- What’s more important? Author or publisher?
- How much does editing really matter?
- What about blurbs, covers, and categories?
Plus a small rant about how fanfic and lesfic are basically the same thing, and we should all be friends.
A.E Radley Online
Listen to this epsiode here
please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect
hello everyone and welcome to for love and money this week is kind of special because it’s the start of our first two-parter podcast I had so much fun talking to A.E. Radley that I had to do it for 40 minutes so we’re gonna split it into this week and you’ll hear the follow-up in two weeks [Music] hello everyone and welcome to the lesbian talk shows for love and money I’m your host Rae D Magdon and I am so excited about our guest today we actually started talking for a good five minutes before we started recording and then we realized we should probably be sharing this with our audience right I have author extraordinaire A.E.Radley thank you so much for joining me this morning or afternoon for you yeah often in for me thank you for having me as I was saying before we started recording I I love this podcast I’m so so surprised when I come across someone who doesn’t listen to him was it you’ve got to listen to it because as much as we like talking about the craft you know there is the publishing and the business side of things as well and I think a lot of people struggle and it’s important to share that information I am exceptionally flattered and you are a collector of information I believe which is why I originally reached out for you to be on the podcast you basically did a huge multi-year survey now this is year two right of the buying habits of sapphic readers yeah yeah I’ve got two years with results I’ve got the third year running now and to get results which I’ve sort of I decided to run it for a little bit longer this time to try to get more more information so yeah I’ve got sort of two and a bit years of information but yeah it’s been fascinating and I’ve always worked in marketing I when my own London marketing agency for years and I know how important sort of facts and figures are I’m one of those authors who you don’t hear about very often you kind of looks at the business side and the publishing side and definitely the marketing side so I kept hearing everyone talking about oh you must do this or you mustn’t do that and no one will ever pay that everyone expects this no where’s this information coming from how accurate is it so I thought I just do a survey and find out so yeah as I say two years of results so far in the third year sort of on the way okay so let’s talk about the first year first what kinds of questions did you ask and what results did you get that surprised you and perhaps challenged some of your own preconceptions about the business side of my Science fiction yeah it’s interested that you say Suffolk fiction because I mean one of the things I always look at is how things change as well so when I first did the survey in 2017 people were identifying mainly sort of 80% of people identifying as a lesbian or gay that dropped last year to 70% and with the results so far this year is down to 68 percent so that’s many more people identifying as panned by ACE and many other things so that’s been really interesting for me because I recently took the term lesbian romance or self of my books because I’m bisexual so it doesn’t cover me so I was like why do I keep I keep I keep like I my books go in the lesbian romance category Amazon I can’t change that that’s fine but I need to check myself on how I’m using language because it doesn’t apply to me I mean I’m married to a lesbian but you know I think I’m raising myself I’m doing it to me and I’m complaining with other people do it so you know it’s it’s really interesting to see that I’m not the only person who’s who’s thinking that Wayne is changing their own language absolutely I mean I’m a woman too so it’s really business also by my partner is trans so yeah that’s a whole that’s a whole side of the business that I try to lean into yeah I mean I’ve tried I find it quite hard because the second you start like especially if you go to Amazon or oh I need the publishers and you have bisexual you’re just usually into men straight away usually two men and a woman or something like that or the you know there’s a lot of sort of the bare chests or whatever and a lot of bisexual women back out of that and it’s very hard because obviously the the gay fiction mark is much much bigger than the women loving women fiction market so it’s hard to you know to advertise especially when so many people are like oh you mean lesbian you don’t know I mean and like the actual name of the surveys changed because it used to be the lesbian and by women fiction survey and this year I decided to change it to the wlw fiction questionnaire and I had so many people go what’s that well no honey that’s you well it’s a chance to like widen the circle and I don’t think widening the circle is that for a bad thing you know absolutely now and I think I think that’s that question that I mean when I first started writing lesbian fiction as its known and I went into like lesbian fiction Facebook groups and and someone said oh well I you know I’m I’m bisexual or god forbid I’m a man and I read lesbian fiction just the push Pat was incredible so I just waited in there go well I’m bisexual and all this tumbleweed kind of blew by like everyone went you’re what is it literally like I said I’m a murderer and as I oh okay I didn’t realize that there was that stigma attached to it but that’s changed so much sort of in the last four to three years I’ve been publishing and I’m really happy with that because I think it’s one of those things that you know needed to be a conversation and I think a lot of people were a bit shy about having that conversation but I mean the results of my survey and and just sort of you know talking to people in general I’ve noticed that’s changed a lot and it’s such a positive thing it got a long way to go but we’re getting there thank you numbers your survey was very specific is very specific about what prices consumers are willing to pay for e-books can you talk about a little yeah absolutely it’s definitely changed it’s gone right down I yeah in 2017 the sort of cost that