by Lori Hetherington
Bestselling genre author Tina Folsom was one of the dynamic speakers at last year’s Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, and she has kindly accepted my invitation for this follow-up interview. Welcome Tina and thank you for your time.
Thanks so much for thinking of me when you were planning this feature.
Your books are very successful not only in English, but also in German, French and Spanish. Can you tell us about the process of crossing over to other languages and what things you’ve found work, or don’t work? Is there any hope that your books will come out in Italian soon?
I have tremendous success in Germany, and not only because I’m German myself, but because I understand the German book market and what the readers there want. I think that’s really important. I made mistakes early on, when I had my books translated into Spanish—unfortunately, I did not recoup my investment. The Spanish language market is very different from the German one, and I did not take into account the differences in culture and dialects. A book translated by a South American translator will not sell well in Spain. I also did not take into account the economic climate in Spain or the fact that readers in South America don’t have the disposable income to buy e-readers. Spanish might be spoken by more people than German, however, after the US, Germany is the most robust book market in the world.
France is catching up too, and I’m busy getting more books into French. My team is working hard on it. When it comes to Italian, I have very good news: the Phoenix Code series, which I co-author together with Lara Adrian will be published in Italian later this year. We just received an offer from an Italian publisher for it. Lara and I are both really happy about it.
My audio books are only in English so far. One of the reasons is that the company I use to get them produced, ACX (owned by Amazon), does currently not allow non-US residents into their system, which makes it much harder to find a good foreign speaker. But I hope to one day get my audio books produced in other languages too.
The audio book market is very different from the ebook market, and what might sell as an ebook, may not appeal as an audio book. Margins on audio books are much larger than on ebooks, and I know of many indie authors who make a good amount of money in audio books.
There are definitely fanatical audio book listeners out there, and many of them don’t care about the high price of audio books. I think it’s a market that should not be ignored by indie authors. I personally have recouped all my investment in audio books very quickly and make a nice additional chunk of money every month.
According to recent statistics, the Italian ebook market is in rapid expansion. What advice can you give Italian writers at this exciting junction?
I’m afraid I don’t know the Italian market very well. But as with every expanding market, it is important to look at your brand. Make sure that your covers tell the reader immediately what you’re writing, what they can expect. Don’t confuse them. You want to position yourself correctly and make a name for yourself. They should be able to recognize with one look whom a book is by. If that means that you have a certain color, a certain font, or a certain theme on your colors, then that’s what you’ll have to do. And don’t sell yourself short: make your name on the cover as big as you can. You ARE the brand. Make sure everybody knows that.
I think I would concentrate on just one series, not the five I now have. It’s virtually impossible to keep that many series going without pissing off readers when two much time passes between releases. At most I would have two series and really work on the momentum for them by releasing books very quickly.
As you know, EWWA is a network that provides support for women who revolve around the written word. What role do you see writer’s networks or groups playing in the success of a writer?
I’m part of many different networks and groups, both in person and online, and I find the support of these other writers invaluable. Without them, there would be days where I’d despair, because there is so much on my shoulders. And the advice some of these groups can offer can’t even be measured in money. Writing is a lonely profession, but with the help of these groups it doesn’t need to be.
Thank you Tina for having shared your experience as an indie author and for your precious advice.