Episode 43 – Comebacks, Engagement and Spousal Support (with Robert Scanlon)

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With Jim off running the Author Marketing Live Virtual event, Bryan welcomed author Robert Scanlon to the program. They discussed tips on Instagram, how to avoid getting sidetracked, and making an author comeback. Bryan and Robert chatted about news related to ebooks at indie bookstores, engagement analytics in fiction, spousal support for authors, the new Kindle Textbook Creator, and Dean Wesley Smith’s 10 reasons to avoid traditional publishing. This episode’s Question of the Week: If you had to make an author comeback, what are the three things you would focus on doing above anything else?

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What You’ll Learn: 

  • How you can use Instagram to gain a following
  • Six ways that new authors get sidetracked
  • What author Ben Wallace is doing to launch a comeback
  • Why indie bookstores are losing ebook enthusiasm
  • How fiction engagement analytics could affect traditional publishing
  • What Bryan and Robert think of spousal financial support
  • How Amazon is tapping into academia
  • Dean Wesley Smith’s 10 reasons for avoiding traditional publishing


Question of the Week: 

If you had to make an author comeback, what are the three things you would focus on doing above anything else?

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  • I’ve had a lot of luck on Instagram, but I also enjoy it. I write horror and there is a huge community of horror fans on there. I found all my beta readers for my first novel on Instagram. A lot of authors don’t use it and I think they are missing out. But, again, you have to enjoy it for it to be genuine.

    • robertscanlon

      Hey, Zach – thanks for echoing that! Good to know there are authors making an impact with the different social media channels. That’s what I was trying to say – I don’t use it, and don’t know how, so it would be a bit disingenuous to suddenly start a profile there and join in. Or worse, do the whole “Buy my book! Buy my book!” thing.

      But now you’ve said it’s *enjoyable* … might have to start (as a user first, author second!).

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Bryan

      Good stuff, Zach. Want to link to your Instagram here?

      • Sure. It’s just @zachbohannon
        I initially built a non-fiction platform on there when I was in the health/fitness industry. I’ve been re-focusing it toward my fiction. My best advice is to search hash tags that have to do with your genre. They have a very easy and user-friendly system for searching hash tags. I spend time genuinely engaging with people and “liking” photos. Eventually, I got to where I was cool asking people to be beta-readers and it was super easy. I’ve also seen it translate to sales with my non-fiction platform, and have no doubt I’ll get some with fiction.

    • I can see how that would work well for horror!

      I write in the fitness industry, and I wish they’d STOP using Instagram. Their pictures suck. 😉

      • I couldn’t agree with you more! I am actually in the process of slowly moving my platform from health/fitness related to dark fiction. I was a trainer and did online coaching, and wrote a book called “I Once Was Fat But Now I See…”
        That being said, I built a TON of my platform on Instagram. Yes, those pictures are annoying and all the dumb hash tags (I’m so ready for #beastmode to be gone!), but you can really build a great platform for this on there. At one point, my book got all the way up to #6 for Weight Loss Diets in the Kindle store, and a lot of it was due to Instagram. And I don’t even I have a ton of followers, and I don’t care about that. It’s about having the RIGHT followers.
        Good luck, Roland!

        • We need a lot less #BOOM, too. 😉

          I have big plans for fiction this year and going forward. It will be an interesting move, since I’ll still be in the non-fiction/fitness side, but also writing fiction. You’re lucky you’re doing horror, since that’s pretty manly. My fiction is more touchy feely, so almost wish there was NO crossover audience!

          • Haha. I totally agree. And selfies.
            I honestly didn’t worry about crossover. It was a little scary to change my platform, but it would have been much scarier to spin my wheels and not tackle what I really wanted to do. I didn’t even tell anyone I was doing it. I just switched what I was posting and who I was following and engaging with, and slowly let the people who no longer wanted to follow me, move away. It’s been great so far. My first novel comes out Tuesday, so we will see how it goes.

  • Loving these special guest episodes! Not only do both Nick and Robert both have great accents, they’ve also got some great tips.

