Author Media presents Novel Marketing the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world. This is the show for writers who want to build their platform, sell more books, and change the world with writing worth talking about.
Whether you self publish or are with a traditional house, this podcast will make book promotion fun and easy. Thomas Umstattd Jr. interviews, publishers, indie authors and bestselling traditional authors about how to get published and sell more books.
How to Turn a Podcast into a Bestselling Novel – with Scott Sigler
At Novel Marketing, we talk a lot about the benefits of podcasting. It’s easy to see how podcasting can help a nonfiction writer’s career, but fiction writers often wonder what to podcast about.
If you write fiction, one option is to podcast your story as a serialized podcast before your book releases. My brother is doing this right now with his book, Pilgrim’s Progress Reloaded.
It might seem counterintuitive. Authors ask me, “Why would people buy my book if they’ve already listened to the podcast of the novel?”
In response, I ask, “Why would I want to see the movie if I’ve already read the book?”
People who have already read the book are typically first in line to see the movie! It’s the same with podcasting.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
For years, I have been telling you about legendary author Scott Sigler, who started his career by narrating his unabridged audiobooks and serializing them in weekly installments.
He became a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the creator of eighteen novels, six novellas, and dozens of short stories. He invented podcasting your novel and is an inaugural inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame.
How did Scott Sigler get started podcasting his novels?
Thomas: You were an unpublished author with a manuscript on your hard drive. What made you want to turn that into a podcast?
Scott: I had wanted to be a writer since I was in third grade, and I actually had several manuscripts on my hard drive. I’d been chasing the dream of becoming a full-time novelist for about 12 years, not counting my years in college getting a journalism degree.
At the time, I was working for a company called S & P Communications that did fabricated talk radio shows for Fortune 500 companies.
A company like Sun Microsystems, which had 20,000 employees, was like a small city. And in any small city, there are radio stations and newspapers. So S & P communications operated the radio station for these big Fortune 500 companies. That meant they had a ton of recording gear, and I was their marketing guy for two years.
In 2004 I learned about podcasting. I was an aspiring novelist, so I went looking for a novel to listen to on a podcast, but I couldn’t find one. After searching Google for a couple of days with different word combinations, I realized I couldn’t find novels on a podcast because there weren’t any.
That’s when I went whole hog. I went to work at 3:00 AM to use their gorgeous recording equipment, and I started recording my own audiobook. Everything was so new. RSS feeds were foreign to me at that time, and iTunes didn’t even have podcasts.
I started releasing episodes of my book Earth Core, and after five or six episodes, the audience started gathering. Mark Jeffrey was doing the same thing with his book The Pocket and the Pendant, and Tee Morris was recording Morevi. All three of our audiobooks wound up on a podcast called The Dragon Page, hosted by Evo Terra and Mike Meninge, which also grew the audience.
There were only a couple hundred podcasts in the world at that point,
Marketing Lessons from Bestselling Author James Patterson
According to Forbes, James Patterson makes an annual income of $80 million. Industry insiders have estimated it to be much higher. One said that Patterson earned 20% of all royalties earned by all authors in 2019, making him the highest-paid American author.
Even though he sells the most books, I don’t hear his name mentioned often at writers conferences or in podcasts for authors.
I think it’s time to stop ignoring Patterson and investigate his methods.
How is he so successful? Are there any marketing lessons from James Patterson’s approach that you can apply to your own marketing and writing?
Lesson #1: Hone Your Craft with Short Stories
If you’ve been listening to the Novel Marketing Podcast for a while, you’ve heard me talk about writing short stories to improve your craft. You can imagine how excited I was to read in James Patterson’s memoir that he got his start writing short stories.
As a young man, he had a summer job with a lot of downtime. He used that time to write short stories every week. Once he got a real job, he forced himself to wake up at 5:00 AM every morning to write. He did that for a decade before he got his first publishing contract.
By the time Patterson wrote his first novel, he had written hundreds of short stories.
