Tag Archives: Doug Dandridge

Marketing 101

A guest post by Doug Dandridge.

Empires at WarI’m not sure if you can call me the world’s greatest expert on self-marketing.  However, since I am closing in on 130,000 book sales in thirty-four months, I must be doing something right.  I have made over $300,000.00 in that time period, and am a full time working author.  In this blog, I will give a quick rundown on some of the things I have done.   I will go ahead and plug a book I wrote which is available on Amazon called How I Sold 100,000 Books On Amazon.  I’ve heard from some people who read the book and reported increased success.  I don’t have time to go into everything in this brief essay, but will cover what I think are the most important points.  Of course, most important is to write a book that a lot of people will want to read when you put it out there.  But that is of no use if you can’t attract people to give it a try.

Establish a web presence.  You want your name, not just the name of your book, to take up the top slots in a Google search.  There are several things I did here.  First, I established a web site, with a lot of outgoing links, which hopefully will help generate more incoming links.  This will raise it up in the search algorithms.  Next I established a blog.  I was able to get domain names for both blog and website that were my name, dougdandridge, one with a .com, one with a .net.  I went on Amazon and Goodreads and rated a hell of a lot of books I had read, and left actual reviews for most of them.  Blog when you can.   It doesn’t have to be daily, and don’t just blog on how people can buy your book.  Blog on things of interest around the topics of your books.  I do blogs on armor, modern and future weapons, tropes, movies, all kinds of stuff, and then also do a couple of blogs, with excerpts, whenever I put out a book.  And don’t let the number of subscribers put you off.  I only have about a 150 subscribers, but my blog, published about every other week, gets hundreds of views a day.  That’s because I also tweet the blog, with hashtags, and post it on a number of Facebook pages frequented by people interested in fantasy, scifi or ebooks in general.  Also do blogs for other people when asked, and ask them if they don’t get around to it.  I have done blogs for people like David Farland, and for people who have less than fifty subscribers.  I feel like it is a reciprical effort, helping both parties.  The result is that I have the top twenty slots on Google for Doug Dandridge now.  When I started out I was on page two with one entry, and there aren’t that many Doug Dandridges out there to compete with.

Advertise your other books in each of your books, with hyperlinks to make it easy for readers to get to them.  I also have a newsletter, which, while it has slightly less than 300 subscribers, has a much better than average opening rate.  The newsletter is probably responsible for a couple of hundred early sales of each book, driving them up the genre charts, which gets even more attention.  Reviews are important, probably as much as anything.  Not actually what they said, but how they rate you, and the average of those ratings.  Do not buy reviews.  Repeat, do not buy reviews.  But if anyone compliments you, on Facebook, your blog or by email, ask them if they will give you a review.  One review I got was a three star for another series, but he complimented me on my Exodus series, and I asked him is we would be kind enough to write a review for one of those books.  I got another five star review out of that transaction.

I got started with Amazon giveaways.   I have given away almost 16K ebooks, and several of those giveaways have driven my sales.  The trick is to not just do the giveaway, but to advertise those dates.  I use Author’s Marketing Club, which has a free page where you can visit sites that let you advertise your free book.  Most of the sites are free, some charge a nominal fee, but it’s worth it.  You also blog and tweet the giveaway.  How well have they worked?  In September of 2012 I gave away 4,100 copies of The Deep Dark Well, a book which has sold almost 6,000 copies since.  When I released the first of my Exodus: Empires at War books, it started flying off the Amazon servers.  In May 2014 I did a giveaway of that very Exodus book, just after releasing book 6.  I gave away 4,900 copies of book 1.  The five Exodus books were selling between fifty and a hundred books a month at that time.  After the giveaway, each volume sold over five hundred copies in May, including the one I had just given away.  Over two thousand books, for over six thousand dollars in royalties.  Cha ching.  So they are still useful, if done properly.

Twitter is a big part of my platform.  And twitter doesn’t work well at all when you’re just starting out.  What I did was join an indie author’s site, Independent Authors Network, and started retweeting the tweets from some of their most followed authors.   Eventually I was tweeting about fifty authors, and when I started to tweet my own books, I was being retweeted to several hundred thousand followers.  And I learned about hashtags, which get your tweets in front of people who are not following you or anyone you know.  Hootsuite was also useful in scheduling tweets around the clock, so I could get my message in front of fans in Australia.

And those are my basic steps for getting some notice.  Some may work well for you, some may not.  Among the strategies that don’t work are paid advertisements.  Among others that work well are volunteering to do essays on other blogs, like this one.  Or, as Kevin J. Anderson says when offered an opportunity that might help, “I can do that.”

