Become a Writer Today

Writing and Selling Fantasy Books with Richie Billing

May 24, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
Writing and Selling Fantasy Books with Richie Billing
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
Writing and Selling Fantasy Books with Richie Billing
May 24, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Fantasy and non-fiction author, Richie Billing, has written several fantasy books and collaborated with other authors.

In this episode, I chat with Richie about his writing process for fantasy, world-building, and collaborating with other authors across the genre.

Richie's day job is in digital marketing, and so it stands to reason that he would use this to his advantage when it comes to selling his books.

He discusses the current digital marketing trends for authors, the benefits of building an e-mail list, and how to use Facebook ads to sell books.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Building the fantasy world before writing anything
  • What aspects fantasy novels should include
  • Richie's process for world-building
  • Collaborating with other authors
  • Using Facebook ads to sell books

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Fantasy and non-fiction author, Richie Billing, has written several fantasy books and collaborated with other authors.

In this episode, I chat with Richie about his writing process for fantasy, world-building, and collaborating with other authors across the genre.

Richie's day job is in digital marketing, and so it stands to reason that he would use this to his advantage when it comes to selling his books.

He discusses the current digital marketing trends for authors, the benefits of building an e-mail list, and how to use Facebook ads to sell books.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Building the fantasy world before writing anything
  • What aspects fantasy novels should include
  • Richie's process for world-building
  • Collaborating with other authors
  • Using Facebook ads to sell books

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Richie: Yeah, the first draft is definitely always the hardest, but, like I said, there’s a mental side of things. When you’re writing your first draft, I always think it’s just you telling yourself the story so you should remove any source of pressure and just focus on getting it all out and down on paper, and then you can tweak things later.

 Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

 Bryan: Do you want to write fantasy books? And how can you sell them? 

Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast. In this week’s episode, I catch up with fantasy and nonfiction author, Richie Billing, and he’s written a number of fantasy books and he’s also collaborated on his fantasy books with other authors. 

And in this week’s interview, Richie describes his writing process for fantasy, for world-building, and for collaborating with other authors across the genre. In the second half of the interview, we also talk about what’s working right now in digital marketing for authors because Richie also has a day job working within digital marketing and he describes how he’s using his e-mail list and Facebook ads to sell books.

Now, like Richie, I used Facebook ads for a year and Richie is still using them and he spends between 1 and 2 pounds a day on his Facebook ads, he’s based in the UK, and he says he generates, you know, a couple of 100 pounds’ worth of book sales each month from Facebook ads and that’s nothing to be sniffed at if, you know, you’re writing on the side while also working a day job. 

I used Facebook ads for about a year but I stopped using them because I found I was spending an awful lot of time, firstly, in Facebook, which stresses me out for various reasons, and also because I was spending a lot of time looking at spreadsheets trying to figure out click-through rates, conversion rates, and so on so it was kind of taking away from time I had to write and time I had to grow my own site, Become a Writer Today. 

But I still use Amazon ads because they’re relatively easy to use, even though the platform has gotten a bit more competitive, and they’re built for selling books because, think of it this way, when somebody is on Amazon and they see an ad for a book, they are one button away from buying your book, whereas with Facebook, you know, they could be a couple more clicks away. I spent a couple of hundred dollars a month on Amazon ads and normally it generates a return each month. So, if you’re tempted to try one of those strategies, I would say start with Amazon ads because they’re relatively easy to use and they’re built for authors and then, if you have a couple of quid a day or a couple of dollars a day, you could try Facebook ads.

 But, that said, the world of digital marketing has lots of different strategies and the other strategy that I recommend which Richie also talks about is creating an e-mail list. Now, I host my e-mail list using ConvertKit and if you’re listening to this week’s episode, chances are you heard about it on iTunes or Overcast. 

Wherever you did, please leave a short review because it will help more listeners find the show. Or you heard about it through my latest broadcast on ConvertKit. Basically, once you have an e-mail list, you own the relationship with your readers. If you want to get people on to your e-mail list, put call to actions in your book, put them at the end of your articles, and put them at the end of your work. Send traffic or send readers to a dedicated landing page and give them something to opt-in for. It could be for another free book, it could be a short story, it could be a checklist report, a video, a webinar, a presentation, something of value that readers will give you their e-mail list for. 

