May 25th, 2020
Have you thought about writing in a different genre and weighed the option of using a pen name or no? Get the tips to decide if your current author platform will encompass something new or if, and how, you should start a new author platform under a pen name with guest host author Kirsten Oliphant!
Check out Kirsten's other great tips and wonderful podcast at Create if Writing: https://createifwriting.com/
Tune in for new episodes EVERY single Monday.
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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to the Am Writing Fantasy podcast and today's publishing landscape. You can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need an literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from Writing Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now on to the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I'm Autumn. And we are on episode 74 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. And today we have a special guest as a yes for hinted last week, the women have come to take over the Am Writing Fantasy podcasts again, and we've booted Yesper off and given him a pit of a break for today. And I have with me Kirsten, Kirsten Oliphant, who is the author of over 15 books in different genres and the host of the creative Writing podcast, which she started in 2015 way back before podcasting became the cool thing to do.
Autumn (1m 8s):
So her goal is to help authors learn to sell more books without being smarmy. Hi. Kirsten Kiersten as well.
Kirsten (1m 17s):
Yeah, you don't have to. It's totally one of those Names and Hey, we're talking about Names today, which is, I mean it's just a perfect yes, absolutely. Thanks for having me on. I'm glad to be here.
Autumn (1m 29s):
Oh, I'm so happy. And yes, it is amazing. So you have 15 books. I already looked at your profile on Amazon and of course you were going to talk about Pen Names but I love the fact that you, you're not even subtle about it. You can list it right in your bio. Oh, I'm also with this person in Brighton under this name as well. And you have all these wonderful books. So tell us a little bit about your books and how you started writing. It's always fun to hear.
Kirsten (1m 52s):
Sure. Well I've been Writing I mean since forever, you know, I know some people pick up Writing later in some earlier, but I was writing, I mean I wrote my first novel in like third grade. Yes, it was terrible. But like, you know, it had dialogue and stuff like it, you know, it was like a solid, you know, D effort, right.
Autumn (2m 11s):
Dialogue in third grade when you read it.
Kirsten (2m 14s):
Yes. If you read a lot, you just pick things up and I think, you know, it was really instinctive for me. And so, uh, you know I kept writing throughout. I wasn't sure that I was necessarily going to be a writer but I did keep writing throughout. I wrote a bunch of half novel's in junior high or you know, never really finished anything but just did a lot of writing. I went to school Am college, English major, uh, you know, lots of papers. I took creative writing but you know its kind of hard to get into those kinds of classes and they only really have like two, you know, so I took part one in part to have that and loved it and my um, professor really encouraged me to look into MFA programs, which I hadn't thought about.
Kirsten (2m 50s):
And so, um, I didn't, I went and worked at a church doing youth ministry and then um, a couple of years later when I got married I started again about writing and just really how I stopped and I missed it. And so I did apply and got into an MFA program and you know, win. And we moved to across the country were in Texas. Now I grew up in Virginia, Texas. Now we went to North Carolina, uh, for two years, which is amazing. A really small program at UNC Greensboro. Um, and it was, yeah, it was, it was just so much fun and really got, uh, you know, it's a very literary program, which is so funny that I'm, I feel like I'm out.
Kirsten (3m 28s):
I'm on like the total opposite end now. Like the bastard child of my MFA program now writing genre fiction. But, um, it's really given me, I feel like I've had a really broad variety of experiences with writing and can really understand, you know, kinda the traditional perspective, indie perspective. And I just love writing. I love story. And so, you know, I'll probably go back to the literary stuff that's well more literary. I mean, it's not like, I don't know, genre fiction is not this, not literary. It's not that it's not good writing, it's just a totally different kind of craft.
Kirsten (3m 60s):
Um, I think, but anyway, I appreciate both. And so that's kind of, uh, you know, how I got here. I graduated and then started having kids. So for like 10 years, I could not process novel stuff. So I got this degree and then was like, Oh nevermind, let's have a bunch of babies. And I did blogging for a while, um, and professional, you know, like made bunny of blogging. And so I figured out, um, social media and, and uh, was really active in all those kinds of things. And so, uh, when it came to a time to feel like I really wanted to write books again, I had this advantage of sort of knowing the landscape and author platform came pretty easily to me because it was something I was already doing with blogging.
Kirsten (4m 41s):
It was just kinda putting a different hat on. So that's kind of the roundabout way of how I got here and started the podcast teaching other people, cause I think I enjoy the platform and it was something I knew how to do. But I think a lot of authors and creative people don't like it. It feels like icky. And so my goal is to kind of reframe that conversation and make it feel less icky. Like we should Real like writing more, but it's okay to also like Twitter or Facebook or email lists.
