if just all your borrowers will go away and just have sales left or if the sales will come up commensurately because now they have to pay but they’re willing to.
Lindsay: Yeah, it will be interesting to see. Right now my plan is to kind of put the new releases still into KU, KDP Select. So it’s maybe a little harder to judge and then put the older stuff out on the other platforms. I will be curious if they actually sell on any other platform because it took me a while with my regular staff to start, probably a year and half before I was really making decent sales on Apple and Kobo especially. Barnes and Noble, I had a free short story in there early on. I didn’t know at the time how to get it made free on Amazon, so I didn’t do that.
So I’ve actually been selling longest on Barnes and Noble aside from Amazon. But I noticed that the pen name doesn’t get any special love because I blog and did the podcast and stuff, your name is out there a little bit, so maybe you’re going to get a little attention from whatever. I get the Apple newsletter, invited to some of the promotions and stuff there, but Ruby does not. Ruby cannot get a Book Pub ad no matter– I’ve tried, even though I know the genres aren’t really a good fit because they’ve got straight science fiction and then they have straight contemporary romance I think. So I’ve tried to get science fiction ads and no loving, so we’ll see.
Johnny: We’ve tried to get a Book Pub for Lexi’s Filthy Fairytale, and it’s like what is it? What is that? So there you go.
Lindsay: Then you just add another romance fantasy/sci-fi romance or something like that. It can be a really small, but dedicated category of readers.
Johnny: Well so what I’m wondering though is– it’s like you said, your Emperor’s Edge series is kind of steampunk fantasy. It doesn’t neatly fit and you can’t write a romance without having Santeria chicken murders and stuff. So I’m just wondering if like the fact that you’ve done a genre this time, like yes it’s space upper romance but it is romance, if that will make a difference. I guess there is just no way to know other than to see.
Lindsay: I don’t know. We’ll find out. It’s just hard to gain visibility I think on the other sites, and in the past the perma-free book one was kind of the way to that, but now there are so many perma-free books out there that I think it’s– you got to do a little bit more. If you can get the Book Pub ad that can definitely be the thing. I had one last month for a free book box set and I am now selling three times as much on Barnes and Noble even several weeks later just because I really sold a lot of those there. It’s a really stickier there sometimes than it is on Amazon, so it’s definitely a challenge to try to get the traction on the other sites.
I do try to– on my regular stuff I make sure and put links to all those sites and do whatever I can, but so many of the platforms either are Amazon specific when they are promoting, or it is almost an afterthought where they are like, oh yeah you could give us the Google play address and Kobo address, but so many of those books, blog kind of sites and email sites are trying to get the affinity commissions from Amazon, so that tends to be where their focus is too. So yeah, I definitely hope I can find other readers there. I think I’ll start playing with it more once I actually put the other books on the other sites.
For now I guess I feel fortunate this isn’t the main source of income, so I can play around a little bit and I don’t need to be scared about– I know a lot of authors who are like, well I should I try KDP Select for a while? But I could lose a lot of money because I’m not in any other stores and then I don’t know if I’ll lose money leaving KDP Select. I haven’t played with it at all under my main name because just haven’t been– in part I haven’t been willing to and in part I don’t know if it will be– how much of a help it will be on existing title.
It seems to me that when you’re doing a launch that’s probably the time, starting a new series something like that where you’re going have some momentum from your launch and then at the same time you’ve got these Amazon promos that can help you out, and like I said the fact the borrowers help with us staying in the categories.
Johnny: But with that said one of the things that I liked so…
[Crosstalk]
Johnny: Sorry. I’ll just say then you can do the comment after this. What I liked so much in I think it was the second post was where you made the point about diversification and you said, “I kind of like that if one of these stores was to go away, I’m diversified into other stores.” I think a lot of people don’t think that way because if you are exclusively in Amazon and something happens like there are a lot of people who are like, okay, you came and destroyed my business.” You know, I was selling more and now people could borrow. The whole point of being diversified is well I have Apple income, I have Barnes and Noble income, and that’s what I think a smart publisher looks to long term.
Lindsay: Yeah. It’s interesting for the people who actually were selling really well before Kindle Unlimited came out and that might have already been in KDP Select, but suddenly people were borrowing their books instead of buying them. So I do remember some posts on there and the K words about that were, I was making 70,000 a month and now I’m only making 30,000 a month. I tried to be sad for that author, but I couldn’t quite manage it. Now I’m just kidding, that’s a big hit. I would totally be complaining about that too for sure.
Dave: Quick comments and a question. Emily Shars [ph] says, I love La Fleur guys; I can’t wait for the sequel.
Johnny: I’ve gotten a lot of very positive comments on that, thank you guys.
Dave: Kate Morgan says, hey Sean, everything you need to know about romance books and their readers is on Smart Bitches Trashy Books, highly recommended.
Sean: Smart Bitches, Trashy books, I love the title.
[Crosstalk]
Dave: It’s actually a website and a podcast, so I have to check that out.
Sean: I can’t just read a book.
Dave: They might have a book too. I don’t know. I just quickly checked it out.
Sean: All right, if they have the book, Johnny do you want a copy too?
Dave: Yeah. Tammy says OMG Lindsay is– it’s an anagram, I’m delighted LOL. Dave, Conference says 15,000 free books is a good funnel of potential people who read in the series. What was your plan to get that many people?
Lindsay: To keep that so many people or to just…
[Crosstalk]
Johnny: How did you generate that many free downloads I think was the question?
Dave: Yeah, [Inaudible] [01:08:48].