And then, when you have a new book out or you have a new piece of content or a course or you’re holding a workshop, which Richie’s doing, something he also talks about this week’s interview, you can tell people directly over e-mail. And it works. Think of it this way, when Amazon has a series of special offers or when they see you’re interested in particular products, they will send you an e-mail with the latest updates on prices and so on. Now, I recommend using ConvertKit because it’s built with content creators in mind and it actually has tools inside of it that will help you sell courses, that will help you sell books, and so on. And I’ve got a review for ConvertKit on the Become a Writer Today site which I’ll put in this week’s episode’s show notes.

 Now, with that said, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Richie and I asked him to describe his process for writing fantasy and, in the second half of the interview, we get into his digital marketing strategies for promoting both his fantasy books and also for nonfiction. And, finally, if you do enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show by becoming a Patreon. For just a couple of dollars a month, I give you my writing books, discounts on writing software, and discounts on my writing courses. And, of course, your support will help me record, produce, publish, and edit more episodes like this. Now, with that said, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Richie.

 Richie: Yeah, I always think writing fantasy is a little trickier than writing other genres, mainly because of the world-building aspect of it. I think that’s become quite synonymous with the genre and that there has to be some sort of secondary world and unique setting filled with dragons and all kinds of magic systems and whatnot.

 Bryan: George R. R. Martin.

 Richie: Yeah, most definitely. Yeah. I think a lot of fantasy writers go into it and reads things like J. R. R. Tolkien spent 20 years world-building before he even wrote anything at all. So, it’s like if that’s the sort of standard, then people will get a bit daunted by the prospect of it and so, yeah, there’s a lot of challenges to writing it because it’s not as if you’ve got like a ready-made world to reference things to. You’ve got to create everything from scratch and that prospect puts a lot of people off. And then, yeah, that’s why I love it though. I think I love the challenge of being able to create things from scratch. It’s all down to you, essentially. I don’t know if you’ve had much experience writing fantasy?

 Bryan: I haven’t had a lot of experience writing fantasy and I’m the kind of writer who likes to plan their work in advance, an outline —

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: — so what I’m curious about is when you describe your approach to world-building, like can that turn into a type of procrastination, or is that something you really need to do first before you actually write chapter 1?

 Richie: I think it’s definitely — there is definitely an element of procrastination involved. I think I was chatting to someone yesterday, actually, and he was saying that they always wanted to write a fantasy novel but they had to build the world first before they could write anything and I always just think that’s just — you just put it off just to escape the prospect of doing it and there are elements of world-building that is necessary but I’ve sort of moved towards something that I call natural world-building where you just build what’s necessary for your story and you reveal that information naturally as the story progresses and that way you don’t spend ages wasting time creating details that you’re never going to use new story and you write more efficiently.

 Bryan: So when you were writing your latest book, Pariah’s Lament, could you talk through how you got to the first draft?

 Richie: Yeah, the first draft is definitely always the hardest, but, like I said, there’s a mental side of things. When you’re writing your first draft, I always think it’s just you telling yourself the story so you should remove any sort of pressure and just focus on getting it all out and down on paper, and then you can tweak things later. So, when I wrote the first draft, I was just focusing on the characters really and the kind of the key plot points and I always say the real writing comes with the editing when you can look back and analyze things and chart the progression points and development points. So, yeah, the writing of Pariah’s Lament, the first draft, was just a case of just getting it all out as quickly as possible.

 Bryan: For getting it all out, did you have an outline? Did you have a character arc? Or did you free write?

 Richie: I do a bit of both, to be honest. I do like to see where the characters take you. I think that’s quite an interesting way to write because then the reader doesn’t fall into the trap of predicting what’s going to come next and it makes your story quite obvious. So, I like to have a vague outline of where I’m going sometimes and then, other times, if it’s more technical, say, if you’re writing a fight scene, you’re going to have to structure that one pretty meticulously because they’re so chaotic and you need to be able to convey the information clearly to the reader. So, there’s parts where I free write and then there’s other parts where I do take quite a structured approach.

