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#22 The Business of Writing – Day 4 – with International Thriller & Suspense Author, Rachel Amphlett

Welcome to the world of International Thrill & Suspense author, Rachel Amphlett, as we chat about all things Indie publishing, from mailing lists to Facebook advertisements and being your own motivator, inspirer and hard-nosed boss. Not only does Rachel work a 9 – 5 job, she writes full time and runs her her own publishing business. The word discipline comes to mind just thinking about it. Bum-on-seat, is Rachel’s secret, and in her case it’s a train seat as she commutes to and from work on a daily basis. Forty minutes there and forty minutes back has seen Rachel notch up more than a few thrillers, including eight Dan Taylor novels and several stand-alone novels. But there are more in the planning. And therein lies another secret, because, if there’s one thing I learnt whilst talking with Rachel, is that nothing is left to chance. Planning out her year is what Rachel does best, and with a schedule like the one she has set herself, it’s the only way to survive. But survive, and thrive, she does. You can find out more about Rachel and her novels at

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Rachel Amphlett
Melinda: Welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. I'm getting fairly excited here because we're getting fairly close to episode number twenty, so I thought that it'd be a good time just do a little recap of what we've achieved so far and where we're heading in the future. I'll be doing some blog posts on some of the things that we've learned, I've started that with the top twenty things I've learned so far from podcasting and I'll be looking further at our transcripts and making some notes so the rest of us can have a bit of read and take from it what we can.
I've got a conference coming up in early October, I've booked my ticket and I'm pretty excited to get down there and see what everybody else is up to. It's on the Gold Coast and of course the ticket cost me so much I'll probably be staying in a tent. But I do believe that most of the attendees will be living it up in 5 start accommodation, but we'll get there, maybe next year we'll have that.
I'm in the process of writing my first newsletter, we've got quite a few subscribers now only waiting patiently for their newsletter but I'm going to change from AWeber to Convert Kid, the main reason for that is I can't AWeber, it's awfully complicated for me. But the real reason is Convert Kid is built especially for authors like us. So once I work out how to get it going, I'll share that experience with you. I'll try and get some of the guys from Convert Kid to help us. It's certainly taken off in the writing world and gets mentioned on a lot of the writing podcasts that I listen to.
So that'll be newsletters, that'll be one up to the conference. I'm almost ready to launch my teenage story writing course which is, well it's called Voices in Your Head and it's going under the title of Story Slingers, so we've recorded of the videos for that and they've all been really, really good fun and we're moving ahead with that.
I'm working on a novella with a couple of ladies here in Australia from the romance writers group that I'm with and I'll be putting out, I guess a little mini videos on how to write a novella and the pitfalls that I found and the excitement and challenges and how to get to the end in 90 days or less. It's taken me probably 30 days, which is a little bit scary but I was under pressure but I made a promise and I had to keep it.
I'm looking at starting a female entrepreneurs, what do you call it, membership group and I'm looking at the software that I need to do that, I've got quite a bit of interest in that, several ladies have put up their hand and we'd like to join together and to use our stories to grow our businesses. So that'll probably happen sometime between now and the end of the year and I'll probably get that up and running early in the New Year. But all our founding members for that one will come on board for free, after Christmas we'll probably charge a small monthly fee for that.
Other than that I'm listening and learning every day, listening to lots and lots of podcasts out there, sometimes I think that there's way too much out there and I get a little bit overwhelmed, and if I'm getting overwhelmed I'm guessing you're getting overwhelmed as well. So maybe it's time as we approach episode 20 of our podcast to sit back and just listen to how others do it. Today's guest is Rachel Amphlett and she is an amazing lady and she's certainly making a success of her career. So sit back, and enjoy!
If there was a changing even now as we speak like Facebook have changed their analytics and stuff--
Rachel Amphlett: And they've completely overhauled Power Editor and when we get to that I'll talk a bit more about it. But I'm finding that whereas you've got people like Adam Croft that are going great guns with sales adverts, sales adverts don't really work for me, it's mailing list adverts, that's where I'm seeing strength and I, to be honest, I spent a lot of money at the beginning of this year trying to make it work for me and get the same sort of results that Adam and others were getting and then just sort of gave it up and went no that's not working for me.
