Successful Indie Publishing With Aileen Erin

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Mindy:             Welcome to Writer, Writer Pants On Fire. Where authors talk about things that never happened to people who don't exist. We also cover craft, the agent hunt, query trenches, publishing industry, marketing, and more. I'm your host Mindy McGinnis. You can check out my books and social media at MindyMcGinnis.com and make sure to visit the Writer, Writer Pants On Fire blog for additional interviews, query critiques, and more at writerwriterpantsonfire.com

Mindy:             If the blog or podcast have been helpful to you or if you just enjoy listening, please consider donating. Visit writerwriterpantsonfire.com and click support the blog and podcast in the sidebar. Today's guest is Aileen Erin, who is half Irish, half Mexican and 100% nerd. From Star Wars to Star Trek. she geeks out on Tolkien's linguistics and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in radio, TV and film from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles. Aileen joined me today to talk about how to maintain a reader's interest - and her own - while writing an eight book series,

Mindy:             So someone I know who is pretty much always right has told me that I should start telling some stories from my own life on the podcast. Because this person has been on multiple panels with me and she says that some of my stories should probably be used on the podcast. I'm going to try it out and if you would rather that I get right to you learning about the publishing industry, totally tell me. Otherwise I'm going to inform you about worm sex.

Mindy:             One of the things I do a lot is school visits. I've been talking about my first book, Not A Drop To Drink for eight years now, doing school visits and talking in front of age ranges anywhere from seventh graders to seniors. I usually don't go much lower than that, but there was one time when I was in a sixth grade classroom and I had been presenting for the entire day, eight periods on my feet the whole time, talking for 45 minutes nonstop about writing and publishing, and particularly my book, Not A Drop To Drink. And in the process of talking about Not A Drop To Drink, one of the stories I tell is about my own eardrum breaking, because somewhere in the book a character's eardrum breaks and I had to talk about the pain of that experience and how a person would deal with that in a world where there aren't any painkillers. And then I tell them, and this is true, that if your eardrum breaks, it grows back. Your eardrum will regenerate and about two weeks. But in the meantime you are deaf in that ear. You are deaf until your eardrum grows back.

Mindy:             It's a bizarre little thing and I always tell them it's just like earthworms. So when you've done a presentation a thousand times, usually you kind of do it rote. Your mind can kind of wander while you're doing it, which is typically what's going on with me. So my mind was wandering by the eighth time I had gone through my presentation on that day. I ended up talking about your eardrum breaking and regenerating and comparing it to a worm. If you were to cut a worm in half, which I don't encourage them to do, but if you were to cut a worm in half each section will go their separate ways, never to meet again. Which is how I usually phrase it But as my mind wandered and it was following what I was saying, I actually ended up thinking and saying, aloud, to a classroom of sixth graders, "but what if they did?"

Mindy:             "What if they met and they fell in love? What if they met and they fell in love and they had children? It's not even incest. It's me.-cest." At which point I realize I'm speaking out loud. Look up. See the teacher standing in the back of the room looking at me like - you have made it all day without talking about worm sex. What happened? I don't know, but I do know that as I was driving home, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I ended up going home Googling worm sex, and learning a lot. Also, first of all, it isn't true that if you cut a worm in half, that both sections regenerate. Only the section with the brain regenerates. The tail cannot grow a new brain. The brain can grow a new tail. So nobody needs to tweet me and tell me that I'm totally wrong about worm regeneration. However, I can tell you with conviction - don't Google worm sex.

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Mindy:             You are the author of the Alpha Girl Series an eight book series that began in 2013. So tell my listeners a little bit about how to maintain a storyline over that many books.

Aileen:             I think the key to maintaining a storyline over a larger series is all about making sure that the characters are still evolving, still developing. I've also changed up some of the POV for different books. I think that's also helped keep reader interest. Some of the side characters have taken over their own novels and stuff like that, so that's been really key in not only keeping the reader's interest but keeping my own sanity going through through eight books.

Mindy:             I was going to ask you that as a follow up. How do you keep yourself interested through eight books? And I love the idea of changing up the point of view because if you change the point of view, you change the story. If you see something from someone else's perspective, it comes off differently. So have you found that to be your experience then when you're working on a series that lasts for that long?