In our course, The Five-Year Plan, our students write one short story monthly, but Patterson wrote one or two short stories every week while working a job. He also wrote them on a typewriter.
Today, writers have the advantage of using tools such as dictation, word processors, and AI writing assistants, so we have no excuses for not establishing a writing habit.
If you’ve written a dozen short stories, you’re doing great! Keep writing. It takes a lot of practice to become a bestselling writer.
If you’re looking for a shortcut in publishing, here’s the newsflash: there aren’t any. The Five-Year Plan is the shortcut. It takes most authors ten years or more before they can pay the bills with their writing. Overnight successes do not exist in this business.
Before a traditional publisher releases a book, they send advanced reader copies (ARCs) to certain readers for feedback. The advanced reader feedback determines how much marketing money the publisher will spend on the book. The more positive the feedback, the more money the publisher will spend.
One of Patterson’s early ARC reviewers said, “I’m quite sure that James Patterson wrote a million words before he even started this novel.”
Between his short stories and the marketing copy he’d written, Patterson had done the work to hone his craft. He didn’t look for shortcuts or tell himself he didn’t need to work hard because “God had called...
How to Work with an AI Writing Assistant
Writers get stuck at many points in the process of crafting a novel. It’s hard to get unstuck and overcome writer’s block.
Have you had any of these sticky writing problems?
* You have a great plot idea for your novel, but you’re not sure which direction to take it.* You’ve written a great fight scene but can’t make it come alive.* You’ve imagined a fantastical world, but you struggle to describe it to your readers.
Don’t you wish there was a “Get Unstuck” button that could carve a path forward and help you make progress?
Successful authors produce high-quality writing, and they turn out novels quickly. The faster you can write a great book, the more books you can write, and the more income you can earn from your sales.
We recently talked about various AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools for authors that can help you write better and faster.
One of those tools was Sudowrite (Affiliate Link). I recently interviewed
Sudowrite’s AI developer and co-founder, James Yu. James is an Angel Investor, and he writes speculative fiction. He knows what it’s like to feel stuck while writing.
What is Sudowrite?
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: What is Sudowrite?
James Yu: Sudowrite is an AI assistant for creative writers. Think of it as a sparring partner who helps you edit your book, create new scenes, and generate plot ideas.
Sudowrite can help you write your next sentence or plot point, and it can give you language to describe elements of your story.
Thomas: Think of it as a thesaurus for a paragraph. Sudowrite will help you write a new sentence or paragraph rather than simply replacing one word.
Writers have always had dictionaries, thesauruses, and even rhyming dictionaries. Sudowrite uses AI to take writers to the next step.
James: It’s more than a thesaurus because it has a degree of understanding.
Sudowrite can pierce the veil of your story’s content. It understands the story to a certain extent and gives you suggestions as if you’re collaborating with another person. Imagine trying to unblock yourself by talking to a friend about a plot problem. Sudowrite can be that friend.
We didn’t create Sudowrite to replace the creative process. We developed it to complement your knowledge of the craft by enhancing your writing and filling in the gaps.
Thomas: It doesn’t replace Word or Scrivener. Sudowrite is in a different category of tools.
How does the Describe button help you overcome writer’s block?
Thomas: One feature is the “Describe” button. Can you describe what the Describe button does?
James: If you are running out of ways to describe a dragon, or you don’t have the scene fully realized, you can use the Describe feature to find out how AI would describe a dragon in the context of your story.
Affiliate Marketing for Authors
One common complaint about advertising is that you have to pay for the ad before you know whether it will work. Your $10,000 ad could return $20,000 in sales or go up in smoke.
To mitigate the risk, some advertisers start with small ad budgets, and as they learn what works, they grow their advertising investment. The start-small strategy makes mistakes less costly, but the mistakes and learning phase still cost the advertiser something.
Advertising Pricing Explained
Before we talk about paying only for ads that work, you must understand the three ways ads are priced.
Pay Per Impression (PPI)
TV, radio, podcasts, and some Facebook ads are sold on a per-impression basis. Ads are often priced in CPM, which is the acronym for “Cost Per Thousand.” If that acronym seems like a typo, remember that the letter “M” is the Roman numeral for 1,000.