Bryan: Do you have one page about a character, as in their physical traits, what they want or what they need, or do you just let that emerge as you write the story?

 Richie: With these two characters, yeah. I went into quite a lot of detail. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a Hungarian playwright called Lajos Egri —

 Bryan: No —

 Richie: He wrote a book called The Art of Dramatic Writing.

 Bryan: Oh, I’ve heard of that book, yeah.

 Richie: Yeah, it’s brilliant and he has a great system of creating characters called the bone structure and it looks at three dimensions, looks at the physiology, the sociology, and the psychology, and if you sort of build each pillar of your — or each dimension of the character, by the end, you should be able to have like a character who’s almost alive, like three dimensional, and you’d be able to understand everything about them. So, it’s one thing to know what a character wants for breakfast, it’s another thing to know the reasons why they want that and the bone structure, when I was creating these characters, helped me a great deal to really understand who they are and learn who they are. So, when it comes to writing the story and these characters moving through points of conflict and whatnot, they react in more believable ways.

 Bryan: That sounds a little bit like Robert McKee. He talks about, in his writing workshops, about how characters might want one thing but they actually need something else.

 Richie: Yeah. It’s amazing, really.

 Bryan: So do you identify all of that upfront or do you do a little bit of seeing what happens when you’re writing your draft as well?

 Richie: I think it’s more in the editing side when I take a step back and think, well, this is what this character is like, does this reaction, is this consistent with who they are and — but when you’re writing the first draft, I think you do use some elements of letting your characters dictate where the story goes just to see the possibilities. I always think with writing, I don’t know about you, when you get an idea for something and you think, “Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea,” but then that was just one idea, you could have taken a step back and looked at the different routes that the story could have taken.

 Bryan: Yeah, I guess you have to make some choices.

 Richie: You’re never too sure which choice is the right one to make until you do start exploring.

 Bryan: Yeah. So, you mentioned at the start of the interview about things that fantasy books need to have. So, we talked like George R. R. Martin and dragons is obviously very popular these days, but what would you say is the other conventions of the fantasy genre that if somebody was writing fantasy they should include?

 Richie: I think the world-building side is maybe the most important, just because people expect to escape into a different world with fantasy. Obviously, it depends on the type of fantasy you like reading, because like Harry Potter, for example, is set in a real-world —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: So, I do think the world-building is a big part. People love magic systems as well and that’s a big part as well. So, yeah, exploring different kinds of magic systems, original races, and monsters, and things like that, yeah. I kind of got a bit fed up of all the stereotypical fantasy things like dragons and wizards and all things like that and I’m more interested in sort of the lower fantasy stories where it’s just more about people but in a fantasy setting.

 Bryan: So, with George, would Game of Thrones be higher fantasy or lower fantasy?

 Richie: See, I think Game of Thrones is a bit of a confusing one because there are elements to it where it’s really low fantasy and it’s just about people —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — but then, all of a sudden, you’ve got dragons and white walkers. So, I always say the first book in Game of Thrones is a low fantasy and it’s maybe one of the best low fantasy stories out there and then it does get a bit more fantasy-ish on the scale.

 Bryan: And is fantasy a genre you’ve always wanted to write?

 Richie: Yeah, I think it captured my imagination when I was younger, like The Hobbit

 Bryan: Yeah, that’s a great book.

 Richie: Yeah. And going to places like Ireland as well on holiday. These places are just like — they are like something from a fantasy world sometimes and I’ve got a pretty wild imagination so fantasies were always something that I’ve enjoyed, but I do like other genres as well.

 Bryan: So, when you’re, just to go back to world-building again, could you just talk a little bit about your process for world-building, as in how are you doing it and what type of writing tool you’re doing it? Is it visual, is it with words, is it with pen and paper, or just some other process?

 Richie: Yeah, I think world-building, there is a lot of — it’s working out what to focus on because if you’ve got to create a world, to realistically build that entire culture and physical setting, it’s going to take your soul so long and we just don’t have the time to do that, to be honest.