Aileen:             Yes, I really loved it doing the side characters. I originally did Bruja, that's from Tessa. It's the main character in the first three books. It's all from her point of view, but then I needed a little bit of a break, so Bruja from her cousin's point of view, and that really changed up how I saw the series and how I saw the world. It really expanded the world in a nice way and open up the possibility that then Tessa's best friend could have her own book and now another friend has their own book, Lunar Court Book Eight is, also dual POV, which is not something that I've done with any of the other books, but both characters in it that are going to fall in love and get together were big side characters from the series as a whole. So I was like, okay, they both deserve their own book, but this is actually just one story. So that was really fun for me to do. Some of them are witches, some of them are werewolves, some of them are fae. So kind of getting those different perspectives really keeps it fresh for me, which I think helps keep it fresh for the readers.

Mindy:             Personally, when I was a kid, I was always into the sidekicks. I always liked Robin more than Batman and so on and so forth. It just, it didn't matter what the show was or the book was. I was always interested in sidekicks and I wanted to know more about the sidekicks. So I think that that's really cool that you can go into the same world and expand the books and the world, but also at the same time you're shrinking it down more by focusing more intently on a character that before didn't have her own voice.

Aileen:             I used to be a big Buffy watcher when I was in high school. I love Buffy. I also wanted to know more about like Angel who eventually got his own show and then um, Willow. I wanted to know more about her and what she was doing with magic. And I always wondered what happened with Oz, who was a werewolf on the show who ended up leaving. I want to know more about what everybody else is doing too. So I get to do that in my own series, which is really, really fun.

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Mindy:             So you have a new series coming out. The first book is titled Off Planet. So tell us a little bit more about this series, the new one and do you plan for it to have as many books as your Alpha Girl series has?

Aileen:             Off Planet I started writing during my MFA. I had a really fun time world-building imagining a future earth and what it would look like, what would happen to the government and to corporations and their role in government. And I kind of really ran with that idea and I had a lot of fun writing this space opera. I have always planned on it to be shorter, three or four books I guess, depending on reader interest, maybe I'll expand it. I kind of want to keep it a little bit more contained so I can't decide if it's going to be three or four books yet. I'm in the middle of writing book too, so I'll have to see.

Mindy:             Sounds like you're more of a pantser than a planner. Is that true?

Aileen:             I'm a minimal planner. I'm like a plantser. I love Blake Snyder's Save The Cat, his little breakdown of story. So I do like 40 note cards and like 13 really basic ideas before I jump into the next. With my Alpha Girl series, I'm not really sure which book I'm going to do until I'm like towards the end of writing the current book that I'm on. I've got so many different side characters where I can go off and tell their different stories. In Off Planet Lorne and Maité, they're kind of so central to the story. I don't know if I would spin off and do the other ones, but I can't completely say that I wouldn't. So for their story, for Lorne and Maité, this story, I think it's like three or four books.

Mindy:             So you have dealt pretty deeply into urban fantasy, obviously with eight books in a series. And um, now Sci-Fi with three or, or four, is that where you're comfortable writing is in genre areas?

Aileen:             I'm more comfortable writing in genre areas cause that's what I like to read more. That's where my interests lie. Like write what you know, but I don't know anything about space travel. It's kind of more write what you love and that's kind of what I love. I always like a little, um, if I'm reading like a romance novel, I want it to have a hint of paranormal or Scifi or something or reading, YA, it's more likely that I'm reading something paranormal or Scifi or fantasy. I love epic fantasy. I hope to one day write an epic fantasy high fantasy series. So that's kind of in the backburner though.

Mindy:             I read widely, I love to read. I'll read pretty much anything. My writing then as you were saying, follows that vein. I will write anything because I will read anything. And you do tend to focus on the things that you love. I get frustrated as a reader and as a writer at how genre writing gets looked down upon often, not just from writers but also readers. Uh, you know, some readers would never touch a fantasy book or would never touch Sci-Fi because they think that that is just for fantasy readers, pr just for Sci-Fi readers and they're not dipping their toes into all of the different wells of books that are waiting around everywhere. So do you find that same experience that genre books don't seem to get the respect that non-genre writing does?