Let’s say a podcast offers ad slots for $30.00 CPM and has 1,000 downloads per episode. One ad on an episode would cost you $30.00. If that podcast had 10,000 downloads for every episode, the same ad would cost you $300.00.
You can see why TV and radio stations care about ratings. Third-party companies like Nielson calculate the size of the media outlet’s audience. A station’s audience size directly impacts how much the station earns from the ads they sell. If the nightly news on Channel 7 has twice the viewers as Channel 24, Channel 7 can sell the same ad slots for twice as much.
Old school website banner ads were sold the same way until the dot-com crash. In the early 2000s, many people grew “banner blind” and stopped noticing banner ads on websites. With the decreased effectiveness of banner ads, companies needed a new way to sell ads.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
When paying per impression stopped working, advertisers wanted to pay only for customers who clicked the ad, so companies started selling Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. Amazon ads, Google ads, and some Facebook ads are sold on a pay-per-click basis. Facebook allows advertisers to choose between PPC and PPI ads.
With PPC ads, the advertiser only pays when a web visitor clicks on the ad. For example, if 1,000 people viewed the blog post, but only five clicked on the advertisement, the advertiser will only pay for five clicks. With PPC ads, the 9,995 impressions that did not result in clicks are “free.”
Usually, PPC ads are sold on an auction basis where the likelihood of the ad being clicked is considered. That means PPC ads require you to be the highest bidder and have the highest quality score. Advertisers strive to optimize the quality of the PPC ads since a better score means cheaper clicks.
Paying per click is less risky than paying per impression, but there is still a big difference between someone clicking to learn more and completing the purchase.
That’s why the gold standard in advertising is to pay per sale.
Pay Per Sale (PPS)
With Pay Per Sale (PPS) ads, advertisers only pay for the ad after the customer completes the checkout process. Another name for PPS ads is “affiliate marketing.” In PPS ads or affiliate marketing for authors, the author or content creator shares their sales revenue with those who run the advertisements.
Amazon sells ads to authors on a pay-per-click basis. But when Amazon buys advertising on author blogs and websites, it pays on a pay-per-sale basis through the ...
How to Market Your Book in a Recession (Preview)
If you’ve listened to the Novel Marketing Podcast for a while, you know it is a value-for-value podcast. We don’t charge for the episodes, but we do ask listeners who find them valuable to give back some of that value so the podcast can continue. Listeners who support the show are called Patrons.
Patrons get exclusive benefits, such as an extra episode every month. Initially, we hosted only Q&A episodes where I would answer our patrons’ questions live. But lately, I’ve started mixing it up and doing different types of patrons-only episodes.
July Patrons-Only Episode: Marketing in a Recession
Last month, the patrons-only episode was about How to Market Your Book in a Recession. In that episode, we talked about how our current recession differs from the last one. We discussed the impact on authors and what to do about it.
Recessions tend to knock out some of the old economic winners and replace them with new winners. If you are winning right now with your writing and sales, it is important to know how to keep winning. If you are not winning, you need to know what to do differently.
We discussed how inflation would affect pricing for indie and traditional authors, as well as how the lockdowns in China impact the supply chains.
If you become a patron today, you’ll get access to that bonus episode and all the past patrons-only episodes.
You can listen in most podcast apps. When you become a patron, you’ll receive a special feed that you copy and paste into your podcast app, and all the past episodes will download. If you listen in Pocket Casts or Apple Podcasts, you will get the new patrons-only episodes right there in the app.
Sadly, it does not work on Spotify.
August Patrons-Only Episode: Your Questions Answered (Q&A)
I record the patrons-only episodes live, so you have the option to ask me questions on the air. That’s exactly what we did in August.
Some patrons sent questions ahead of time, and some asked questions live. I answered each question I received. Toward the end, I shared some trends I see in the publishing industry and what kinds of fiction I think will be hot in five years.
