Laurie Starkey is an indie author dynamo. She’s written 88 works of fiction in 20 months. Thirty of those 88 books were created as a ghostwriter. The other 50, she wrote and produced under several pen names, including Ali Parker, Kate Thomas and L. A. Starkey.
Starkey writes in the Young Adult, paranormal New Adult, Erotica and Romance categories, and her highest sales are Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance and Romantic Suspense novels.
I spoke with Starkey about her marketing strategies and production schedule.
This is part one in a two-part series.
BB: What is your business model?
LS: The business model is that when I start a series, I put out a book every three months. I released 14 books this summer [in several series]. When I write as Ali Parker, I do spin-offs. When creating a world, I make sure that there is an extra character in there somewhere who is going to be in the next series. At the very end of one series, I say, “Do you want to know John’s story? John was the sidekick the whole time. Of course you want to hear his story!”
BB: Can you talk about your marketing strategy?
LS: When I start a new series, I write the first book and put it out everywhere at $2.99 for three months. Once I get book two out, two or three months later, then book one becomes free. This is when I start advertising it, as far as I’m concerned. And I won’t put a ton of muscle behind it until book two is out. Then when I get three books out or if the series is complete, we really go to town on advertising. There are lots of free things to do, but I have built my platform on using paid ads.
BB: How do you plan your advertising?
LS: The last thing you want to do is run an ad and then hope for the best and walk away. You run an ad and then three days later you run another ad so that your sales stay up just a little bit longer. I usually schedule my ads on a Tuesday because new things come out on Tuesdays. New music releases are on Tuesdays. Movies get changed on Tuesdays. Tuesday is the day when people expect something new to happen. So we always release books on Tuesdays. And I always schedule my big ads for Tuesday and then we will do a smaller ad on Thursday or Friday.
BB: Talk about how you interact with your audience.
LS: We created a presence on Facebook and I drop in there multiple times a week just to say, “How are you doing? Here is what I’m working on. What are you guys doing this weekend?” Just those small things. We have probably about 350 members in that group. We grabbed those members from Facebook parties. That’s where, for 30 minutes on Facebook, we gather a small tribe together and we’re giving away lots of ebooks, several physical novels, and just having a really good time.
We asked people to join our launch team to help get reviews out. I know the indie author struggles with growing a launch team, because I did it for so long. We foster those relationships. We don’t just send a link like, “Here is your book. Have a great day.” We talk about stuff. Like, there are several people on our mailing list we talk about soccer with. Their kids play soccer, and my husband is a coach. We are not robots!
Of course we have an author webpage and we are always posting. You only have to post two or three times a week. It takes five minutes to just say something normal, to just be human, like we were eating sandwiches today and squirted mustard everywhere. Silly stuff like that. People love that—that’s connecting.
BB: Sounds like customer service is important to you.
LS: We sat down and said, “Where can we have better customer service? Where can we really make people feel like we care?” We said, “Let’s give away as much content as we possibly can.” This fall we’re creating a really funny birthday video. We will tell our fans that we will send them a birthday wish next year if they tell us their birthday. We are going to set up an automated email to make sure that on that day, that person gets their video and their happy birthday wish from me and Jacob as a thank you. It seems kind of corny. But it’s not. When they open it that day, they are going to be like, “That’s really cool.”
BB: To get people to join your mailing list, you give them 10 free books. How does this work?
LS: I have a call-to-action at the front and the back of my book. It’s a pretty graphic that says, “We would love to send you a library starter kit.” We don’t call it a mailing list, but an insiders’ group. We say, “Come join our insiders’ group and you will get updates and freebies and we will be asking your opinion.”
Nobody wants updates and information. We are all in information overload. So we had to think, what would we want? I’d want an author to give me something free that no one else can get. We give out 10 free books. That’s enticing. It’s like a starter library. And so we do the call-to-action in the beginning of our books and the end of our books and we run ads.
On my Amazon page, you can see that we would love for people to join our insiders’ group. So we have many ways to build the list. We are almost at 10,000 on the list right now.
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