Aileen:             To some extent, yes. Genre tends to get a bad rap, not taken as seriously, I guess. I went to a genre fiction writing MFA. We talked a lot about genre fiction versus literary fiction. I kind of don't mind writing in genre. I think it's what's fun. I love it. I love the escapism of it. Somebody that reads only literary doesn't want to read my book, then I'm like, that's just not the book for them. Um, there's so many books out there, so many different kinds of readers out there, and if they like more literary stuff, then great. I'm glad that they're reading. I gravitate towards genre. I love genre. It's so fun

Mindy:             Being glad that they're reading. I'm with you on that. I've used to work in a high school in a library. We had drug dogs come through and one of our student's lockers pinged the dogs and they got upset and so they searched the locker and they did find drugs, but they also found a copy of 50 Shades of Grey and they brought it down to me for whatever reason and they put it on the counter and they're like, do you think it's appropriate for her to have this book? And I was like, oh, she had a book! Like I was just so happy.

Aileen:             Yes, they're reading fantastic. Who Cares? Exactly.

Mindy:             I was like, yeah, give that back to her. She is going to need that when she is in juvenile detention.

Aileen:             Oh yeah, yeah. I get a lot of emails from readers saying like, I hadn't really enjoyed reading in school. I didn't, I haven't been loving it, but now I've read your book and I'm back into reading and I love it. I'm like, that is the best compliment ever. I love it. Welcome to the world of magical books. I love it.

Mindy:             Coming up, urban fantasy is dead in traditional publishing, but a smart indie writer can make a decent living at it.

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Mindy:             When we talk about traditional publishing. that world kind of burned out on genre awhile ago with the vampire trend leading into an urban fantasy trend, and then just there was a conflagration. Everything was urban fantasy for so long and the traditional publishing world still hasn't recovered from that. They're still insisting that urban fantasy is dead. I have definitely heard whispers that maybe it's coming back, but I'm not seeing the rush for that genre yet, and I think it would be difficult to be querying with an urban fantasy right now. I don't think the traditional publishing gatekeepers are welcoming it yet. But your rankings, especially for Alpha Girl and the success that you've had with that series, which is urban fantasy, says that the readers are there, that they want it. So do you have any thoughts about that?

Aileen:             Yeah, I really don't think that agents and acquiring editors want to hear anything about vampires, werewolves, anything paranormal, urban fantasy, they're so sick and tired it. Which is why I did not ever even attempt to go traditional because back in 2013 when I was starting the Alpha Girl series and figuring out kind of in 2012 even figuring out what I was going to do with the series and this book that I had written in my MFA. I was going to RWA national convention and listening to different agents and editors talk about what they were wanting to hear, what they were needing, what they saw a market for and Twilight and all the movies had already come out. So they had seen so many manuscripts that were vampires and werewolves and teens, and they were like, if you send us one more of those books, I'm gonna vomit.

Aileen:             I can't read one. I don't like it. I don't want to read it. I'm tired of it. I was like, okay, that's all well and good, but there's this whole readership of people that hadn't been reading urban fantasy before. I had been reading urban fantasy for a while, but they hadn't been, and were introduced by Twilight and now this ravenous mob were wanting more urban fantasy, more werewolves, more vampires. The publishing powers that be just said, no, I don't want it. Well, what about all these people that were reading it? They didn't all of a sudden go away. That desire to read that kind of fiction didn't just disappear. I decided to do it my own way. I formulated a business plan, release schedule, researched indie. I got a distribution partner that would help push my books to retailers and help represent me a little bit.

Aileen:             I found it the case that there were so many bloggers, so many readers, so many fans of werewolves in particular and urban fantasy in general that I was pretty much welcomed into the space and I found a tremendous readership that slowly built over the course of the first three releases. By the time I hit the third I made the USA Today list. So I do think that there are a lot of readers out there that still want to read it, but it's interesting that like the gatekeepers kind of get tired of a genre and then just call it done. There's plenty more out there to be done with the genre and plenty of readers out there that actually still want that genre.

Mindy:             Twilight and everything that came after created monsters and they're still hungry. They want to read those books and there are people that that's all they want to read. And like we said earlier, that's fine. You read whatever you want to read and people like you are perfectly happy to write it and get it into their hands and you're rewarded for that. And I think it's wonderful. I myself have an urban fantasy that has been under my bed for 15 years because I'm just waiting for the traditional market to come back around to where they are welcoming it again and I do think that it will happen, but in the meantime I think there's a lot of opportunity out there for people like yourself that are writing what they love and you're going to give it to the readers that love it.

