In this episode, we’re chatting with special guest Ben Galley about how to write successful series and the pros and cons of wide publishing vs. exclusivity. We’re also going to talk about how authors can leverage their IPs and create multiple revenue streams and some pitfalls of self-publishing you should be aware of.

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Transcript for Strategic Authorpreneur Episode 066: KDP Select vs Wide with Ben Galley

Crystal Hunt: Hey there, strategic authorpreneurs. Welcome to episode 66 of the Strategic Authorpreneur Podcast. I’m Crystal Hunt.

Michele Amitrani: And I’m Michele Amitrani and we are here to help you save time, money, and energy as you level up your writing career.

If you find this show helpful, you can help us keep the episodes coming by clicking to the buy us a coffee button on the website and the show notes.

Crystal Hunt: So today’s topic is part of our series on craft discussions and we’re talking with special guest author, Ben Galley who writes dark and epic fantasy books and currently lives in Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut Emaneska Series in 2010, Ben has released a range of fantasy novels, including the award-winning weird western Bloodrush and standalone novel the Heart of Stone, to name a few. But first, a quick update on what’s new since our last episode. Michele, how is life in Italy? 

What we have been up to

Michele Amitrani: I don’t know about you, Crystal but it’s really raining a lot here. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a similar scenario to yours. I’m not used to this in Italy? I chatted with my family and it’s also really weird for them. It’s been like a week, a week and a half and the weather forecasts doesn’t promise anything else, but more rain. So that’s for the weather side, what’s happening in Rome, on the book side King of Defiance, which is the second book in the Rebels of the Underworld series is out. And the pre-order for the following book, Song of Forever, it is officially live.

And basically that’s all the mythological fantasy that I’ve got so far on the English front. I am lining up the Italian counterpart and all my calendar is scheduled and it’s booked until March 2022, which means that I have a little over two months now. Let’s say two months and a half to complete the writing of the new science fiction book in Italian that I’m working on which is currently slotted for an April release.

The book is still in an early stage, I will say. And it’s kind of in development, part of it still. But if everything goes right it should be ironed out by the end of January. So wish me luck on that front. It’s been a long time that I didn’t write anything like longer than 30,000 words. So I’m finding the process to be very interesting and challenging, but that’s the life of the writers. On the reading side of things, I’m enjoining a book called Steering the Craft, which is by a writer, Ursula, K. Le Guin, and I’m finding, I have to say a lot of value reading it. Each page is filled with very interesting insight and content and I’m very glad to be able to push if you will, and steer my writing craft thanks to this readings.

So if you have never read it, I highly recommend it to: Steering the Craft, by Ursula, K. Le Guin. It’s given me a lot of points to think about my writing craft. And what about you? What’s happening in a rainy in BC? 

Crystal Hunt: Well, rainy-floody BC has been a little bit of a mess geographically, so it’s a good time to stay inside and stay warm and stay dry and, but work on all of our writerly things. So just a shout out to all the people who have been displaced from their homes, by the flooding and who are struggling through all of this. There will be better days ahead. We’re all looking forward to those. As far as what’s new out Create with co-authors book is live in ebook and print formats, both paperback and hardcover by the time this episode is live. So we’ll have a link in the show notes and if you are thinking about collaborating with anyone on a project for writing in whatever kind of genre and there’s all kinds of stuff to help you sort out what should be in a working agreement and you know, what kinds of things you need in writing, how you can build shared worlds, how all of that stuff works. So highly recommend you check that out. It’s part of our Creative Academy Guides for writers series and yeah, it’s now available to get your hands on. So go find one. My nano experiment was also an interesting one.

I was planning to finish Elfed, which was intended to be a short novella and has actually expanded itself to be the full 50,000 words for nano. So that was an adventure in November and it is completed, has been through a round of rewrites already. I managed to write almost 50,000 words in the first 15 days of November, which meant I spent basically all day every day at my computer, but it was kind of a fun thing to do. I haven’t fully immersed myself like that in a very long time. So I have managed to squeeze in a whole week on rewriting and also it’s been through a developmental editor. We’ve all been doing a super quick turnaround because I do want it out for Christmas. And by the time you’re listening to this, the copy edits are finished and we’re just doing final layouts and everything to get ready to upload it so that it can come out. I believe December 15th is the magic day for that one. So super excited about that and same time. I was really struggling to prioritize because the SiWC, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference replays were available. So the master classes and the workshops and stuff from the Surrey Conference were only available until a month after the conference ended. So that was the same deadline as the book deadline. So I did manage to squeeze in a handful of workshops that I watched and took copious amounts of notes on when I had finished my words for the day. Switch gears. So one of them was particularly interesting, a masterclass from Donald Mass and it was on dichotomies and that was really interesting. Just looking at using kind of opposites in your work and a lot of interesting prompting questions that really got me thinking about things. And I used that to drive a lot of the manuscript revisions that I did on the last story. And also integrated a bunch of that into the planning process as well for the next books.

So once I did all of that hustling for November, I was pretty ready for a break. So we did manage to squeeze in a couple of days off, and that meant no internet, no distractions, I outlined the next couple of books that are part of the series that follows Elfed so that I would have The Lost Boys is the name of the miniseries.

I would have the next couple of books already for that while my brain was fully in those characters and in that part of the world, and also did some thinking and planning about what I want this coming year to look like. So you’ll hear a little more about that in a coming episode, but for the moment I really was just kind of reevaluating priorities and figuring out how I want to spend my time over this next year.

