melodydanielluna

An aspiring author starts a blog... tips?

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I am a writer.  I have recently completed a high-fantasy manuscript that I am shopping around to literary agents.  I'm hoping to get a trad-pub book deal for my fiction.  While I wait to hear back from agents, I am working on my non-fiction and posting this to my website/blog. 

I have already written and posted two essays, one on taking six months away from dating, and one on the importance of Mastery.  https://www.melodydanielluna.com/ 

The goal of posting this blog is to build readership.  I am trying to do something unique from other fiction authors in this regard.  Most fiction authors I see make content about 'how to write' or 'how to market books', which I think is really overdone.  Instead, I am writing about - well, I'm not sure exactly what my non-fiction niche is yet.  Thus far, I have chosen topics that I feel strongly about due to personal experience/past mistakes/observation, etc.  These essays were also topics I had read/studied quite a bit.  (Which is why the essay on Mastery has so much in common with Leo's LP course!)

My plan is to keep writing essays on topics I feel strongly about for my website/blog and some that will be exclusive to my Patreon.  When I have enough essays to warrant a book, I will either turn them/some of them into a book, or simply lump them into an anthology.

Here are my questions...

1. Do you think I need to pick a niche for my non-fiction?  And does it have to relate directly to my fiction? 

2. How can I drive traffic to my blog?  SEO?  Social media?  I really want to AVOID what I speak about in my second essay: making content for tons of social media platforms.  I would rather pick one or two tactics that work. 

I am going trad pub for my fiction because, generally, the quality of book (edit, formatting, cover) is so much better and I'm not, currently, rolling in cash.  Trad-pub is also great for getting your book into bookstores, which is very important for my genre fantasy/sci-fi. 

But I don't want to fall into the trap of thinking a traditional publisher will do EVERYTHING for me.  I want to have a fun and interesting website/Patreon/online presence, and I want to build an email list.

Any constructive feedback/tips are greatly appreciated :)


I write pieces that make the reader think.

www.melodydanielluna.com

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Hey fellow Canadian writer. I watched a few of your Youtube videos you posted here in the past and enjoyed them.

That being said, I think we have completely antithetical views when it comes to writing, so I don't know how helpful I will be here or if we'll agree on anything.

I would normally try to talk you out of going the traditional publishing route right off the bat. But after reading your entire "Stop Creating Content And Start Creating Art" I think that's going to be a losing battle so I won't bother saying too much. I'll just say that there are a lot of errors and misconceptions in your post about how self-publishing works and many other things. 

I'm tempted to create an entire rebuttal titled "Stop Creating Art And Start Creating Content" hahaha. But for now I'll just outline one... the idea that on a whim tomorrow you could publish "anything in that e-book, even terrible, unedited content." Amazon has pretty strict guidelines on how books need to be edited, formatted, and even the content in them. I've had multiple books de-listed by them, so I don't think it's quite the West West you're imagining.

It's good you're aware that there's a limit to how much an agent or publisher will do for you. But I don't think you realize just how little they will do for the cut they take, how much most writers hate their agents and publishers, how they might try to change your artistic vision, etc. If you want to talk about capitalism and corruption run amok, it's the publishing industry, and self-publishing is the way to take back sovereignty of your writing.

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I never have and never will write for the pursuit of fame or money. I write because, as I said, something beyond myself forces me to write. And, if I do, one day, receive considerable sums of money for my work, this will be nice—not because I can buy a fancy home or travel the world—but because I will quit my day job and narrowly focus on the Mastery of my craft. More books written and more books read.

I take issue with this and kinda feel like you're lying to yourself at some level. "I don't want fame or money, I just want to be able to write for a living." That's what fame and money gets you -- those two things are inextricably linked. You're never going to quit your job and focus on your craft without them. It's a necessary evil. 

Anyway let's talk about the blog.

Without SEO, nobody is going to read your blog.

Essays (rants) by definition can't be optimized for SEO. They don't answer a question or search query.