Autumn (5m 6s):
Well, I get that because I absolutely, I was gone through your website and I'm one of those folks who I still don't, I still, I mean I understand the voice part and everything else, but I just prefer to read it. I learn better by reading it, not by hearing it. And so I absolutely love your creative writing platform because you have blog posts on everything. And I'm like, Oh, I could freeze this. And it's not that I don't like video or voice or sound, but I just like to read things even. Yeah. So absolutely.
Kirsten (5m 37s):
And I'm going to for podcasts is to have, yeah, all of my podcasts have a full show notes, like a blog post. Um, because I know there are people out there who still want the content, but we all consume content differently. And you know, that actually helps me. Like I kind of, before I sit down to record, I read out the blog post and then I speak sort of conversation. I don't read it or anything, but I kind of have the blogpost in front of me. So it's like helpful to speak conversationally on the podcast and I already know what I'm going to say. But for those people who want to read and also for SEO purposes to get actual traffic on my blog, those meaty blog posts really help.
Autumn (6m 11s):
No, no, no that's great. And you know you have some stuff in there. I noticed that was even like a marketing for authors who don't like marketing. It's a very helpful, friendly things. So those are great tips. And I know you recently, I think it was episode one 69 so very fairly recently. And you talked about Pen Names so it's already kind of covered it a bit. So we're going to go over it a little bit again, but you have, so you are ready in three different names. You have your real name and then to Pen Names and why did you do that?
Kirsten (6m 41s):
Well really it kinda came down to the marketing and, and not being, um, muddy and unclear about what I was writing. So I started out, um, the first books I published were nonfiction. I had a couple of devotional books and then, um, was writing marketing books. I have an email book, which is actually down cause I'm updating it. I'm about to rerelease it, um, on email marketing for authors. And then I have one on collaborating with other people and creative ways. And I had run on a blogging, but I took it down because blogging has changed so much.
Kirsten (7m 11s):
I just was like, I don't want to update this every six months. We'd like something dyes, you know, and the takeaway, a social media platform. Umm, as I just get her to update next, I'll have people email me like this isn't true in the more I'm like, yeah, your right and I don't have time to update those three 99 book over here that sells a couple of copies. Um, but when I started thinking about writing fiction again, it really, um, you know, I hadn't ever really thought about Pen Names but I started, uh, just seeing how for different genres and I really love reading a lot of Genres.
Kirsten (7m 44s):
I'm one of those people that's all over the place. How it might be a really confusing, if you're going to look at an author and you may, you know, that you may of had this experience for anyone listening where you go and check out an author and you see all these different kinds of book covers and you just kind of, it's a, it's like a disquieting feeling because you're not sure what exactly a signaling, like what can I expect? And that's the thing that Pen Names really helped do. Um, when you're separating out the different Genres, it's setting that reader expectations. So it's incredibly clear. And you know, there are people like, you know, a Stephen King, he can do whatever he wants because it's Stephen King, but we're mostly not there yet.
Kirsten (8m 20s):
And there are some people I know who write different genres all under the same name and it works to varying degrees, but especially when you're starting out, which I was putting out fiction, um, you know, it really, it, it really is muddy and it really makes things unclear for readers. And so I didn't necessarily want people to go look and be like, Oh, I love this book. Let's see what I'll show you. Oh, a book on email lists. I don't even know what that is. You know? And so that's just kinda how it started. I know some people do this for, um, you know, like maybe you're writing something, you know, like erotica and your husband's a youth pastor.
Kirsten (8m 55s):
Mine was, which that's not what I write. You know, that would be a reason where you don't want your name attached to it. So for some people it is really about that privacy issue. But for me it was much more about marketing and you know, whichever way you're doing it, it's fine. Um, but yeah, there's a couple different reasons why you might choose a Pen. Names.
Autumn (9m 13s):
Yeah, I've always, I looked at it cause I write in, I was going to say two different genres, but you're right when you throw in the nonfiction, so I write in three Genres as well and mostly I've always put it all my fictional writing under just the name I go by autumn Bert. So that is sort of my brand and I always figured if my brand was true, which is very fast paced kind of action oriented stories, whether it's Fantasy and I also do some post-apocalyptic kind of dystopian. So whether I Writing and one of those, I just figured my audience is technically the age bracket is the same.
Autumn (9m 48s):
It is, I'm still the same kind of really well developed characters in action. So I figured it was all of the same. But you're right. I mean in some ways the covers are very different and my readers I have, it's probably split into thirds. I have a third are like hardcore Fantasy Please I never want to see anything with a gun. I have the other third are like Please if nothing is exploding BI, you know something with tea and tea. I do not ever want to read it. There is no such thing as magic. And then I have a third who just like the way I write and they're there.
