Jamie Davis is the author of more than a dozen novels including Accidental Thief.
He’s also a registered nurse, a nationally recognized medical educator, and host of The Nursing Show.
How Jamie Became a Fiction Writer
Jamie got started as a novelist on a dare. He’s been a nurse and a medical educator for quite some time and has several nonfiction books available. In 2014, a friend of his dared him to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. He finished his novel during November and then it sat on the file for eight months.
Writing that first fiction novel stoked a creative fire in Jamie. He’s always considered himself a very creative person, and writing fiction gave him a different creative outlet than his nonfiction books or his podcast business.
He decided to release what would become the first book in his Extreme Medical Services series. It was very well received by listeners in Jamie’s podcast community, as well as fans of the urban fantasy genre.
The Extreme Medical Services series started as an idea for an educational web series that Jamie turned into a novel. Jamie is involved with seven podcasts and he writes for several blogs. He’s always writing. And ever since NaNoWriMo 2014, Jamie has always had a fiction project in process.
It never occurred to Jamie to go the traditional publishing route. He’s always been an entrepreneur. He was aware of self-publishing and the opportunities available to him to market to the audience of his choosing, rather than relying on an editor or publisher to decide where his book fit in the marketplace.
How to Build an Audience as a Fiction Writer
Jamie has several tips for how to build an author as an indie fiction writer.
1. Build an Email List
Jamie enjoys the process of fiction writing. He also enjoys building a community and an audience that he can have conversations with.
It’s really important for every author to have a platform and an email list. Being an indie author today is no different than running any other online business.
“If you have any kind of business at all you need an email list, especially if you’re in an online setting.”
– Jamie Davis
For an author, having an email list is important because you need to have your readers be your readers, not Amazon’s readers, who they occasionally market your book to.
You need to build a community separate from any of the online book sellers.
You need to build an email list and communicate with it regularly. Remember: “regularly” can be every couple of weeks. You just want to keep yourself in the front of their mind.
You want to keep your fans apprised of what you’re up to, and you always want to be asking them questions.
You want to have a continuous conversation with your audience. This builds individual relationships with your audience members. You’ll gain invaluable insight into what they’re looking for in your fiction, and they’ll become invested in your success.
2. Do Newsletter Swaps with Authors in Your Genre
Another tactic Jamie uses is to connect with authors in his genre on Facebook, look at what they’re currently working on, and ask them if they’d be interested in doing a newsletter swap.
In a newsletter swap, Jamie offers to promote one of their books if they’ll promote one of his. Generally, he has them promote the first in one of his series.
3. Use Book Marketing Sites
Another way to build your email list is to use book marketing sites, with BookBub being the biggest of them all. There’s also FreeBooksy, Book Barbarian, and Kindle Nation Daily. Links are available in the resources section at the bottom of this page.
The best way to get success with the different book promotion sites is to run promotions that overlap one another.
How to Build an Email List as a Fiction Author
When Jamie started writing fiction, he built his email list organically.
The first thing you want to do as a new author is put a link to your email list in the back of every book you write.
“If you’ve written a good book, your readers are going to want to hear from you when the next book comes out.”
– Jamie Davis
If you have more than one book out, you can do a number of things to entice people to sign up for your email list.
If you’ve written a series, you can:
- Offer your readers the second book in the series for free and let them know when the third book will be available.
- Write a reader magnet, which is a side story to your main plot.
How Newsletter Swaps Work for Authors
When you want to set up a newsletter swap, the first thing to do is look at authors in your genre who have books that directly target the same audience.
You’ll want to approach authors who are writing in the same genre as you, who have on their lists the same types of readers you want on your list. You want to become friends with 5 to 10 authors if you can.
A newsletter swap is a simple arrangement where you promote a new book to your audience. Then, when your new book comes out, the author you promoted will promote your book to their audience.
Don’t think of this as helping the competition. The truth is, you can’t possibly write books fast enough to satisfy your audience—and neither can any individual author. What you’re doing is showing your audience something they can read while they wait for your next book.
It’s also important to be honest with your audience. You can promote a book without having read it by simply saying, “This is a book by an author friend of mine, check it out.”
Of course, if you have time to read the book, you can actually recommend it.
Jamie’s Writing Process
The transition from nonfiction writer to fiction writer wasn’t as difficult as Jamie imagined it would be.
Jamie doesn’t believe in writer’s block. What people call writer’s block happens when you’re not prepared for what you want to write next. Jamie has run into that when he has tried to write certain blog posts.
Jamie isn’t a super planner when it comes to writing, but he does have at least a paragraph for every chapter about what’s going to happen in that chapter. Sometimes, chapters get added because new things occur to him when he’s writing. But he always has an idea of what’s going to happen next when he sits down to write fiction.
He also gets up early and starts his day. He believes in the principles espoused in The Miracle Morning. Jamie begins writing by 5 a.m., when the rest of his family is still asleep.
Jamie writes for at least two hours a day every day. He treats his writing like a business and allocates a certain number of hours per week to it.
If he has a deadline because his book is on some editor’s schedule, Jamie will write whenever he needs to write to meet that deadline.
Jamie started honing his writing skills from a very early age. His mother was a schoolteacher, and his father was a lawyer who got an English literature degree before going to law school. So from the start, Jamie did a lot of reading and writing.
Reading as much as he did allowed him to develop an idea of what works and what doesn’t work when writing.