Aileen:             I think there's a market out there and it kind of opened me up to like a waiting audience that were ready for me and built the way so that now when I switch off to a different genre, they followed me over there and I did pretty well with that one. And then I'll grow that. And then um, I have like this audience and this fan base readership that is ready to read whatever I want to write, which is an amazing gift. Just by going in through urban fantasy, I was able to kind of like unlock a little door and get my foot in. I guess I'm against traditional a little bit. I'm like, you're not the boss of me. I'm gonna do what I want.

Mindy:             Yeah, and that's totally fine. That's totally fine. Obviously you've had tremendous success with it, so good for you. I personally am just terrified at the idea of setting up your own business plan, but let's talk about that for a little bit. You are the CEO of Ink Monster, which is your publisher, and I know a little bit from reading online about how the company came to be with your fellow authors. If you can tell the listeners a little bit about how Ink Monster came to be.

Aileen:             I finished my MFA. I had heard all this news about how nobody wanted anything that was urban fantasy, so I had this manuscript and I was like, well, I don't know what I'm going to do, But all the while I was in my MFA. I was researching publishing. I got Publishers Weekly, I got Writer's Digest. I was reading the emails that I got every week from Publishers Weekly about the latest in Indie and there was this big push of indie authors that were making it big, making a very, very good living by going and doing it themselves. So I started to put together an idea of how I would kind of go outside the box and I saw that there were a lot of indie authors that were not kind of dealing with the business side. If you're going to go indie you have to have the business locked down.

Aileen:             What's Your Business Plan? What's your structure? How are you going to break even? What are you going to spend on marketing? What's your release schedule? What you know, when are you going to do cover reveals? Who's going to do the covers? Are they gonna look good? Who's going to do the graphic design? What's your social media plan like? All of these like millions of things kind of create this bigger image that is your, your business and your branding. I got together with another author who has since left Ink Monster. She had a business background in marketing. So we got together and she was like, look, you have a lot of knowledge about the publishing industry. I have some about marketing, let's give it a go. So we got together, we kind of worked back and forth for about a year on our business plan before we entered into a deal with our distributor.

Aileen:             We gave them our business model, what we were planning, who our niche audience was going to be, how we were going to reach them, and they took a chance on us. That kind of evolved into what became Ink Monster. We added on some other authors for a little while and then my business partner left, started her own thing, and I've kind of weeded out a little bit of my authors because it ended up being so much time to develop other authors and it was taking away my writing time and kind of the reason why I decided to go into is because I love to write and I wanted to write whatever I wanted to write. I loved all that control. I wanted all that control of the covers and kind of the marketing and that kind of thing. I found myself to be a total control freak, but it is a lot of work. So it's not for everyone. Everything that you would want to publisher to do everything that you would expect them to do. You have to do that when you're indie.

Mindy:             So you're talking about getting a distributor and things like that. Is that to ensure that your book ends up on the shelves of bookstores like Barnes and Noble or chain?

Aileen:             At first I started with just digital distribution with Inscribed. They eventually got bought out by IPG. IPG does now handle my print. I went into a bigger print distribution to be in stores and Barnes and Nobles and stuff like that with Off Planet. I didn't do that with any of my Alpha Girl books. I'm such an e-reader. I've found most of my sales with the Alpha Girl books have been at least 90% e-readers. E-books, various devices. I'm giving print a try with Off Planet and we'll see how it goes, and if I keep doing that. They handle all of that. They also handle with e-books, they have weekly meetings with iBooks or I guess now Apple Books, Amazon get us good placement there or deals, kindle daily deals and stuff like that. We're allowed to like apply for those kinds of things. Having that person that has that connection that "in" with those retailers and can get you good placement and good spots, um, get you in banners and stuff like that. Those are the, the keys.

Mindy:             I'm interested in what you're saying about e-reading versus print. My own experience through talking with other authors, the Indie market readers are traditionally going to be e-readers and that is good news because that's less overhead for you. You don't have to worry about printing, you don't have to worry about buying the physical copies and flipping them. You don't have to worry about that overhead. So have you found that to be true then that it's the uh, the e-books is where your money is gonna come from?

