James Krake: Iron Age Marketing Podcast Episode 028

In today’s episode of Iron Age Marketing, I talk to James Krake, a science fiction and fantasy author as well as YouTuber not afraid to call the indie community on it’s BS.

Let’s Meet Iron Age Creator James Krake

James is an independently published author of speculative fiction and a reluctant YouTuber. You can check out his epic fantasy web novel for free in the links or pick up his science-fiction on all major book retailers.
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The Indie Creator’s Struggle & Entertainment’s Cost of Entry

The discussion kicks off with Nicky P highlighting the dual identity of James Krake as both a YouTuber and an author. James, known for his candid and incendiary takes on Twitter (at least by Nicky P,) sheds light on the struggles of wearing multiple hats in the business. He emphasizes the inherent difficulties faced by indie authors who must navigate the realms of marketing, networking, running a YouTube channel, and even critiquing fellow YouTubers’ books.

James unveils how a global catastrophe reminded him he wanted to be more than just an engineer. He wanted to be an author and began doing what engineers do: researching. Today he finds himself the creator of both an online fantasy series and a running science fiction series.

Nicky P and James touch upon the accessibility of indie publishing, noting its low cost of entry as well as discussing the affordability of e-books for consumers, allowing them to access hours of entertainment at a reasonable price. James advocates for reasonable pricing and emphasizes the importance of investing time to hone one’s craft before expecting success, especially when acknowledging the challenges of the developing indie system, which lacks the layers of support that traditional publishing has historically provided.

Ending the first segment of the interview, James reflects on the biggest hurdle he faces in self-publishing—the danger of toxic positivity. He warns against surrounding oneself with individuals who provide unwarranted praise without constructive criticism. James shares his personal experience of launching his first book and acknowledges that seeking critical feedback could have led to a stronger initial launch.

The Complexity of Value & Pricing in Indie Publishing & Cyberpunk Reimagined

The discussion kicks off with Nicky P sharing his insights on commissioning art and the challenges associated with assigning value to creative work. Both speakers agree that the worth of art is subjective and varies based on individual perceptions. Nicky P emphasizes the role of creators in communicating the value of their work to potential consumers. James Krake chimes in, detailing his experience with pricing his books, shedding light on the complexities of determining the optimal cost. They discuss the pitfalls of underpricing, which may lead potential readers to question the quality of a book, and overpricing, which might deter buyers. The duo even touches upon the strategy of using the first book in a series as a “loss leader” to attract readers, acknowledging the need to balance affordability with perceived value.

The dialogue shifts briefly towards audiobooks, with their gaining prominence, but Nicky P expresses surprise at the minimal earnings authors receive for their efforts in producing audiobooks. James Krake provides insights into the suitability of audiobooks for different genres, emphasizing that certain genres benefit more from the audio format.

James Krake ends the segment with his perspective on the cyberpunk genre, and his feelings that it has been trapped in the 1980s and struggles to resonate with contemporary audiences. He critiques the themes and concerns of traditional cyberpunk, highlighting its outdated portrayal of technology and the disconnect with the current era of the internet and advanced technologies like Neuralink. James Krake’s cyberpunk series aims to break free from the aesthetics and constraints of the past, offering a more relevant and nuanced exploration of the intersection between humanity and technology.

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A Tech Noir Protagonist & Balancing Politics & Entertainment in Fiction

In this segment, James Krake details his cyberpunk series: Bastion, featuring Detective Blackstone, a character navigating a highly urbanized society with tech-noir elements. The series focuses on stories and crimes existing in the cracks of the system, examining how individuals intentionally subvert technology. The protagonist, Detective Blackstone, emerges as the one cop striving to do the right thing in a broken society.

With this type of setting and character it’s hard not to touch on political themes within the series. James emphasizes that the narrative prioritizes entertainment. While addressing social-political aspects, the series aims to maintain an engaging and entertaining storytelling experience without leaning into controversial third-rail issues that pull readers out of the narrative.

The discussion concludes with a poignant exploration of the elephant in any room when discussing publishing. The challenge of reaching an audience in a reading-scarce environment. James Krake expresses frustration with the declining interest in reading and the prevalence of alternative forms of entertainment. The speakers both acknowledge the uphill battle of promoting books in a world where reading competes with platforms like TikTok and Netflix.

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The Compulsion to Write & Exploring Mediums: From Prose to Board Games

“Why do you write?” This fundamental question becomes the endcap of this segment. Krake confesses to being internally compelled to write. Additionally, it’s not just a mere expression; it’s a business where where his decisions are made strategically. From prioritizing stories to marketing strategies, Krake acknowledges the multifaceted nature of the writing profession. The conversation hints at the inevitable tension between artistic passion and the practicalities of reaching an audience.

Nicky P, never shy about taking the conversation for a fascinating turn, asks Krake about translating stories into different mediums. James expresses that for him, some stories find their home in prose novels, while others are destined for graphic novels and even board games. The challenges of funding and “audience reach” become a determining factor at this point in his career, however. Krake lets us into some of his challenges in relation to producing graphic novels in particular. The need for substantial funds to bring a vision to life is at the top of the list. The discussion touches upon the delicate balance of pricing, audience size, and the competitive nature of the market, revealing the uphill battle writers face when venturing into graphic storytelling.

Community Engagement & Science Fiction Vs Fantasy

Opening the last segment of this weeks interview, Nicky P tried to dig in to what exactly James would like fans of his work doing for him. While he mentions the obligatory Amazon reviews so he can hit his minimums for Amazon to promote his books, he also calls out the artists in his community to stop wasting time drawing fan art of legacy brands in favor of ding the same for independent creators. He emphasized the importance of cultivating a community around independent intellectual properties, creating a space for artists to showcase their talents.

The hosts delved into the intricacies of James Craig’s storytelling approach. They discussed his epic fantasy series, “The Undying Emperor,” and its unconventional narrative structure, the progression fantasy. James claims the style is akin to leveling up in Dungeons and Dragons. James elaborated on how he divided the story into standalone books, each representing a different region and adventure in the protagonist’s journey.

The web novel, available on rural road, offers a raw, unedited glimpse into his creative process. While he acknowledged potential quality issues, he highlighted the steady stream of content reaching an audience of around 1,400 readers per chapter. He likened this content stream to handling something similar to an email list. In contrast, the books available on platforms like Amazon undergo rigorous editing and polishing to meet higher standards.

Hopefully, today’s episode with James Krake serves as both inspiration and education in your own journey to bring your creation to the world.

Shilling In The Iron Age

Need help connecting with or growing your audience for your book, comic, TTRPG, or other creative endeavor? Check out Nicky P @ ironagemarketing.com
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