Autumn (10m 18s):
But there's definitely some people who are not into the crossover and it's, it's not as clear cut as I was hoping when I did it. And again, but you're right, I have my nonfiction of writing, I do with my husband that's under my married name of autumn, Raven. And I just wanted that clear cut. Like this is something that is totally different. There's the magic is all in your heart and not in, um, you know, blowing things up.
Kirsten (10m 44s):
Yeah. And you'd hope like, I mean, my dream, I think all of us would love for our audience to love our words enough and love our style and our voice enough that they would go anywhere we go. And that's the goal. But at the end, I think you build that over time, that group of super fans, but it's a, it's a smaller subset of the people who read your books, right? People read your books and they may read all of them, but they may not all be super fans and I do have, you know, especially like on day one of launch, you know, if my also bots kind of pop up and I haven't had a long preorder, I might see one of my nonfiction books in the office of the boss or you know, I write clean romance in urban fantasy, young adult.
Kirsten (11m 19s):
I read Fantasy and so sometimes those first couple days in either of those I'll see those pop up and I really don't want that. That's the other thing that kind of can make it Monday as I want. My also bots to show, I mean if Amazon is at that point, they're showing those, which right now for me it's like a mixed bag. Like sometimes you'll go on the Amazon page and you'll see Am customers have also read or also bought. Right now I'm seeing books you may like, which is super annoying because it's showing me all my own books because I'm like checking ranks all of the time. And so I'm like, I know I liked them, I wrote them, but I don't want to buy them, you know?
Kirsten (11m 52s):
Um, but I do want that to be clear for readers as well when they are going up because if they're going and they buy one of my urban fantasy books and then they look and see a clean romance cover, that's, you know, maybe there's some crossover, but those two, especially the two genres I'm running under, there is not a ton of crossover because the clean romance crowd is, there is a variety of their two. But some of them our, there's a heavy influence of like Christian readers and some of them don't want magic at all. And so when you go to the urban Fantasy and I'm like, there's witches and the fan Pires and, and for me, the steam levels kind of the same.
Kirsten (12m 25s):
Like my goal is not, I don't really have sex on the page in any of my books. I tell them I don't really have, um, language in any of my books and which is actually a real struggle in that the young adult orbit. Fantasy because in my head I get that that's here. I'm like, this is what they'd say, but I don't want to put that. And that's just my own personal, there's nothing wrong. I mean, again, I read all over the board write, but for what I want to put out, that's just kinda the line I've drawn into. It makes me happy to work harder. But if you know of my clean room and people come over, I think they'll be pleasantly surprised. And some of them have, and some of them have written me and said like, I never thought I would like a book about this.
Kirsten (12m 59s):
Um, but you know, there's also some romance elements in my urban fantasy as well, which I know is like a, you know, debate, hot debate over in fantasy land. So I will always have, I think, some kind of romance in them, but it's not gonna it's not gonna be the main, a part of the story necessarily.
Autumn (13m 16s):
Yeah. And I think that's definitely, I mean it's your writing style, what you're interested in writing and again, your brand and your platform. So those are things that are going to cross genres no matter what you do. I mean how you develop characters, it's, they're all going to be solid. There's going to be some, I think I read somewhere that someone did it in a review and said the familiar hand of this author. I don't think that's a good, yeah, that's such a good way to say that. Yes. No matter where we stick ourselves, we're probably going to have some kind of resonance and pacing that is very familiar and that's what we're trying to sell our readers on and hopefully bring them across genres.
Autumn (13m 52s):
But that is, it is fun. So when you, you did this very purposely, you knew you were going to start writing it in a different genre and you set up a whole different platform. I mean, do you, you go as far as the websites, if someone was going to do this and they said, I, I write specifically in this, but I'm going to go ahead and write in a different genre, what are the, the things that you would warn them about or tell them at least to think about before they, they jump into something?
Kirsten (14m 17s):
Well, for me, you know, given that none of us have a lot of time, right? And I've got five kids at home, things are going crazy. It's, I didn't have a lot of time to build a lot of platform. But what I found is that, um, you know, I kind of pared it down to the bare basics. Like what for me, what does the cornerstone of an author platform, and for me that's an email list because that is where you're going to sell the most of your books. That's where you're going to the most personally connect with your fans in a way that is more permanent, right? Like, so some authors may be more active on Facebook, whether that's an a group or a page or they might be more active on Instagram or some of their platform, but you don't own those connections, right?
Kirsten (14m 54s):
Instagram and Facebook, do they control how you interact with an email? You actually have their email, you can print it out unless CSV like you know, the spreadsheet thing and hold it in your hand. It's yours. So email is so important. So that's always kind of where I start. Um, and then I do have URLs. Like I do have websites and, but I don't put a lot into it because really they, I think in this day and age, like I, I just don't see a ton of readers caring about your author website. I just don't, and um, you know, I'm not trying for like a traditional platform deal.
