How to Crack the Romance Market (with Mimi Strong): SPP #117

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This week we had Mimi Strong on the show, and boy was she a fantastic guest. She’s found success in more than a couple of genres (which is why she calls herself a Genre Hobo) and she shared some of her secrets with us on the air. Whoever thought this show was too blokish should absolutely give this episode a listen!

Sterling and Stone’s Live!

First, we talked a bit about how awesome and massive this site is. Sterling and Stone is quickly becoming the best author site on the web, and it’ll only get better with time.

Kindle Unlimited

A lot of listeners have requested that we talk about Kindle Unlimited, so we did for a few minutes. The consensus was luke-warm at best.
On one hand, Unlimited is another marketing opportunity for authors, but it only applies to those in KDP Select. So, maybe, it could be worth it to put a new book through Select first before releasing wide.
On the other hand, as Johnny so frankly pointed out, exclusivity is a remarkably bad idea. Johnny likes to compare KDP Select to the abusive boyfriend that keeps begging you to come back, only to beat you again.

Mimi Strong Smacks the Blokes Around

Mimi Strong publishes in several genres under several pennames. Her strong opinions sometimes clashed with what we normally say on the show, giving a fresh debate to SPP.
Mimi put out a convincing argument about publishing under different names. She also shrugged off categories, saying indie authors pay way more attention to them than readers do.
Agree? Disagree? Listen to the full show and leave your opinion below!
Watch the video version here:


22 Replies to “How to Crack the Romance Market (with Mimi Strong): SPP #117”

  1. Anita

    I loved this show – and Mimi!
    She’s just plain awesome, cute, intelligent and funny in one lovely package.
    Not sure I agree on all her opinions. I read her new blog Genre Hobo, and it’s so well written. It reflects that personality she showed on the show so very well.
    But I’d prefer to see her writing under one name, and perhaps have her author page looking like the dog’s dinner, but that’s better than a diluted author page, that only shows one side, rather than her range.
    If you write stuff like Dave and Sean, and also wants to write for children, I would definitely use another pen name. And if you write straight up erotica, but also wants to be taken more serious as a story teller, I could see benefits of a pen name.
    I wouldn’t post erotic drawings on my website, since I focus on children illustration. But I wouldn’t have 5 websites for each style I draw in either. Only if I think it would damage one part of my business, would I consider diluting my own brand. You can’t fully manage a lot of brands anyway, if you’re just one person. If you have a big staff behind you to take care of it, then that’s another case. But most of us don’t.

    • Jacob

      Yeah, I agree with that, but only every other day… πŸ™‚
      It seems I can’t hold an opinion on genres and pen names. I’m always flip-flopping. I think what they’re doing here on S&S is smart: Have the same pen name but publish under different “imprints”.
      BUT what Mimi said about your name on Amazon really resonated with me. It seems that people are often confused by multiple genres when they click your name in an online store, like Amazon. Click Sean’s on Amazon some time to see how confusing it is!
      In that case, I really feel that bunching everything under the same name is really diluting your brand and spreading them out would be solidifying it… maybe.
      Remind me tomorrow and I’ll give you different answer, lol.

      • Erik Marshall (emarsh)

        Yes, Jacob, I’m with you. One day I am convinced pen names are the way to go, the next I am absolutely certain having one name is right. I’ve decided (today) to publish nonfiction under Erik Marshall and fiction under E.W. Marshall. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have three different pen names for different genres. Arrrgh.

        • Jacob

          One thing I haven’t heard about is using “Pen Names” on Amazon that are all the same name…
          You could register for several author central accounts on amazon, but each time with the same pen name, then only “claim” the books that make sense in a list together under the same name.
          So, if you’re looking at my spiritual-erotic novel, “The Burning Bush,” and click the name Jacob Tullos, you’ll see only other erotic/sexy stuff. If you click the ‘Jacob Tullos’ under the children’s book, “The Adventures of Worm-Boy,” you only see other kids books. Same name, but different person from Amazon’s POV.

