Interview with podcast host Dan Dynneson

Hello wonderful, wonderful people of the internet. I know time is limited and that’s why I’m so glad you are spending some of it here with us on The Writing Piazza. We have with us today, Dan who hosts The Best Selling Fiction Podcast. I know he’s got a lot of helpful insights to share so let’s dive right in.

If you could start by telling my readers about yourself?

Dan:
SONY DSCMy name is Dan Dynneson, a Canadian-born resident. I grew up on the west coast in a small rural community, called Delta, where I lived most of my life. I was very introverted, often daydreaming about stories I wanted to write. I was often very bored with what was taught in school.

After I graduated, I still wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do for a career. My grandmother was a published author; she inspired me to enter the journalism program at Kwantlen Polytechnic. I did my entrance essay but missed the deadline for submission.

Instead, I ended up entering an electrical trade apprenticeship at BCIT through my sponsor, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I owe a lot to my dad for getting me started; I paid him back every single penny on the thousands of dollars he loaned me.

The Writing Piazza:
Wow, becoming an electrician, that’s a different direction from becoming a writer (but I’m a lawyer as well as a writer so I know all about different directions haha). What was that field like?

Dan:
Working in a trade was very tough, especially since I had no aptitude for tools. I was told I wasn’t cut out for it and there were lots of times where I wanted to give up. But I persisted and today I’ve managed to work across some of the largest constructions in Canada.

I’ve seen forty below. I’ve seen the Canadian Tar Sands first hand. I’ve worked with people of all ages. Both men and women from diverse backgrounds, from all parts of Canada and other parts of the world.

I thought I knew what Canada was having grown up in a multicultural region like Metro Vancouver. You don’t know what Canada is until you’ve been to the Prairies, Northern BC, or met people from the Maritime Provinces.

The Writing Piazza:
Wow, that sounds like you’ve got some great experiences from your work as an electrician. I bet they will help you write some killer stories! Can you tell us more about your passion for writing?

Dan:
Writing has always been a keystone in my life. It was there for me during those dark days in high school. It was there for me when my marriage wasn’t work out. It was there for me during all those good times and tough times of my life. Writing is therapy.

I have a twin brother Rob. We’d clown around on fan fiction and cast people we knew into our stories. I love making caricatures of things. I love satire. That satire continues today on iMessage whenever we comment on the most ridiculous news stories or articles we find online. That’s some great brainstorming right there.

The Writing Piazza: SONY DSC
So talk to us about how you came to be where you’re currently at, with your writing and you podcast and such.

Dan:
A year ago I took a course that taught me how to start an online ecommerce business. I think it’s safe to say it turned out to be a bust. Though I did learn how to hire people online, how to build websites, and to start thinking about things like marketing.

Where I put this new knowledge to use most was in solving a lot of problems in the writing department. I didn’t have to spend years mastering the ability to draw anymore as I could now pay someone over in Greece to do concept sketches for me on his tablet.

I hired help to get the ball rolling on two stories as well. So now I have these completed first drafts but after scrutinizing them and doing lots of research, and letting tons of ideas percolate across lots of notepads, I’ve started to rewrite them.

The Writing Piazza:
And how about self-publishing, what got you interested in that?

Dan:
I realized not too long ago there was this huge world of do-it-yourself self-publishing. I caught a glimpse of the surface last year but it wasn’t until recently that I really got to see just how big it is or who the movers and shakers were.

I came to a cross roads at the end of 2014. I could either focus on publishing my first novel, or I could launch a podcast and learn how the industry worked. So I decided I’d focus on figuring out how the industry worked and what goes into making a bestselling fiction story.

Before, I was trying to focus on too much at once. I wanted to run an ecommerce site, I wanted to make t-shirts, I wanted to do illustrations, I wanted to have a blog, run multiple websites at the same time. You really can’t do more than one thing at the same time. You’re fooling yourself if you think it’s the right thing to do, when really you should be giving it your all to one single thing.

The Writing Piazza:
Let’s dig a little deeper on the topic of your podcast I know that’s what really caught my attention. Can you tell us about it?

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Dan:
Self-publishing is about writing as much as it is about marketing and selling a product. So my approach is to interview a combination of fiction authors and branding experts.

At first I wanted to do a 15 minute show because I felt an hour was too long. It turns out my shows are about an hour long because I need time to introduce the show guest, ask questions, then close it up.

My first experience with podcasts was Navid Moazzez. His show The Lifestyle Architects was an interview-style show as well where he’d bring on branding experts. His show was a great success and I believe in modelling what works, so a lot of what I do is modeled after his style of interviews.

The Writing Piazza:
An hour long does seem rather long (then again my attention span is rather short, lol), but you’ve found it’s necessary to really be informative?

Dan:
There is one thing I can’t stand, which is vagueness. The worst of it is in books that teach you how to make money online. By the end of the book you still don’t know how to make money online and now you feel your time was wasted.