Kirsten (15m 28s):
I'm not trying to like impress some publisher somewhere with, with how many page views I get a month in. And really, because I came from the blogging world, a new how I know how to grow a blog and know how to do SCO, all of that. But I also knew how much work it takes. And for me the return is not huge. I would rather just send people to Amazon and have them buy my books. I don't need a middleman. Now, if you were, um, you know, trying to do a lot of affiliate sales with Amazon, you know, you might want to send it to your website or if you're selling direct or you might be selling like literally from your website. But if you're just doing the bare bones basics, you don't need that.
Kirsten (15m 60s):
So I did buy the URL, but I actually, for the first Pen Names I was thinking I might do more blogging, but then I, I really didn't, um, cause who has time for that? Like I don't have the time to do blogging and also write a bunch of books. Um, so when I came and I started the second Pen name under Sullivan gray for the urban Fantasy, I got the URL, um, which, you know, I, I think it's good to look those things up. Write, you don't want to have another author with that name. Um, there is a series I think actually with that name but not an author, but I did get the URL and then have it.
Kirsten (16m 31s):
I had to redirect to a landing page from a mailer light, which was the email that I use. And so if people go to my author website, it's really just a landing page and I think I will build it out a bit, but I've sold a bunch of books without it. So I don't, you know, it's not a priority. The priority to me was growing an email list. I do have a Facebook page, a so I can run ads and uh, I like Facebook groups, although, you know, it is hard to put a lot into the groups, especially to get them off the ground. It takes a lot of you being involved and starting conversations.
Kirsten (17m 3s):
I do believe in Facebook groups. It's a really great way to be close to your audience. And so I have one of those for each, but you know, I'm not, um, I'm not able to really be all of that active cause I also have a, a very active group for my podcasts. So you really have to think about your bandwidth and, and your ultimate, I'm all about the ROI, like your return on investment of time and money. What is going to sell books, what is going to help you connect longterm with readers who are going to stick with you. And for me that's email. And then having books sold on Amazon.
Kirsten (17m 35s):
And again, I do use Facebook ads and so the pages were important but I did not. Um, you know, there's a lot of different schools on how to do Facebook ads, but I've had success with ads, with pages that are tiny so you don't necessarily even have to a big page because you can target other people. I am almost never targeting the people who like my page. I'm targeting other people's pages. So if you have a Facebook page of a couple of hundred people, that's fine. You know, you can still make money with Facebook ads. You can still sell books.
Kirsten (18m 5s):
Um, is Facebook really does make it a lot harder now to grow a page and it's a lot more work. And again, what, what is the least amount of work? I can do on things that don't, you know, bring in a big return. Right. So that's my goal cause I've got too many balls in the air to spend a lot of time blogging if no one's reading it or if it's not selling books. So I think you can absolutely do the bare bones minimum something to run ads on. Um, some kind of like main hub where people can reach you and then your email list is really where I'd put most of the time.
Autumn (18m 40s):
Yeah. And do you, so you have for each of your Genres in each of your Pen Names uh, different mailing lists. So you never find them across them. Okay.
Kirsten (18m 47s):
Yeah I don't and I do, um, you know, because my, my um, there is some crossover again like I do every so often mentioned to my, you know, to frictionless like, Oh by the way, you know I have this idea if you like reading about vampires I get out of here. Or if you really like romance, you know, you might enjoy these books or you know, Hey if you're an author just in case you're out there, cause there are a lot of re uh, you know, authors and readers and you know, I've got this podcast thing going on and so I do mention it every so often. Um, but I even have the, um, I have the two fiction, uh, lists over on mailer light and then I also use convert kit, which I used for my nonfiction cause I'm doing a lot more complicated things with my nonfiction.
Kirsten (19m 29s):
You know, I sell, I used to do a lot more like workshops and webinars and courses and so it matters a lot more if you can use some of the advanced features when you're really trying to separate out and mainly like does a good job with those things for the price. But convert kit is so much smoother and easier for all of that. And so yeah, my nonfiction list hangs out over there and then I've got the two fiction lists and mailer light. Yeah,
Autumn (19m 50s):
We do the exact same thing. I have mailed a Lite for my frictionless and convert kit for the AmWritingFantasy. And I agree it's just, I absolutely adore mailer lights. Um, way of being able to put together a newsletter actually. And I, I keep looking at ConvertKit going Please come to the 21st century. Please
Kirsten (20m 10s):
Oh see I'm the opposite. I don't like the fancy email's and so even in low light I'm doing like the very bare bones cause I don't like when I, when something hits my inbox, I don't care. I don't care what it looks like. It's really about the content, but everybody's really different. And so, you know, I don't think ConvertKit will ever go there. I think that's their whole platform but, but I'm there for the features and you know, not necessarily having a pretty background or whatever.