But what is working is getting, people that are invested in me on my mailing list and my mailing list has just gone from strength to strength and the sort of emails, I sent out a survey to my mailing list, launch team, so I got about 75 people just sequestered to one side that also read all the ARCs and stuff like that and provide feedback and expert advice. I sent out a survey about a week ago to them because I've got some new things up my sleeves going forward and I wanted their input into my production schedule for the next 18 months. The feedback that I got from them was that they're not finding me necessarily through Facebook advertising, there are other, I'm happy to talk about this, when we start recording, there are other elements that I hadn't even thought of that it's only in the past three months that I'm learning more about that they are basically saying yeah, this is the bits that catch our attention.
Melinda: I think we will, I'm almost tempted to record that last bit, but we'll start again because this is what happen, you know that day I met you at Mitchelton, I had two minutes, I bought your book and within two minutes we were talking all the nitty-gritty stuff. I thought yeah, okay.
Rachel Amphlett: I'm thinking we need to do this over a coffee and not over Skype that way sounds nice. We've got each other's mobile numbers now so we should do this.
Melinda: I've written that at the top.
Rachel Amphlett: I did the same with another author friend of mine Belinda Pollard, who's Small Blue Dog Publishing. She's local and we've got a few canny things up our sleeve for the coming months, so I won't disclose at the moment because it's still in the early stages but yeah, we met up for coffee and it was just like an hour of just like blah!
Melinda: We should make it civilized, we should go out for Friday afternoon.
Rachel Amphlett: Well a drink, yeah.
Melinda: Yeah.
Rachel Amphlett: I was going to say Samford's always good. Went there yesterday, couldn't be bothered to cook lunch, other half looked at me and went pub?
Melinda: Well I know you're linked up with Amy Andrews because Amy was telling me that you're in a bit of a group together. So I'm only just starting to make contacts because I've been so very, very busy. But it can become time consuming, you know that social media's a nightmare. I'm just sorry, it's a nightmare.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I've actually a bit counted because I've neglected my blog at the back end of last year because I was so busy and I needed to concentrate on getting those three books out to Doug at the Back Catalogue [00:07:03] (?) and I kind of let the blog rest and I was, I think there's a danger of, it's information overload isn't it and you're trying to do everything that everybody else, that's working for everybody else.
This year I've kind of more taken it, well this time this year, this last few months I've just hit the breaks. I've just gone okay I know I need to write more, I know I need to have a presence on Facebook, I know I need to do my blog and my mailing list. So what I've done, I've kind of cheated with the blog. This year I decided that I wasn't going to write any more blog posts, well here and there, I write guest posts for other people's blogs and then link to them through my blog and I interview other client for the authors because I'm much more interested in what they've got to say than anything I've got to say on my blog and I just fire off questions to them and they do all the hard yards. I get the questions, sit there and go well it's great, I'll post it. I guess that's a great time saver.
Melinda: Yeah well I just put, I put out feelers for a VA, because I'm not doing, I'm not doing my newsletter, I'm not doing my blog posts and I'm not getting my transcripts with my podcasts and I think they're all the bits that I hate, so I'm just going to get some else to do all that, just for the next few months.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, that's something that I will probably need to look at year, is letting go. I mean I look at like this writing malarkey, a bit of a project manager anyway aren't you, I mean you farm out your editing, your cover design, Brian Cohen I got him to overall the description for White Gold for me because I was getting people onto my landing page through the Facebook ads, but they just weren't, they weren't signing up. So and he has a nice little package, after reading his podcast with Mark Dawson and reading his eBook, I thought well okay let's just, let's pay some money let's get a head start. I'd rather pay Brian the money to do this than me spend the hours trying to work how to do it, which could be a bit hit and miss.
He overhauled it and there were a couple of things that were just too Americanized for my liking, my biggest audience is the UK and I changed it all and it has picked up and so it's, I think I'm okay with the rest of them, it was just getting that initial product follow book perfect so those sign ups come through.
Melinda: Yeah and I'm noticing, I'm getting lots of people visiting, I'm getting lots of people downloading but I'm not getting as many people signing up because I haven't streamlined that process either.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, well it's definitely worth reading Brian Cohen's, he's got an eBook, let me just see if I got my Kindle app here, and he's got a new one. I think it's called--
Melinda: What I'm going to do while you're--
Rachel Amphlett: Yup, go on.
Melinda: No, what I'm going to do while you're bringing that up, I'm actually going to introduce Rachel. We've been talking now for 10 minutes and rather than go back and start again and make Rachel repeat everything I'm probably just going to put up what we've already talked about because what I'm talking to Rachel about everyone out there I'm sure you're going to be interested as well.