people would expect pay for an e-book was ten dollars and in 2018 that dropped to the bracket of between $2.99 and $5.99 and it stayed the same in 2019 so it’s literally dropped from you know $10 to between sort of three and six dollars so that’s quite the drop what do you think just not that I want you to speculate too much about because I know you’re a data person but what do you think might be contributing to that I think it’s in deal sense charge and a lot less I think in the past sort of who you think sort of five six seven years ago you had a couple of brave indie authors who managed to you know navigate Amazon’s system at the time or whoever’s system at the time and sell their books and then you had publishers and publishers have always charged more now you have cheaper publishers coming into the publishers who are charging a bit less than the big names and you have loads of indie authors and I think people are actually finding out that you can pick up an indie AUSA buck for $2.99 and it’s good it’s actually it’s been edited it’s got a good cover it’s got a great story it’s it’s worth the same as they traditionally published book and I think as more and more people come across that more and more people are saying well what’s the choice here why why would I pay you know ten dollars for a book from one of the big publishers when I know I can get a decent book from an indie author for much much much less so I personally think that’s why – because you asked the users of your survey to rate the quality of lesbian fiction sapphic fiction as a whole and what did you find with that yeah it’s been very changeable I mean it’s it kind of stays the same throughout the three years of results but generally people are pretty happy with the editing quality and with the cover quality when you look at those questions but when you look at the answers like the freeform answers I have a question where I say did you well have you ever returned a book and if so why and I have a free-form question at the end which is um if you could have if you feel there’s any changes that need to be made to the fiction market so that’s always interesting cuz that’s where people can freeform their ideas and in those consistently comes up people complaining about editing quality of the book quality of audiobooks is coming in now as well people complaining about when they say they’ve returned a product they’re not just returning about sort of ebooks now it’s also audiobooks and that’s where I see so many people complaining about quality and even saying cause he’s sliding in some of the bigger publishing houses and things like that so it’s a and obviously that’s just one person but when you have many many one people all saying I’ve returned this book due to quality due to edit in due to problems with the cover dude problems with the paperback or something like that when you have many people you realize there is a bit of an issue in the industry so you asked under what threshold a reader would return something they had bought because of quality issues and what did you find um well it’s funny actually because in in that in that question um have you ever returned a book and if so why some people were just saying I I returned it cuz I didn’t like it like literally they just didn’t like the story and in the first year in 2017 I had huge numbers of people saying oh yeah I just returned excited in like it I didn’t get into it I didn’t like the main character things like that and I thought that was just mind blown because if you know if I go into Netflix and I watch the show and I didn’t like the main character I don’t phone Netflix up and go yeah I’d like my monthly subscription back because I just didn’t understand why she did that you just you made an entertainment decision you suck it up but apparently there are people out there who go I just didn’t like the choice is that character made so I’m going to return this book and that happened again in 2018 but not so much in 2019 I’m glad it’s drifting away because I think you know whether you agreed with the you know what the protagonist was doing or not you’ve you’ve read the book so you know if you didn’t like it you should suck that up but then there are people who are returning books genuinely because there were editing issues I mean some people are saying like there’s you know three or four editing issues on every page grammar issues spelling issues and things like that and obviously that’s just completely unacceptable you’re listening to the lesbian talk show the lesbians all choked on your hub of podcast information so you also had a question about the blurbs and the covers and what helps sell a new author potentially to a prospective buyer what did you discover what draws new readers in I’d say the most important things the blurb there’s an interesting question where I asked people to rate out of out of a segment of things they’re out of author blurb price cover and publisher to rate them in order of importance and what that does is the chart actually gives me basically it tells me how important they think each thing is so that gives me two results it gives me a result of from most important to least important and also from sort of least important to most important and that doesn’t always add up and but what that found is the most important thing people saw off was an author then the blurb then the price then the cover then the publisher so I think that was really interesting that you know you’ve got blurb the second one there so say if you’re an unknown author your blurb is incredibly important and on the other spectrum as that for the least important no at least least important if you see if you like is the publisher then the cover then the price then the author then the blurb so that’s actually switching those two at the top on the most important scale around so from author to blurb blurb to also so again that blurb is coming in really high there and cover is still the second least least important so I think that’s really important as well I mean I think you know cut I love having a good cover it’s really important to me and I think it is very very good I think people don’t necessarily rate them as much when they’re looking on Amazon or whatever they’re more likely to read the blurb judging from these results anyway I’m a little