Autumn (20m 35s):
Yeah. I think I like to do, in my newsletter there's a lot of interactions and questions and polls and convert kit does not, that I've found has, does not make that easy when you're talking to your fiction list and learning to do little poll on, you know, which characters are a favorite. So a light definitely makes that easy. But anyway, we're not talking about how you can easily get a bit lost into the email list because those two, there's so many great platforms though. But those are definitely to me to have the stable ones at the moment.
Autumn (21m 6s):
Who knows what the future holds.
Kirsten (21m 8s):
Yeah, you never know.
Autumn (21m 10s):
That's great. So I love, I do love the Nate like Sullivan grey as an awesome Pen. Names said you did Sue some research, like you said before you went and chose something, you took something that fit the urban fantasy genre and you wanted to make sure no one else was already using it.
Kirsten (21m 25s):
So if you're coming to think about a Pen Names I mean there's personal reasons and then there's like practical reasons and I think it's totally fine to mix them. So when I started with clean romance, I chose a name. My name is Emma st Claire and I feel like Emma is one of those Names. It's like friendly and happy. Like you can't not like Emma. Right. It's just sounds like a little touch of old fashioned. Yes. You've got to Jane Austin. And then st Claire was my maiden name. And really that was a risk because it's one of those names that always gets miscategorized because it has a period in it and it's like STD periods space Clare.
Kirsten (22m 0s):
And so like my whole life I grew up getting like having everything lost cause it would be like some people put it like final in her S a for sale, like spelling it out even though it's not, or they put it under STC or they put it under C for clear anyway. It hasn't caused a problem. But the laughter as I was like, what was I thinking? But it was more sentimental. Like let's put something out with my maiden name, you know, bring the family name on. Um, and then with the, uh, but yeah, I absolutely looked at like, okay, is there someone like on Amazon with this name or one really similar or you know, it is the website available.
Kirsten (22m 34s):
And then with Sullivan gray, um, I did go in and kind of look and I think sometimes with, um, you know, a lot of the white, depending on what John you're writing in sort of a more androgynous name, like whether it, you don't know whether it's a guy or girl. And we actually loved the name of Sullivan. Um, we're going to use it for a girl and we ended up not using it and we're done having kids. We're going to call her Sally. And I just thought that was adorable. So I love, I love strong girl names, I love last names as first names. It's all been great. Just had that ring to it that felt, it felt like kinda cool and powerful and just like a good fit for that.
Kirsten (23m 7s):
But it also was like a name that I totally loved. And the website you are always taken but not by anyone who's actually using it. So I just have authors, all of it in gray.com but everything else is there. And I will say like, you definitely want to search that because this is hilarious. Last night I was on, I'm in some one of those Am, I'm in a ton of Facebook groups, right, for research and promotion and whatever else. But there was one and it was like a um, Christian Kindle reads or something and one popped up and it was about like prophecy and coven 19.
Kirsten (23m 41s):
And I was like, I don't, I'm not really into that at all, just FYI. So, but I clicked on it cause I was like, who is this? Cause the person posting, like I didn't, it was posted under a different name. It's, I think it's the person. And I was like, is this a Pen Names this is a kind of stuff I nerd out about. So do I click through and um, I couldn't really tell this looks like that author's first book. So again, I think it's a pen name from somebody. So I clicked on the pen name itself and that name is really close to two different erotica authors. And so when you click on their name, you see that book prophecy and biblical or whatever.
Kirsten (24m 14s):
And then it's like this giant list of like really raunchy covers that I was like, Oh you really, you really should have done a quick search on Amazon beforehand. Yeah, because it wasn't like it was the same name, but it was to Names close enough that the whole first page, if you go look for the author is all erotica. And I was like, I don't think this is where you want to buy your book to show up. So anyway, a quick search to save you a lot of time. Yeah.
Autumn (24m 42s):
Yeah. I mean I've definitely thought of it like, Oh well if you're going to write like children's literature and erotica, you definitely need a pen name. But that's sort of of the other guy. So if you're writing a children's literature and your choosing a pen name, make sure it isn't close to something that you used to stumble
Kirsten (24m 58s):
And you might not think that, but like you know, you definitely, you don't always know until you search things and then then you know. So it's definitely better to search first
Autumn (25m 7s):
And then the search first or you know, someone else can obviously come along and choose something and totally jumble up the whole thing later. But at least maybe, hopefully you'll be established by then.
