Brian Anderson is the bestselling author of The Godling Chronicles series. He was a musician for many years until he decided to write a novel. Within a year of publishing his first book, he was earning enough money to support his family and write full-time.
Brian experimented with writing fiction for several years before his seven-year-old son gave him the beginning of the idea that became The Godling Chronicles. The conversation with his son was an epiphany moment for Brian. That’s when he realized people want to be entertained with stories, not clever writing.
In this podcast we cover every facet of the indie publishing business. We talk about the structure of the story. We talk about how to produce a professional quality novel, and we discuss the best way to market your novel from the moment you decide you want to write it.
The first thing that every aspiring writer has to understand is that stories have a basic structure. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. People read genre fiction to be entertained. They are reading to escape their daily life. They’re reading to experience emotional and/or physical danger without putting themselves in harms way.
On the most basic level the story equation goes like this: you create character(s) the audience wants to root for, you put down in a heap of danger, and then you get them out again. The longer your story or novel the more times your characters get in trouble, and the trouble gets worse and worse building tension until you release it at the climax.
One thing Brian has found helpful is to have every chapter of his book ask a question that’s answered in a later chapter of the book.
Indie Publishing Plan For Fiction Authors
1. Choose a genre
So, you want to write a novel. The first thing you have to do is choose a genre for your novel. It’s best to choose a genre that you like to read. You’ll write a better book if you write a genre you’re familiar with because you’ll know what stories you like to read and you are a member of your own target market. Don’t write in a genre you’re unfamiliar with just to try to make money.
2. Search for Forums and Blogs
Now that you’ve decided what genre of book you’re going to write you a Google search for forums related to that type of fiction. Become part of those form communities. Take part in the conversation. You can learn a lot about what your potential audience likes and doesn’t like by participating in forums.
A Word of Warning
Don’t spam the forums and don’t pester people pleading with them to read your book. Those types of behaviors will get you banned and give you a bad reputation in that community.
3. Write the Best Book You Can
Write the best book you can paying particular attention to story structure. Make sure you have characters that people like and root for. Make sure there’s a beginning middle and end. Make sure the tension of the story rises throughout the book.
4. Produce a Professional Quality Product
It’s important these days to produce the best quality that you can. There are more indie authors today than ever before and we’re all going toe to toe with traditionally published authors who have editors and cover designers working for them.
If you want to have a fighting chance of being noticed in this crowded field you have to be willing to pay for the resources it takes. That means at the very least paying a professional editor and cover designer.
When looking for an editor, realize that you get what you pay for. Beware of people making promises that sound too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Look for an editor who likes your work. The best editors make suggestions they don’t argue endlessly with you over small details.
The best thing to do when searching for an editor is to ask them to edit a sample of your work to show you what they can do. (Most professional editors won’t even give you a price before they read a sample of your writing to determine how much work they will have to do.)
Some people will encourage you to edit your work yourself. When you edit your work yourself, all you’re doing is writing another draft. You’re too close to the word you’ve written to judge them impartially. You have to have a second pair of eyes look at your work dispassionately. That’s the only way to make it better.
In order to produce a professional quality product you have to get a good cover designer. Ideally, you want a cover designer who has designed covers for your genre. If you do this, you have a better chance of having that type of cover that will catch the eye of your ideal audience.
The final piece of producing a professional quality product is to write a blurb that keeps the interest of your audience. It should be 200 words or less. The purpose of the blurb is to make the reader want to open the book. When writing your blurb think movie trailer.
After you’ve produced the best book you can using a professional editor and cover designer now it’s time to publish the book and move on to:
Book Marketing Methods
1. Get the word out
The first thing you want to do is tell all the people that you’ve built relationship with in forums that your book is available. That’s the reason you went to the trouble to build relationships on these forums as you were writing the book, so you can tell people interested in your fiction when it’s available.
2. Build and connect with your email list
The next thing you want to do is have an author website with a mailing list. It’s best if you tie your author website to your professional name rather than your book or book series name. This gives you more flexibility going forward.
A mailing list is the single most powerful marketing tool you can have these days. This gives you a direct method to communicate with your customers. With a mailing list you don’t have to rely on expensive advertising or Amazon’s algorithms for sales.
When building a mailing list it’s best to use an autoresponder service. They make it easy to keep track of all your customers. Also when you use an autoresponder you know the people who sign up for your mailing list actually want to be on it.
3. Choose Your Marketing Channel
There are a large number of marketing channels on the Internet these days. From Facebook, to twitter, to YouTube, to Goodreads and beyond. You have to find the marketing style that works best for you. Whatever you do to market your books do it consistently. That’s the only way you’ll see long-term results.
One Final Marketing Tip
Always say yes to a bookbub promotion!
Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview
The Godling Chronicles — Brian’s Breakout Series
Russell Blake’s Blog — Brian Reccomends Russell’s Blog to new writers looking for advice how to be successful as an indie author