So, I pick maybe — I like to build the physical setting first, and using the map can really help to do that and place all your rivers and your mountains and whatnot. And then, when it comes to the cultural side of things, I just try and pick things that are relevant to the characters.

So, Game of Thrones, there’s a lot in there about like the music and songs and poems and whatnot so they’re all cultural things that help to reveal the wider world and make it feel alive and lived in.

So, in Pariah’s Lament, I used to do — I introduced little things like games that children played so there’s a game in there that’s loosely based on hurling so I have some kids playing hurling in the background and then just draw like characters that are having — like secondary characters having their own conversations in the backgrounds and you catch snippets of it and I think little details like that, which readers so far of the book have said they’ve really enjoyed and makes the world feel alive and lived in, which is what we want.

 Bryan: And Pariah’s Lament is a shared world, as in you collaborate with other authors’ characters in a different universe.

 Richie: Yeah, that was a very interesting idea to me at first because you share the world-building aspect of it. So, when it came to writing Pariah’s Lament, I was given a sort of foundational story. These are the rules, the laws of the world, and you’ve got to shape your story around it. So, that was a bit frustrating at times because it limits your freedoms and no one likes that when they write daily, so —

 Bryan: No.

 Richie: So, there was a few give and takes for — it’s a lot easier, I think, because you’re not having to build everything on your own.

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: The tricky side, I think, is weaving everyone’s stories together.

 Bryan: So how many authors collaborated on creating the world?

 Richie: At the moment, there’s five of us and then there are a few sort of people who dip in and out so people will read stories and then if they get an idea for a short story set in that particular region or part of the world, then they can add to that world and keep developing it and I think the more writers that get involved, the harder it will be to weave everything together and also come up with original ideas or write with more freedom.

 Bryan: So, who holds the keys to the world? Who decides what goes in and what goes out?

 Richie: So that would be the editor-in-chief, J. M. Williams. He’s another fantasy writer and he sort of created the origin story and he’s populated the world so far with a lot of good stories so, yeah, he’s —

 Bryan: This is also your co-host for your podcast.

 Richie: Yeah, yeah, so he’s the boss man.

 Bryan: And did he come up with the world and then invite you to work with him? Or did you approach him with your story and think it would be a good fit for his world?

 Richie: Yes, I think he started — I don’t know how long he’d been working on it but it was a good while with a few other different authors and then, I think, for whatever reason, other people left and he was looking for other people so I applied and —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — I liked the sound of it and, yeah —

 Bryan: That’s like a job.

 Richie: Yeah. It felt like a job, to be honest —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — and — but, yeah, it was — it’s been a lot of fun and it’s just been nice working with other authors because it can be such an isolating thing, writing.

 Bryan: It can be, yeah. And did he give you a set of rules for the world or what did he give you so you could refer to when you were working on your story?

 Richie: It’s mostly the origin story so everything’s got to tie back to that. So —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — particularly with fantasy, if there’s magic systems and whatnot, there’s foundational stories to everything so it is a bit restrictive, to be honest, and we did — to be honest, disagreements here and there.

 Bryan: Yeah, I can imagine. Wasn’t it Twilight that started off as fantasy fiction?

 Richie: Yeah, I think so.

 Bryan: In the world of 50 Shades of Grey and somebody else’s shared world think, I think it was one of those two. So, when you were writing Pariah’s Lament, did you have to give it then to him to see before you can go to the next stage?

 Richie: Yeah. So, there’s a pretty rigorous process. I mean, it’s an indie press but it’s — we have high standards. So, there is a beta process for every writer so there’s like a buddy system where everyone gets paired up with a beta reader and a fellow writer who’s part of the community as well and so everything gets read and then everything gets edited and edited again. Editing alone probably took about 18 months —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — so the writing isn’t a big part of it, I don’t think. I think it’s maybe 9, 12 months of the writing and then it’s all editing after that.

 Bryan: And do you all agree on an editor beforehand that you should work with? Or do you have some other way of finding an editor?

 Richie: Yeah, there’s definitely — we’ve got like a roster of editors that we work with and I was lucky, the editor that I worked with, Anna, she gets the way I write and she enjoys the genre as well so it was really helpful having her on our side.