    The funny thing about author comebacks is that I think they’re becoming a lot easier to do as the digital age progresses. You can reinvent yourself as a writer all the time, just by switching genres — or even crossing from fiction to nonfiction. I think the key to doing this well is to pick just a few (2 or 3) very niche areas to focus on, write loads of words and books (of varying lengths) in these areas, and then promote them constantly to your rabid fans. Maybe that is a little easier said than done, but that seems like the smartest way to go for it. Kind of like Robert’s advice to keep writing, reading and learning, because the rest just doesn’t matter.

    • robertscanlon

      Thanks, Laura! It’s a real honor to be invited to guest-host the show. (Don’t know about the accents though!)

      I agree with you about the comeback thing – I thought that blog post was excellent. There are sooo many micro-tasks that can sidetrack anyone on then Internet, not just authors, that a “spring-clean” and refocus could reinvent just about anyone.

      As you say, this is easier and easier now on the internet – the only issue being the elephantine memory of the search engines haha!

      Also I think I need to take my own advice 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

    • So there’s something wrong with my nasally Cleveland accent? Why do I feel like I’m going to get replaced with a brit? 🙂

      • robertscanlon

        So everyone loves you when you get back …. they’ll tire of us Pommies & Aussies you know!

      • Bryan

        You’re irreplaceable!

      • Haha, sorry Jim! My husband thinks you sound like Seth Rogan. I’m not sure if that’s a consolation or not… ;D

    • Bryan

      Agreed! Lots of reinvention opportunities. I have a hard time remembering when I was a non-fiction author :).

  • Such a complex question! 3 parts! My answer: 1. Drive more leads to email 2. Write more books. 3. #2 🙂

    • Bryan

      Haha, great answer, Jim!

    • robertscanlon

      You stole my plan, Jim!

      100% agreed 😉

  • Jacob Williams

    Great episode!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Jacob!

    • robertscanlon

      Thanks Jacob! I thought all the bits where Bryan was speaking were brilliant!

  • Is it easier to make a comeback or to start from scratch? If you’re making a comeback, you can use self-deprecating humor to your advantage and engage fans with stories of your big changes, etc.

    Still, I think the plan is #1, lure people to your website/mailing list, #2, keep writing more books, #3 advertise regularly.

    • Bryan

      Great question, Roland. I think a comeback is easier, but only because you may have some fans in your back pocket who just need to remember you.

      Also, I agree with that plan!

  • Crissy Moss

    I would write a series (which I’m currently doing) and release short stories for free on occasion to try and get more newsletter sign ups. Lastly I would write a lot before publishing anything so that I can have several things out with less time between them (also something I’m currently doing).

    • Bryan

      Glad you’re doing most of the good stuff :). Thanks for sharing.

  • Perry Constantine

    In a way, I’m kind of in the middle of a comeback. At least that’s the way I’m approaching my work. Here are the three things I’m focusing on:

    1. Concentrating on the series I currently have and not distracting myself with other projects.
    2. Creating new, branded covers for each series so that each series has a unifying look.
    3. Upping my production and my output so I can have more frequent, consistent releases.

    • Bryan

      Good stuff. Sounds like a good plan, for sure.

  • Thanks for picking up my article, How to Stage a Comeback. I’d like to say it was a part of my secret plan to gain exposure, but I’ll admit it was just luck.

    • Bryan

      Sure thing! Good sneaky luck you’ve got going :).

  • Honoree Corder

    My three things: building an email list, add more books to my list, and focus on either twitter or Instagram {or both}.

  • Just discovered you and I’m so happy I did! I’m about to launch a comeback. Mine is a little unusual though, as I deliberately made a long-term career decision that I knew would set me back initially, but that I ultimately expect to jump me even farther. I went back to school. The three things I plan to do in order of importance: write more novels per year, produce a newsletter and expand my social media presence to one more outlet, probably with a vlog. Haven’t decided what my brand/information emphasis will be for the newsletter and vlog, as yet.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Judy! Good luck on the comeback :).

  • Craig A. Price Jr.

    I am always jealous when I hear about the support authors get to be able to begin their career. My passion of writing is usually ignored or I can’t talk about it lest upsetting. But I do have a good local group of writers that encourage me.

    I am also the only one currently working so it makes it tough, but I’ll make it eventually.

    • Bryan

      I hear you on that, Craig. Stick with the locals. Come on over to our comments section. Get the support in any way, shape, or form that you can!