So Rachel is obviously a fountain of knowledge, that's why I've brought her on to the podcast today, I met her down at Mitchelton at a book signing and within we were talking everything Joanna Penn, everything Mark Dawson and everything to do with indie publishing. So I'm actually thinking that what we've been talking about you might like to listen to as well, Rachel are you okay with that?
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah that's fine, yeah you might have to edit out some ums.
Melinda: I counted, how many did I count, nineteen ums in my last podcast and I thought oh I'm getting quite attached to my ums but I did make a rule that I'm not going to do it anymore. So Rachel is a thriller author and a very, very good one at that and she does have quite a backlist now which is pretty exciting and I'll get Rachel to tell us about that in a moment. But for now, let's continue that very interesting conversation on funnel books with Brian Cohen. Did you find the little eBook?
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I have, it's called Writing a Sizzling Synopsis or synopsis I should say. But yeah, overhauling the product description for that first funnel book which is also the first book in my Dan Taylor series. I have noticed, it just captures people's imagination a bit better. I think the problem is that five years ago I published that book and I hadn't really revisited the blurb since then and this is the beauty about being an indie you can go back and fix stuff. I was much happier with the blurbs that I'd written for my other books and they weren't funnel books. So once people are in the funnel they're going to go and read them anyway.
So paying Brian to, he's got these awesome packages for indie authors. If you don't have time to read the book sit down and tweak your book blurbs, he can do it for you. It was a really good learning curve. Looking at what he'd written for that product funnel and seeing the actual effect of people not leaving the launch page or the landing page for that book and actually signing up, it's been incredible, it's really good.
Melinda: Yeah and I think that's the trick, to get people to sign up before they leave the launch page, give them lots of free content now which is becoming very, very popular. The more we give them for nothing the more people are interested and the more they trust us and it actually works the opposite to what some people are thinking, don't give anything away, why should we? But it's actually the opposite, the more you give the more you get.
Rachel Amphlett: It's such a mindset change isn't it, from going but I wrote this I don't want to give it away for free. What I'm doing now is giving away White Gold, the first in the series and then a week later I'll send people an extended extract from Under Fire which is something like the first 20 chapters. It's more than you'll get on the preview for Amazon and the week after that I do the same with one of my standalone books, Before Nightfall and it's given people a really good opportunity to see, try before you buy. Do you like my writing? I've got nothing to hid here, if you enjoy it, great there's seven books. There's one! If you don't, that's fine, I'd much rather, and I think that that's the thing.
I'd much rather have people sign up, read the book in the extracts and decide no this isn't really for me and leave the mailing list then a) have them on there because they're costing me money or b) leaving a review, leaving a bad review on Amazon because they didn't enjoy it because it really wasn't up their street and they shouldn't have been reading it in the first place.
So I'm making so many friends through the mailing list as well. There are people that will email me after I send out one of monthly newsletters and we'll go on to have a completely separate chat over email about writing stuff and what they're doing in their life and comparisons to travel and what they enjoy and music we like. That's a hidden bonus I think of mailing lists.
Melinda: Yeah and we were talking at the very beginning there before we decided to record and Rachel's a very good sport about that, I'm not having to start again. So mailing lists and advertising through your mailing list is far more successful than the traditional, when I say traditional we've only been doing Facebook advertising for a few years, but times are changing.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I think, I definitely need that Facebook advertising to get people on the mailing list, it's all very well say yes mailing list is key. But you have to use a mechanism to get people to discover that mailing list in the first place and without Facebook advertising that just wouldn't have worked for me. I had, before I started Mark Dawson's course I just did the initial three courses last year, and I think it's about July I did that and prior to that I think I had about 70 people on the list, in the months following that course, and I did the paid course as well I think I jumped about 2,500 genuine, quality subscribers on that list and it just keeps going up.
Melinda: Yeah and that's the trick too isn't it, quality subscribers, getting people who actually love what you do as opposed to people coming on to get a freebie and disappearing again.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah you will always get those, like I said. But I sort of factor that in, I know perhaps for every ten people that two are be freebie chasers. But I'd rather they did that and then just left. But you just sort of factor that in. You know that you're going to get, out of those ones that leave, the ones that stay are probably going to stay with you and if they don't buy all the books at full price you know that when you send a newsletter out that to do a promotion.
