Victoria Danann is an award winning novelist and author of the Order of the Black Swan. I talk to her about her rather unique planning process and just how she manages to bring such depth to her characters (something her reviewers constantly praise her for). We also talk in depth about book marketing and street teams and the value of having people around you supporting your writing.
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Romance Writers of America – attended a conference with a talk with Mark Coker the CEO of Smashwords.
Bitten by Paranormal Romance – Where Victoria took out her first ad.
Indie Marketing Group – A Facebook group she runs sharing marketing tactics.
Kym Grosso – Not mentioned in the show, but Victoria’s book marketing planner who is a huge part of that strategy. Victoria mentioned this in the comments below, but I feel it deserves a place up here for those who don’t read the comments :).
Kym had just released a first book about the same time that I was releasing mine. I had a strong hunch that she was going to be good. So I contacted her and said, “Hey. Let’s form a mini marketing consortium and promote each other. I’ll put your books in the back of mine. You put my books in the back of yours.” Long story short. It has been a big success.
We know that because on Amazon, her books are always on my product pages as “also bought” and v.v. We have just added a third partner into our little group, Teresa Gabelman, and will be adding her books to our updates.
Victoria started by writing out a huge number of query letters, but after getting no response decided to go ahead and try self-publishing.
Victoria went immediately permafree on her first book when the second one came out which was what really caused the series to start to take off, she puts this down as her most effective book marketing technique at the time. She heard about this after attending the Romance Writers of America conference and seeing a talk by Mark Coker who was talking about marketing strategies for self-publishers.
Victoria writes her books quickly and still gets a huge amount of praise for her character development. She says that one of the reasons this is possible is because she came to writing later in life, she now says that she has a huge amount of experience to work with. She also is a student of human behavior, both in life and in academia (having a degree in psychology).
Even her minor characters are praised for having depth. I asked Victoria about this and she said that it is unintentional – she just sees each character as fully formed when they are in her head. They all have features and personalities, even if they don’t even have a name.
The Planning Process
Victoria is someone who plans her work but also lets the story takes it own shape. Her planning process is something a bit different. It takes her two months to write a novel, not because that is how long it takes her write the book, but that’s the time it takes for the ideas to seep out of the brain onto the plan.
- Bare essential outline – Numbers one to twenty-something are written out, each one being a chapter. One line (or slightly more) is written down saying what will happen in that chapter.
- Expanded outline – One page for each chapter. The line from the bare essential outline is written down on this page. Victoria finds that ideas for her story come to her at different points during the day and night and when one hits her she finds a place in this outline to expand on it.
The ‘pantsing’ part (writing without plot) comes later when she is drafting. The characters start taking actions in her head and going about the story as she planned. Sometimes they can do unexpected things that can throw off the plan. The first book she wrote has to be completely re-written because one of the characters made an unexpected decision. She plotted carefully on the following books to stop that happening again.
Permafree Read Though
10% to book 2. 90% to book 3. Read through to book 4 and beyond is significantly over 90%. Victoria says at these point they are “my people.”
There are no cliffhangers to hook people into the next book, but a strong call to action in the back of the book for people to buy the next one in the series.
65 : 35 / Book Marketing : Writing. This is even with two assistants helping her. She spends a lot of time experimenting with different things that she hears about, just to see if it works, if it does she does more of it. The book marketing that works for books is constantly changing, so keeping up with the latest marketing trends is super important.
In her genre of paranormal romance there are plenty of blogs out there and she start approaching them about guest posting and doing interviews. Even a small blog will have a few hundred readers and some of those will convert to sales.
A street team are dedicated readers who are willing to help you out with book marketing and Victoria uses them heavily to spread the word about her books. People have described her street team as a ‘cult like following.’ She has a hairdresser giving away bookmarks to clients, a waiter handing them with a check… Her street team current stands at 59 people. They will also beta reads all the books for her and she says that by the time the book hits the shelves there “are no mistakes.”
In return she gives them ‘anything she can think of.’ They get a lot of exclusive stuff in return for the work they do.
If you are interested in putting together a street team to help with your book marketing, get in touch with Victoria as she is happy to let you inside her street team and ask them questions. Highly recommended, reach out to her through her website.
“I feel like a reporter who has visited this world and simply written down what I heard”
“I still don’t understand why people would want to spend some of their time promoting my books!”
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