11348812_911349812241779_1132617393_nDoug Dandridge Bio:
Doug Dandridge is a Florida native, Army veteran and ex-professional college student who spent way too much time in the halls of academia.  He has worked as a psychotherapist, drug counselor, and, most recently, for the Florida Department of Children and Families.  An early reader of Heinlein, Howard, Moorcock and Asimov, he has always had a love for the fantastic in books, TV and movies.  Doug started submitting science fiction and fantasy in 1997 and collected over four hundred rejection letters.  In Decmeber of 2011 he put his first self-publishing efforts online.  He currently has 26 books on Amazon, with two more due out over the summer.  After a slow 8 month start, he has sold over 125,000 copies of his work in a 33 month period, and his Exodus: Empires at War science fiction series has placed five consecutive books at the number one rank on the Amazon.UK Space Opera and Military Science Fiction lists, and top five on Amazon.US.  He has been published in Kevin J. Anderson’s Five By Five military science fiction anthology, and has been invited to submit to several others.  He quit his day job in March 2013, and has since made a successful career as a self-published author

Keeping the Tension Ramped Up in Combat Scenes

A guest post by Doug Dandridge.

I mostly write military science fiction, and am writing military fantasy when not working on the next scifi novel.  Exodus: Empires at War is a series with very detailed and lengthy battle scenes told from multiple viewpoints.  I originally learned the main technique I used from reading the Dritzz DoUrden novels by R. A. Salvatore.  If you’re not familiar with these wonderful stories, they involve a Dark Elf who has turned his back on his evil people and now fights the darkness with his mighty companions.  There are very detailed battles in which maneuvers great and small are described, and often the companions find themselves fighting out of sight of each other.  Not only are their battles told from their viewpoints, but the point of view of their major enemies.  In my own battles, which can last for as many as eight chapters, you get the points of view of characters at different areas of the fight, on the different departments of the ships, even from both sides of the battle.  I even switch back and forth from battles going on simultaneously hundreds of light years apart.  Some people might find this a bit confusing, but my fans, military science fiction aficionados all, write rave reviews about the amount of detail.

I have seen writers who do their battle scenes from a single viewpoint, and they read like an endless description of the good guys fighting an unknown, a faceless enemy that could be anything.  They go on and on with description after description, interspersed with dialogue, until the writer has to get to the climax or totally lose his readers, in most cases much too soon.  I like to use a movie approach that switches back and forth and gives play to both sides.  For example, think of The Wrath of Khan.  First scene is Kirk watching the Reliant approach without establishing communications.  The scenes switch back and forth to Khan ordering shields raised, Spock telling Kirk; Khan ordering locking on phasers, Spock telling Kirk; Khan yelling fire.  Switch to the scene of phasers hitting the Enterprise, then a shot of the panic in engineering as everything goes to hell.  Then back up to the bridge.  The action comes in bursts from different points of view, including the omniscient one of the Reliant blasting the Enterprise.

Of course, Hollywood likes to show these kind of scenes in a manner that puts both combatants front and center, even if there are a whole bunch of them.  Witness the final two episodes of Deep Space Nine, where there were over a thousand ships, and the screen was crowded with them.  Something to do with wanting to awe the audience.  In my novels battles are fought at long range, beam weapons almost useless until units get within a light minute of each other.  Even at that range it takes time for a weapon to hit, and even ships two kilometers in length would appear tiny if on the same screen.  In a book, the screen is the mind, and as long as you can convince the reader of that immensity, they will see it.  But even here Hollywood gives an example when they want to.  The movie Midway showed the battle between American and Japanese carrier forces, a fight where the ships didn’t see each other, but launched aircraft to do the actual attack.  But with judicious switching of viewpoints they conveyed this type of fight perfectly.  And it’s much easier to do in a book.

Doing each chapter as a series of mini-scenes in this way makes almost every scene a cliff hanger.  Each installment ends with an unknown.  Missiles coming in, lasers burning through the hull and klaxons sounding, the characters on the edge of disaster.  The next scene does the same to someone else, on some other ship, then to the enemy, who is having problems of their own.  Interspersed are scenes of small victories, and, as the fight progresses, much larger ones.  After a sequence covering one part of the fight I like to change to a different area of the battle, maybe even a different star system, for the next.  In this way I move the reader through an epic battleground where they are carried from tension to tension, with some small resolutions along the way.

To me the worst way to resolve a battle is with a non-event.  I have read a lot of books where they build up to the fight, the training, the organization, the hopes and dreams of those involved.  And in the next scene, it’s all aftermath.  I feel ripped off by those stories.  People read books that promise action because they want to read about that action.  I provide that action.  The first book of my Exodus series, more of a Universe establishment tale, had limited action, maybe twenty to thirty percent, and that is the worst reviewed of the series.  After that, the action increases, until the later books have almost eighty percent action sequences.  Some people may think that too much, preferring more time for character development or background.  The thing is, I am working as a full time author by writing such, and success proves to me, at least, that the method works.

About Doug Dandridge: 11022903_860155284027899_98329783_n
Doug Dandridge is a Florida native, Army veteran and ex-professional college student who spent way too much time in the halls of academia. He has worked as a psychotherapist, drug counselor, and, most recently, for the Florida Department of Children and Families. An early reader of Heinlein, Howard, Moorcock and Asimov, he has always had a love for the fantastic in books ad movies. Doug started submitting science fiction and fantasy in 1997 and collected over four hundred rejection letters. In December of 2011 he put up his first self-publishing efforts online. Since then he had sold over 100,000 copies of his work, and has ranked in the top five on Amazon Space Opera and Military Science Fiction multiple times. He quit his day job in March 2013, and has since made a successful career as a self-published author.