Who is going to look for the kind of content on your blog? What specifically are they going to type into Google and see your blog come up?

Yes you need to pick a niche. The people who want to read your dating advice aren't going to want to read your writing advice. You also can't ever really make an anthology out of a variety of topics like this, except after you're famous maybe people will buy them just because your name is on them.

If the plan is to leverage your blog readers to sell more books, I don't see how that will work with this strategy either. Are people reading about Mastery going to want to buy high-fantasy novels? Or is the blog an entirely separate thing? Everything is so muddied and inter-mingled in your post that I'm left confused at how to even respond.

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@Yarco  Thank you for the thoughtful response!

Your perspective on indie vs. trad is so interesting.  I won't say who it is, but I have a traditionally published author in my life and they have really put down indie publishing and hyped up traditional publishing.  (Bare in mind they got published in the 90s!)  There was a time when I wanted to indie pub, and felt really passionate about, but this person kept discouraging me, and I am very insecure in my ability to market myself.  (Though I know it's a reality, regardless.)

I am already dealing with agents trying to change things.  One agent was interested in my premise, but felt it was too long for a debut author.  As an artist, this is frustrating.  And I am torn between wanting to stick to my creative vision, but I also wanting to trust they know more about marketing than me.  (Especially with this close person in my life always telling me trad-pub is the way to go and indie-pub will 'ruin my chances'.)

On the topic of marketing, I feel you are right, I am just confused about how to pick a niche.  If my end goal is to sell copies of my fiction books, then what should go on my blog?  Short stories?  Writing advice?  Reviews of similar books?  It also seems hard to make searchable content with fiction/without writing 'how-to advice'. 

Is there a better way to market books, outside of having a blog?  Honestly, I am very open to what you have to say because I'm currently in the process of figuring out what works and don't have much attachment to my chosen methods. :)


I write pieces that make the reader think.

www.melodydanielluna.com

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@Yarco Essentially, I'm asking you to talk me out of trad-pub!  And to tell me why indie pub is better!  And to inform me of some good marketing techniques for fantasy/sci-fi authors :)  I am open-minded.  If what I was doing was working, I wouldn't need to ask for help/advice.


I write pieces that make the reader think.

www.melodydanielluna.com

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Posted (edited)

@melodydanielluna It's kinda hard to market genuine, real art. I'd actually also be interested in @Yarco 's opinion on the matter - how the hell do you market a scifi/fantasy/any kind of fiction book? As an aspiring writer myself, I wanna be able to eventually make a living out of simply writing fiction. But managing that is tricky. I guess it's doable, but you have to mantain a delicate balance between an artist and a seller.

See, the gist of marketing, the very fundamental principle, is basically to throw away the sense of self completely - and live 100% throught the POV of your niche customer. YOU don't matter in the equation - only what customer wants, and his attention is valuable. That's how peak marketing is done - finding out people's true desires, and making money out of them. And you cannot find out people's true desires, unless you ask them series is exhausting questions - and constantly asking "why do you want this?" repeatadly, untill you find out to their true desire.

There are 2 obvious problems with this: 1) as an artist, you don't really care about what people want, you just want to express yourself and do/live throught your art, and 2) how do you find out the EXACT reasons why people gravitate towards art? There are no objective reasons to be found out - art is simply subjectivelly beautifull, that's all.

So yeah, it's tricky.

Edited by Knowledge Hoarder

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Posted (edited)

Yeah things were probably different in the 90s... self-publishing wasn't really an option. At least not the Amazon model. I think Lulu.com started up in 2002. I self-published my first book in there in high school lol. And with that, I believe you had to order a whole bunch of books at once and physically store and sell them yourself instead of print-on-demand.

Before Amazon bought Createspace, there was an option where you could enable bookstores to buy in bulk at a slightly reduced price, and I remember seeing bookstores buying 10 copies of my books at once. So self-publishing isn't necessarily mutually exclusive with having your book in bookstores. Maybe with Chapters or Indigo it'd be harder, but I bet you could approach any locally-owned bookstore (if they still exist lol) with 5 or 10 copies of your book and ask if they'll put them for sale in their shop.