I mean I did a 99 cent promotion on Look Closer, one of my standalone books at the beginning of this month, in August. Before the book, I had, I actually scored a Bookbub, 99 cent promo and I keep my cost down by not advertising to the US, that's the key with Bookbub, if you want to do it cheaply just select the international option. Apologies to anyone in America but it's blooming expensive given our exchange rate there.
So the newsletter went out with the link to the 99 cent promo, I can't remember if I've ever done a 99 promo on that book before, which may have helped. The two days before the Bookbub promo, because of my mailing list that book was a best seller and then the Bookbub promo kicked in and then a couple of other newsletter subscriber based promos kicked in and this month, even when the book went back to full price after a week as been phenomenal for sales and it's because the mailing list kicked it off. I don't think I'd have seen the same sort of success if I'd just relied on the Bookbub promo.
Melinda: Yeah and I think as we're listening to Rachel we can gather that you work very hard at your marketing and your business. But you're always working very hard on your writing. These things don't come easy, it takes time and dedication over years.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I think also I'm very lucky in that my other half, Nick, supports we me as well. You've got to have to the support of the people around you because I work, I write on the train, I get up early in the morning, I spend an hour before I even get on the train replying to emails and doing what I need to do marketing wise, I come at six o'clock, half past six, I sit in front of the computer for another two hours and I do the same at weekend. This weekend I'm in the middle of the having the audiobook for White Gold recorded, I now have to sit through 7 1/2, 8 hours of audio checking everything and there goes the weekend!
So it's, yeah you do need the support of people around you, it's not, it's like I said before I thought I become a bit of a project manager and I've got people around me that I can turn to just say can I do this or Nick, Nick here he makes sure I eat. I'll be in the office of an evening and Nick sticks his head around the corner and goes I'm cooking veg do you want some?
Melinda: Yeah and that's the thing that Rachel started talking about and got us carried away is when do we call in people, how many people do we call in to help and I'm looking at this whole VA space and getting someone to do in to do all the stuff that I'm really bad at like paperwork and I thought we lose our voice, I'm bit worried about getting someone else to take over the blog that I have a rather unique sense of humor and if I get someone else to do it it's not going to be as personal. But I'm wondering if that actually matters.
Rachel Amphlett: I think it comes down to the individual. There's something that I would never, ever give to a VA and that's just wanting to email. So I will always respond, I want people to know that if they email me, it's me at the end of that email, it's me that's writing back to them because as you say we have unique voices, we have quirky senses of humor and I don't want people to think that I'm not available to speak to and to interact with. There's other things that I think I'm going to have to start letting go of and delegating in the coming months and I'm trying to hold out until next year is things like researching authors to interview for my blog, sending out, looking for different marketing opportunities.
I'm at the point now and I haven't talked to the other authors and stuff. I'm really torn as to whether I start seeking out a literary agent to help me with things like, I'd love to go and pursue more foreign rights, I've sold the foreign rights to White Gold , a couple of years ago completely by accident because the publisher approached me and I know there are other opportunities out there, but I don't have time to sit down and approach all these other publishers I want to approach. So it's how do I get someone to do that on my behalf and trust them to do it. At the end of the day it's, I've built a brand and I don't want to sound big headed doing that, but there's a lot riding on this now. It's a difficult juggling act isn't it?
Melinda: Yeah and even when I first met Rachel down at Mitchelton the thing that attracted me to your little stall there was the professional with which your books a)were produced but b)presented, you do have quite a catalogue of books now and I did think straight away oh there's another writer like Joanna or JA Penn. Is it JA Penn?
Rachel Amphlett: It's JF Penn.
Melinda: JF Penn, sorry it's Sunday morning, I'm not doing well at all. But not to worry. I think that image, that professionalism, it comes with hard work, you mentioned the word luck but I'm going to suggest that it's not luck that you've put in a lot of hours plus a full time job I'm guessing.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah.
Melinda: That's been going the whole time. Are you thinking about giving up that job at all in the future?
Rachel Amphlett: It's a dream. I don't know how far away it is, it's certainly something that wrapping around in my head. Not at the moment. I need to be in a very, very comfortable position with my writing before I have the confidence to let go of normal things like a job and stuff like that and to be honest, I like going to work because I get ideas. It gives me a complete cutoff from thinking about the writing all the time so I think both benefit from having that. When I'm thinking about my writing I'm not thinking about my work, so when I go to work I'm refreshed.