Now we’re going to talk a little bit about time management and things like that, as well as we dive into our interview with Ben and then we’ll be back after. 

How to write long, successful series

Michele Amitrani: Okay. Ben, we are so happy to have you on the show. Today, we’re going to talk about series, how to write a long and successful one. And I just would like to start by asking you this question. You know, some authors write books, other authors write series, and there is a very selected few who write very long books in very long series. Besides time, the planning of that series, and of course, the hours that you have to spend writing them, what do you think makes you know, a long successful series? 

Ben Galley: Very good question. I think it’s kind of like a combination of things. So for me, yes. I mean, you mentioned the planning, you mentioned the time sat in the chair. That’s definitely a huge part of it.

Otherwise I would say. It does take a bit of dedication. So it does take a bit of a commitment because you might get one or two books in maybe three books in, if you’re doing a more than a trilogy and you just suddenly think, hmm… can I do this? Is this like, do I have the actual stamina to complete this race?

So that can kind of sometimes be a bit daunting and to me to push through that as much as possible. Otherwise I think I know you said apart from the planning, but that is huge. I would say you know, it’s one of those things where you kind of really have to think really far ahead, often years ahead, and kind of anticipate, you know, the way that it kind of your ideas change, the way that you kind of think, right! This is the kernel of the idea and how is it going to grow and then how is it going to grow once it’s kind of, you know, you know, in book one and book too. So yeah, I would say that’s, I know you said apart from it, but it is a huge part of it, but I just can’t ignore it. I would also say, you know, in terms of, you know, being a self-publisher or being someone who’s putting their books out there on their own, and we’ll see, there’s a lot of work between those you know, the writing stages of that series.

So let’s say if you’re putting out three or four or five books, mostly you know, you’re going to have to put in a lot of work of admin of the actual publishing, cover design, things like that. So that for a lot of authors can be quite daunting. Especially when you’re first starting out because, you know, self publishing, even though it’s been kind of standardized is still one of those kind of fields where there’s a lot of questions, a lot of things to ask a lot of, you know, ways to do it.

Obviously every author is different. Every book is different to certain extent. And so, yeah, that can be quite scary, I’d say to no one author just first starting out and you know, obviously if you’re committing yourself to a series there’s a lot of self publishing to do, and I suppose you could say, in terms of the marketing as well. That’s quite daunting. So if you are self-publishing and doing it yourself, and then obviously moving through those books, you’re going to be learning a lot about marketing as you go as well. So yeah, it’s kind of a multifaceted job being an author, which is quite fun, you know, in this day and age, but at the same time, there is a lot of work that comes with it.

Which I personally find fun. I’m a bit of a, kind of a sadist because when it comes to my, to do list and so I think, you know, I kind of revel in it, but at the same time, you know, I’ve spoken to work with a lot of authors to adjust just bamboozled, you know, from the outset. So yes, you’re committing yourself to a series then t could be a bit daunting, but my advice on that one is just press through. Keep going step have been easiest. There’ve been more exciting. You know, now is basically the best time to be in author as far as I’m concerned. So yeah, if you activate yourself to a 4 or 5, 6, 10 books areas like Brandon Sanderson or Steven Erickson in the fantasy world, just keep going, no matter what.

Ben’s process when planning a book

Michele Amitrani: Just a very quick follow-up question to that. I know that you plan your serious, at least that’s what you said in one of your YouTube videos. Do you think that there might be some component that are like pantsing? I know you mentioned Brandon Sanderson and in one of his videos, he says that you usually plot or outline the plot to the story, but he sometimes discovery write his characters.

Is that something that you can relate to? 

Ben Galley: That’s strange because I’ve always been, if you’d asked me, like anytime of the day, I would say I am a planner because I kind of write anywhere between 2000 to 5000 and 10,000 words of a plan before I start writing. So I always liked knowing where I’m going. I like having the characters written out.

I like history is being written out. I like even, almost, I mean, I always work on a working title as well. So like the title is actually something I come up with first, for some reason, just always been the way. So yeah, I kind of plan pretty much everything I can. And yet when I actually get down to the writing, especially when it gets between sort of, you know, chapter 1, 2, 3, and 4, I kind of plan out almost to a paragraph level or at least kind of, you know, sort of a page level where this happens.

This happens, this person says this, this person says this, et cetera. But otherwise, once I start getting, I would say probably past that to the middle of the book, I start kind of switching to the other side of the spectrum where I’m thinking, okay, I’m going to just see what happens. So I think everyone does a bit of discovery writing at some point.

I think a bit of planning happens at some point as well. But otherwise, yeah, I kind of, I personally extensively plan, but also find myself discovery writing between the sort of plan ideas. And that’s, that’s actually, when, you know, a lot of fun kind of happens because you suddenly, you know, you plan a character and he’s he buys this square on the alone, that matrix, he might, you know, have this characteristic and as soon as you put them on the page, it’s like, oh, actually they’ve got a mind of themselves. You know, they want to do this. They don’t want to conform to this plot that I spent hours and days writing, this plan I’ve got to set out and they kind of just come up with their own ideas. And I think that to me is a mark of a good character, whether I’ve done accidentally or intentionally.