For me that's the main appeal of being traditionally published, is the sense of prestige that comes along with it. But you can still get most of that with self-publishing.

The binding and cover/print quality of Amazon paperbacks and hardbacks has really gone up over the years too. As long as you upload your files with all the correct settings, I think you'd have trouble telling it apart from a mass-produced book.

I guess the fact that JK Rowling got rejected by publishers 12 times puts a bad taste in my mouth. Like they wouldn't know a quality book (or at least one with potential to be a bestseller) if it hit them in the face. Not the first time I've heard stories like that. Not necessarily their fault, most publishing houses seem so overwhelmed that they can mostly just keep up with their existing authors with a proven track record and hardly take a chance on new authors. So I worry if you try to go the traditional publishing route (unless your friend can put in a good word for you) I think there's a good risk of spending years getting rejected and disheartened.

I feel like marketing is the hardest part of selling a book, and I've heard some bad stories from authors about how publishers basically make them do all the promo work on their own. I'd be sooo bitter.

The amount you earn from self-publishing vs traditional publishing is basically inverted as well. Amazon takes a 30% cut which seems like a lot, but you still get 70% and they take care of all the printing, shipping, and just having your book listed on Amazon is decent free marketing. I believe a traditionally published author on the other hand will only get like 25% from the sale of each paperback on average.

RE: Marketing:

If your goal is to sell copies of fiction books, then yeah short stories would be good. Reviews of similar books isn't a bad idea either.

What I see a lot of successful self-published authors do is to give away the first chapter of your book (or even the entire first book in a series) in exchange for signing up to your email list.

I agree it's hard to make searchable fiction-related content though. Something like "Top High-Fantasy Books of 2022 / All Time" would probably do quite well. Put yourself in the shoes of a reader and think if you were looking for a new book to read, where would you go, what would you search for.

https://www.panmacmillan.com/blogs/science-fiction-and-fantasy - A lot of these blog posts aren't good titles/topics for searchability, but there might be some inspiration in there. Eg. "Beginner's guide to Stephen King", you could write a similar article about a top fantasy author.

"How to advice" is a big mistake. I made this mistake myself... I wrote 30+ blog posts and made 46 Youtube videos on how to become a freelance writer, when really I should've been targeting clients. (My plan was to create a freelance writing course.) Similarly, I think it's a mistake to target other authors with your blog posts instead of readers.

One big thing SEO thing to learn is how to use H1/H2/H3 header tags. Basically H1 for your title, H2 for sections, H3 for sub-sections in your article. https://clictadigital.com/how-to-use-h1-h2-and-h3-header-tags-for-seo-effectively/

If you have a Wordpress site I'd recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin, it's free and basically guides you through optimizing your post for SEO.

For more general marketing stuff I'd check out Chris Fox on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ChrisFoxWrites/videos - If you want to learn from a person who makes $100k/year self-publishing fantasy books, this is the guy.

And check out some of his non-fiction books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Chris-Fox/e/B00OXCKD2G/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

EG. Write To Market, Six Figure Author, Launch To Market, Ads for Authors are probably the most relevant ones.

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Full disclosure so you can decide if I'm even worth listening to or not... I'm definitely not claiming to be a full-time author or expert at publishing. It's just something I dabbled in for a couple months before deciding to move on to freelance writing instead.

I've made about $4,500 USD "passive income" in the last 5 -7  years from some non-fiction books I wrote mostly back in 2017 . That's with basically 1 - 2  months writing in the evenings after work in total, and 0 advertising. I wrote one book in 2015, a bunch of books in 2017, and basically done nothing with them since. I still get about $30 in sales every month. The vast majority of sales came from 5 books that are about 10,000 words each. The other books below where I only made a couple bucks is where I was experimenting to see if I could write erotica, cookbooks, and other random stuff for quick/easy money.