      • Anita

        I can certainly follow a part of the thought. But only because Amazon doesn’t allow for authors to do more with their pages. If you could group your books yourself on the author page, it wouldn’t matter.
        I don’t know how Kobo and other sites handle it, but probably not much better.
        Clearly an opportunity I think they all should consider, since it would sell more books. Most author pages on Amazon is a mess to look at. Especially authors with translated versions of their books. It just sits there in one big pile.
        To me, Sean’s books does not dilute his name at all. Quite the opposite. I think of him just the way he would like me to; like a very strong story teller.
        Sure, I’ll never think of him like I think of Stephen King, Dean (fucking) Koontz, Dan Brown, Charlaine Harris, Richelle Mead and other authors I have read a lot of books from. I think of them for the genre they write in, not for their voice.
        Of course I like (or have liked) their voices too, but when they step outside that genre circle that they’ve drawn around themselves, I often don’t like the result. If it’s because I expect something specific from them or because they write in a less strong voice when doing so, I don’t know.
        I understand what you mean, I understand Mimi’s reason for what she does, but to me it’s more honest to show everything (or most) you do, and have a webpage to categorize your books, and tell your reader what to expect.
        What can be even better, is to post the first chapter of a book on your website. It’ll tell the reader if they’ll like it or not. I read the first chapter of Richelle Mead’s Succubus series, book 5 or 6, somewhere. I can’t remember if it was on her website or somewhere else. Even though there was a lot of backstory I didn’t get at that point, the voice in the book was so vibrant, funny and sharp, that I instantly wanted to read all I could with her main character. None of the story referring to things that happened earlier in the other books, made a difference, because she incorporates just enough to enable anyone to read it as a stand-alone book, but when you read the series in order, there’s just so many layers and little things you appreciate that much more. I bought all seven books in that series.
        She’s not an example of a genre hobo at all, but she continues to post chapters from her books. More than one, when she’s introducing a new series. I actually think she has posted 5 chapters from book 2 in her newest series. She lets the fans ‘unlock’ them with comments, likes and what else she can think of on Facebook and her blog. She posts random quotes from her characters once in a while on Twitter. She interacts with her fans a lot. If she should decide to jump to horror, I would get the chance to read at least one full chapter, and decide whether I’d give that book a chance or not. So even if she wrote in ten different genres, it wouldn’t dilute her name. She would introduce me to that world β€” loud and clear β€” and let me decide for myself, if I should step inside.

  2. S.C. Barrus

    Hi guys, just thought you’d like to know that this is actually SterlingAndStone.net, not SterlingAndStone.com. I copied the url you shared and saw a jewelry shop and thought to myself, “maybe their creative projects are going in a new direction…”
    πŸ™‚

    • Jacob

      Oops! My bad!
      Well, you knew Sean liked to arrange flowers; you didn’t know about his secret diamond operation, did you?
      Fixing now.

  3. Michael Coorlim

    Great interview, guys. When I started writing in Dec 2011/early 2012, I was actually following the “one pen name, one series” advice. I just found the multiple pseudonyms too big a pain in the ass to bother with, so I’ve more or less ignored and abandoned them, integrating them with my own name in a few cases.
    I would have to say that readers of my primary steampunk thriller series don’t usually cross over into the modern occult suspense, literary drama, or historical superhero series. Maybe one or two fans will give them the try, but by and large, not so much.
    Sometimes I want to just focus on the steampunk series, but it’s not really selling super-well. It’s got fans, I sell books, but not enough that I’m convinced that making it the only thing under my name. I’m only at book 4, though, so we’ll see what happens after I publish the 5th.

  4. Tim Moon

    Who was the book formatter that you guys mentioned? There are no links to the resources mentioned in the episode! I’ll give it another listen, I guess. πŸ™‚

  5. Robert Scanlon

    That was a brilliant episode! Forget marrying Neil Gaiman, I want Mimi to adopt me! She’s so pragmatic, and made some very succinct observations about modern consumers. I would have liked to hear more.
    I’ve also hit the ‘stupid’ button, where I’ve started with a Middle Grade series (3rd book out in a few weeks, then I plan to make a novella or shorter novel as a free entry to the other 3. Or just make the first book free, and write a fourth full-length??? haha), so it was good to hear her concur with my thoughts and put me in the stupid category: Middle Grade Kids don’t own kindles (or not many do, at least, though my daughter reads voraciously on the Kindle app on the iPad), and they don’t have credit cards, and their parents are too busy finding the next Dirty Billionaire book for their own evening in with a glass of wine. (If you spend any time with erotic romance authors on Facebook, you’ll see how HUGE the whole ‘book boyfriend’ thing is … good grief!).
    Thanks again, guys. Great episode.

  6. Margot

    Hi guys, hi Jacob!
    My english sucks but I need to ask, due I don’t know any aspiring authors here who wants to write under different pen names: So can I have different Amazon author accounts? Because I need at least 2 pen names, I write in two very different genres and I don’t want them to be linked or my real name to show up (yet), and how about the pay, can I use the same credit card or checks? I know my question is stupid but I swear nobody her can tell me!
    Also I loved this episode so much, Mimi is great!