Jamie also did a lot of writing in grade school, high school, and college. He attended a liberal arts college that required a lot of writing before deciding to go into the nursing field. He feels like his life experience gave him the practice required to be a productive professional writer.
Read. Apply. Repeat.
Jamie has read a number of books on the craft of writing. One book that didn’t really gel with his creative process was The Story Grid. He tried to apply the principles of the book after reading it and it led to a month of unproductive writing time.
Jamie recommends that you only try to adopt the writing processes that appeal to you.
Jamie has found the following authors to be helpful in developing his writing process:
- Chris Fox (particularly Write to Market)
- Scott King.
- Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright (particularly their book Publish. Repeat.)
The Lessons of Write Publish Repeat
“The best way to market your book is to write another book. Every new book you put out brings new readers to every other book you’ve ever written.”
– Jamie Davis
Write. Publish. Repeat. talks about:
- How to write
- The structure of how you set yourself up to be a writer
- The importance of writing regularly
- The supreme importance of writing your next book after you’re done with the one you’re writing now
Writing continuously is one of the major reasons Jamie has been successful.
About the LitRPG Genre
The litRPG genre is either a high fantasy story with gamer elements or a sci-fi story with gamer elements. It just depends which end of the genre you’re writing in. People write about sci-fi roleplaying games as much as they do high fantasy roleplaying games.
How to Do Market Research in a New Genre
When you’re writing a new genre, the first thing you want to do is read at least 3 to 5 highly recommended books in that genre. The easiest way to get your list of highly recommended books is to join Facebook groups related to the genre and ask for recommendations of people’s favorite books in the genre.
If you ask for simple recommendations, you’ll probably get between 20 and 30 depending on the number of groups you join. Look for the recommendations that repeat.
You can also check out recommendation lists on Goodreads.
After you have the list of 3 to 5 books in a particular category that people really like, read them. Then read the reviews. Pay particular attention to:
- The things people really liked about the books
- Things people didn’t like about the books
- Things people expected that they didn’t get in the books
If you can identify reader expectations, you can write a book that most readers of your genre will like.
Writing to market isn’t just chasing the current hot market.
Writing to market is:
- Finding a genre you’re passionate about
- Figuring out what readers of that genre are looking for in the books they read
- Putting the elements that readers are looking for in the books you write
If you want to find groups of readers, one of the easiest places to look is Facebook. Just type in whatever genre of book you’re planning on writing. There will be groups of readers and authors devoted to that genre of book.
Another good place to look for groups of readers is Goodreads.
How to Use Facebook Groups as a Market Research Tool
Facebook groups can be a powerful market research tool. But Jamie says it’s important that you treat Facebook groups the same way you’d treat a neighborhood picnic.
If you’re new to the neighborhood and someone invites you to a picnic, you wouldn’t go there just to sell your books. People at the picnic would consider that rude.
It’s important that you read the rules for posting on all the Facebook groups that you join. The more established Facebook groups will have well-established rules that you should follow. It’s just good manners, and will keep you in the good graces of the group and the group administrators.
Some groups won’t allow you to post about your book in their group. You can use those groups for market research and to help you figure out what people want to read in that particular genre.
Some groups will let you share your book with their audience if you put a link to their Facebook group in the back of the book. For Jamie, this is a no-brainer. Putting links to two or three high-quality Facebook groups helps your readers and the group you’re advertising to. It just makes sense in the social media age.
Simply be honest and genuine. People will respect that.
Selling Books on Twitter Doesn’t Work for Jamie
When Jamie tracks links, he doesn’t get many sales from the links he posts on Twitter. He also thinks it’s particularly ineffective to tweet about your book constantly every day.
The important thing to remember with social media is that it’s social first. If people ask you about your writing, it’s okay to talk about it, but you shouldn’t try to push it on people.
Connect with Jamie
You can connect with Jamie at http://jamiedavisbooks.com/. If you like urban fantasy or high fantasy books, you can sign up for his email newsletter and get a free book. He generally sends a newsletter once a week.
If you are an author in urban fantasy or high fantasy, feel free to contact Jamie on his website. He’s open to newsletter swaps and he’s willing to talk to you about what he’s doing that’s working.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
The Nursing Show – the podcast for nurses by nurses
http://jamiedavisbooks.com/ – Jamie’s website
The Extreme Medical Services Series by Jamie Davis. This is an urban fantasy series about medical professionals providing services to fantasy creatures.
BookBub – the largest book promotion site on the internet.
http://bookbarbarian.com/ – a book promotion site that focuses on sci-fi and fantasy books.
Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship – this link will take you directly to Kindle Nation Daily’s sponsorship form, where you can look over their many options. Kindle Nation Daily is a community of Kindle readers. It’s not genre-specific.
The Miracle Morning – Jamie believes in the principles of the miracle morning and uses them to jumpstart his writing process.
The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know – a craft book recommended by many people that didn’t really work for Jamie.
Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) (The Smarter Artist Book 1) – a book about the business of self-publishing by three of the most prolific authors around.
Chris Fox’s Amazon author page – Chris Fox writes a series of books about how to be successful as a self-published author.
Scott King’s Amazon author page – Scott King has written several books on his author process.
https://www.facebook.com/ – Jamie’s go-to place to find groups of authors and readers. Simply type the genre you’re searching for into Facebook’s search bar.
https://www.goodreads.com/ – a place to find groups of readers and authors in particular genres.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.