September Patrons-Only Episode: Pitch Practice with Mary DeMuth
Next month, literary agent Mary DeMuth will join us live, and Novel Marketing patrons will have the opportunity to practice pitching their novels and nonfiction books to Mary. She and I will listen to your pitch and give feedback on what we liked and how we think you can improve.
To do to participate in this pitch practice, follow these steps:
* Become a Novel Marketing patron.* Complete the pitch worksheet. * Attend the live online event.
Mary is currently looking for a few new clients to represent. This pitch practice may be more of an actual pitch for some of you. Be sure to listen to my episodes on pitching before you pitch your book.
* Write Bestselling Pitches by Avoiding These 10 Mistakes* How to Pitch Your Nove...
AI Tools for Authors
Once upon a time, authors wrote books on typewriters. There was no writing software for authors or AI tools.
Editing was hard. Getting feedback was laborious. Submitting the manuscript to publishers required lots of paper and postage. Before copy machines, writers had to retype the whole book just to have a backup copy if the publisher’s copy was lost in the mail.
Then WordPerfect arrived on the scene, and everything changed. WordPerfect users could print a second copy of their manuscript as easily as they printed the first. You could use its spell-checking feature and easily get feedback on your manuscript with the Track Changes feature.
The word processor made writing books easier, allowing more people to write books. With the ease and accessibility of word processing, the number of books published each year grew exponentially.
Word processors also changed the expectations of industry professionals and readers. Publishers started to expect higher levels of quality with little tolerance for misspellings and typos. Authors who resisted the shift to word processors were eventually replaced by word processor users.
In 1982, if you used a word processor, you had an advantage over authors using typewriters. By 1992, publishers expected word processor quality, but you could still get by with a typewriter if you worked harder than everyone else. By 2002, if you were not using Microsoft Word with track changes, no publisher would work with you.
New Writing Software Tools for Authors
Today, the writer’s technology is shifting again. Just as the word processor replaced the typewriter and made everything easier for those willing to shift, today’s AI tools for authors are replacing less efficient methods. Writers who adopt the technology have an advantage, just like the word processor users of the 1980s.
If you want to stay competitive as a professional author, you will eventually be forced to use better tools. But if you switch now, you will have a head start that could mean the difference between your success and failure. You might as well start using AI tools now while they still provide an advantage and aren’t yet the industry standard.
But what is AI? And which tools can help you write better and faster and even sell more books?
What is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence.
Unfortunately, this term is typically associated with movie tropes, which are wildly misleading. If you think AI is HAL 9000, then you’ll be easily scared by AI and the media’s portrayal of it. It is easy to ingest worldviews from the media without considering the truth about AI.
The auto-complete feature in your phone is AI, and it doesn’t open the pod bay doors on you.
AI uses neural networks and machine learning to make software work better. The writing tools are the same, but when you add AI, the writing software works better and becomes more efficient, helping you write faster and better.
AI is an Author’s Power Tool
AI tools don’t replace humans in the creation process. Using an AI tool is like using an electric drill rather than a screwdriver. You must learn how to use the drill, but once you learn, you become far more efficient.
I’ve watched handymen work, and they reach for a drill more often than I would. I’m less skilled and more likely to reach for a trusty screwdriver. The professionals charge by the hour and use a drill so they can accomplish more and ear...
Top of my list!
I found and began listening to Novel Marketing a few months ago. It was so relevant, informative, and entertaining that I began binging the old episodes and became a patron of Author-Media. Awesome job Thomas Umataddt Jr!
I have found Novel Marketing to be the best and easiest for me to understand. Thomas spells things out for those of us who don’t have a marketing background, and shares his wealth of knowledge freely. This is definitely worth the time taken to listen.
Consistent great book marketing advice
I have been listening to Novel Marketing for a year-and-a-half, and I’m constantly impressed by Thomas Umstattd’s ability to put marketing terms into bite-size applicable pieces. Because of his podcast I have a very clear marketing plan moving forward, and because the world is always changing, I will continue listening each week for new ideas on how to tweak it.