Lindsay: Before I answer that I will just say that Trashy Books– Smart Bitches Trashy Books, if I can remember the title is a big review site and they can be hilarious. They will totally rip you a new one if your book is not up to standard, so you should definitely checkout some of their reviews.
Dave: Oh and submit with caution.
[Crosstalk]
Sean: I’m already on it. Here we go. This is awesome.
Dave: Send them Redacted.
Johnny: The romance Redacted.
Lindsay: But as far as getting perma-frees downloaded, I kind of did all the standard things. I’m definitely in more categories than the two that you get to pick from. I did a space opera under science fiction, and then under romance there was a science fiction as the two are over arching ones. And then I think you’ve had somebody on to talk about using the keywords to get into some of the categories that you can’t select from the dashboard.
So it’s in quite a few categories. So when it went free, I think because I’d already had some sales, it actually got some attention, and people were downloading it right away. Some of those categories especially in science fiction which I kind of love about science fiction and it makes me want to write more of it is that there is a lot of sub-categories. I’ve talked about this before. Not only is there sci-fi, military sci-fi– and then under military sci-fi there’s like space fleet and like space marines. Those are really different things, I don’t know.
[Crosstalk]
Lindsay: There is a lot of little categories, I don’t know. So I’m in every category I could try to get in and it’s been kind of fun because I’ve had a lot more emails from mail readers than I would have expected because even though there is planets and stars and a spaceship on the front, there is an embracing couple about to smooch too. But I think they were like, “Hey, it’s free. I’m going to try it.” So that’s been kind of nice.
Johnny: I have a question…
Lindsay: So I’ll just say try to get in a lot of categories and if– go ahead.
Johnny: I’m interrupting your answer if I say this, but it’s just that it’s a little weird, but what I was going to say is– I was going to ask, do– because free is an innately visible anymore. I don’t think people are really checking the top 100 for you or anything like that as far as categories. So do you feel that that was still an advantage, categories plus free was something or do you think it’s more of an also bought sort of thing?
Lindsay: I think it was some of the categories; some of it had had some sales going into it. It just seems like you’re more likely to be noticed when it goes free– was already selling a little bit. I did a few ads later on that kind of helped it stay up there for a while which– I think when you have a new freebee, it’s not too hard to get a lot of downloads. What I’ve definitely found with my other stuff is it’s keeping up a lot of downloads every month. I need to redo my covers and try to get some more love for my first Emperor’s Edge book again because that’s just like way down there in the rankings.
So I think one of the things I’m planning to do later on with this series for the pen name is cycle out which book is free, maybe put the first one at $3.99 later on, and then have one of the other ones be free just so it’s something else, another possible way to get into the series and so that people are seeing something else out there. I do still think people are browsing those top 100 free to look for books, but I do agree that its fewer than before I think and all the KU people, they don’t need to look for the freebees anymore because they’re basically getting a whole lot of extra stuff free for their $10 a month. But I did still find it to be effective.
Like I said, the hard part is keeping the downloads coming every month especially with a niche like this. Like I said, I can’t get the Book Pub and there has been a lot of other sites that are kind of like, mmh what the heck is science fiction romance? Our readers don’t want that. But I’ve managed to get a few sales and anytime you have few advertisers and every time you can get a bump then maybe it will stay up there at the top for a while. It’s doing really well in that space marine category, so maybe that’s the secret.
Johnny: Dave, did you have more comments or anything? Otherwise we should probably finish up, but did you have any other things?
Dave: Uh– the comments are disappearing in– whatever. It looks like I got the most recent ones so we’re good. We should wrap up though.
Johnny: All right. Well let’s be done. Lindsay what do you want to plug? Do you want to plug your pen name? Do you want to plug Ruby? Do you want to plug yourself? Lindsay’s self publishing blog and everything is Lindsayburoker.com L-I-N-D-S-A-Y…
Dave: Your dog training website
Johnny: B-U-R-O-K-E-R, your dog training website.
Lindsay: Yeah, that’s still in the works there. Actually for the podcast people, I will plug I am doing The Writing Podcast with Adam Poe now and I’m also doing a science fiction and fantasy marketing podcast with Joe Lolo who is another fulltime fantasy author and Jeffry Pool, he’s got a couple of good series out and he’s hoping to go full time pretty soon. So we’re giving some good information out there for anybody who wanted to check out those shows.
Dave: What’s that website?
Johnny: Or an Apple Podcasts or something.
Lindsay: Thewritingpodcast.com, they’re both on Apple Podcasts and marketingsff.com for the other site.
Dave: Cool.
Lindsay: By the way you guys I really look– I just stumbled across that.
Johnny: You really like what?
Lindsay: Looks good.
Johnny: Your what?
Lindsay: The cover for your book.
Johnny: That’s a secret, that’s a secret. Sorry, you’re not allowed to mention that.
Lindsay: Oh no.
Johnny: That’s okay.
Lindsay: Anybody who looks you up in Amazon can find it.
Johnny: I know. There is always…
Lindsay: It’s an hour and a half in to the show, nobody is listening.
Johnny: No, they’ve stopped a long time.
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: All right. Well, Lindsay hang in with us, I have a few words afterwards, but this has been the Self Publishing podcast and thanks so much to Lindsay for being on again, another repeat guest, repeat offender on this Self Publishing podcast. So if you’d like to get all of our best advise without all the off topic bullshit, check out our book, Write Publish Repeat selfpublishingpodcast.com/wpr and thanks for listening. And definitely stay tuned for next week’s show. It’s going to be a difference maker guys, so we’ll see you then. Bye.

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