So if someone is vague, I’ll dig deeper and ask them to clarify what that means, or to be very specific. People want step-by-step instructions for success. They want that little 1% hack they can implement right away. Okay let’s say you run a service that helps authors… let’s talk about a specific case study and specific things you did to really transform them.

The Writing Piazza:
That definitely sounds worth the time spent! You’re a practical person like me, I love step-by-step instructions when I’m trying to figure out how to do something. That’s no different when trying to learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry.

Dan:
Listeners are giving me a whole hour of their time. My goal is to create content they would normally pay lots of money for. It should solve a problem they have.

I pay attention to which episodes are most popular and how many downloads each episode gets, and what people have to say, the good, and the bad. For instance, the three most popular topics in order are:

  1. Copyright Protection
  2. Building Bestselling Author Websites
  3. How To Be A More Persuasive Author

The one about bestselling fiction communities featuring Lia London was one as well; what goes into a great community and teaming up with other authors to make book launches a smashing success.

I have people on Instagram asking me how to write better. So now I may put out an episode about being a better writer. I’ve had requests to put people with opposing views into a debate-style format. Podcasts are as much about entertainment as it is about learning.

The Writing Piazza:
Well I for one love to learn things while being entertained. 🙂 That’s one of the things I love about these interviews, I think we can learn so much from others and I hope they are having fun reading these interviews.

Podcasts are a lot of work, what made you decide to take the time and effort required to produce one?

Dan:
My mentor Navid Moazzez was a big influence. He convinced me to start a blog. You need more than a blog. When you’re new no one knows who you are. The people that go to your website at first will just be friends and family. You need traffic. So a podcast is a great way to get traffic.

At first, I didn’t have a focus on my blogging. I wrote an article on outsourcing here. I wrote a top 3 frustrations article there. But then I realized I could use my website as a publishing platform for these two stories I wanted to do. I realized I could blog about fiction topics. So I started doing that.

At first I was going to do a podcast about outsourcing and hiring people online; my target market would have been entrepreneurs. But instead I decided to do self-publishing. But I didn’t just want to do self-publishing, I wanted to get more specific. So I went with fiction writing. I felt at the time fiction writing was an underserved market.

I wanted to learn how the industry worked. I’d have to learn how the industry worked if I was going to self-publish fiction books. Before I’d have to pay someone lots of money to pick their brain and I’d be their client. Now I can pick their brain for free and I’m now their equal, and they become part of my larger cross-promotional network.

There are lots of reasons to start a podcast:

– Website traffic
– The trust profile you build with listeners. That’s my voice. That’s who I am. That’s not something you can fake with paid articles
– Satiating my curiosity
– Networking with groups of people and industry movers-and-shakers.
– Making new friends. Partnerships.
– Chance to make money down the road (yay!).
– If people love my show, they’re likely to buy any books I publish (yay!).

A podcast gives me a chance to learn what people want. I get to build industry relationships. I get audience reach and exposure. In 2016 I will launch a fiction writing summit specifically for fiction authors. You won’t have to travel to a writing conference anymore. You will be able to attend for free. Maybe I can do partnerships with some schools where students will be able to get access to the entire video library of interviews.

The Writing Piazza:
That’s all great insight into your motivations and reasons for starting your podcast! And I love how you are helping other authors out at the same time. I’m a huge proponent of that. That’s the main reason I started doing these interviews and why I started the resources page on my blog. You will have to keep me posted about your writing conferences. I’m sure a lot of my fellow authors out there would love to attend a conference that didn’t require traveling or shelling out hundreds of dollars!

I’m also curious about how you decide who your guests will be? Can you tell us about how you choose who you will interview?

Dan:
All someone has to do is contact me on social media or by email. I’ll dig around online to find out everything I can about them. I’ll do a domain authority check to see what their rank is. I’ll check out their Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin profiles. I’ll check to see if they have more followers than people they are following.

I’ll check out their websites, put their name in Google, and if they have any published works, dig around on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll check out the reviews. Most profiles check out.

I’ll ask the person to tell me about themselves in their own words and what they love to talk about most and if I have to dig deeper, I’ll ask what they bring to the table that would help other fiction authors. And it’s not to disqualify them. Shows are based around a focus topic.

There’s people I will email and invite on to the show just because I think that person would be a great fit.

When I invited Meron Beraket on, it’s because I know he’d be great at helping other fiction authors use podcasting as a means to get more readers and more sales.

I invited Navid Moazzez on because he has a lot to say on branding that is very specific to fiction authors.

When someone approaches me, I know they want more exposure for their website, book launch, or other thing. That’s a given. But the show is about providing value to my listeners. That means I need a focus topic I can extrapolate information from.

If I can’t have someone on the show, I say that they’re welcome to come on when we can work out a great topic.