 Bryan: Oh, okay. So, when you finished the book, does having it in a shared world make it easier to sell it?

 Richie: I think it can do maybe down the line, I’m starting to see a lot of people who have read Pariah’s Lament asking for other books in —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — the shared world so I think that’s the aim is to sort of keep releasing books, quality books, and then if people want more, then they don’t have to wait for the author to write the next book, they can go and read another author.

 Bryan: Yeah. And you do a revenue split with the other people in the publishing company?

 Richie: Yeah, it’s very favorable with the publishing company. It’s 50/50 down the middle.

 Bryan: Okay.

 Richie: Because we’re all authors, what happened is we all had a book deal with a publisher called Fiction Vortex and they collapsed during the lockdown so there was like four or five of us with book deals and we all had books ready to come out as well so we thought let’s just band together and make our own publisher so we — being writers, we wanted to make it for the writers whilst at the same time balancing all the costs of publishing and whatnot.

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: It’s nice developing and growing and it’s very much aimed and built for authors.

 Bryan: Okay. Okay. Do you guys have plans to put together a series or box set all the books together?

 Richie: Yeah, most definitely. I think there’s a few book sets already knocking about on Amazon that J. M. Williams has done and —

 Bryan: Yeah. 

 Richie: — and, yeah, I think — it’s quite exciting really because it’s new and there’s a lot of potential and we’re just going to sort of do our own thing and if readers love it, then all the better. It to be very much loved by the readers and if they tell us they want things, then we shall deliver.

 Bryan: That’s a good promise to make. So, when did Pariah’s Lament come out and what are you working on at the moment?

 Richie: So, Pariah’s Lament is out — it came out on the 17th of March —

 Bryan: Oh.

 Richie: St. Patrick’s Day and because there’s nothing else to do on St. Patrick’s Day this year.

 Bryan: No, there’s not.

 Richie: I was hoping lockdown would be over so I could at least go.

 Bryan: Yeah. No, unfortunately not.

 Richie: Nothing like that, so that was — that’s when it’s out and then, yeah, just going to promote it as much as possible.

 Bryan: So we’re recording this on the 16th. St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. Do you mean it’s out tomorrow?

 Richie: It’s out tomorrow, yeah, of course.

 Bryan: Yeah. Because it looks like it’s out when I was looking at your site. Okay.

 Richie: Yeah. So tomorrow, yeah. I still have a celebration book, got quite a lot planned. It’s very strange releasing a book in the middle of the lockdown. You can’t really do author events in person which is what I was hoping to do but it’s been quite interesting as well because it’s forced you to be a bit more creative in what you can offer people.

So, I’m doing a writing workshop which is tomorrow evening all about how to write a fantasy novel and my experiences writing Pariah’s Lament and — because I love going to author events but sometimes I don’t really like listening to the author reading out their latest book and I just want to hear about the writing and how they wrote it as opposed to them actually reading it out.

 Bryan: Yeah, I’d agree with that. I went to an author event for an Irish author a few years ago and he read out one of his older stories and when he read it out, my reaction was that’s not how I imagined those characters talking. It was his book, I mean, he’s allowed to read them whenever he wants. So, how did you get — how are you getting people for the workshop? Is it through social media or word of mouth?

 Richie: Yeah. Been using the mailing list a lot. I’ve got my own writing group so a lot of people from that have subscribed and then I do — I’m a digital marketer by day so I use a lot of the techniques that I’ve learned in that job to promote and get things done, so I think there’s about 300 people booked in so far so —

 Bryan: Oh, that’s a lot.

 Richie: — I should be good. And just need to — start the pressure, I need to make sure it’s good.

 Bryan: So I have a background in digital marketing as well. I’m curious, what’s working for you right now for selling books?

