If you’ve been self-publishing for a while, your backlist is growing. You’re promoting your new releases, and over time, your backlist is left to fend for itself.
A couple of weeks ago a reader asked: “How do I promote my older books without spending money on advertising?”
Self-publishing? Your books are available as long as you choose
One of the benefits of self-publishing is that your books are available forever, more or less. You can publish/ unpublish, edit and republish… Everything is up to you.
Keeping this in mind, that you can edit and republish at any time you choose, here are some strategies for promoting your self-published back catalogue.
1. Give an old title a makeover, and republish it
I’m a tinkerer, and I love hitting the PUBLISH button, whether it’s on a blog post, or a book.
One of the easiest ways to promote an older title is to edit it, and republish it. You can add new info (nonfiction) or a new chapter. With fiction, you can add scenes.
Remember to use the backmatter of all your titles for promotion. Add a (brief) preview of a recent release. Make sure that you’ve added a link to your website, and mailing list. Got many books? Develop a list of titles, and add the list to your entire back catalogue.
When I suggest a title makeover to students, they ask whether they should republish the book as a new title, or a new edition.
My rule of thumb:
- More than 50% new content? It’s a new title. Unpublish the older title;
- Less than 50% new? It’s a new edition of the title.
2. Change an older book’s cover to give it a fresh new look
This is the easiest way to promote an older title. Change the cover.
In some cases, this can have an enormous impact. One student changed the cover, and her book started selling copies every day. In her case, her new cover was more in line with her genre’s expectations, so the big uptick in sales made sense.
3. Update your most recent titles, with ads for your older books inside
When you publish a book, it’s done. You forget about it. However, always keep your backlist in mind.
See the first strategy, above. Advertise older titles in your new books, and add a list of all your titles to each book you publish.
4. Change the price on your older titles
Whatever the price you’re charging, change it. No, I don’t mean that you should lower the price of the book: increase it.
When I share this strategy with my students, they’re stunned. I encourage them to do it, assuring them that the sky won’t fall, and they’re even more stunned.
One student had a cozy mystery which hadn’t sold more than ten copies. He increased the price: now it sells, so he’s writing a series based on the characters… Go figure, right?
A side-benefit of increasing the price of older titles is that you can now afford to advertise them.
5. Pop a book into KDP Select for three months (or remove it from Select)
KDP Select is a conundrum. Some authors won’t have anything to do with it, and that’s OK. Other authors enroll everything in Select.
This is understandable. Some books do brilliantly in Select, others don’t.
Here’s what I suggest to new authors. If you’re publishing a novel, pop it into Select for three months, then go wide with it. When publishing nonfiction, go wide immediately.
With an older title, if it hasn’t been in Select for a year or more, pop it in for three months (be sure to give it a full or mini-makeover first), then take it out.
For older titles already in Select, take them out when their current three months is up, and give them a makeover, then publish them wide — and raise the price while you’re at it.
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