This week we managed to conduct an author interview with Apollos Thorne.
Even if you’ve never read Thorne’s books, chances are you’ve heard of him if you’re a LitRPG fan. Apollos is the bestselling author of the series “Codename: Freedom” and “Underworld: Level Up or Die!”. After receiving more than 500k views on the first rough draft of his novel, he decided to pursue his passion for writing. Now, he’s a proud author of several LitRPG books, an industry expert, and a Patreon success.
We invite you to pick up top tips and inspiration from Apollos Thorne in this exclusive interview.
Keep reading to find what Apollos has to say about:
- how to stay in a creative mood
- what book marketing ideas work best
- how to get the first readers and reviews
- how to use Patreon as an indie author
Let’s get the ball rolling!
You have recently released your “Underworld Book 5”. Our sincere congratulations! Tell us more about your book pre-launch campaign. What strategies have you used?
Thank you! My pre-launch campaign revolves around Patreon and Facebook. My patrons are always the first to find out information about new releases, and many of them even read the chapters early. One of the most important things an author can do is know what platforms their readers use. In my case, it’s Facebook. I have a personal page and group that I notify, then push the update to some of the larger reader groups there.
Сould you please share your favorite 2-3 book release marketing ideas that work best for you?
With any marketing, always research which platforms your readers use. On one hand, which platform they used for their social media is important so that you can reach them, but also, the platform they use to buy and read books is just as important. In my genre, Amazon Kindle is the main platform used by readers, so advertising on Amazon is advisable. As I said in question one, my readers hang out in Facebook groups, so advertising there is also a must.
I recommend publishing with Kindle Unlimited for new authors if you’re publishing your 2nd or 3rd book. KU is like the Netflix of e-books. You pay $10-15 a month and get to read as much as you want. People new to your work are much more likely to pick it up if it doesn’t cost them much to give it a try. KU does exactly that.
Also, Amazon will do their own in house marketing via their website and emails, so probably the best marketing you can do is to publish the next book. Publishing every 2-4 months seems to work well from my experience and what I hear from other authors.
You write in a very specific genre, LitRPG. How did you decide to go down that road?
My start in LitRPG began with my love for RPGs. I’m a gamer, and like many people that grew up playing MMOs like World of Warcraft, once I got older, I simply didn’t have the time to invest in games in the same way. I’ve also always been an avid reader, and writing is something I’ve done off and on since I was in elementary school for fun. It was this combination of these things that led me to post the first chapter of “Codename: Freedom” on Royalroad.com back in 2015. After 500,000 views, it became clear I needed to pursue publishing, so after rewriting the entire first book, I published and found out I could actually make some money doing it. It was only after publishing the first “Underworld” novel that it became clear that I might be able to do it for a living.
It was such a pleasure to design your book covers and get to know about your characters and their adventures. How do you get and stay in such a creative mood?
First, I have no choice. I have a family to provide for, and I like to eat. In artistic circles, it’s often looked down upon to do things for money, but that is my primary motivating factor. I also like to tell people asking about writing that the first book is the hardest, but after two or three of them, it’s no longer a question of whether you will finish a book, but when. Sometimes it feels like work, but other times it feels like I’m getting to do the hobby that I love.
For motivation, I recommend a few things. Listening to music while writing is a must for me. Reading a lot in genre and out keeps your creative engine well oiled. Interacting with fans keeps you encouraged. Also, staying in decent physical shape helps stabilize your mood and improves mental clarity. If you’re tired all the time, it’s hard to put your best into anything.
Apollos, you are quite active on the Patreon platform. How is it treating you? Any advice on how to use Patreon as an indie author?
I’m a big fan of Patreon as an avenue for supplemental income. Not all authors post chapters as they work on them, but for me, having patrons that expect to see them helps to motivate me to keep working. Since an author’s income often comes in royalty checks, having a monthly deposit helps with the family budget.
It’s also one of the best ways to stay in touch with your biggest fans. You can get to know them in a way that’s difficult on other platforms.
What influencers or other self-published authors do you stay tuned for and would recommend fellow writers to follow?
As one of the earlier writers in the genre, I’ve gotten to know a number of LitRPG authors. I’ve limited my social media presence in the last year, so maybe not so many of the new ones, but for those interested in learning about writing, Tao Wong always had good articles on his Patreon. Blaise Covin and Charles Dean consistently post good info on Facebook. Warning, they are blunt but give good info.
There are also a number of people I follow just because they are awesome people, and I love their stuff. Dakota Krout, Luke Chmilenko, Harmon Cooper, James Hunter, Will Wight, and about two dozen more than aren’t coming to mind because I haven’t had enough coffee this morning. Sorry guys and gals.
What, in your opinion, are the best ways to get the first readers and collect first reviews?
Publishing the next book. If you use the Amazon platform, especially Kindle Unlimited, then nothing compares. Just keep writing and publishing. I’ve done releases where I’ve heavily advertised, and did a few where I didn’t at all. Advertising does make a difflerence, but not as much of a difference as you might think. It becomes easier once you’re established, of course.
If you’re publishing your first book, I don’t usually recommend spending money on advertising. Instead, look for Facebook groups, forums, Reddit, etc. that have readers and aren’t just filled with other writers, and post there. It’s free that way. Once you publish book two, then your advertising dollars will go much further. Book three is even better.
It was a great pleasure to interview Apollos Thorne, and hear his opinion on self-publishing and book marketing. Thank you for the excellent tips and ideas.
Let’s stay creative!