Aileen:             Absolutely. Ebooks have been, I want to say more than 90% of my income. That's great because it is very low risk. I mean I don't even need anybody to make my files for me. It's no overhead for that print. For Off Planet there was, I, I had to buy a couple thousand copies of the print book, had to get them printed. That was like a whole rigmarole knowing my history of really selling well through E. I'm not sure how the print is going to pan out, but it's a Book One. So it's something to try for sure. So, and I am in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores throughout the US. I am always testing things and trying out new ways to advertise to market. New formatting and stuff like that. Being indie means I get to try all those kinds of things.

Mindy:             One of the things I noticed right away about your Alpha Girl series was the number of reviews that you have on Amazon. Um, and that's, that's a big factor. People look at that, they look at that number of reviews, whether they're good or bad, it's that number and they say, oh, people are reading this book. So how do you go about getting that amount of reviews?

Aileen:             We started out from the very beginning using Net Galley to send out arcs. For whatever reason, that first Becoming Alpha, my first book, I put it on NetGalley and we had to shut it down from NetGalley after just like three days because it had so many downloads. And that was really, really fantastic because we did get a lot of reviews from that first few days on NetGalley. From that we built our NetGalley email list. So, um, when you are on NetGalley, you're allowed to capture emails of those reviewers and those bloggers. So I have built an extensive list over the course of all these series. Anybody who has requested an InkMonster book, I can email all of them. "Hey, we have this new release here is your instant download code on NetGalley. You're pre-approved code, click on it, please download it and we'd love your review, you know, good, bad, whatever."

Aileen:             And then we remind them because you can't post a review on Amazon before release day. So on release day we email everybody that we go through and download the list of who requested and got a copy of the newest release and we email that whole list saying, "Hey, you downloaded a copy of the book, today's release day. We would absolutely love and appreciate if you would post your review." And we provide links to every retailer and GoodReads. A lot of people take us up on that just by saying please and thank you. You get a lot of response from that.

Mindy:             That's incredibly smart. I love it. I'm listening and I'm taking notes.

Mindy:             Lastly, the Indie experience at BookCon and how to market without big publisher push behind you.

Mindy:             You had told me you just got back from BookCon. So what are those big events like when you're an Indie, what are your purposes when you go there? What are your goals and how do you go about achieving them?

Aileen:             This was the first time that I've done anything like this I have to say and it went so well, much better than any of my expectations. Um, I haven't been able to go because I have a three year old and my husband works in movies. So we're constantly on location, moving all over the place. But this time the timing worked out and I was able to go so I was super stoked. My main goal from going to BookCon was to gain new readers. Um, I took Off Planet with me. I took a hundred copies. I set up in my distributors booth. IPG has this giant booth with a thing hanging from the ceiling. I don't go and get my own separate little booth that's in the back. I am working out of theirs because I feel like that gives you a little bit of a boost.

Aileen:             I brought 100 copies just to give away and to sign just to gain new readers. I had a little stack of download codes for the first book and my Alpha Girl series as well and little mini books that are like almost index card size of Off Planet that I printed for anybody that wanted to take one for a friend. It's just a sample. It's got like five chapters in, it looks like a teeny, teeny tiny bitty baby book. It's cute. So I took those as well. And Ink Monster pins, enamel pins I just want to reach new readers. I've got this great fan base for my Alpha Girl series and a lot of them crossed over with me to read Off Planet, which is phenomenal and amazing because it's a totally different genre. But I knew that there was a lot more readers that I could reach.

Aileen:             So just by having that one person that's going to take my book, then might tell their friends, oh, I read this new book. And so then they'll tell their friends and they'll tell their friends. So that's kind of the goal. I didn't know how many people were gonna show up for my signing. You just never know with that, so I left and walked away. As soon as I got there, I saw one author that was doing a signing and it wasn't going so hot. So I walked away. I was not going to worry about it. I'm going to come back. So then I came back about 20 minutes later and there was this giant line. My reps were opening up all the boxes and like running around like crazy and I was like, what's happening? And they were like, there are so many people here for you.

Aileen:             I don't think we have enough books. I'm going to start handing them out and then telling the rest of them that they can go because your a hundred books are up. 15 minutes before the signing started, all the books were gone. Hopefully a lot of those readers were new to me. They hadn't read any of my books. A couple of them said they had read all of my Alpha Girl books, which I was like, fantastic. I'm so happy to have met you. And gave them an Off Planet book. Most of them are all new. So that's readership that's growing. And that was kind of my goal was to show some new readers some love and gain their attention.

