If you’re publishing a sequel, whether it’s the second book in a duology or a later-in-series book, its launch is a chance to capitalize on the success of the previous book(s). You’ll already have a built-in fan base eager for more, but you need to make sure they’re aware a sequel is getting published and when it’s launching — plus, you’ll want to hook new readers as well.
So what are some ways authors are successfully promoting their sequels or later-series books? To help you gain as much momentum as possible for your latest installment, we’ve compiled a list of promo ideas. We hope this helps you create an effective sequel marketing plan!
1. Keep readers apprised of your sequel writing progress
If your readers are clamoring for a sequel, they’ll appreciate any news on your writing progress. These updates will help keep your duology or series top of mind as well, which is especially helpful if it’s a while between launches.
Antoine Bandele regularly posts word count status updates on Instagram coupled with gorgeous artwork for the book he’s working on, including for The Windweaver’s Storm, the sequel to his young adult fantasy, The Gatekeeper’s Staff.
2. Include an excerpt in the back matter of the previous book
The previous book’s back matter is prime (and free!) real estate for promoting a sequel. If the previous book is great or ends in a suspenseful cliffhanger, readers will be eager for more when they reach the last page. Authors who promote another book in their back matter see a 2.2x higher increase in sales of other books in their series than those who don’t. And those who include a one-chapter excerpt see the highest increase.
Bella Andre included a sample from her next installment in the back matter of her first-in-series The Look of Love to give readers a taste of what comes next. It appears on the page immediately following the last chapter (the end is blurred out in the image below), and includes:
- A call-to-action (CTA) to subscribe to Bella’s mailing list, and another to read the sequel.
- An excerpt including sections from the first two chapters of the sequel.
- A final CTA to purchase the sequel and sign up for Bella’s mailing list.
- A list of her other work
3. Make the first book of the series permafree
Many authors make the first book of a series permafree as a “reader magnet” to hook readers into the rest of the series. Then they’ll run a BookBub Featured Deal to generate a high volume of downloads and follow-on sales for later series books. BookBub partners who make the first book in their series free see 8x higher sales of the other books in the series than partners who discount the first book to $0.99 instead.
Self-published author Jane Steen’s first-in-series historical mystery The House of Closed Doors has been permafree since 2016. Before the launch of the newest book in the series, Jane redesigned the book covers for the entire series to refresh the branding and appeal to a broader audience. She then ran a Featured Deal for the permafree first-in-series, driving 18,000 new downloads and doubling the sales of this series over the following month.
4. Discount the first book in the series or duology
If you don’t want to make the first book permafree or even temporarily free, a great alternative is to discount the previous book (or earlier book in the series). On average, BookBub’s partners have seen a 5x higher increase in sales of the other books in a series when the first book is discounted vs. any other book in the series.
About a month before launching Face Off, book 3 of a traditionally published series, Brenda Novak discounted her self-published prequel novella to the series, Hanover House, to $0.99 and ran a BookBub Featured Deal to promote the discount. To further increase her reach, Brenda also ran BookBub Ads campaigns during the week of the discount, testing out different image designs and author targeting options. Thousands of new readers bought the prequel, made their way through books 1 and 2, and were eager for book 3 upon launch — and it launched as a USA Today bestseller.
As you can see, this technique can work even if your series is primarily traditionally published and therefore you as the author can’t set a discount for those books yourself. So if you’re traditionally published, consider chatting with your publisher about either discounting the first book in your series or self-publishing a prequel for which you can control the pricing.
5. Pin the most up-to-date purchase links on Twitter
Whether your sequel is still in the preorder period or has already launched, include the most recent status and links to purchase as a pinned tweet. That way, any readers (or members of the media!) can access the latest information right at the top of your feed when they look you up.
Roseanne A. Brown pinned the cover reveal tweet for her newest release, A Psalm of Storms and Silence, the sequel to her debut, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. In this tweet, she included a preorder link and the release date, and also gave credit to the cover’s artist, designer, and models.
6. Send a newsletter promoting the whole series, not just the latest book
Newsletters are a reliable way to reach your existing fan base, and releasing a new sequel provides the chance to boost sales of the entire series for anyone who’s not caught up.