When I'm at work I'm learning other things that I can say oh, jot down a note down there that might be something worth pursing for an idea. That's where, for the last seven years I've worked with engineers and you hang around with engineers you get so many ideas for stories because some of the conversations they have are just so out there, you wouldn't believe. It's just, so for the present time I'm managing to balance it. I think if I get any busier than this something's going to have to give.
Melinda: Yeah and you talked about a schedule, production schedule. So you've obviously got a few books in the [00:21:47] (unclear).
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah that's kind of scary and nerdy. My attitude changed at the beginning of last year, I overhauled the two covers that I had in the current series for Dan Taylor, White Gold and Under Fire, I really liked the covers that I had but readers didn't. So complete change of approach, had the new covers done and ready for January 2015, over that Christmas I also sat down and wrote down my first business and marketing plan. I've helped run small businesses, I've helped run big businesses. So I knew the bones behind the business and marketing plan are what I needed to have in there.
About half way through last year, because I had the three books that I wanted to publish last year I had to put together like a project schedule as to when I was going to get those books finished, when they were going to go to the editor, when I was going to order the covers, when I was going to send that to be [00:22:42] (unclear), when I was going to get the editor back and when I was going to put them on preorder and actually publish them. I had a production schedule, I just did it in excel. Like colored blocks everywhere as to the targets that I had to hit to be able to do what I did last year and it worked.
It was phenomenal, last year was just, I just kicked it out of the water and this year I've done the same thing except that now I do a business and marketing plan for each quarter of the year. So January to March that's the first one and so on and so forth. The production schedule is an eighteen month, two year look ahead. So all I've got are the three month marketing and business plan, I know what I'm publishing through to the end of next year. I know what I've got to write, where I've got to get covers done, when I've got to get it to the beta readers, etc., etc., until December 2017.
Melinda: Well you might have heard that Rachel and I were trying to plan a night out at the Sanford Pub with another friend of her's, we might have to schedule to that in. How many books have we got to look forward to in the next eighteen months?
Rachel Amphlett: In the next eighteen months there should be at least four.
Melinda: Yeah and that's a pretty impressive schedule by anyone's standards.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah I wanted to do three this year, but we had the month away travelling, after going to Crime Fest we caught up with family and friends and stuck a holiday on the end. The month of did me a world of good, I plotted a whole heap of books which is probably going to bite me. So I'm hoping to get another book, a second book out this year, but certainly three books next year, it needs to be I've got to keep that. It comes down to visibility, the minute you stop writing you can do as much marketing as you want but if you don't have a new product out every six months as a minimum you're going to lose momentum.
Melinda: Yeah and that's impressive again the theme that's running through all my podcasts since I started sixteen episodes ago was people work really, really hard to get to the stage where you're at, you're not just doing it on weekends, you're not just doing it when you feel like it, it's serious business, bum on seat or bum on trade seat as you said and weekends as well.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, absolutely, it's and that's what changed me. I only started seeing success when my mindset changed. When I first wrote White Gold, and then when Under Fire came out White Gold I wrote for myself, Under Fire I wrote because friends, family, a few readers contacted me and said how much they enjoyed it and when's the next Dan Taylor book coming out. I was like oh I've got to do it again.
So the first few books were a bit, really I just wrote them for me, and the second, Under Fire I wrote just prove that I could do it again. Back end of 2014 when that Italian publisher contacted me and said okay we are really interested in having the foreign rights to White Gold it was kind of like oh okay this serious. When I, like I said at beginning of 2015, spending the money overhauling those covers, spending the time putting together a decent business and marketing plan, that's when things really started to happen.
Melinda: Yeah and you are obviously tech savvy you can work your way around all this stuff.
Rachel Amphlett: Most of it, yeah. If I can't I usually know a couple of strops to help my feet a bit and then find out someone who can do it for me.
Melinda: Yeah and I notice, I was listening to an interview this morning, you were on, I think it was a mystery writers interview that I found on your website.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah with Alexandra, a few months ago, yeah.
Melinda: Yeah and it said something about you drifted through your first couple as you're saying but then you worked out that if you didn't plot them and plan them you wasted words. I think one of your words was about 20,000 words wasted.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, that was Under Fire, yeah.
