Thursday, July 13, 2017

Generating Interest in an Older Series

Listen to the companion podcast episode.

One of the questions I've frequently been asked is, "How can I generate interest in an older series?" It's a good question. We all want our back-list books to continue earning for us. What can we do if an older series isn't performing?

I'm going to assume you've already tried the standard advertising techniques discussed in previous posts and episodes. If not, go back and take a look at recommendations.

1. Write a new book in the series.
This one's the most obvious. New books generate interest in the older titles. Even with series that can be read in any order, many readers still prefer to read chronologically. Putting out a new book, especially if it hits some bestseller charts, should generate interest in book one, in particular.

But what if the series is complete and there's no good way to add a new book?

This is the situation that most commonly prompts the question of how to renew interest in a series. A few ideas:

2. Give the series a new look:

Redesigning the covers can be a great way to spark sales, especially if your covers look "old." I recently overhauled the look of my Dane Maddock Adventures series:

You can see the differences right away. The new covers are sharper, more eye-catching, and have a consistent design that ties them all together. (Hat tip to Kent Holloway Book Cover Design for the excellent job!)

Why does a book cover refresh make a difference? When people are clicking through Amazon or the store of their choice, their eyes slide right past the unappealing book covers. They don't stop to digest every little thing they don't like. They don't commit the author's name to memory and vow never to buy one of her/his books again. Even if your covers aren't bad, they won't be right for every reader. There are bound to be plenty of readers who would enjoy your books, but haven't paid them any mind in the past because the covers aren't to their taste.

What else can I do/ what if I can't afford a cover refresh?

3. Put book 1 free or on sale and PROMOTE it.

It's not enough to put book 1 at .99 or free. You need to get the word out. If you're going the freebie route, I've had excellent results advertising with Freebooksy.

Also consider lowering the price of book 2 to entice readers to make an impulse buy. If you have several books, consider staggering the prices: Book 1 $0, Book 2 $0.99, Book 3 $2.99...

Also, Freebooksy has a feature which allows you to promote an entire series.

But won't I lose money if I slash prices?

That depends on how many you're already selling. Do the math. Experiment. Compare results.

4. Promote the old series to your established readership.

Readers can be funny. Just because someone follows you on Facebook or subscribes to your newsletter doesn't mean (s)he has read everything you've written or even taken a look at your full catalog. There's no harm in occasionally reminding your readership that a given book or series exists. I like to do it in the form of a giveaway, either by setting the book for free, or using the coupon code feature at Smashwords.

5. Book bundles

We discussed book bundles in a previous episode. Options include:
Curate your own, working with other authors.
If you have several series of your own, offer a bundle of all the book 1s.
List your book with Bundle Rabbit in hopes of being picked up for someone else's project.
Offer a series bundle. I've found this especially effective with my Absent Gods series, particularly in audio. Bundles have the added benefit of being more likely to get picked up for a Bookbub ad.

Those are just a few ideas. I hope you find them helpful. Feel free to share your own tips.

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