Episode 104 – Humble Bundle, Isaac Asimov, and Multiple Markets (Live From Austin, Texas)

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Question of the Week:Which should you do: write to market or write to multiple markets at once and why?

Live from Opal Divine’s Penn Field in Austin, Texas, Jim and Bryan piggybacked off the Smarter Artist Summit this week to bring you their first ever live show. In front of a raucous crowd, the happiest of hosts thanked their latest patron ( Emma Alisyn and her book Character Sketch & Color http://bit.ly/emcolor ) before launching into a trio of tips about Isaac Asimov’s writing habits, Instagram ads vs. Twitter ads, and an interesting cover art tactic. The news stories included the need to say no to some free promotion gigs, how Fifty Shades of Grey has failed the long tail, a successful book bundling website, how consumers have the choice on what and how they buy, and writing to market vs. writing to multiple markets. This week’s Question of the Week: Which should you do: write to market or write to multiple markets at once and why?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How rowdy writers can get when you give ‘em a few drinks and desserts
  • Isaac Asimov’s writing routine
  • Whether or not Twitter and Instagram are worth it for advertising
  • How John Ellsworth used one cover tactic to secure 10-15 BookBub ads
  • When you should turn down unpaid promotional gigs
  • Why 50 Shades of Gray failed the long tail
  • How a book bundling company found major success
  • How the indie movement has changed choices for consumers
  • Two authors’ opinions on writing to market
Links: 
Question of the Week:Which should you do: write to market or write to multiple markets at once and why?

get show updates

  • Lavie Margolin

    Hope you guys had a great time. Unfortunately, the sound quality of the live event makes it very difficult to understand…

    • Bryan

      Aw. Sorry to hear that, Lavie. Seemed ok in my headphones after the edit. Definitely not our typical fancy mic setup 🙂

      • Lavie Margolin

        Next year.. Live- in a soundproof booth 🙂

        • Bryan

          lol

      • I thought it was fine for the occasional live event. It was better with earbuds than over my car stereo for what that’s worth.

        Sounds like your fans are awesome out there!

  • I loved the live show! It was a fun listen!

    • Bryan

      Glad you liked it!

  • QOTW – Early on, I think writing to market is good if your goal is to be an author as a profession or make decent side money. If your writing goal is to focus on the art or a passion project, then write whatever. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as you know what to expect.

    Most writers have tons of story ideas, so look at your list and find something that you want to write AND hits a solid market. Later, write your one true passion if you like.

    • Bryan

      Good thoughts, Roland. Thanks.

    • Abigail Dunard

      I agree that it’s possible to find an intersection between the market and your passion projects. I’ve found it helpful to pitch a number of story ideas to my critique group (whose tastes often align with my target audience) and choose whichever project they are most excited about.

  • avoura

    The sound quality is really bad on this, I cannot listen to it. A transcript or a lengthy summary would be useful.

    • Bryan

      We’ll look into getting a transcript, though it may take some time. I would say the quality is “different.” It’s actually great quality for a live event ;).

  • background sound was way too distracting so stopped at the Asimov’s routine part

    • Bryan

      Like Jim always says, it was worth a try. If we do another live show in the future, we may record a different way. Thanks for the input!

  • markdawson1973

    Well done, Bryan. It’s a bit muddy, but listenable – wish I was there. You need to correct Jim, though – you most certainly can sell books directly with ads! I do it every day. Enjoy the rest of the summit. Wish I was there.

    • TT

      To be fair, he didn’t say you can’t, he said it wasn’t the best course of action to send paid traffic to a sales offer rather than a lead capture (followed, preferably, with a tripwire sales offer). Which it isn’t, generally speaking.:)

      • markdawson1973

        Well, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

      • A lead may never buy from you. Someone who buys from you, then joins your list is more likely to buy again.

        • TT

          Perhaps, but both are more likely to buy from you than someone who is neither a previous buyer nor a lead. A person who looks at your offer and doesn’t buy, and isn’t on your list (because you didn’t lead capture them before you showed them the offer) will not get the chance to buy from you if you make an offer to your list that they would be interested in, because you have no way to contact them (except to pay for another ad and hope they click it). Also, there are more ways to make money from a list than selling your book to them. No matter how good your ads and targeting are, the majority of people you pay to get to your offer aren’t going to buy it. If you don’t lead cap them, you’re just throwing most of your money down the drain,

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Mark! Wish you could’ve been there too. Hope you had a good time in NYC.