And I think, once that happens, I’m like, yeah, We’re going to see what this word leads, we’re going to see where this character goes. So there’s that sort of discovery based on the plan, I think is the best way to put it. 

How to keep readers engaged between releases

Crystal Hunt: Very cool. And so, as you mentioned, all this planning and all of this development and writing these big long books is not a quick process.

So definitely in it for the long haul. So how much time is usually between releases in your world? How often would you be putting out a new book?

Ben Galley: I think ideally I’ve kind of aimed for, I mean, that’s the thing I’ve done. Release schedules over over the years. So for instance, with the Chasing Graves trilogy, I actually did the rapid release.

So I kind of wrote one, two, and most of three, by the time I was launching one. But that was quite a scramble actually to get that out. So over a hundred days I launched three books which was very stressful. I’m not gonna lie. It was kind of something, you know, I’d seen a few other authors do, and I have since seen a couple of walls as do as well.

And I think me and Rob J Hayes tried to do basically in the same year. And like, if you ask guides versus you probably get the same…(shaking) Sort of response, which is, it was fun at the time to a certain point, but you’re literally just tripling the effort in a short space of time. So, yeah, that was kind of fun.

Ideally… I mean, I try and keep to. Six to 12 months in terms of release. So keeps, you know, my readers happy. You know, people can read a book in a night. It takes me anywhere from a month to three to four months maybe to write something. And so yeah, kind of a disparity between the amount of effort it takes, the amount of effort it takes to enjoy it, or, you know absorb it.

So yeah, I try to keep my readers happy as much as possible, but yeah, it’s something that, you know, kind of varies a lot through the publishing industry. And you’ll see a lot of authors who are kind of they might announce a deal. You don’t have to sign a deal with Orbit or Tor, et cetera. And there’ll be like, yeah.

Coming out in 2023. So as we’ll see it redesigned kind of used to a longer gap when it comes to traditional publishing. There’s probably a couple of authors I could mention that everyone is basically bored of waiting for. Not going to name any names. You know, so I think that people are used to longer release schedules in general, you know, from the kind of traditional publishing industry even, you know, films and sequels and things like that.

Like we’re going to have to wait a couple of years for Dune 2 which I’m very, very upset about. So I try and kind of beat that as much as possible. And I try and kind of… I wouldn’t say rapid release all the time. I try and keep my release schedule is very tight. I’m always writing. It always comes first.

So yeah, it’s basically the, the main kind of drive behind what I do is, is to get books out there ASAP with, you know, without sacrificing the quality. So if a book takes longer, it takes longer. But yeah, it’s kind of strange. I mean, this year I’ve written, I think two or three, I think, yeah, two and a half, you could say to an off books, you know, those two I’m going to be out for, you know, I would say middle of 2022 is that year or not yet?

2022. So yeah, it’s kind of I would say roughly sticking to the six to 12 months. 

Things Ben would have done differently if he could go back in time

Crystal Hunt: And so besides the stress of the rapid releasing when you were thinking about your series, both from the writing and the publishing side of things, is there anything you wish you could undo now that you’ve learned certain lessons or if you could wind back time and then sort of get a do-over?

Is there anything that really stands out to you that you wish you had done differently or would change if you were going back to do it again? 

Ben Galley: Good question. I think, I mean, it’s, it’s strange. Cause  I like to say to the authors I work with and help to market and self publish it,,, I always say to them, like I’ve made every mistake, so you don’t have to.

So I do have, I’ve got a spoiled for choice in that one. I mean, yeah. I’ve been at escape, so it was 11. Yeah. 11 years this year. And you know, for instance, I didn’t really edit my first book. Confession! It was a big mistake and I, you know, that is the number one rule as well. You know, when you start. Integrates with any book is, you know, professionalism is key.

Quality is key. And so, you know, I wrote a good story, but it wasn’t polished enough. Let’s say so. Yeah. When I first kind of launched in 2010, there was a few, a few bad reviews, a few reviews mentioning, you know, things like spelling, grammar, et cetera. So I wish, I think, you know, just to give myself a bit a bit of a better start, I would say, yeah, go back and have the money essentially to edit and maybe do a brief proofread pass as well. A couple of passes on that first book, because it just took me extra time and they kind of you know, when you launch first impressions are I’m pretty important. So, I mean, for me, it was kind of a thing where the first couple of reviews, I mean, there’s always more readers, which is great, but at the same time, the first read is to get him across me, but not as impressed as I want them to be, which you know, I’ve improved on in the last 10 years, you know, I’ve written the rest of the series then kind of gone back and rewritten it, and then re edited it while it was kind of live. But it would have saved just a bit, you know, a bit of time, but of effort. And I think it would have got me a few, a few more kind of good reviews from the, from the start. Otherwise I’m trying to think… I am thinking about redoing the Scarlet star trilogy. So, I mean, I, I could say I would go back and do better covers for the Scarlet Star Trilogy. My weird west kind alternate history series. And so, yeah, it’s kind of something that I’m doing now, but again, you don’t, you don’t know that when you launch, for instance, you know, things change.

Your tastes change as well as the market changes. So to me, it was kind of, they were the good covers at the time. But now I want to completely scrap them and relaunched them. And yeah, they’re not bad covers. They just don’t scream fantasy. They just screen wild west and some dude with a gun. So yeah, I would probably go back and change those.