    • Jacob

      Hey Margot!
      There is no such thing as a stupid question, I promise! Actually a lot of people get confused about this, and it is really important.
      First, Amazon does not allow you to have multiple accounts to publish books. If they find out, they’ll probably want to delete one of them, so you only want one account.
      Second, when you publish a book on KDP, there is a place where you put in the author name. Whatever name you put there is the name people will see when they look at the book on Amazon, and they’ll never know the real name of the person who published it.
      As an example, Sean’s amazon account publishes stuff from himself, Johnny, and even Guy Incognito and Lexi Maxxwell. But when you view the books on Amazon, you have no idea they come from Sean’s account because you only see the author name.
      In fact, you can have hundreds of author name with only one amazon account. Then you don’t have to worry about payments coming from lots of places, only the one dashboard.

      • Anita

        I wondered about the same thing, so thanks for explaining πŸ™‚
        Don’t think I’ll ever need a pen name, but in case I did one day write a book for adults or YA, I would definitely want a pen name, since I’d want all my childrens stuff to be completely by itself.
        (Can we subscribe to comments soon? It drives me crazy, having to go back looking for new comments.)

      • Robert Scanlon

        You can have as many author names as you like under the one KDP account (As Jacob says, it violates Amazon’s TOS to have more than one KDP account anyway), but if, like many authors, you want to use Author Central to manage linking books (and linking book editions: kindle/print/hardback etc) and have an Author Page for each pen name, then you are limited to 3 pen names per Author Central Account.
        There are definitely benefits to having an AC account: Adding your bio; having all your books by that pen name on one author page; adding your blog & twitter feeds for that pen name; and the ability to make fast changes to product descriptions [but you pay a price. HTML formatting is inconsistently applied between Kindle & Paperback for example, and you can’t get that nice Amazon Orange headline anywhere but KDP. Author Central strips it out πŸ™ ]
        However (and I haven’t done this yet so do your own research!), you are permitted to have multiple Author Central accounts, and the feedback seems to vary: You may need a new email address, or you may be able to use your existing Amazon email address, but use a different password. That way, you’ll get another 3 pen names to have their own Amazon Author pages; claim your books etc
        Quite a handy system!
        Tnx Jacob – you’re doing a fab job!
        (Echo the need to be able to subscribe to comments pls!)

  7. Lindsay B

    Listened to this one on my road trip today. πŸ˜€ I’m not an easy-button person either, and thus far I’ve published everything under one name, steampunk, contemporary mystery, contemporary fantasy, children’s stories, epic fantasy… enh. I will say that I do get a lot of cross-over though. I have quite a few people who tell me they read everything, no matter what it is.
    I think if there’s a lot of personality in your writing, people get more into following you as an author rather than just a particular series. Like I’ll watch anything Joss Whedon puts out because I know the dialogue will be fantastic. I can’t stand vampire stuff, but I watched Buffy until he moved on to another series. His humor shines through no matter what he writes. But I’ve definitely read authors where I’ll like one series and not another, and I think the author’s personality is just a less visible part of their writing style in those cases.
    That said, I can definitely see Mimi’s arguments (I just stumbled across someone whose Amazon author page was really cluttered and junky because of all of her magazine and anthology contributions, half of which weren’t in the genre her first book was published in). I can see where it would make sense to have multiple pen names so that a reader’s first encounter with you isn’t confusing (they like urban fantasy and your back list is nothing but urban fantasy, so yay!) and then just to have all of your pen names listed on your website, for people who *do* want to read across series and genres.
    Anyhoo, appreciated the listen. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  8. C.V. Walter

    Hey guys, I took a look at The Future of Sex book and wanted to let you know that hand-bras and panties will get you adult-filtered faster than the word sex in the title. Might want to get that updated if you want out of the dungeon.

  9. Jon Pherigo

    Anybody think about multiple pen names, but one imprint?
    You have an umbrella “publisher” site – Dogg’s Dinner Books and that is the listed publisher for D. Diggler, Armond Kaboose, and G.W. Alberto… all of which are pen names for Joe Author.
    Anyway, back to the tentacles and fangs.

  10. Beth

    Hey guys — this question may be for Jacob — is there anyway to download the videos onto a stick to view later? I ask as I don’t have access to Wifi (live in the country) and would love to watch the goings on (without having to sit in my office to do so). Love listening, but there’s something lacking (like facial expressions etc.) Thanks for your help. Beth

    • Jacob

      Hey Beth! We don’t currently have a way to do this. I know there are sites out there that allow you to rip video from any youtube video, just like there are others that let you rip the audio to make your own MP3 of the video.
      We’ll have to see how we can make the video’s available to download, but I can’t think of a easy way to do it.

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