So admittedly I'm coming at it from a non-fiction mindset and I haven't published any fiction myself, so maybe it's an entirely different market. I do have an idea for a novel I'd like to write one day to prove that I can be an "artistic writer" and not just a "content writer" xD But just haven't had time yet.

Part of me wishes I sat down and wrote like 100 ebooks back in the day, it might still be generating a decent monthly income now.

If I wrote a 100k word novel and marketed it properly, and didn't make $10k from the launch I'd be pretty disappointed. I don't think that's as huge of a goal as most people think though if you do a good amount of research beforehand.

book1.png

^ This pattern of having a big spike in sales that gradually tapers off after a book is released is pretty normal in either fiction or non-fiction.

book2.png

Edited by Yarco

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@Yarco Wow, thank you for the thoughtful reply!

It's so interesting, what you said about indie pub vs. trad pub, how trad pubs don't know a good book.  My 'friend's' exact words were, "Until you get a book published by a traditional publishing company, you're not really an author."  I should also say that this 'friend' isn't really a friend, but an authority figure.

I guess I'm afraid to have that much confidence and belief in my manuscript.  Like, what if I publish it and it's actually terrible?  Lol

Thank you for all the resources, as well.


I write pieces that make the reader think.

www.melodydanielluna.com

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Posted (edited)

So like a university professor or something? Gatekeeping for the publishing industry because they were lucky enough to break through and their ego is invested? Imagine my shock xD

Fuck your "friend / authority figure". You are already an author. You shouldn't have even put "aspiring author" in your title. You're a straight-up AUTHOR. You already put in the work and you have a completed manuscript.

Imposter syndrome is a bitch, don't fall into it. You are good enough. I knight you into the honorable society of totally legit authors xD

Stephen King's Carrie got rejected 30 times, now he's one of the top horror writers and has 60+ novels published! Agatha Christie got rejected. Doctor Seuss got rejected 27 times. It seems harder to find a famous author that actually did have their genius immediately recognized. It really seems to me sometimes like publishers and agents are just throwing darts at a dart board and picking whatever it lands on haha.

Take the pressure off yourself -- Assume your first book is going to be terrible, take a deep breath, and then put it out there anyway. You can cringe afterward, but put it out. Painters don't get famous off their first painting. Computer programmers don't create a best-selling piece of software on their first attempt. 

Like you said, you are called to write. You're going to do it anyway, so who cares if it takes until your 5th or 10th book to finally see success. You know mastery requires you to do the thing. Don't be like 90% of writers who just have a box of unpublished manuscripts under their bed, go all the way.

Edited by Yarco

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Thank you, you are so right about all that!


I write pieces that make the reader think.

www.melodydanielluna.com

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Getting traffic on your blog will be very tough. You're much better off creating stuff for social media or YouTube.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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Posted (edited)

Apparently audiobooks are popular right now and you can sell them on amazon? They Narrate them for you

Edited by Thought Art

"I would rather be wrong, than live in the shadow of your song. Now my mind is open wide, and now I'm ready to Star(t)!" - Arcade Fire "Ready to Start"

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I dont know if this helps but there was a sensational novel triology in india in 2010's immortals of meluha which was a national bestseller, it was fastest selling book in indian market. This happend because level of marketing done prior to book release was extraordinary. There where youtube trailers of every characters, this trailers where even showed in theaters.  You can read more about it in https://thinkwhynot.com/case_studies_Shiva.html

So the thing is if you are going self publishing route to stick with creative vision, you have to find creative ways to market your product.  Making creative trailers (since its fantasy novel) will be great introducing your characters and even a short part of story.


I will be waiting here, For your silence to break, For your soul to shake,              For your love to wake! Rumi

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@Leo Gura Pretty accurate I think. I think the best idea is to channel folks from tiktok and twitter over to the youtube channel. That's what I do. I think that's the best marketing method because of the organic reach of tiktok. Tiktok is a pretty powerful marketing tool. 


What is " The Nature Of Knowledge?"

Hello I am "Brian"

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