Melinda: So I'm guessing that to keep to the schedule that you were writing at you need to have those books plotted out.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah absolutely, and people hear the word outline or plot and just freak out and it's not that bad, all it means that all those scenes that you get going around in your head when you first start getting the story idea you just jot them down into some sort of coherent order. I'm a big fan of Scrivener, I love it because you've got the whole index cork board thing, you can move things around. Then once I've got the bare bones of those scenes that I'm seeing in my head, I just jot down a few bullet points to describe what happens in that scene and you just build that outwards, it doesn't matter where you start, you can do some stuff over here and some stuff here and you just build it together. That's what I do.
So when my bum hits that seat on the train in the morning if I don't fancy writing one particular scene, I just can't get into it, rather than stop writing I can go okay well that quite takes your fancy, that scene, I'll go and write something in there. It's like last week. Between where we live and where I commute to in the city, before I change trains I've got 700 words down. If I'm not too tired on the way home I'll do the same. I've had some great writing days recently where I'm hitting 1,200/ 1,300 words just on a 35 minute train commute each way.
Melinda: Yeah and before anyone gets into a major panic we do live at the end of the train line so they're just tired, she's not going to get left.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, we have to reach these. And that's kind of good too because if you've got your head down writing on your way home at least you don't have to worry about missing your stop.
Melinda: Yeah, we've had that a few times ourselves. We were talking earlier about Facebook and you mentioned a Power Editor?
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah Power Editor's just the Facebook interface for creating your adverts and everything. It works in chrome, doesn't work in Internet Explorer too well, if at all. It's, it's just basically you can monitor your campaigns, monitor your ads, see what they're doing, find out which ones to kill if they're costing you too much money.
Definitely recommend Mark Dawson's free intro course. A lot of us do, it's good. It gives you a lot of this, a lot of all of this comes down to confidence and just having a go. If you do the Facebook stuff you don't have to spend a lot, you will spend some money but you can set yourself a budget of like a couple of dollars a day and just tinker around with. I've had great success with adverts for advertising my mailing list for example. I'm just spending five dollars a day.
Melinda: I don't know what to say about that. I've paid for Mark Dawson's full course. I've got the whole thing sitting there.
Rachel Amphlett: Yes, and so have I. I'm going to go and sit back and actually go through it again because I haven't had time to, you soak up so much and go wait I'm going to and try this and then I need to sit, I think a lot of people as well I've heard have actually gone back and done it from beginning to end again and picked up new things to test. It's a very good course and I think it's worth the money.
Melinda: Yeah, I'm just a bit concerned that things are changing are so very quickly and I know Mark's on top of that. We were talking about algorithms changing and it's harder and harder to reach audiences now unless you do pay on Facebook.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I just think that as a business you're always going to pay for advertising, it's just one of those things. What, my royalties, everything I earn from my books goes back into the books. I treat it like a business and it's, again it comes back to mindset. If you want to be successful at being an indie author you have to run it like a business and businesses have expenses. I run a spreadsheet I know what's coming in, I know what's going out. I plan ahead, if I can't afford to do some Facebook advertising one month that's fine, I just put it on a pause. I leave it until I've got some royalties coming in and off I go again. But you're not, you're not going to get anywhere for free. You don't in life, you're not going to do it in indie publishing either. You've got to speculate to accumulate as the saying goes.
Melinda: That's what, that's the message I need to get out to my listeners and I'm sure a lot of them already know that and as you're listening here Rachel's giving us the best advice ever. Is that it is a business, we do have to treat it as such, we do have to pay our dues, we do have to learn the ropes. I spend a lot of time educating myself, listening to podcasts on the way to school. I don't have a train ride.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah it's a constant thing, like I do the same. I'm hooked.
Melinda: There's so much advice out there and so many people giving us so much information. But that doesn't mean there's not room for more stories, we all have a unique voice, I'm guessing and we all have stories to tell. I think as well in indie community and, there's so much support, there's no, it's not a competition, there are plenty of readers out there for everybody but I'm a big believer in paying it forward and I get a bit ticked off when I have helped people and they don't pay it forward. I don't expect it back, just go and help other people and I do get in hope, and I don't see that happening because there are no secrets. What works for one person might not work for you or somebody else. As we said at the beginning I don't see much success in Facebook advertising for sales, my successes are in building up my mailing list.