I would also say. I just got difficult cause I, if I could go back and just tell myself all the marketing that I know now would be quite useful for that view. Almost like a cheat code rather than something I change. Yeah. Otherwise, I mean, it’s, I think, yeah, the journey is as important as the destination or, or the beginning.

So I think for me, it’s been a great ride. It’s been a great time. Just, it keeps improving and changing and, and pointing upward somehow. So yeah. I probably wouldn’t change much farther. 

Michele Amitrani: Yeah. And it’s nice that you mentioned, like since the timing being a self publisher gives you a bit more dexterity.

You can decide what to do, how to do, if you want to course correct. It’s going to be way faster than you know, traditionally published author, which is nice. You were mentioning if I’m not mistaken a new rewrote The Written, right? Just the first one? Or Pale King and Death Star as well?

Ben Galley: That’s it. That was the first four.

KDP Select vs Wide publishing: Ben’s experience

Michele Amitrani: Yeah. So that’s nice. Like you can course correct. You can change things that you maybe don’t like, or as you were mentioning, sometimes taste, change, marketing things change. And regarding this, like the marketing, I know that in the beginning, the Emaneska Series was wide at least a few years ago. I remember you being on Kobo and all the other stores and just some of our listeners are wide and Crystal and I are actually doing an experiment on the wide front.

Yeah. I was curious to know if there was a specific reason that brought you to put your catalog on KU, or it was like a consideration marketing wise, revenue wise, visibility wise. What made you change that?

Ben Galley: Um, it was a couple of things really. Yeah, when I first started out, I mean, it was kind of the age of Smashwords, which everyone was kind of getting into and using as an ebook distributes a lot, kind of got in on, on that, I would say almost ground floor. So yeah, for me, when I first started out wide was kind of the only option to, well, not the only option, but it was kind of main option as it’s kind of what you did.

It was basically the self-publishing kind of roadmap. As to get your book out there in front of as many people as possible give yourself, you know, more visibility and things like that. So it was kind of from a marketing point of view, you know, you’re on more shelves, you’re on more stores from an SEO point of view, you come up with more, you know, search results.

So. It made sense quite a lot, you know, when I first started out and at the same time, you know, KU, you had kind of peeked, it was kind of a flex move from Amazon when Kobo Barnes and Nobles nook came out. They were like, right. We need exclusivity. And so, yeah, that was kind of like a, no, they were kind of grabbing things and just securing things, I would say from Amazon’s point of view.

So I was kind of a bit wary of it. And through all the groups and also kind of communities, I was part of and I’m still part of everyone was saying, you know, I’m making X amount and this amount from KU, from the page reads. And you know, it got to a point, I think it was about two or three years ago now where I’m thinking you know, once you get out to about, I think it was a 12 books. Yeah, probably about 10 or 12 books at that point and that’s a lot of admin. I love my job. I love being an author, but there are some downsides to it. And one of them is the kind of management of those books. You will know, you know, like for instance, you notice a spelling mistake in your description or your, your book blurb or something like that.

So you log on and you change it and you go through three screens, you hit save and you get the emails. Uploaded and it’s available, et cetera. You know, that times 10 or 12 was not the worst thing in the world, but it was a little bit annoying or at least kind of just just confusing sometimes when you’ve got 12 books to change across, let’s say four or five platforms.

So it just it’s long. So I was kind of, you know, on enamored with it, but I kind of knew as a downside of the publishing kind of journey. And so thinking about KU is kind of a learning from that point of the adamant production to suddenly thinking, right, I just have one platform to deal with instead of five.

And you know, it is a strong battle. It’s the biggest bookstore in, I would say in Canada, US, UK, Australia, I kind of gets beaten when it goes into Asia and other places. But at the same time I was on is, you know, it’s a beast, it’s absolutely massive, you know, crushes most markets it’s in. So it is the best market to be in for an author.

It’s definitely, you know, there’s authors that make way more than a salary. We’re talking six figures a month sometimes for top authors. So, you know, the possibilities are there, the opportunities were there and yeah, so I just kind of made the switch I took was I think at that time, Yeah, I would say about 10 to 12 books.

So I took time 12 books off-wide and just kind of you know, ticked all the buttons and the, and the check boxes in the back end Kindle unlimited. And to be honest, you know, as she’s awake I would say practically doubled it was something where, you know, the page reads and having a backlist and having series and long books.

I mean, fantasy is great for that reason because we happened to write books most of the time, you know, I think my longest is about 210,000. So that to me is, you know and, and for other authors is a great reason to go into Kindle Unlimited because, you know, an actual, a full read based on the pages is actually more than let’s say the RRP, you know, the actual unit price that you can let you to price the sale price that you set for an ebook.

You know, that for me is usually 3,99 or 4,99, but I could make on, on some of my larger books, you know, 5, 6, 7, and onwards on a full read based on, you know, getting paid for page reads. So yeah, it’s actually quite lucrative for me. Like I said, it’s all my income double and let’s year two or three years ago now.

And I haven’t looked back.

Key marketing concepts when you want to self-publish to make a living

Crystal Hunt: Yeah. I think what you were saying about limiting admin time, particularly with a larger catalog and so many different spaces to manage and not just the admin time, but optimizing what you’re producing for all those different platforms and making sure that you are getting reviews and doing all the extra stuff that goes along with each of those, it, it ripples exponentially, for sure.