surprised that publisher came in so low but that kind of tracks with some of the other stuff you’ve discovered about advertising methods that people hear about books yeah between the years I guess author newsletters became way more poppy and publishing newsletters people were saying they didn’t hear about new releases through them as much why do you think that changes I think where publishers are struggling to know how to market and how to market many many books I mean if you look at some of our biggest sources sorry because publishing houses they have huge number of books and horses how can they possibly manage everything so I think I mean I’m traditionally published in the past I’ve been published with one of the big publishers and then became indie and I know from that experience and from speaking to other authors that I think nearly all publishing houses and not just within our genre ask authors to manage their own marketing now they’ll they’ll help and they’ll assist in certain ways but they’re not gonna do a huge amount for the marketing of your book so I think that’s simply a matter of more authors appearing on social media and more authors of getting newsletters and and taking more control of their own marketing so I think is there’s been morals as doing things for marketing newsletters and such that’s where readers are thinking oh I can actually connect directly to the authors I know like I say I mean you know people were saying the publisher was the least important and there’s another thing I’ve got where it says are you willing to pay more for books by a certain author and 61% said yes the same question are you willing to pay more for books by certain publishers only 10% say yes so I think from a readers point of view there going to be a lot more loyal to an author than they are to a publisher no see a publisher newsletter will have many many different books by many different people and they won’t have any personal information about any of those sources either I mean I I i blog quite a lot about sort of personal things and in my newsletter I’ll I’ll talk about just me or me and maybe someone who I’m featuring and my wife is also an author so you know I’ll talk more about other things and not just I’ve got this book out and that’s what most publishing newsletters are so I think people are kind of falling out of love with that style of marketing I guarantee you whatever you blog about is not as personal as what’s on my god anyway people are connecting with authors on social media more than ever but at the same time they’re still complaining that they don’t know where to find these books and they don’t know about new releases why do you think that is well I don’t know I have to say this is one that really starts with me every single server every single say all three surveys I’ve done people are saying that they thought that all books could be marketed more and yet they always complain that there’s too much social media spam in as well but yet there is this thing that you know books just aren’t being advertised enough and I can see that in a way because I think especially if you connect to all the authors and the authors are growing and going aground if you connect all the authors on say Facebook for example um and you’re connected to your family and your friends and your work colleagues you are gonna miss things and I think a lot of forces are guilty of the I’ve got a book out it’s 9 a.m. I’m gonna go in every Facebook group and I’m gonna put the link and I’m gonna put it on my wall I’m going to put it on my group and then I’m going to go and have a cup of tea cuz I’m done and I think if someone misses that window that’s it they don’t see it so I think there’s a sort of lesson for authors to spread out your marketing and to talk about things over you know days and certainly over hours not always at the same time of day but yeah i think i think it’s just a difficulty in that our markets growing which is great but it’s also a bit a bit of a challenge for us as well I hate it I see people do it and I kind of want to reach out and go no but that you don’t to be that person do you say I want to be that um I’ve got some advice for you it’s just now not only days but weeks and months and you have to pad it with recommending other people and also personal anecdotes and or other media so that people don’t think you’re just there to sell what specific book to them absolutely we see more and more people doing this oh the drive-by where people sort of they don’t even say anything they just put them into a position and they prove they’re gone and silicon what it’s like that creates a bad rapport with you and any potential reader so you couldn’t even be bothered to write the words here’s my book you just literally hit the link you waited for Facebook to go there’s your picture hit submit and then you ran and I think that I think that’s the worst style because you know one of the things that many many big authors talk about is turning readers into fans and I think that’s one thing you’re never gonna do you’re never gonna turn a reader into a fan by just doing this kind of like drive-by there you go that’s my book go buy it buy so I love you survey and we’ll probably jump back to it at some point but I want to talk a little bit about you and your marketing strategies and your books first of all I have to say your website is very impressive because I went there and I bought a book like within two minutes like I love buying books but I usually take my time to think about it a little more so the fact that I bought one so quickly was kind of impressive how did you set up your website what do you think works about it and why do you think I got sucked into the honeypot I think we might with my website it’s been a it’s been a while in sort of creating it and thinking about it everything I do in marketing and this is something I I learned sort of you know from studying and working in marketing everything I do is marketing myself is to look at the user journey and I think that’s something hugely important that so many authors don’t date like well like with the drive by someone who’s gone into a Facebook group and just dumped a link and walked off they haven’t thought about how that looks to potential readers so you know to me as a potential reader I look at that and go where