Kirsten (25m 17s):
Yeah, hopefully. I mean, yes, people can totally, yes, come along a mess. All of those things up. So
Autumn (25m 23s):
No, they always do. That was the other thing though. I mean thinking of Pen Names when I was choosing you, no, I'm going to write this dystopian post-apocalyptic series and I have this Fantasy platform and I was thinking of my readers and the way I honestly, I think it was the same thing. You know, you're busy, you have a life in a job. I didn't have kids, but I have a husband and hobbies and a dog that is my kid. Cause my fuzzy child and I, we were traveling and doing a whole bunch of things and I thought, Oh my goodness, I do not want to start at square one again.
Autumn (25m 55s):
I don't want to start all over. But do you think it's not so bad because you can tell your other platform, Hey, if you're interested on starting this or did you feel like you really, it took that slow churn and burn to finally build up an audience under a pen name?
Kirsten (26m 11s):
Yeah, it took time and it, and I'm still building like you know, the urban Fantasy doesn't make as much money right now as the clean romance does. Those are the clean romance readers are just voracious. So, you know, and I'd really already been established. That was the advice I kept hearing cause I was ready. I had a book ready to launch, you know, like six to nine months after I started the clean romance Pen Names was at um, the 20 books to 50 K conference. And I think in like four different sessions, I heard people say like, make sure your established before you switch.
Kirsten (26m 43s):
And I'm into a new genre. And I was like, okay, I've got the book done but there's no rush even though I love the book. So we'll just wait. And that was a great choice because even when, I think it was like 18 months later, even when I launched, you know, I took a big income hit because I took a break Writing the clean romance, which was making money and also bad timing took a break on ads cause I was like, I don't know if these are fully working, they were turning off your ads, let's you know, really quick whether they're working or not true. But it does take some time to establish and you know, I think you absolutely can't, you don't have to do a Pen Names absolutely.
Kirsten (27m 18s):
If you know how to do marketing, if you know how to write and you can totally get away, especially if you're, um, you know, if the, the Genres are similar enough in might have some crossover. But if you're doing really different ones, and again, mine really felt pretty different because there are some people who feel really strongly and the clean romance against the whole like paranormal, supernatural stuff. Like they're not just like, I don't like it. They're like, I abhor it, you know, I will not, you know, there was just a pretty strong reaction there. Um, and a lot of my readers who read my a young adult stuff, even though my young adult stuff's clean, I me and my goal is to, I'm not marketing it necessarily as clean.
Kirsten (27m 56s):
That's just my goal in my own, you know, kinda the line that I've dropped. But I want my books to be good enough that they stand up with books that aren't holding back on anything. So that PE and, and what I found is those readers over there are reading all kinds of stuff. They're reading reverse hair on the reading steamy stuff. They're reading all kinds of, and they still like my books, but they're probably not going to cross over either. So I think that's really the thing to consider is do you have the time? I'm, how different are your Genres? Um, but it is, it is pretty hard to start, but if you, again, if you have the background and no, if you've already done at once, you absolutely can do it again.
Kirsten (28m 31s):
Right? If was you just do it for maybe a little bit better. Secondly, and you know, kind of we're not to waste time. Um, you know, so for me, I found some author groups and connected and we were writing, um, you know, started out, I launched with doing like a Am an Academy series. And so that was really hot last year. Um, I was kind of on the tail end, but it still did really well. And there's, there were Facebook groups for Academy readers and so, um, you know, I got in to some like promotions with like book funnel with other authors who are also doing Academy reads and, and things like that.
Kirsten (29m 2s):
And so, um, you know, you already know how to do it. I, uh, took a couple of days in row, like a 12,000 word, a short story that was a prequel to the Academy series. And I use that to build my list. And so, you know, within a couple months I built up a couple thousand people just because there are people out there who want to read things for free. And yes, there's freebie seekers, right? We all with emails, we hate that. But if you grab someone enough with you're writing, if they get it and actually read it, you, you might be hooking reader for a long time. And so I've had good results from, from using that freebie.
Kirsten (29m 36s):
Um, and also it pulls people right into my pain works. And so, um, it is a pain. I was, I was kind of excited to see like, okay, how well could I do this again? Um, cause for me a lot of it's a test because then I go in and share that on the podcast to talk to other authors about it. In some ways, even if I fail, it's like, okay, well now I have something to share like don't do this. And uh, you know, I never shy away from sharing that. You know, I share my big income months and I share with like I totally screwed things on both of them.
Kirsten (30m 8s):
But yeah, you don't have to do it. I just think your struggle is going to be a little harder if your not using a pin name and your Writing into Genres that don't have a ton of crossover or um, or you know, again, like if you haven't written a lot of books, if you were only written three books and two of them are in clean romance and one of them is urban fantasy. So when people go to your author page and they just see those three books, it's a little more money. Whereas if they see like 20 books and there's some differences in their, it's a little bit more, um, of a solid feeling that people can get because they know you're established, you're not just jumping around and they can find a couple of different of this kind and a couple of different of this kind.