 Richie: So, selling books, my Fantasy Writers’ Handbook is what I’m promoting continuously at the moment. So, I’m using a lot of Facebook ads —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — and just a lot of A and B testing just to see what works, what demographics are responding well to ads, and you do have consistent sales. I don’t think it’s going to set the world alight but — like some people claim is possible, but just a steady, consistent bit of income from that book. Previously, I didn’t get anything at all so I’m taking it step by step. And, yeah, I do a lot of e-mail marketing as well. So, I do focus a lot on building and growing my mailing list and then I have a lot of automations in place so when people join, they can go on different journeys depending on what they’re interested in. And then, ultimately, down the line, there’ll be promotions and invitations for them to check out, books to buy so, yeah. What about you? Have you had much success lately?

 Bryan: With Facebook ads, mixed success with Facebook ads so I stopped running them because they were taking up a lot of time and I wasn’t earning that much from them. I’ve had good success with Amazon ads, although the platform has gotten more complicated to use, which means it’s more time-consuming, but I still use them. I use the automated ads that they have and they work quite well. I think e-mail marketing works the best and the way I grow my e-mail list is from content marketing, which is quite easy for me because I write nonfiction.

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: So, that’s worked quite well. So, when I was using Facebook ads, my strategy was to send people to the Amazon store and have a tracking code on the Facebook ads.

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: Is that what you’re doing or have you some other approach?

 Richie: Yeah, I use Universal Book Link and just direct people towards the Amazon store. I know a lot of people use landing pages, don’t they?

 Bryan: Yeah, I tried that approach as well, yeah.

 Richie: I just think if there’s too many steps involved, you’re going to lose people, because I noticed that when you use landing pages, people click on it, and then only so many people actually click further —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: Because, I mean, I follow like Nick Stephenson who’s a very good author and he likes landing pages and there’s too many steps in his process, I think. It works for him so I don’t know why it doesn’t work for me but I just think there’s too many steps. So, I just want people to — give lots of people lots of information in the initial ad and then take them straight to the place where they can buy and —

 Bryan: Could you give people an idea of what your budget is for your ads?

 Richie: I spend as little as possible a day. So, what I will do is put a pound on a day or two pounds a day and I’ll test that ad set and if it responds well and I’ve got pretty low cost per click, sort of like 18 pence a click, then I will increase that then and I think that’s the problem. Once you find that right sort of ad set, you can scale them and that’s one of the benefits of Facebook ads. And —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — and, yeah, I do think it does work. I don’t really spend more than five pounds a day on an ad set and, usually, if I spend five pounds, I sell an e-book, two-pound profit, on top of that so you only have to sell three e-books and, good days, you might make 10-, 15-, 20-pound profit so —

 Bryan: That adds up pretty quickly.

 Richie: Yeah. If you do that, if you look at that 20 pounds a day just for —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — pretty much doing nothing, over the course of a month so that’s actually dependable so —

 Bryan: Yeah, that’s quite a lot for a side income. No, that’s not, no, and if you’re — are you selling your writing book, your book about the craft?

 Richie: At the moment, it’s just the book about the craft and —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — I think — what I’m trying to focus on at the moment is creating products that solve people’s problems and that seems to be a big one at the moment —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — and, well, the rest I work — like I follow a lot of Neil Patel’s stuff. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Neil Patel?

 Bryan: I am, yeah.

 Richie: Yeah, yeah. So, I like his content because it’s all driven by the need to solve people’s problems and it’s really helpful. So, like I’m trying to do a writing course this year, I’m going to try and launch that and use ads, again, mostly for that one and just automate the whole process.

 Bryan: So the other reason I stopped doing ads was it was taking up an increasing amount of time. Could you give listeners an idea of how many hours you’re spending on the ads themselves?

 Richie: Not too much, to be honest. I get — once I get an idea of what kind of interests to target, I will just spend quite a bit of time building like a main sort of ad set and then I will chip away at different interests. I will narrow the focus or broaden the focus. So, I’ll just keep an eye on things and, like I said, once you’ve got one ad that is consistently giving you some traffic and some results, you can just keep growing that and tweaking that one. So, I find that more tweaks than anything else rather than wholesale changes every time you do a new ad.

 Bryan: And are you targeting interests or readers of similar books or —

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: Readers of similar books? Okay.