I haven't had like that flash in the pan big boom success book, it's been a steady line of progress for me. But that trajectory is going up. I think going forward with the publishing industry, I think you're going to see a lot more traditionally published, I'm not anti-traditional publish at all, I think there's a place for it, but I think over the next five years and forwards you're going to see a lot more what they call hybrid publishing where authors that are traditionally published will continue to see out their contracts and write because they're happy working with that publisher and they've got a great relationship and a great branding, marketing. But if they want to write something else they can go and self-publish, they can become indie and therefore hybrid.
Melinda: I'm finding that hanging out with the same kinds of writers actually boosts everybody up, so you're a thriller writer, thriller writers in Australia, I did a course with LA Larkin, I think it's Louisa. Larkin.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah she's great, Louisa.
Melinda: Yeah so Louise if you're out there, I'm chasing you, I want you on the podcast eventually. I just think that by banding together we all have a stronger voice and especially out here in Australia, getting our voices heard is a bit of a trick. How do we do as far as thriller writers go here in Australia, have we got lots?
Rachel Amphlett: Oh yeah you've got some fantastic thriller writers, you've got people like Greg Barron, Chris Allen, Helene Young, she writes romantic suspense. Her books are fantastic.
Melinda: Yeah, she's coming on, she's coming on podcast next week. She's down at the romance writers conference at the moment.
Rachel Amphlett: That's right, also the women all get all dolled up for yeah. Yeah so there are similar writers in Australia and they are, it is quite close knit. I think romance is the biggest genre in Australia and they seem to have a huge come into you over here. I think that's why, like I said I think, like I said earlier when we were chatting, I think that's why my biggest audience is in the United Kingdom, followed by Canada, then the United States, then here in Australia.
When I went over to Crime Fest in Bristol in May I really found my tribe there. It was quite phenomenal the shift. Hopefully we'll get there in Australia, I think it's got a long way to go and that is one of the barriers I've had to overcome here to find readers and stuff. I actually put all my effort into those three biggest markets these days which is unfortunate, that's why I think I'm really lucky that I can go down to the local bookshop that have supported me since I started five years ago and have a local presence because online it's just not there in Australia yet.
Melinda: No and I think we'd like to say that it's changing, but I notice that the traditional publishing community do have a very strong presence but a lot of people buy their books online nowadays and I guess people don't look where your book is published, they don't look at who published it, they just look and see if it's a great book and if it's a great book go and write another great book because then you'll be doubly successful.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, and I think that anybody starting out as well don't limit yourself to something in Australia. I think there are few authors that think that they're just going to make it big on Amazon Australia or they've got to get a traditionally published deal here. Australia's a very, very small reading community. It's, I'd be definitely looking at the UK and Canada and America. You've got readers there that are going to soak up books forever. I really like publishing on the Kobo platform because on your platform you get a little map that shows you where you've sold books and I got my first sale in Serbia this month. It's just like well hey, international.
Melinda: I look at the listens, I've got a circle on my grid that tells me who listening to my podcast, and there's probably about eight countries that I can't even pronounce and there's little, I guess, eighth of my podcast is getting out there in all sorts of places.
Rachel Amphlett: That's exciting!
Melinda: It is! We like to think that our voices are heard all over the world and that it it's all a bit more democratic nowadays. I wanted to take you, moving right along, to a picture that you have on your website and it's this lovely picture of you driving an aston martin in a place called Goulburn Misners, which I'm very proud of because I was born and bred there. I looked on there and thought nobody's even heard of Goulburn and here is Rachel sitting up in this amazing vehicle, Ways to Note a Spy Fest in Goulburn. I thought don't tell me I've left the literary of Australia to move north and now it's all happening back in Goulburn.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, Spy Fest. This is what's coming back to, this is Greg Barron, Chris Allen and Scott Baker and the Thriller Writers of Australia Association, which is a group they set up to just sort of help each other out and bandy ideas around. We had a request or an invitation last year to go down to the first spy fest. It was, I think it started off as a napkin idea. This town in the local newspaper, you'll have to ask Chris Gordan, one of the local editors down there how it transpired. But by the time that we got down there in September last year they'd even managed to convince George Lazenby to come home for it and be the guest of honor.
So the four of us did a Q&A panel about writing thrillers and it was a lot of fun, it really was. It was very laid back, we came up with most of the questions ourselves and just took the mickey out of each other, had a really good time. The entire weekend was such a success for Goulburn that the second one is happening this September down there.