you don’t care you’ve just hit a link and gone waste if someone constructed a message and actually said hi you know it’s my debut novel it’s about this and actually you know drawn me in all of these things stops along the way of my user journey towards potentially getting me to buy that book so when I look at my own website I look at trying to make it a little bit more interest in on all of my book pages and all the individual book pages I try to have something at the top which almost mentions which trope it is because I generally write trope so I generally tried to you know get people drawn in straight away by saying like if you like an age cap romance this is an age gap romance because that’s not really something you’re gonna put in the book blurb although you know you should probably start to be honest because I think a lot of people do just buy they go age gap buy or whatever atrophic is they like but yeah that’s one of the things I sort try and do or try and look at how how a website user is coming into the site and what they’re seeing about tropes like we are on the same wavelength I had a podcast with Hildred Billings a few weeks ago and it was like holy crap tropes are not a bad thing they’re a good thing they’re selling point but you’re bugged a lot of the time so yeah I really agree I think they are so important mean that’s how I choose what I read I don’t read a huge amount I’m I’m a terrible author I don’t really read a great deal of other people’s books I wish I could I never have time and but when I do finally pick a book it’s based on a trope I see sort of like age gap office romance yet just just put it in front of me I’ll read it no problem and that’s what I need to know I don’t need to know her name and where she works she’s an advertising exec no doubt she’s an advertising exec you know I don’t need to know all of that I’m like yeah you got me an age cap romance in an office fine let’s read it you know you don’t need to worry about the rest I think I think there’s a stigma to it um and I think it’s a real shame cuz I think people could sell a lot more books that they just embrace the fact that they’ve probably written a book with a couple of tropes in it and they could probably market it with that trumps build fiction I mean you just have to do them well absolutely yeah and there’s so many there’s so many I think you can look at a lot of books a lot of like best-selling books in our genre and you could pick them up and kind of like cut pull out a decent rope or two and say that’s basically what this is built on and that’s what people if you look at like especially you know genre if you look at television programs that like really get off the ground there’s generally a trope or two within them and fan fiction as well which is obviously whether the whole you know traipsing really shines is where people can just right tag it with a certain tribe can you go yep that’s that’s what I want to read do you come from the fan fiction universe as well I dare ya I think that’s why we think tropes are a good thing and not a bad thing they’re an immature thing I think so yeah I think I think it’s amazing how many people now John I have no idea what fanfic green is even some of the authors and I’m stunned I was on a panel at ELQ on and a convention over here last August with other authors and they were like fan fiction and I’ve heard of this but I know I should know it was like what do you mean you’ve heard of this it’s it’s such a big thing for us and you know both strokes books kind of originated through Xena fan fiction so how there can still be authors you go what fan fiction and and yeah there is a bit of a you know some people do laugh a bit when they think about fan fiction but I think it’s hugely important a hugely influential and I know our market grows because of fan fiction because people suddenly go oh there are books like this they’re like real books I think you know young kids who read fan fiction and their parents go to them are you’re not really reading they can actually go into into a bookstore and actually pick up a book it was very similar to the things they reading fanfiction and have the proof and say no no this is a real thing many many people like it’s commercially viable you know here’s a professionally printed book which is very similar to the things I read online absolutely I mean that’s where my audience comes from is literally fan fiction and I’ll tell you what I’m doing a panel that I proposed for the golden crown literary society convention this year and it’s all about the ambition and what it is and how it connects to less fake absolutely and I think it’s really funny because when I like my first published book was was fan fiction and it was a sort of comfort it was an au and it was converted to a book um and it was really funny because I had this kind of like for about six months before and after launch I had this real split in audience sort of my fan fiction people were going like my god they published this stuff and what there are other books in this genre like having no idea that lesbian fiction existed and then they had all my like lesbian fiction people who are going is from where from fat fan fiction though what’s that a oh where and it was just so bizarre as I if YouTube people could just connect and talk you’d have so much in common and the like lesbian fiction market would grow so big if you could just you know bring all those people across I’m doing my part and as well I keep I keep I keep banging away I’m like no this isn’t this isn’t anything to do it once upon a time and Swan queen but it’s the lookbook you might enjoy please hi this is Ray again with the lesbian top shows for love and money we’re gonna end the conversation here so we can bring the second half of it to you in two weeks where we talk about fanfiction about conventions about marketing about tropes about all sorts of really cool stuff so I hope that you will tune in in two weeks for the follow up and that you’ll check us out on patreon where you can support the lesbian talk shows endeavours to get more podcast like this and check out the lesbian talk shows Facebook group where you can discuss current episodes suggest future episodes and connect with all of us here who are making these podcasts preview enjoy thank you and have a great two weeks