Mindy:             And when it comes to something like that, when you're at an event and you're letting people know you're going to be signing, so you had a great turnout and I'm sure the distributor was helping to make sure that people were aware that you were giving away free books, but to have a line like that, that's really good. So what did you do to raise awareness of the fact that you would be there? That you were there at that time and you were giving away free books?

Aileen:             I posted on social media of course tagged the event, #BookCon and hashtagged it like crazy. I had been telling everybody across social media for a while that I was going to be there. I had a few people contact me ahead of time. I had zero expectations. I was like, it could be 10 people that show up and that's 10 readers, so that's great. I was also, I think printed in the handout and my distributor also printed all the signings that were going to happen at their booth in a little flyer. So they were handing that out and had my time on there. We had a sign printed, but it was, I think they put it up maybe an hour before. It wasn't like a ton. I guess they saw the cover, they liked the cover. A lot of people were asking me about the Latina main character. My mother is Mexican, so a lot of my series, both Off Planet and Alpha Girl has a lot of like Latin influences, so they were really interested in that. Somehow. All of those things I think work to my advantage and got me a really great turnout

Mindy:             And that's how marketing works. Sometimes you really don't know why it worked. You're just really glad it did.

Aileen:             Yeah, I kind of threw everything I could at it and then hopefully something sticks. Then you cross your fingers and like that's kind of marketing. You just try all the things.

Mindy:             So talking about marketing, you started in 2013 with your first Alpha Girl book, so are there things that you did in 2013 that worked that you don't think would work today?

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Aileen:             I don't know. I think everything that works then works today and I think there are actually more things that you can do now, In 2013 there weren't really Facebook ads, you couldn't do that. I use those now and get a lot of clicks through those. There's also Amazon ads here. Some people it works great for, but I actually don't get a great rate from the ads I spent on Amazon. There's not a lot of clicks. Not a lot of clicks to buy. You do get to see how many clicks lead to buys when you're doing an ad on Amazon, which is very interesting to see and you don't necessarily know that with your Facebook ads.

Aileen:             I feel like there's lots more ways to to reach a reader now. Lots more marketing that you can do with like Instagram, which I don't know if it was around back then or if it was, it was maybe newer, but now it's, Instagram is such a huge influencer on what people are buying and what people are interested in and so Bookstagram and that kind of thing didn't exist back then, but it does now. So there's all these different ways that you can reach a reader. So I think that's not, there's not anything that worked then and wouldn't work now. I think now you've just got so many more options and ways to reach them, which is fantastic.

Mindy:             I know from my own experience as a writer, that back when I was getting ready to prepub and people knew I had a book coming out that there was a lot more blogging going on, a lot more presence on blogs, a lot more readers for blogs and as a blogger - I have a blog that goes along with this podcast where I have interviews with published authors and feature, all kinds of different elements about publishing in the writing industry. I keep doing it, but my numbers are definitely not what they were like in 2011, 2012. That reading audience just really isn't there anymore. People want to smaller bites. They want the easily digestible social media posts. They don't want to sit and read your blog post. So do you still do blog tours or anything like that to promote newer books?

Aileen:             I still do blog tours. I almost only do them for the content that then I can repost it on social media. It's just creation of content, you know, by doing these interviews and by doing these blog posts. And I have something else that I can post about on social media. So I don't know that it, that blog tours though are fantastic. They're not the bang for the buck that they used to be, but I still do them just so that I have that kind of content and daily new kind of thing that I can do leading up to a launch. I can say, oh, I did this interview, I have this other piece of content. Oh, there's this other thing that you can look at. Um, so I'm not ever posting like buy my book, buy my book, buy my book, because nobody wants that like hard sale pitch in their feed.

Aileen:             I don't like it when somebody starts posting, buy my book, here's my book, here's my book. I would instantly unfollow, right? Hide. You know, I don't want to see that. I want to know more about like what they're doing, what their life is like, I want to know more about what their interviews are and that kind of thing. It's kind of changed a little bit. Blogs have kind of gone a little bit away, but you can still use that content as something else to post about that, will keep readers interested in knowing and seeing that there's a book coming out. Keep their curiosity piqued while you're trying to promote and not kind of be too pushy about your book.