Melinda: Yeah, I'm surprised anyone would go to Goulburn before November and after January.
Rachel Amphlett: I have to point out the Aston Martin isn't mine. One day I'm going to buy an Aston Martin, it is on my wish list. The minute I sell those movie rights I'm straight down to the local dealership and saying that one's mine. But we were leaving our motel and I'd already spotted, because I just love Aston Martins, I'd spotted it on the Friday night when we arrived that the Aston Martin club was staying in the same motel as us and I'm drooling over the cars in the car park.
As we're leaving on the Sunday morning to get back to Sydney for our flight home here to Brisbane, we saw the guys that owned the Aston Martins and their lives and they're all like having breakfast and stuff with their doors open. I turned to my other half and went stop the car, I'm going to see if I can sit in one of the Aston's. So I bribed one of the owners of the Aston, I'm like look if I give you a signed book can I sit in your Aston Martin.
Melinda: That's another reason to write everybody, if your books opens doorways for you, you never know what opportunities will arise.
Rachel Amphlett: And be cheeky!
Melinda: I think the biggest message that comes through today is that it's all about relationships, it's all about putting yourself out there, it's all about having the confidence, everybody wants to be your friend if you're brave enough to put your hand up.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I'm not both by nature, it's, I have myself quaking in my shoes sometimes. I was on the indie panel at crime fest, [00:38:55] (unclear) alongside Rachel Abbot and two more of my peers and me. Oh my god, I was so nervous during the first question, it was just like playing in bands again. Before you get that first guitar solo under your belt you're an absolute mess. Then you settle down, but I've got to work on the confidence thing, it's like anything. But it's a lot of fun, it's a lot of hard work. But the opportunities that have cropped up along the way and the fun that we've had and it's been worth it.
Melinda: Yeah and every step takes you to new opportunities. I've only been going here for, oh less than two months and I've met the most amazing people and had the most interesting conversations. I think if I hadn't started this I wouldn't get to talk to people all over the world and have the fun that I'm having. It really is a big family, I'm guessing.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah it is, and it's like you say the more that you do things like this and it's so I'm doing interviews in my blog where I've been podcast, I take my hat off to you doing podcasts, I'm just not that organized. But it is, it becomes, the world becomes a small place and you realize that it's a great community to be in. It really is.
Melinda: I blame and I'm going to finish up now because I've got to go and take my daughter to dancing, or she's gone to dancing I've got to go and find her. It all started and this is a common story amongst a lot of writers, it all started with Enid Blyton.
Rachel Amphlett: Yup, yup. It's all her fault.
Melinda: I have a passion for everything Enid Blyton, I still read her famous five stories today, when we lived in Ireland I had all her books on audio. I just thought she must be the most amazing or was the most amazing story teller ever to have people, generations later still saying it all started with The Famous Five and Timmy and George.
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, and I was chatting on Facebook with the Thriller author Alex Shaw back in the UK and he put on there that his two little boys, he started reading them The Famous Five. I was like there you go, there's going to be more thriller authors.
Melinda: Well I was traveling around Australia with the caravan selling books out of the side door and I had a little boy come up to me and he says oh I just love Enid Blyton and I had, my brother and I wrote some middle grade fiction, [00:41:13] (unclear).
Rachel Amphlett: Yeah, I read about those on your website.
Melinda: Yeah, down the South Post and New South Wales, beautiful, beautiful part of the world, Bateman's Bay Writer Festival coming up I think in September and that's turned into a bit of a literary fest as well. You can't go passed a good old fashioned story, we don't all need to be writing about vampires and some of that other, I don't want to knock erotica because obviously it makes a lot of money but I thought imagine reading that out loud to your children.
Rachel Amphlett: That'd be an eye-opener.
Melinda: Look, thank you Rachel, thank you for being a good sport, thank you for picking up where I threw you in the deep end and said let's just keep going, let's just start the intro a bit later ten minutes in, saved us having to backtrack and go through it all again, you've been beautiful, I look forward to catching up with and your friends out at the Sanford Hotel which is a beautiful part of the world, Amy Andrews is out there, you can see the mountains, probably a little bit like England I should imagine.
Rachel Amphlett: It's pretty close to an English pub, not quite. No castles.
Melinda: And it's warmer. Alright, I'm going to say good-bye from me and good-bye from Rachel! Rachel waved.

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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