Yes the show is called The Bestselling Fiction Podcast, but this isn’t about being elite. If you are an author or branding expert, and there is any reason that other fiction authors can learn from you, let’s talk about it.

I had someone propose the topic of writing a book while juggling the responsibilities of being a single mother. That’s an awesome topic!

The focus topic is just to get the interview started. Often I find the real focus topic comes out as I’m doing the interview. The interview I did with Marianne started out about pricing strategies and ended up being about successful hustling through offline collaborations.

The Writing Piazza:
Speaking of other authors learning something. What’s the best advice you can give other authors that you’ve learned throughout your podcasting?

Dan:
This is hard one and that depends on your goal.

Spend a few moments to assess all that’s going on in your life. Identify what is the single most important thing you could be doing in your life right now that could get you immediate results; often you know what that is.

What is your top goal? Your one goal?

Are you a writer who doesn’t write? If your problem is excuses, the solution is to get creative in your use of time.

If your problem is getting that story finished, your solution is to stop worrying about things that become excuses. What good is branding or learning how to make a website if it stops you from writing?

If you want to learn about blogging and how blogging works, make that your focus, like I did.

Do you have fears? Better get over them. I had to get over the sound of my own voice; I cringed when I first heard how I spoke. Listening to my own voice forced me to be a better speaker.

Maybe you have a first draft but the draft sucks. Well, you can always go back and rewrite it. I’m rewriting both Starvaders and I’m rewriting The Upside Down Mountain.

Stuck on ideas? Carry a notepad around. Use your phone. If you can’t type, use an audio diction service to transcribe your audio into text. You can use Evernote to sync notes from your phone to your computer.

Here is some good common advice:

– Don’t let fear stop you
– Give up what is holding you back.
– Follow-through to completion.
– Failure is not failing.
– Think about who is buying your books, what they want, what they like, what they hate, and how to reach them through Facebook groups and online forums
– Successful book launches are built on collaborations with other authors.
– You don’t need an expensive book cover. It just can’t look “cheap” or cookie-cutter, like you don’t care about your story.

The Writing Piazza:
That’s all really great advice! Thank you for sharing that with us. And real quick, I saw on your website that you provide services for those interested in self-publishing, can you tell us about that?

Dan:
That is a sponsored service for Ani Alexander’s book publishing service. I’ve removed the link from my navigation menu and plan to put in a new page full of tools and resources that help out other authors.

I don’t offer any services, but I respond to anyone. I’ve had aspiring authors write to me on Instagram and ask how to write or what I think of a chapter. I read the chapter, give some input, then tell them to send me the next one. And if they don’t send it to me, I follow-up.

The Writing Piazza:
That’s really great of you. I think that’s one of the best things we can do for each other as fellow writers is to give honest feedback like that. Now before I let you go, I have to ask, are you currently working on writing any books?

Dan:
There are three story projects I’m working on, but I’m not ready to talk about them right now. My goal is to complete 10,000 words for Starvaders, which is set in an alternate history where Canada wars other nations with giant Starvader robots, which are driven by force-sensitive drivers. Very Evangelion-inspired. Very Star Wars inspired.

The story is about a retired soldier who finds employment up in Canada’s Tar Sands. He goes there to escape the American Front and start a new life, only to find that his old place of employment holds a dark secret that could implode the nation’s economy. And the key to that is through the Starvader machines that have been shipped there.

The Writing Piazza:
Sounds interesting! I’m a huge sci-fi fan (Star Wars is my fav movie of all time btw) so that sounds right up my alley. 🙂

Last but not least, do you have any links or other resources you’d like to share with us?

Dan:
Check out my show on iTunes at http://dynneson.com/iTunes.

You can also go to my website Dynneson.com to see the latest episode. The show notes page has the full transcript for you to read.

If you want to learn more about me and what I stand for, you can check out My Website.

You can get in touch with me by email: dandynneson@gmail.com

My Twitter handle is @dandynneson

My Instagram is @bestselling.fiction.podcast.

Grab The Ultimate Guide To Author Websites.

Grab The Ultimate Author Persuasion Guide (improve your titles, headlines, description, about me sections, what it takes to be an awesome copywriter, what steps to take in what order, what mistakes to avoid, and more).

Grab The Ultimate Author Copyright Kung Fu Guide.

The Writing Piazza:
This brings us to the end of our interview. Phew! There was so much great info in there it’s going to take me a while to process it all! Thank you Dan for taking the time to be a guest here on The Writing Piazza and thank you all you fabulous readers who stopped by to join us. You are all my favorites!

Until we meet again.

  • I loved what you did with this interview. Thanks for having me. And I hope people who read this took value from it. If you’re a writer, and you’ve made it this far, post what you’re working on right now!

    • Kara

      Thanks for taking the time to do the interview! There was so much great info in it! I love providing those kinds of resources to my fellow writers. 🙂

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