And when, when we look at like managing of time, you also have social media and marketing stuff in the mix. And so. Kind of marketing things related. One is how do you protect your writing time or how do you balance the sort of marketing and business side of things with your creative creator hat on?

How do you do that?

Ben Galley: Good question. I mean, yeah, it’s something I always say when I’m working with authors or just giving advice to fellow writers, it’s: writing has to come first. So, I mean, the best marketing you’re ever going to do is the next book, because it’s also revenue it’s, you know, continuation of the story.

If you’re writing a series, it’s the next installment the people are waiting. Yeah, that’s essentially the best marketing you could ever do. There’s no way around it. And a lot of authors are like: I’ve written a book! Now I got to market it and I always go, well, yeah, you need to write a second book, which is kind of daunting for a lot of people cause there’s a lot of work to get the first book out and otherwise, you know, it is, it is the best marketing technique. You also see, for instance, every book I put out I do see a revenue lift as well, you know, in terms of extra visibility and other places on the shelf and then read through two other series.

So I always say writing comes first, no matter what, you know, even if you wake up and you’re thinking I have to do this social media posts or send this email out, or I need to contact this person, put that aside, sit down and do the writing first. An hour, two hours, three hours, four hours, whatever. You know, a lot of authors also still have\ full-time jobs and you know, families, et cetera.

And it’s, it’s very difficult. A lot of people only have maybe an hour or two a day if that, you know, to kind of work on that author dream. So, you know, when you do have that time, even if it’s just an hour or two writing should come first, or at least be 50% minimum of, you know, your time to make sure you’re pushing that forward.

But otherwise yeah, the marketing side of things is… I always describe it as an amorphous blob which is kind of true because you know, the self publishing side of things is standardized. You know, it’s kind of, yeah it’s written down and I would say almost stone at this point. And it was what I used to teach people all the time, which is, you know get a cover designer, get an editor, get a, I know someone who can convert your word file into an ebook format or, you know, print ready.

For your print on demand, sorry about that. Print on demand provide as such single responsible KDP print and you know, rinse and repeat. It’s basically standardized. So when it comes to the marketing, a lot of people are thinking, Right. I need to get email list. I need to somehow build a website. I need to get on about five or six different social media platforms. So that is very, very overwhelming. And so I also say to authors: you don’t have to do everything. So that’s the other thing I recommend is basically sticking to the marketing methods or the marketing channels that you like, the aren’t going to basically drive you mental because you don’t like.

And you’ll try to, you know, putting a lot of effort into a platform that just isn’t for you. So for instance, you know, if you don’t produce a photo or video con image content in general, then you know, Instagram not going to be the place for you, but a lot of author I would say kind of forums, a lot of, you know, places like Facebook groups are always saying, you need to do this and you need to do this. You need to do this. And so, yeah, my big recommendation is to step back from that and think what actually A works for you, you know, what are your skills? What are your, you know, what is your time? You know, your abilities look like, and then go from there and just add that marketing in as you need.

Don’t just basically start out thinking, oh my God, I’ve got to do everything. You know, have fun with it. You know, with being an author is the best job in the world. You know, astronauts: close second. That’s fine. But we all know the writing books and just making up lies and dragons and magic for a living is the best job.

You know, it’s like a childhood dream. So we don’t want to kind of, you know, layer the, the painful sort of admin and statistical stuff that comes along with marketing. And I, you know, I was in marketing for a long time before I was an author. It was the job I was doing when I went full time on, on writing.

And it was, you know, doing as a job is even worse to a certain extent because you know how deep you can go and you know, all the platforms that are out there and it’s sort of, it is daunting and it is hard to manage and most people aren’t marketers. So I was kind of lucky in that respect and having a background in it sort of, yeah, I know SEO, I know Google ads and I know Facebook ads, et cetera.

And so, yeah, it’s an easier cuff for me, but it’s very, very hard for lots of authors. So yeah. Have fun with it, you know, pick and choose. You don’t have to get on Twitter. For example, you don’t need a Facebook page. There are, there are authors out there that, you know, kind of mix and match with their marketing.

They are making six figures a month or six figures a year, you know, very least so yeah, you can have. And balance it absolutely around the writing, you know, for me the best marketing platforms, and people say Twitter doesn’t sell books. It absolutely does. No, not directly, but in conversation, you know? It will. Slowly but surely, you know, I  kind of work around what’s called the funnel, which is, you know, you kind of you’re doing a lot of work at the top of the funnel to get people in, and then you have, you know, the sort of funnel of those like, oh, I do this and I, oh, I also. And did you know, I have a Patreon and you’re moving people down the funnel to something that looks like it a superfan is going to do the marketing for you. I find that also alleviates a lot of the stress as well as having kind of a good marketing strategy behind it. But yeah, it’s, you know, Twitter for me Facebook ads, AMS ads. What else I do? I do. Yeah, a lot of, kind of just social media in general, a lot of you know, fun stuff like competitions, promotions.

Yeah. Let’s stick to that, but yeah. 

How different streams of revenues can really make a difference for an author

Michele Amitrani: Yeah. And you just mentioned something that is going to be part of the next question which is maybe you might’ve suspected it having different streams of revenues. And we think like it can be essential for authors and it doesn’t matter if they are legacy published or a hybrid, just because I think it gives you more options and more things that you can rely on.

