Authors’ book marketing discussions on blogs and forums tend to focus on launching and promoting new titles. What about your older titles?
“Old” books published a year or more ago get short shrift from authors. However, those older titles — your backlist — can be a virtual goldmine. They’re assets.
Book marketing: all your titles are assets you own
Every book you write and publish is an asset, just like your house and car. Recently I asked a group of my students about promoting their backlist.
Only one student out of the entire group had a strategy for backlist promotion. Most students focused entirely on promoting new and upcoming titles with strategies like extensive advertising and pre-orders.
The authors ignored their backlist for many reasons, including:
- Uncertainty. An author might shove books into KDP Select to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited’s Pages Read’s royalties. He’d promote the titles via Facebook and Amazon advertising, but wouldn’t explore options beyond that;
- Doubts about a book’s value. An author’s writing improves with each book. If a book doesn’t sell brilliantly authors tend to ignore them, thinking that: “my writing’s much better now…” This is a shame.
- Lack of time. It takes time to revamp older titles and create and manage promotions for them.
Let’s look at some tips for boosting sales of your backlist.
1. Make a list of your backlist’s titles: can you bundle any of them?
I’m a huge fan of bundling older titles — that is, combining two or more titles into a collection. You’ll sell your bundles for slightly less — not too much less — than the titles’ current price.
Used strategically bundles can not only generate an income for self-publishing authors but they’re also a great way to introduce new readers to your writing.
Start by listing your current titles. The more titles you have, the greater your opportunities to create bundles. Promote your newer titles by adding a preview or two to the back matter.
Don’t go overboard with the bonus content. Amazon’s bonus content rules state that a preview should amount to 10% or less of a book’s total content.
2. Write short stories to boost your older titles, and newer titles too
Amazon’s algorithms tend to favor newer titles. So, new books quickly overwhelm and crowd out older titles. Short stories, and short nonfiction ebooks, are a way of climbing back onto Amazon’s NEW! train.
Your focus isn’t so much on book sales as it is on introducing new readers to your writing. Again, add bonus content to the back matter of your short titles, but no more than 10% of the whole.
3. Share promotional opportunities with other authors in your genre
Clubbing together with other authors in your genre or category means that you can take advantage of more book marketing opportunities.
Not only can your group create genre/ category bundles, but you can also share advertising expenses with other authors. An advertising venue which is too expensive for you as a solitary author becomes more viable when you get together with several other authors.
Book marketing opportunities: review your backlist titles at least every three to six months
Things change fast in publishing. When you review your backlist every few months you’ll find fresh opportunities to market your older titles.
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Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.
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