Melissa, thank you so much for visiting today! Congrats on the launch of your new venture, Fostering Success, an essential tool for writers. I was lucky enough to beta the courses, and they’ve been extremely helpful in figuring out my marketing strategies as well as understanding the ins and outs of being an indie author.
Can you tell us a bit about the mission of Fostering Success and how it came about?
Thank you for having me on as your guest today, Stacy. I’m really excited about Fostering Success.
The mission of Fostering Success is to pay-it-forward in the literary community in an affordable and effective manner. Authors needed a one-stop shop when they publish—self or traditionally.
Our courses provide what every author needs to know about social media, platform building, branding, author websites, self-publishing, and book marketing.
How did you come up with the idea of Fostering Success?
When I founded the World Literary Café, I did so to offer a way for authors and aspiring authors to learn how to cross promote and to build a community to bring together the entire literary community. At the time, I was teaching authors marketing, platform building, branding, and social media, both in groups and one-on-one. My writing time was slipping away quickly, and I never had enough time to teach as many authors as were approaching me. It was clear that I needed a better venue for teaching, a venue where authors could focus at their own pace, and where they could revisit the information and reflect back on it as needed. The Fostering Success courses are self-guided instructional videos and materials that authors can revisit as many times as they’d like. They can go through them at their own pace, and by taking any of the courses, authors are brought into my Fostering Success Authors group on Facebook, where I answer questions on an ongoing basis as they build their platforms, self-publish, and develop their marketing strategies.
There are several different courses offered by Fostering Success. What makes these classes so valuable, and what sort of resources can a user expect from them?
This testimonial says it all: “All I can say is that her protocol is a ‘necessary business system’ for any author striving to better their future. As a chiropractor, they teach you how to be a doctor, but not how to run a business. In the writing world, you have the author part, Melissa has the business side covered. Take it and learn.” Nick G. Giannaras, Author of The Relics of Nanthara trilogy
The courses are designed to be easy to understand, comprehensive, and affordable. I’ve sold almost 200,000 copies of my books, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve taken each step of the authoring business apart and made it easy to understand, fleshing out vital information in each class, from a step-by-step guide to self-publish, to creating an effective and branded online presence. The Effective Book Marketing course covers all aspects of marketing—from free and paid to driving traffic, harnessing the power of social media, and what every author needs to do each day.
How do Fostering Success and The World Literary Café work together?
The World Literary Café (WLC) is the cross-promotional platform for authors to connect with both their authoring peers and readers, and to promote their books. Fostering Success provides the knowledge to not only effectively market, cross promote, and build a brand through in all aspects of life, but also teaches how to get the most out of sites such as WLC.
Although Fostering Successes marketing course will work for any author, the courses are more geared toward the indie author. What benefits do you see with indie publishing over a smaller press?
I don’t really agree with that (sorry). I have had just as many traditionally published authors take the courses and they’re thrilled with the results and knowledge that they’ve learned. In fact, there are literary agents referring their clients to the courses because the traditional publishing field is focused on the craft of writing, but the marketing education is lacking.
Be that what it may, my view on small press is that it has its place, but its certainly not for everyone. Contrary to what most authors think, small press is not a stepping stone to traditional publication. Small press typically cannot get books into the brick and mortar shops (some may, but they’re few and far between), and they don’t do the marketing for you. Small press is really, in my opinion, for those who lack the funds to hire a professional editor and cover artist.
One argument is that authors want the name of a small press as their publisher, and what they fail to understand is that readers don’t give a hoot who publishes your book—they simply want a solid, well written, entertaining read. It is the author who brings their publishing status to the readers’ eye by branding themselves as “Indie”. Most readers don’t even know what an “Indie” author is.
If an author has a valuable editor and cover artist, they can learn all of the formatting steps, platform building, marketing, and branding techniques. No matter who publishes your book, it’s up to the author to market it. Fostering Success can help authors find their wings and understand book marketing in under a week.
ETA: I had the wrong link on the coupon. It’s now linked correctly for the 25% offer.
What is the single biggest mistake you see indie authors making?
Without a doubt it is either marketing to only the indie authoring community or not marketing at all.