I do know that you have your books in different format. It’s not just ebook. It’s also paperback, hardcover, you have also audiobooks. And I also know that you have your Patreon page and that you also use Kickstarter. That’s basically another way where you can get revenues. And it’s something that you don’t have necessarily to think about because you already have a following and people that are interested in sustaining you. First, how can you manage doing all of this and not dying, which is important to know because everyone has 24 hours.

So that would be interesting to know, how you manage because that’s admin work. And that’s a lot of, I think, brainpower to put everything on the specific spot. And then at which point do you think an author should really start thinking, okay, this is my story. But actually, this is not just a story. This is my intellectual property.

So how can I use it? How can I leverage it? 

Ben Galley: Sure. Yeah. So in terms of managing my time and I mean, like I said, the writing comes first, but in the marketing time, you know, I always have a goal, so I always have, essentially, you know, whatever I do marketing wise, I am thinking, will this do something for me?

You know, what is my goal here? So, you know, everyone just puts out a tweet or a meme on Facebook and things like that. That’s often throw in marketing. It is bizarre. How will it work? Sometimes I literally. Confession. I had nothing to post. What was it? Monday or day? Week. Yeah, Monday, Tuesday is something like that.

Or even Sunday, I had nothing to post on Sunday, but you know, I try and keep to one, a social media post today on all platforms, which is something I’ve kind of grown into. So I wouldn’t, if anyone’s listening to this thinking, oh, I need to do one post a day. You don’t, it kind of grow into that, you know, you don’t have to it’s absolutely fine.

You know, some people don’t have social media, it was almost has done a social media at all. So, you know, do whatever’s comfortable for you and then kind of, you know, something works, you know, grow with it. But yeah, I do one post a day and no idea what I was going to post. I just thought, how can I make this meme work.

It was just a meme on, I think it was a… Was: English is what happens when Vikings learn Latin and use it to shot the Germans, something like that, just a funny meme and, like, 300 likes, 400 likes or something like that, which is big for me. It’s not, you know, something would get thousands. But yeah, it just sometimes, you know, the effort that you put into it is not directly proportional to the amount you get out of it.

So you I can, I spent days on a piece of content and it’s got like two likes, and then I take a piece of art or a piece of… a meme from somewhere and it just does incredibly. So yeah, it’s all about figuring out what is the most effective and what is going to achieve your goal.

And, you know, you can be quite clever on it. And that is part of the learning process as well with marketing. I mean, you know, if you have a marketing background, like I did, you come into with a certain kind of level of knowledge, you know, you know what you’re looking for, you know, this. Tick boxes to tick.

But yeah, there’s a lot of learning in the, in the kind of I would say ongoing marketing world where you suddenly like, oh, this actually is what resonates with my audience. Okay. I’ll post more of that, that sort of thing. So, you know, it’s when you’re first starting out, there’s a lot of time spent on that kind of testing and optimization and figuring out that sort of thing.

And I would say, you know, takes a lot of time. As you kind of grow, as you improve, you’ll find, you know, certain things will, will make a lot more sense and you’re suddenly thinking, you know, three years and you’re like, oh yeah, Facebook ads, done, you know, whereas it might take you a day or two to kind of figure it out.

So I would say, yeah, I kind of manage my time mainly around what is I would say, yeah, gonna get to get me the most results. You know, I’m not, it’s not like you become this sort of shrewd moneylender like Scrooge or anything like that, where you’re like, I will only focus my time on what makes me money.

But to a point, you know, a lot of, a lot of authors come into into this just wanting to write books, which is absolutely fine, you know? Yeah, very admirable. And it’s, you know, where we all start essentially, but if you’re in this to be a business, to make money, to be a successful author, you do have to think about it, you know, analytically truly to a point and like a business.

So yeah, that’s why I always go into any marketing activity and so my kind of scheduling with, you know, this is, it has to be, you know, this is the most important thing, and this has to happen now. Sometimes there’s a Facebook post. Sometimes it’s all emails. Sometimes it’s something that you can pick up on that.

And yeah, so it’s kind of I think very, I would think objectively. And also, I think very kind of businesslike about my marketing rather than at the same time. I wouldn’t say rather that, but at the same time as having fun with it, you know, social media is fun. You get to create loads of random stuff, put it out there and having a conversations with people.

So I, you know, I tend to focus on the things that A, worked for me, but B, that I also enjoy. No one really wants to do keyword research for Amazon marketing services, AMS. Yeah. It’s, you know, part of the job, but it’s not like something, you know, you put it down on your to do list and you’re like, yeah, I can’t wait for that to get around to just sitting down and combing through Amazon.

So yeah, otherwise now I’ve forgotten the second part of your question… 

Michele Amitrani: Revenues and how can you leverage you IP. 

Leveraging your intellectual property

Ben Galley: That’s it. Perfect. So with… you know, leverage, leveraging your IP, it’s very interesting because a lot of authors to get the, once you create a book, there’s a huge amount of, you know, rights in general that you can leverage and you can sell to X, Y, Z, lots of different things.

So for example, if I create, you know, your average 150,000 word fantasy book, and, you know, not only do I have the ability to publish it. I have the ability to publish it in three or four different formats. So I’ve got hardcover, which, you know, never underestimate the hardback. Everyone loves it. It’s like a collectors item.

People go mad for hardback. It’s great. Otherwise you’ve got, you know, eBooks, you know, quick and easy. That’s where I make most of my revenue. I’d say 60 to 70% for ebook. So yeah, it’s honestly global. It’s, it’s, it’s national, it’s easily downloaded. It’s cheaper. And yeah, it’s literally revolutionary.