Kirsten (30m 45s):
So, um, yeah, you don't have to do a pin name it just for marketing it could be a lot easier to be clear and with those reader expectations.
Autumn (30m 53s):
Yeah, I think that's a, actually a really good tip is, you know, being established in one. So, you know, finish your first series, are a trilogy, have that under your belt, have that platform established before you launch another book. Cause I do see that. I've, I know when I was doing it, I wrote an entire trilogy and then I wrote this dystopian series and then I did another trilogy back in Epic Fantasy. So I felt like I really knew what I was doing, but I have met so many authors who it's like they've started five different series and they have just the first books out. And maybe they were just attempting to a novella to see if it was going to sell.
Autumn (31m 26s):
But if you don't have anything complete yet, it just, it does, it looks confusing and you kind of like, where are you? Are you finishing this? Is it going to continue? It's, it's definitely a little, um, it makes you question what's going on and it takes longer to search through things and see if you can find the next book that your interested in. It's so much prettier to see the whole series.
Kirsten (31m 46s):
Oh, totally. And it's a thing about building trust, right? Like, we want readers who don't just read one book, they read all of our books and I found that it's really easy to break that trust. And so if your, you know, coz I'm a huge reader too, I read probably a book a day. Oh my goodness. It's my escape right now scape. You know when an author like leaves a series forever if or his writing for different at once, like its hard. And then you have a lot of readers who will say things like, well I won't read until the series complete.
Kirsten (32m 17s):
And then on the author side of this author is like, well this series isn't making money, I'm going to drop it. And so it's like working against each other. So I totally understand why some authors write in multiple cause sometimes also just creatively, some people need a break or a palate cleanser or something else. But as a reader like you just want them to finish that series and um, clean romance, it's a little bit easier because often if your having a series, it's a standalone series, right? Because each book has to have a happy ever after. I'm in romance and a, yeah so you have a related series.
Kirsten (32m 49s):
I'll have characters from one book, you know in there and the main then the next year, which people love and, and sometimes I'll make the decision based on like I'll get a bunch of reviews where everybody's asking for this one character and I was like all right great. So we'll, we'll do that. But um, yeah when you're coming into and, and I do have a series like that in, in the young adult where I'm, it's been way too long since I've gone back to the second book but it didn't sell as well and its kind of more of a um, a love series to have people asking about it but they, it didn't sell as well and not as many people are asking.
Kirsten (33m 23s):
So I'm just doing what I can. Right. You have to balance out what are you doing your own life, what are you well you can actually do and, and also um, what the readers want cause you do want to build that trust and establish, you know, a relationship where they know what to expect from you. Cause again, I keep saying expectations and expecting, but like that is, that's kind of the currency for trust. His is the readers have expectations and you give them expectations. Um, whether you mean to or not, whether you outright say, I'm going to publish a book a month.
Kirsten (33m 54s):
If you start publishing a book a month, they start to expect that. And so, you know, we need to kind of communicate that really well. And unfortunately not everybody joins your email list. They may be fans. You know, I had a book that, um, in the clean room and said, I ended up moving from one series to another and renaming it. And when I first put it back up, the note about that was in the book, but I had forgotten to put it on the Amazon sales page and immediately got a one star review from someone who had read it before and then bought it again.
Kirsten (34m 24s):
And you know, I, I was like, they were like, you didn't say it anywhere. And like I had it, but, but Amazon also chooses where the book starts. Right? So it started after the note. And so, um, and, and there were massive changes, but whatever I understand I would be tic to, especially if they're not reading through K you and they actually paid full price for to have these books. So, you know, that was a feeler on my part. We've got to really, you know, meet those expectations and, and try to keep that currency of trust with the readers, uh, to keep them knowing that they could trust us and knowing they're not always gonna be on our email list. They might, and I have a lot of authors I read, but I'm not going to set up for the email list because my inbox is jammed, but I'll read all their books.
Kirsten (35m 2s):
Autumn (35m 3s):
Yeah, I remember when I first published and first started email lists back in 2013 and it was back when it was new and you figured the readers were like, kind of like, Oh, I can actually like talk to an author. And now I just, I can't imagine it's like another
Kirsten (35m 16s):
Autumn (35m 18s):
No, you just, I know I go through my every month or so. I'm just deleting and unsubscribing from everyone. So I can imagine what poor readers are going through, but it is a great way to get into books and learn more about stories. So you know, I think of that whenever I sit down to write my newsletter is what can I do to make this not to take up too much of their time and show how much I appreciate that they didn't like opt out already.