  • I’m laughing so much! The sounders are awesome!

    • Bryan

      Hehe, that’s my favorite part. That and Joanna Penn booing at us :).

  • TT

    Just impossible to hear what you’re saying over all the echo and party noise. Maybe next time record from lapel mics rather than a space mic? Sounds like you had a good time (and the show notes suggest there was some good content, shame I can’t hear it), though. Looking forward to getting back to normal listening next week 🙂

    • Bryan

      Hey TT. We considered lapel mics. I just wanted to make sure the live feel made it into the recording. If you haven’t tried listening on headphones, give it a go. Thanks!

  • Like others I had to bow out after a few minutes because of the audio quality. But it sounded like you guys were having fun!!

    • Bryan

      Ah, sorry to hear that, Leslye. Wanted to get that live feel into the recording, but I suppose that made it a bit harder to distinguish everything. We did have fun!

  • Gillian

    Congrats Jim!!! I am so happy and proud of you. Now I’ll feel better about putting my other books on Google Books. I know you will rock the position, I am so excited to see what you do over there. You are making history. I am elated for you.

    Woot woot!

    • Bryan

      Hey Gillian… you may want to check the date that bonus episode was released :).

      • Gillian

        OMG it’s a hoax isn’t it? LOL. I figured it out the day after. Good one guys.

  • Enjoyed the live show.

    In thinking about this I see myself as writing to market starting with a specific genre and building everything into that framework. While I can see bringing aspects of other genres into the main theme the idea of writing to multiple markets at once is beyond me at this point in my writing career.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Edwin!

  • Nakeesha Seneb

    I feel discombobulated. SMB is an important part of my week and I couldn’t listen to this week’s episode. I’m that student who sat in the front of the class and would glare at anyone who dared talk when the teacher was explaining the meaning of life. That’s what this episode felt like to me. I didn’t like that people were talking over you guys and laughing and carrying on while you guys were saying important things -important to me at least. Gonna just go and read the show notes…But yeah, glad you had fun and all.

    • Bryan

      I blame alcohol, but it also led people to being more excited during certain parts. It’s a trade-off :).

  • Daniel Martone

    If you ever get a chance to attend the show with a live audience… do it. The energy inside that room was amazing. Filled with people “who get it”.

  • Daniel Martone

    I don’t see why you can’t use both techniques to find your markets. The study the Chris does to figure out which market to write for could potentially show you multiple markets that the same book could achieve success in.

    • Bryan

      I think that’s a really great point. And it could lead to some really interesting experiments when you smoosh the tropes together.

  • Laura Martone

    Dan and I really enjoyed meeting you both – and watching your live shenanigans in Austin. Thanks again for making it happen… As for the question of the week, I don’t have a simple answer. Mainly because I think it depends on what you’re writing. Trying to find a niche market – one with a lot of demand and not enough supply – could certainly make financial sense, but so could writing a story that appeals to several markets at once. No matter what, though, I believe in being true to your story – and finding a compromise between art and commerce.

    • Bryan

      Good points, Laura. I do think you can find a compromise while writing to a single market too. My fairy tale series is gonna be artistically badass :).

      • Laura Martone

        But, of course, it is! 😉 I can’t wait to read it!

  • Craig A. Price Jr.

    Write to multiple markets. The reason is when I’m writing a book or series, I will crave for somethign fresh. I actually write better/faster when I have a different type of project to switch to instead of all the same genre. Then it makes it easier to go back to what I was working on for the next book.

    • Bryan

      I think it’s definitely smart to switch things up when you’re creatively spent. That’s what Asimov did!

  • Courage Knight

    I write for multiple markets. It’s exhausting! I wish I could just write for one market, because it would be half as much work. I write under this pen name for women’s romance. But I also write non-fiction parenting advice, and preschool materials. I cannot have that linked with “smut” so I write that under another name. Twice as much marketing! And the requirements for the markets are extremely different!

  • mtr amg

    I can hear Joanna’s and Garret’s laughs… so the way to big audience response is dessert, huh?
    I heard that some people are getting good results from Pinterest as well.
    I’m glad you still make the time Jim, it must mean a lot to the people who ask.
    50 shades is also the book most left in hotel rooms. I didn’t agree with it, but I know people who had not read a book for years and read it… hopefully they went on to something else.

    • Bryan

      Dessert is the way to anyone’s heart :).