Rob Talks the Love of Podcasting with Jack Ward

I recently paid a visit to the Sonic Society’s Sonic Speaks podcast to talk with the incomparable Jack Ward about the history of my podcast- Kung Fu Action Theatre. In the interview, we talk about how I got into podcasting, my experience running KFAT, and my eventual decision to stop doing audio drama. Along the way, we discuss writing and the transition of going between being an audio dramatist and a prose fiction writer, and the challenges that come with learning to tell stories in audio before you’ve mastered prose.


It was a fun chat, and I hope we can do it again sometime. It made me think a lot about the differences between writing for audio and prose that I hadn’t considered, and I think I too learn from the exploration. If you’re planning to do Audio Drama, or make the jump from Audio Drama to fiction writing, it would definitely be a good one to listen to.

Why I Launched my New Novel Ascenion by Giving it Away For Free!

I blame Goodreads.

During the two years it took to write and prep my new novel Ascension, I worked hard to make sure that I could release the best product I could. I wanted it to be a book I could be proud of, and something that could start my journey as a writer on a positive foot. I also wanted it to be something I would be compensated for, after all, while I did it because I love writing, I also did it in hopes of making a little extra cash.

So, why did I give it away for free my opening weekend?

I’ve read quite a bit of theory on the subject of playing the Amazon book marketing game, and I noticed a while ago that many authors have had success by making their books free. Usually, they made their books free for a short-ish period of time, and then after that they found their sales jumped. There has been a lot of speculation as to why, but it usually comes down to Sales Rank. By making your book free, you ship a ton of copies, which drives up your sales rank and makes your book more visible for new readers to find when you return to charging for it.

There is also the theory/hope that by selling lots of copies in a short time, you are increasing the chances of people leaving reviews of your book (vitally important) and possibly increasing both awareness and word of mouth. People become aware your book exists, and they also may be telling their friends- both good solid benefits of getting as many copies out there as possible.

So, are these the reasons why I was extremely happy that 230 people took advantage of my special weekend offer?

Yes, but there is another factor at play here.

A few months ago, I started using Goodreads.com more actively, and when I did, one of the things I started to use was their recommendations service for new books I might like. I’m always looking for new things to read, and wanted to try it out. However, before I could use it, Goodreads required that I rate at least 40 books so that the system could figure out what types of books I liked. At the time I considered it a pain, but afterwards I realized Goodreads had given me a great gift.

You see, I came to realize that the most powerful marketing tool Amazon has to offer is its recommendation system- “People who bought this book, also bought…” It’s using this system to match the item you’re looking at with other similar items bought by similar people. If you haven’t noticed, Amazon is also constantly putting books in front of you it thinks you’d like, which it does by slowly analyzing your tastes based on what you search for and look at it.

But, Amazon’s system doesn’t just have to understand you, it also has to understand each book in its library. It has to know what type of person buys that book, what else they buy, and what categories to really place the book in. In other words, the system needs to figure out how to market the book, and it does it based on past sales.

So, what if you have no past sales? Then Amazon doesn’t know how to market your book properly, and you won’t sell many copies unless you spend a lot of time and money pushing it elsewhere to produce those sales.

Therefore, I reasoned, I needed to “prime the pump” and get Amazon to analyze my book’s profile as quickly as possible so that they could start marketing it to the right people and do a lot of the heavy lifting for me.

How to do that? By offering it for free, of course! Every one of those wonderful people who downloaded my book were actually doing me a favor, they were helping me teach Amazon’s system how to find other readers for it. Now, the system knows who and where to market my book to, and will find them accordingly. If I’m right, this will speed up the marketing process greatly. I will still have to make an effort to market my book elsewhere, but it’s a good start.

I hope, anyways! Only time (and sales) will tell!

Rob

Ascension- A Novel of the Twin Stars Is LIVE!!

Ascension Cover

My very first novel, based on the Parsec Award Nominated Podcast (which has had over a Quarter of a Million Listeners)  is now up and available for Amazon Kindle. Check it out!

Fun with CG II- The Twin Stars

So, I spent a week (and a few dollars) working away on Daz Studio to see if I could put together some decent looking characters for the covers of my upcoming Twin Stars novels. So far, I’m pretty impressed by how well it’s gone. Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve, but once I overcame that and learned a few tricks, it all came together pretty quickly. At it turned out, doing Tysen and Ping An was pretty easy, Esther has turned out to be the hardest one so far. (Which is why there’s still no picture of her I’m ready to share.) These aren’t intended to be cover images, just test portraits of the characters.

Let me know what you think! 🙂

Zhang, Ping An

Albert Tysen

What Price Nobility?

So, I’m thinking over changes I want to make to Twin Stars in the second draft of the story, and it’s mostly little things, but one thing that’s come up is the Nobles. I’ve realized that I haven’t done anything to physically distinguish my race of genetically perfected galactic overlords. They basically just look the same as normal humans, but are much more buff and perhaps a tiny bit taller as they’re currently described.

The problem is that’s not only a little boring, it also lacks a visual tag that the reader can say “ah-ha! that person is a noble” without me having to mention it each time a noble character is introduced. My first instinct is to just make them a lot taller and thinner than normal people, but I’m wondering if I can’t do something more than that. I don’t want to use weird eye colors, and in the setting weird hair-colors would be common anyways, unless they all have the same color(s) for hair. Tattoos are out because they’re so common as to be cliche these days. (I think the genetically upgraded bunch on the TV show Andromeda used tattoos as markers.) Distinctive fashion is a possibility, but I wanted something physically different.

Still thinking.

Rob

Twin Stars Book Two ends!

With the release of Showdown (part 3), my audio drama series Twin Stars has finally reached it’s Book Two finale! Thanks to all who have supported this show so far, and Book Three will start to air in December after a much-needed break!

Rob

Twin Stars 209 released.

I (finally) got the 9th episode of Twin Stars Book 2 out, two months behind schedule and broken into parts, but it’s finally hitting the feed! Originally the story was to be a single episode, but when the first eight scenes of the show alone clocked in at 24 minutes, I knew I was going to have to break it down. So TS209 is going to become TS209, TS210, and possibly even TS211! It’s meant to be an epic space battle, and while it’s still condensed and filled with shortcuts, it’s definitely too big a story to fit in a single half-hour of show. I don’t even think it will fit in 2-half hours, but we’ll see what happens. The finale for Book 1- Hammer and Anvil was about an hour and a half long, all told, and I think this show will easily keep that tradition going!

Review of KFAT on Audio Drama Review

Well, it’s finally happened. Audio Drama Review has gotten around to setting its sites on me and Kung Fu Action Theatre. I have to say I’m pleased with the review overall, and consider it a very fair and balanced one. Go take a look when you have the chance.

Rob

Auditions for Twin Stars 209

Auditions are up for Twin Stars Book 2, Episode 9 over on Audio Drama Talk. Two male roles and Two female roles are up, and the auditions closing date is March 14th.

This is the the finale for Book 2, and what a finale it will be!

Twin Stars Book 2, Episode 8 “25” released!

The second from last episode of Twin Stars Book Two is now up for your listening pleasure! Go check it out!

Enjoy!

Rob