You know, for the book publishing industry in general and obviously your paperbacks as well, trade paperbacks, then you’ve got things like auiodiobooks, which is great which is, you know, audiobook is a huge industry and always has been, and it’s continuing to grow. And so, yeah, you can see a lot of people.

In fact, you know, I see readers all the time, I’ll advertise a book or I’ll put a Facebook ad out there or something like that. And a lot of the time, the main question is: is it an audio? You know, can I get this an audio book? And so, yeah, it’s become kind of, I would say, less of a secondary kind of publishing medium and more, basically a primary medium.

Whereas, like we have to get the audio book out with the ebook, the paperback is part of the self-publishing process. It’s very daunting to a lot of people. It does cost a lot of money. If you’re going to, you know, can’t buy your narrator, there are platforms like ACX, which you know, you do a royalty split 50, 50 within the rates.

So there’s almost, no upfront cost, which is good. So you’ve got different options to do that, but yeah, it’s all about the formats when you start off, but then also you can sell the rights. So often you’re going to, you know, deal with the publishing. Let’s say you hold off on the audio book. There is an option to either do it via yourself or an agent to go to an audio producer, such as Recorded Books, Podium or Audible, and you’re able to actually, you know, hopefully get bought or, you know, sell your audio book rights to someone like that. And that essentially gives you either a good royalty deal or possibly an advance. And that’s a way of getting kind of a cash injection as well, that you’re able to put into marketing, or they’ll see, put into your yourself as a aalary or what have you. And so, yeah, the actual sale of the rights can be a great revenue stream and the same goes as we’ll see, it’s a much, much harder the things like a TV and film rights, which is again, that’s an opportunity for another sale. It’s another kind of, a lot of rights that you could sell based on what you’ve created.

You’ve got things like a radio reproduction, radio series, things like that graphic, novel rights, adaptation rights, all sorts of different things that you can sell to someone, which is great. Translation rights is one I should revert that should say as well. Again, slightly more difficult. Sometimes you need an agent to do it. But it’s not unheard of for people for foreign translators or sorry, foreign publishers to reach out. And so, you know, we’d like to buy the translation rights for this and that. So that is possible as well. So yeah, it’s something a lot of authors forget about is the, the opportunity of your copyright, basically that you have.

And I would say, you know, in terms of general other revenue streams we talked about going wide, you know, going wide does increase your revenue streams. It does increase your ability to be seen, your shelf presence, you could call it. Whereby, you know, you are more discoverable and you know, if you’ve read on Kobo and Google and Apple and stuff like that, they can find you, you know. So those are the revenue streams.

I’d also say, you know, you mentioned a Patreon there. I think yeah. Patreon is a, is a big favorite of mine. I think it’s been slow in the uptake for a lot of authors in general. For instance, I just saw Mark Lawrence. He, it just kind of made us say debut and Patreon, but he did the other week now, but yeah, it’s, it’s a great way to I would say monetize your abilities at the same time as provide a monthly income.

So, you know, a lot of people use Patreon on a monthly basis where for instance, I think, is it Fundalise on there as well? And she’s, you know, she’s raking it in on a monthly basis. So, you know, for an author who gets an advance and then, you know, royalties, which aren’t the most predictable you know, kind of that traditional deal for a self-publisher he was trying to create a reliable monthly income. Then yet Patreon is a great way to do it, especially if you’re able to create stuff on a weekly or monthly basis, even if it’s just like a serialized story or you’re writing something and can share a chapter a week where you’ve got some really cool stuff going on in the background, which you can give an insight to, you know, for, for one or two or $3 minimum, it’s basically like a Netflix subscription.

You’re subscribing to an author or to a channel essentially on YouTube. But it’s, it’s an author who’s creating, I don’t know, maybe some art in the background, like I said, we could chat to as well. Have you. And it’s a way of creating, stable, predictable income which is something that is lacking. As we said in the book world, you know, stable income, predictable income, it’s the dream essentially.

So Patreon is a way of achieving that, I would say quicker and in a very easy way as well. You know, Patreon is a great platform and on Kickstarter as well. I mean, a lot, a lot of authors will use Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform to generate almost there… So I saw an old to do this recently in a fantasy world where they have written the book, or maybe they just have the concept for the book, and then they launch a Kickstarter to fund the idea, to fund their own time, to fund the creation of the book editors, cover designers type setting and you know, ebook format is so, you know, they will use that as their own advance, essentially, which is a great idea. It can work. It can all see net you a decent amount of money, depending on the success of your Kickstarter and your also your marketing abilities as well.

And yeah, it’s something I’ve been thinking about. Cause it’s nice to fund stuff before you do it. But yeah, and also, you know, the traditional world, if you’re going down that route as well, if you have a great agent, you can also, you know, write something, sell it, you know, again, advance for it.

I’ll say it’s easier to, it’s easier said than done in the traditional industry. But you know, that’s essentially how it works. You wrote something and an agent will put it out there or a publisher will take it and you will get X, Y, or Z for, you know, in return for those rights. So that’s kind of more traditional way of doing it.

Crystal Hunt: Thank you. And one more question. Do you feel like there have been any clear tipping points in your career so far? And if there are, what do you think contributed to those? Or what were the sort of conditions around those? 