Your marketing strategy is different than some, and you, along with Fostering Success and the World Literary Café, are major proponents of authors helping authors. Why do you believe this works better than other approaches?
This is simple. We are all trying to make our mark—to reach readers. If you market alone, you have your own umbrella of readers, a pretty small audience even if you have 200,000 friends on Twitter or Facebook. If you are promoting other authors and they’re promoting you, you are instantly expanding that readership umbrella by their number of followers, and by the followers of those that share the other author’s updates. In addition, readers hate to hear people toot their own horns. What a drag it is to hear, “Buy my book!” Seriously, folks, stop doing that. Let others toot your horn, and you can toot theirs. Readers would much rather hear what you can recommend than how you want to earn a buck.
What’s the most effective marketing strategy out there right now? And with the constant changes in publishing, how can an author plan a marketing strategy 6-12 months in advance?
Everyone’s marketing strategy is different. Some are still relying on Amazon’s free days through KDP select to carry over a wave of sales afterwards. To me, that’s not an effective long-term strategy—it relies too heavily on Amazon’s ever-changing algorithms. It’s a marketing scheme that works sporadically, but it’s not a long-term solution.
The only strategy that one can rely on for a full 6-12 months in a market that changes hourly is to create an effective and branded online presence and keep that presence active throughout the year. If readers don’t know your books exist, they cannot buy them.
Your books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have scores of reviews–tell us a little about your journey as a successful author. Did it happen right out of the gate, or was it more of a slow burn?
Oh goodness no, it didn’t happen right out of the gate. I spent a year and a half marketing Megan’s Way and preparing to market Chasing Amanda, but didn’t get serious about marketing until May of 2011. It was a slow and painful process. I tried the high-feed programs, and lost the money. I hired a publicist, and quickly let her go because she couldn’t gain any headway for the indie author arena. I then got into the nitty gritty of marketing, evaluated where my reader were, and reached out to them—daily. Marketing is all about relationship building, and I love to build relationships, so for me, it was a win-win.
I think one of the biggest issues I try to drive home to new authors is to manage their expectations. KDP Select’s free program has created a mass of unreasonable expectations, and Amazon controls that. When their algorithms favored free days, authors could ride the free wave and gain 3000 books sales the days following their free days, but those authors have no clue how to market their books, so when the Amazon well ran dry (the algorithms changed), they’re left floundering and feeling ripped off.
Marketing takes time, energy, and dedication. You can plan until you are blue in the face and still the effectiveness of your programs will change from day to day. It’s imperative that you understand the complexities of book marketing and not just look for the magic bullets—because they don’t shoot straight and they change often.
I evaluate the marketplace on a weekly basis—it took me months to understand what would work long-term, and I work diligently (daily) to master and re-master the craft of marketing and branding. I wish the courses I’ve designed were available to me in 2009J
What things are you looking at when you evaluate the marketplace?
I evaluate what’s selling, price points, the Kindle shops/sites to see if their sales are going down or picking up, Nook outlets, etc. I watch Amazon to see what they’re recommending, the rankings and any signs of changes in algorithms.
Your bestseller, Come Back To Me, is a Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist–congrats! What are you currently working on, and when can we expect your next release?
Thank you! COME BACK TO ME is also a Readers Favorite award winner and a Semi-Finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book awards.
I have one suspense manuscript out on submission through my agent. TRACES OF KARA is a psychological thriller about a deranged twin, separated from his sister. He believes that the only way they can be together forever is to kill them both at the hour of their birth.
Now I’m working on PETALS IN THE WIND, a story about a woman whose repressed memories of her childhood best friend’s disappearance come back to haunt her.
I’m not certain about release dates, because if I go the traditional route, it could take a while. I’ll keep everyone posted!
Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your virtual space with me today. I truly appreciate your time and energy!
Find Melissa on the web!
Award-winning, bestselling author Melissa Foster is a touchstone for the indie publishing community and a tireless advocate for women. She is the founder of the World Literary Café, Fostering Success, and The Women’s Nest. Melissa writes emotionally-driven contemporary fiction and suspense with passionate characters that remain with the reader long after they’ve read the last words. Melissa is a friend, mentor, brownie connoisseur, and book fiend.