Mindy:             Last thing I want to ask you about when it comes to marketing is newsletters. Everyone has been saying for years you need to have one, you need to have one and a lot of people don't, or if they do, they're not doing it right. I was not doing it right for a long time and finally one of my friends sent me down and was like, Mindy, you're not doing this right. Ended up going out and actually learning how to do a newsletter and how to do it well and I restructured everything. I did some research just like you're supposed to do for anything you want to be successful at. So tell me about your newsletter, how you use it and what you use it for.

Aileen:             I love the newsletter. Firm believer in it. I have different lists for my newsletter. Um, different people that I email. I have a separate like reviewer ones as I was talking about with the NetGalley list, which has helped get um, reviews early on in, in a release, which is key to getting it kind of kicked up in lists and bestseller lists. Those reviews really, really sell books. I can't tell you how many times I'm like, just put it on NetGalley. Get those emails, email them and say thank you for downloading. Please post a review. That's really key - keeping reader's attention to telling them like what's coming up, giving them a little peek into your personal life. Fun reasons to open the newsletter. I give them selective content. Put up a blog with like an excerpt for my newest book and only the people that open that newsletter will get the password exclusive content for the newsletter. Exclusive giveaways. Those kinds of things are really, really key for, for keeping those newsletter readers engaged and keep them opening and clicking. I'm kind of on the team - Yes, you need a newsletter. You should be getting emails, give them away, something for free to get their emails. Because once you have that reader and you have their information, you can keep them engaged, keep them interested.

Mindy:             Now that I know how to do them right. Yes, I agree.

Aileen:             Yeah. It takes a little bit of work and like trial and error. Oh, this one didn't open. Why not? What did I put in it that I put in the other one? So it's always like looking at it, being strategic with absolutely every marketing thing that you do. You have to be strategic with your releases, with your business, with your marketing, with your newsletters, everything. You have to be pretty strategic when you're doing it indie because nobody else is gonna do it for you.

Mindy:             Last thing, what are you working on now? I know it's probably, uh, more in your Off Planet series, but tell us what you can about that and where listeners can find you online.

Aileen:             Right now I'm working on Off Balance, which is yes, the sequel to Off Planet, it's going to be dual POV. So I'm really excited about that getting more Lorne in there, which readers had been asking me for it. I love to listen to what my readers are wanting. There was a high demand for Lorne in the next book so I added him in. Um, so I'm having fun with that right now and I'm also working on Alpha Erased, which is book nine of the Alpha Girl series and going back to Tessa, but to keep it interesting, I'm putting her mate, it's dual POV so she's actually going to get kidnapped and her memory wiped and so it's going to be Dastien winning her back all over again. So it'll be pretty romantic. I'm excited about that one. And you can find me online at AileenErin.com Or on Facebook and Instagram.

Mindy:             Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire is produced by Mindy McGinnis. Music by Jack Korbel. Don't forget to check out the blog for additional interviews, writing advice and publication tips at www.writerwriterapantsonfire.com If the blog or podcast have been helpful to you, or if you just enjoy listening, please consider donating. Visit www.writerwriterpantsonfire.com and click support the blog and podcast in the sidebar.

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Genre-Blending As A Strength & Writing In Your Non-Native Language with Katya De Becerra

Today’s guest is Katya de Becarra, who was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology and now works as a university lecturer and a researcher. Her debut What The Woods Keep was released in three countries in 2018. Katya joined me today to talk about blending genres in her debut title, and how she managed to find a publisher that believed it was a strength, rather than a marketing weakness, writing in your non-native language, and how Katya made the decision to write her novels in English.

Bethany C. Morrow: The Need For Inclusion In Publishing

Today’s guest is Bethany C. Morrow author of MEM releasing in May from Unnamed Press. Bethany graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology (but took notable detours in the Film and Theatre departments). Following undergrad, she studied Clinical Psychological Research at the University of Wales, in Great Britain before returning to North America to focus on her literary work. Bethany joins host Mindy McGinnis to talk about her query process, as well as writing in a post-election world as a black woman, and the concern that minority authors need to be looking for agents that want to represent them for a long-term career, not just as a response to a trend and whether or not white writers should attempt to write main characters of color, and the difference between that and being inclusive in your writing.