Ben Galley: That’s a good question. I think I sort of, I mean, the whole self publishing revolution happened just before.

What was, it became kind of huge after me the same time, you know, KDP was launched in (inaudible). So that was, you know I was wading into the world of publishing and being like, we’re here to screw stuff up. So, you know, if I first published in 2010 so you can say, you know, it’s not like I missed any boat.

And the boat was still, sailing in that point. So doc, I should say. So yeah, I would say that that was a huge turning point for self publishing in general. I mean, it, literally, they would ask to put a book right in front of the reader. No questions asked for free. It was revolutionary! If Amazon hadn’t done it, someone else would have done it, I would say in the next two years.

And so I think that in general, kind of a cop-out answer in terms of self publishing. That was a huge turning point for me, personally and professionally. Yeah, for me personally and professionally, I would say when I kind of really realized to kind of really realize that yeah, the book is the best marketing, like we said, so when I stared out I published my initial trilogy of four books by, I think it’s 2012 or 2013. So four books in two and a half years, three years. So I knew at, in terms of, you know, getting the books out there that was important. Then I spent a long time marketing and just doing the marketing stuff without writing. And I think that was a big moment where I suddenly thought: No! The writing is the most important. So I realized that for myself. I said: no, no, no. I need to be spending a lot more of my days writing and that sort of thing. 

Otherwise it was at that time that I realized, you know, staying in your own brand and staying in your own brand and genre at least initially is very important as well. So not a major sort of Eureka moment or turning point.

I wrote four north fantasy books, you know, very epic, very dark, very Game fo Thrones, very kind of John Grins, Stephen Erickson sort of stuff, and then decided for some unknown reason to write weird west ultimate history, 1867 based fantasy with blood magic, which, you know, it’s still in the fantasy vein, but you know, for the north kind of classic fan or more classic fantasy fans side accrued and the last four books, it was quite a curve ball to feel like: you liked north fantasy? Here’s 1867 Wyoming. So it doesn’t really, you know, it doesn’t really come to line up. And you know, that’s what I would say, one of the mistakes I made, again, not, you know, not something that has ruined me, not something that I can change and, you know, people like variety in a backlist, so it’s great now, but starting out, you know, trying to build a brand, you know, dividing that brand into both fantasy author and then sort of, kind of weird west fantasy author is, you know, it was a little confusing for readers.

So I think I could have basically stuck to a bit of a Norse, epic brand to start off with, and then got a little bit, you know, experimental. And I think that would have helped in terms of my marketing. I don’t want to revise that later on. So I wouldn’t quite say as a turning point, but I did, you know, it did definitely change things and turn things around and, you know, once I realized that what else?

That’s a good question. I think going full time as well, you know, kind of really having that as a goal and wanting to make myself you know, fully self-employed from being an author. I mean, I’m also a consultant at the same time. I help other authors to self publish and market their books.

And I’ve been doing that since basically since I started 2011, 2012. And it’s, it’s an, it’s a really wonderful job just chatting with authors and helping authors and, you know, getting books out there that otherwise might not get into the market. And so, yeah, I think, turning point for me was going full time or full self-employed in 2015, and not just devoting all my time to writing, but just, yeah.

Instead of like two, three hours a day, I used to have a nine to five job come home and buy six or seven write till midnight. Rinse and repeat. So it, yeah, obviously it’s, that was a big turning point in terms of the amount of time that I can dedicate to it and yeah, the success I saw in general.

Obviously you have the focusing yourself a hundred percent on something is likely to succeed and yeah, it’s getting there.

Michele Amitrani: Yeah, I think this is another of the things that we hit at in interview. If you have an objective and it’s clear and you have the brainpower to do it and you can understand that’s the important thing then you can go really a long way, fast, even faster that you wanted to. And on that line, if you like to streamline the listeners to some place where to find you, do you have like a website, you do have a website that you’re everywhere on social media, but there is a specific place that you would like the listeners to go.

Ben Galley: Yeah, sure. I’ll get a recently signed out for, I said some sometime in January, this year I signed up for a link trade. So that’s like the easiest way to find me has got all my links all in one place. Otherwise you have but otherwise. LinkTree Ford slash Ben Balley.

Now you can find my books. You can find all my social media platforms. You can find me at YouTube Patreon, all the, all the, all the good stuff. Yeah, that’s me. Easy to find, or just Google me often works as well. I apparently take up a page or so. Yeah. I’m happy with that. 

Michele Amitrani: And we’ll make sure to put that in the show notes.

I just want to really take some time to thank you for your time. It was really, really, really interesting 

Ben Galley: Thank you very much for having me. Yeah. It’s been great to chat to you and yeah, I love talking books. I love talking and publishing and marketing as well. So any excuse I get? Yeah. I’m happy. Thank you so much.

Crystal Hunt: Thanks Ben. All right everybody. So we hope that you go and check out the links for Ben’s stuff. We will, of course have those in the show notes, and we hope you enjoy today’s show. Remember to hit that subscribe button, wherever you’re listening to the podcast and to visit us at for show notes and links to the books, resources and tools that we spoke about in today’s episode].

Feel free to hit that Buy us a coffee button if you find the show helpful. Every contribution helps us keep the shows coming and keep our productions ads free. Until next time. Happy writing everybody! 

Michele Amitrani: Happy writing everyone. Thanks for listening.