Kirsten (35m 44s):
Yes, absolutely. You don't want to, yeah, email. I mean yeah, that's the whole bunch of episodes on the South end, you know yet you don't want to like bother them, but you also like that's another way of, of trust. It's another way of building that relationship. And I think in a lot of ways it's, it is more intimate because for some people, like for me, I like you have been doing this forever. So it's obvious like when you hit reply, like you expect that it's going to the author and it's like a weird thing. If you get one of those, if you've ever got the form of emails, so on and so has read your risk and you're like, Oh my gosh, like just turn that autoresponder off cause that makes it feel super impersonal.
Kirsten (36m 18s):
But you know, I'll have people hit reply and then when I replied back, they're like, Oh my gosh, emailing me. And they get so excited. And so it really does have this personal feel to it and um, yeah. But, but yeah, you'll for sure how people who aren't on your list, and that's fine too if they read everything, but you just gotta make sure like, okay, like I, I screwed up. I didn't put that note really clearly on the page. We're
Autumn (36m 42s):
Only human. There's a pandemic. Yeah, totally. As soon as I,
Kirsten (36m 49s):
Oh yeah. As soon as I saw the review I was like, I knew I forgot something and when added it and you know, but too late, that's fine. But hopefully the reader comes back. But hopefully we just do our best. Right. Provide a lot of books, provide information to keep the trust. But,
Autumn (37m 5s):
And I do, I, I am totally a home. Please learn from my failure. I think life as an experiment and I'm happily to be my own Guinea pig so I do the exact same thing. I think we'd get along that way if I was closer to the Texas that it's just kind of like, you know, you do it, you try, you tell people about it, you move on. It is
Kirsten (37m 27s):
As someone else your learning the hard way for somebody else.
Autumn (37m 30s):
Yes. I am fine being the person who jumps into the fire of so far. I'm a Phoenix so we're good.
Kirsten (37m 38s):
We're still going right. We're still Writing so no mistake that was permanent just once we moved on from
Autumn (37m 43s):
That's right. I still, I do love that advice though. Just if you're thinking about writing a new genre, um, to go to like your book page or you know, one of your books and think about what's gonna show up on your also bots and does it fit and if it's not, the cover is not going to look right. If the reader is, would not go pick up a book, that's probably a really good time to think about doing a pen name and starting those steps. Yeah, absolutely. So is there any other takeaways, tips you want to throw out there before we wrap up?
Kirsten (38m 15s):
Well, I would just say, you know, for the people, if we haven't really touched on the privacy issue, if there is anybody out there, if you're trying to do this for privacy and not have your pin name associated, I think that's where it gets a little bit a trickier. But you know, you can, um, I just had somebody asking me about this this morning in my Facebook group. Um, but you know, you can buy a domain and you can add or you definitely wanna add the privacy on because otherwise you're going to be getting, it's a little bit more per year, but I'm going to be getting emails and your email can be publicly associated with it. Um, Facebook, I find a lot of authors doing this, but Facebook Am you really are not allowed to have more than one personal profile.
Kirsten (38m 52s):
And the personal profile is where you add friends, right? The page is where you get likes. So you can have multiple pages but you can only have one profile. So I see a lot of authors trying to add a second profile Am under their Pen Names in it. You know, you might get away with it but if Facebook finds out they can take away your whole account and if your, you know matters, right? Like your advertising and things like that on Facebook like that matters to lose that whole platform. And so, um, but you can have a page and have that be anonymous. You can most groups now if you're using groups' to promote Mmm.
Kirsten (39m 24s):
Most of them allowed to join us at page and say you can do that. But there are ways to do it if you want privacy. But you're, you're going to have to make sure your not like secretly telling a few family and friends because then yeah, your also bots might get jacked up and connect to your other Pen Names so it is, it could be a little bit harder to keep that separate but it's totally possible as well if you're doing it for that reason, not just a marketing reason.
Autumn (39m 48s):
Yeah. I've always considered it's sort of a nightmare there. You should know a little bit about IP and IP security if your doing it because there really is a privacy concern because it's hard. It's amazing how well people can link things if they really want to trace where something is coming from. So you have to be very cautious. Well thank you so much, Kiersten. This was really fantastic and tell I will put links in the show notes, but if you want to tell folks where to find you, that will be fantastic.
Kirsten (40m 21s):
Yeah. Well if you're interested in learning more author stuff and getting another perspective, not just on Fantasy but other things, you can just go to Create if writing.com and you can find links to the podcast and my Facebook community there and yep, I do talk about the Pen Names there as well as you can find those. But yeah, thanks so much for having me. It was great to be on.
Autumn (40m 40s):
Yes, it was so wonderful. I love that. I got a chance to talk to you and so next week, yes, we will be back and will be having a lovely discussion on developing your author brand and what it is. So please stay tuned and we look forward to seeing you stay safe out there.
Narrator (40m 59s):
If you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also Join Ottoman Yesper on patrion.com/am Writing Fantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the Am Writing Fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there And see you next Monday.