Episode # 128 – Building a Bestselling Fantasy Universe with Garrett Robinson

In Uncategorized by Angela McConnell4 Comments

garettcovernewFantasy author Garrett Robinson started publishing in 2012, writing 2 million words by the end of 2014. After building up a tremendous catalog and online presence that includes a popular YouTube channel and podcasting, he had his first breakout, The Nightblade Epic, in 2015. This week, I sit down with Garrett to discuss his love of the fantasy genre, how he manages to get so much done, and how he’s going working towards the best meal of his entire life in 2016.


Links:

Garrett’s Website

Garrett’s YouTube Channel

Connect with Garrett on Google+

Follow Garrett on Tumblr

Mentions:

We Make Movies

Sterling & Stone (home of Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and Dave Wright of the Self-Publishing Podcast)

Z.C. Bolger

Self Publishing Formula – FB Ads with Mark Dawson

Show notes:

Background:

Garrett Robinson began his storytelling career in high school, completely ignoring his math education while penning a quarter of a million words. Rumor had it that college kills writers, and spurred on by the oh-so-excellent film version of his favorite fantasy seriesLord of the Rings, and the extensive behind-the-scenes DVD extras, Garrett dove into film instead with aspirations to become a director. After working in various roles in the film industry — sound crew, administrative, assistant producer —  while trying to develop his own projects with the hope it’d eventually translate into directing jobs, Garrett realized he was going to have to make it in filmmaking another way.

A friend suggested he turn his scripts into books, and so he did, figuring he could back-door it into directing by building an audience first as an author. Garrett started publishing in 2012, writing pretty much whatever he felt like. But once he started writing the Realm Keeper series with his lifelong friend Z.C. Bulger, he realized that fantasy is his core love.

Magic and swords and dragons…yes! This is what I want to keep doing.

So when Garrett got laid off from last job and his supportive wife suggested he try writing full-time, he went for it, supplementing his income with freelance formatting and editing services as he built his now 33-product catalog, working towards his first breakout success, The Nightblade Epic.

The Nightblade Epic

A story concept Garrett had tried to develop into a low-budget fantasy web series back in the day kept never went away, and he knew it would be a four-book series, but it was so epic, he felt he needed to work up to it by writing a story set in the same universe as his original idea as a way to further develop the world-building and hone his skills.

Garrett planned this initial series, The Nightblade Epic, from the ground up, book to book, moment to moment, promotion to promotion. Book 1 came out September 2014; Book 2 came out four months later in January 2015; and Book 3 followed six months later in July. In August, he bundled the first three books up into a boxed set and caught the brass ring of a BookBub ad, which jettisoned his books’ rankings into the No. 1 spot in fantasy and No. 16 overall in the Kindle store for a week. As a result, Garrett enjoyed his first five-figure month in September, followed by almost equally amazing revenues in October, and November set to follow suit.

Garrett notes that three days before the BookBub promo was scheduled, he realized he didn’t have anything ready for readers to buy after they finished the boxed set, so he threw up a pre-order for Book 4 and delivered that in November, garnering an estimated 10-15% buy-through on the pre-order. He’s also kept his titles “sticky” in the rankings by using other email promotional sites similar to BookBub, as well was Facebook Ads.

The Next Big Things

There are ambitious things in store for 2016. Garrett is currently working on getting three books of a new series set in the NightbladeUniverse to the editor by the end of the year, and released in January of 2016. This series is a spinoff from a conflict that occurs inShadeborn, Book 4 of The Nightblade Epic. He will follow that with Book 5 of The Nightblade Epic, followed by another spinoff series of three books around May of 2016…then another book in the original Nightblade series, followed by the last spinoff series by the end of the year…so that by January 2017, he will be ready to launch his original four-book epic series that all of Nightblade universe books have been leading up to.

And if he does this, Sean Platt is going to buy him the best meal of his entire life. I can’t wait to see the menu. :)

Quotes:

On keeping it real: “You know, if it doesn’t work out, the worst thing that’s going to happen is I go and get another 9-to-5 job. It’s not that bad. It’s not death. It’s not starvation. You just go get another job.” – Garrett Robinson

On mindset: “Always look on the bright side of life!” – Monty Python

Action Steps:

  • Get to stepping. Lace up those shoes and get in a walk every day. You’ll improve your health and you’ll improve your productivityand you’ll improve your general well-being. Garrett admits he’s a bit “addicted” to walking, and likes to start his day by getting outside first thing.
  • Take baby steps. If you despair ever getting to the point where you feel competent to tackle your Big Idea, start training by writing something small. In Garrett’s case, he’ll have written four novel series working up his own big idea; however, there’

put your books in print

work your way up to it. if you despair ever getting to the point you can tackle your Big Epic Dream, try something small leading up to it. In Garrett’s case, he’ll have written several series to work up to his big epic book

Mindset Big Picture.

make sure you’ve got something readers to go to next

Simon Asks:

Ambitious long-term plans that encompass years rather than months…?

Untitled-1

Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Angela McConnellEpisode # 128 – Building a Bestselling Fantasy Universe with Garrett Robinson
  • Augusta Blythe

    Another great episode, Simon. Garrett’s interview has me reconfiguring the new series I’m already knee-deep in planning. *shakes fist*

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Augusta, glad you enjoyed the episode 🙂

  • mtr amg

    jeez Garrett, way to make us all feel inadequate… no, I jest. It is super cool how you have everything planned out, (a bad plan is better than no plan at all), the new Nightblade books looks so cool, I am slowly working my way through your website sign up stuff, and it all looks amazing. Well done you!
    I hear you on ‘real books’ – I fear DRM – what do you mean I can’t read this ebook again? I bought it…

  • Amber L Argyle

    Man, I wish I could say my FB ads worked out that well. I blew through a ton of money and saw zero results.