RWAUS22: Level Up with Zoe York

These are my notes from the Romance Writers of Australia 2022 conference. Please be aware that this is not a transcript.

Romance Your Career: Five Ways to Level Up as a Genre Fiction Author – Zoe York

1 – Data Matters
– observational
– anecdotal
– historical

– relatable
– accessible
– varied
– real time (sometimes)

– limited view
– can lack context
– own bias

2 – Goals will change over your career

Strategies won’t always be right for now but might latter or in the past

Ask – what is their goal? vs what is my goal?

Take care not to absorb other people’s goals (in the absence of your own)

3. Principles

– Data matters
– Goals matter
– General first, then specific

Focus on progress of learning over final mastery.

Different Levers to Pull or Push


– first in series
– prequels
– bonus content
– interstitial (I had to google this one, and it means an interval or space between, also an interstitial advert is one that appears while a website is downloading)
– micro story telling

– you don’t need to ONLY write novels
– there are lots of false narratives around free price points. examine these
– free removes the barrier to try something new (to the reader)
– Bonus: can convert a warm reader into a super fan


– use series and setting for growth
– make your books something to remember
– audience gets attached to series/place
– meta data/connected series
– backmatter – clear action
– does the series pass the merchandise test?
– what about the Netflix test (evocative names and binge-able)
– HEA for couple. Cliffhangers for series and setting

Series evolve over time. The best books are still to come. Your fans are only visible in hindsight.

Give fans less choice “One Clear Next Step”

Back matter: the next book and bonus content. The order of the two depends on the place in the series and the hook to the next book.


It’s easier together.

– anthologies
– boxed sets
– collaborative series/continuity
– shared worlds
– meta data connected series
– co-writing
– shared social account with theme

Not all of these will work for everyone. Upside: audience sharing and exposure.


Make promotion a habit.

– limited time deals
– evergreen content
– join community efforts (eg charity anthologies)
– build a launch calendar

Practise makes it easier

Brand evolution in the marketplace

Avoid any advice that interrupts your plans and goals

– limited time deals work well for backlist and new mailing list members
– plan them for just before a new release
– talk about your books
– repurpose content
– sometimes the opportunity is networking, not $$
– continual testing of your brand against data

The market decides your brand, not you, so listen.


Zoe talked about her secret pen name. Reasons to try this:
– new genre
– niche focus
– move away from reader expectations
– for fun
– to ride a bull market or trend

Take an empire approach to marketing. You are the author, pen names are the brands.

Multiple pen names takes planning to make sure schedules work.

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