 Richie: It’s more the interests. So, if I — my writing book is about fantasy so writing fantasy so I can target people who like fantasy books, who like writing, who like fiction writing, and then it can look at specific fantasy authors and narrow that down further and I found the more you can narrow it down to sort of 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 people, that’s when you sort of really start to — you want to get conversions as opposed to traffic and the narrower your focus is, the more likely you are to convert —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — I find, anyway.

 Bryan: Yeah. That’s good advice, good advice. So, in the book itself, you also talk about the mental strategies of the craft. You focus on issues like battling self-doubt and maintaining focus. So, as somebody who’s, you know, running ads, you’re working in digital marketing, and you’re collaborating with other authors, like you’ve got a lot going on, Richie, so how do you maintain focus on actually creative work?

 Richie: I’ll be totally honest, the focus on the creative side has left since I’ve started this digital marketing job.

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: Because you just get drawn into the — like building your website SEO, ranking for keywords and things like that and, I don’t know, I think I will definitely get back to the creative writing side of it, in time. It’s just what — I want to build something I can just run so that when I do release more creative work and the system’s there, I’m not missing any opportunities and maximizing what I’m putting out. 

So, well, I do miss writing creatively so I do try and sneak it in any way I can so what I’ll do now is, stuck in traffic or something like that, I’ll have like stories that I’m sort of writing and I’ll just keep adding to them on my phone or —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — writing little notes down. Any little snippets of opportunity, a bit at a time, I will try and squeeze it in with something productive instead of just browsing through social media. 

 Bryan: Yeah. Well, it’s hard to do everything, that’s the other thing.

 Richie: Yeah, there’s only so much time in the day, isn’t there? 

 Bryan: Yeah. And what about battling self-doubt? You also talk about that in your book.

 Richie: Yeah, that was — I don’t know about you when it comes to writing — when — particularly writing a fantasy novel or a novel, generally, it’s such a big project and there’s not many people there to share in that experience as well so you’re never really sure whether it’s any good, whether you’re on the right path, whether you’ve made the wrong decisions with your story and —

 Bryan: Yeah.

 Richie: — I’m someone who struggles with a lot of doubt and things like that, generally, so I was always worried that no one was going to read it and that it was rubbish. So, I was always just really nervous when I was sending it out to like advanced reviewers and, thankfully, now, some positive reviews came back in and it eases your mind a bit. It’s definitely a big demon for a lot of writers when they’re writing a novel, in particular, because, like I said, there’s just nobody there but you, so, I don’t know about you. Have you experienced much problems with procrastination and things like that?

 Bryan: You mentioned an interesting point about working on something and not sure if you’re going in the right direction. So, I recently sent a manuscript to an editor and the manuscript was fairly polished because I worked in quite a lot but I’m thinking that maybe I should have sent it when it’s a little bit more unpolished and gotten feedback sooner.

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: But I was worried if I sent something that wasn’t quite polished, you know, she would send it back to me, but I still have to make the changes anyway. So —

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: — so I got — in short, I could have saved time if I’d accepted some of the issues with the manuscript and gotten feedback sooner. So —

 Richie: Yeah.

 Bryan: — that’s probably the issue I have at the moment.

 Richie: Yes, like I said, it’s just — when you — you’re just not sure and sometimes you get excited by an idea but it’s not necessarily the right idea and then you just have to go back and rewrite.

 Bryan: Yeah. Yeah, it’s interesting you work in digital marketing because that’s a fantastic skill set for testing ideas.

 Richie: I know. I just love talking about it as well now. It’s taken over my life a bit now with the marketing side of things

 Bryan: It can do, yeah, I know, it can be all consuming. I know your pain. So, Richie, where could people find your books or learn more about you?

 Richie: So, my website, www.richiebilling.com. It’s got everything on there, got books, got free short stories to read, lots of writing tips and guides, and links to the podcast as well if you want to check that out. And Pariah’s Lament is available worldwide now, and you’ll be able to go on Amazon, pretty much every seller and, hopefully, you should be able to get it in like local high-street bookstores. If they haven’t got it stocked, you can ask them to stock it and that won’t be a problem.

 Bryan: Thank you, Richie.

 Richie: No problem. Thanks very much for having me, Bryan. Lovely to chat with you.

 (outro)

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