When Daniel Arenson released Earth Reborn, the seventh Earthrise novel, he sent a newsletter to his mailing list. “As you can see,” he said, “I prominently include links to the previous books. I don’t want to just sell Book 7 to the audience that bought Book 6. I want to promote the entire series to new readers. Each sequel generates interest for the entire series.”
7. Hone the branding of the sequel or series book
While you can lean on the positioning of an overarching series when launching the newest title, each book within a series will likely have its own tropes, themes, and characters that will intrigue new readers, perhaps enough to start with book 1. So make sure to hone the branding and messaging of each book in a series, not just the first.
When promoting the ninth book in her 12 Dukes of Christmas series to her mailing list, Erica Ridley emphasized the tropes of this particular book. “Create a short list of four to five tropes or key characteristics you can display as easily scannable bullet points,” she recommended. “I like to share this list on social media and in my launch week newsletter blast. It helps readers see at a glance why this book is for them.”
8. Maximize sell-through of audiobook discounts
One common way to boost sequel or later-series audiobook sales is to drop the price of the first-in-series. But discounting those later-series books can help get even more people to buy the sequel. To encourage more follow-on sales, consider using tiered pricing.
Author Toni Anderson discounted every audiobook in her Cold Justice series during a $1.99 Chirp Deal on the first audiobook, A Cold Dark Place. These audiobooks are normally in the $15–$20 range, but she offered limited-time deals on the later-series books from $1.99 to $9.99 to maximize sell-through.
9. Create a box set (and better yet, discount it!)
If you’re launching a later-series book, bundling the first few books in the series — and dropping the price of that bundle — can hook a large volume of new readers into the series, who may then go on to purchase later books in the series at full price.
When Mari Carr and Lila Dubois launched book 8 of their Trinity Masters series, their sales were stagnant, so they decided to bundle the first four books in the series to try to draw more readers. While the box set launched at $6.99, they discounted it to $1.99 and ran a promo-stacking campaign over a 10-day period that let them hit multiple retailer bestseller lists. To drive as many new readers to the series as possible (and maximize follow-on sales), they:
- Updated the back matter of the box set with retailer links to the other books in the series
- Ran a BookBub Featured Deal on the box set
- Sent a newsletter to both of their mailing lists five days after the Featured Deal
- Ran Facebook ads
- Ran organic social media promotions
- Asked fans in their Facebook group to help spread the word
10. Host a read-along of the first book before the sequel’s launch
When ramping up promotions for a sequel launch, many authors host read-alongs of the previous book on social media. This not only reminds readers of the first book’s story, but allows the authors to foster relationships with their followers by bonding over this shared reading experience.
In this Instagram story, Erin Bowman posted a countdown to a read-along discussion of Contagion, the first in her YA sci-fi duology. She timed this right before the release of the sequel, and hosted an Instagram Live at the end to continue the discussion.
11. Run a BookBub Ads campaign to promote the sequel
BookBub Ads provides another way to accelerate sequel sales, especially if you just ran a Featured Deal for the previous book (or an earlier book in the series). When you target an author on BookBub Ads, you reach any reader who has expressed interest in that author on BookBub, including clicking on their previous Featured Deals.
If you run a BookBub Ads campaign targeting your own fans after a Featured Deal, you can promote the next book in the series to readers who may have just purchased book 1. Nana Malone ran such a BookBub Ads campaign for book 2 in her Cheeky Royal duet.
12. Use book 1 as a preorder promotion incentive for the sequel
Some authors and publishers cleverly incorporate book 1 in the preorder incentive for book 2, especially when the book 1 paperback release aligns with the sequel’s release.
Marie Lu announced a preorder promotion on Instagram where anyone who submitted their preorder receipt for the sequel Steelstriker would have their name appear in the paperback release of the previous book, Skyhunter. The deadline for receipt submission would allow the publisher enough time to make this update to the paperback edition before launch. Marie later launched a second phase of the preorder campaign offering character cards and a signed bookplate as the incentive.
What other clever ways have you seen authors promote their sequels or later-series books? Let us know in the comments below!
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Click to tweet: Are you looking for creative ways to promote a sequel or a book that comes later in a series? Check out these clever ideas! https://bit.ly/3iR6bFe
Click to tweet: Some clever ideas for promoting a sequel or later-series book:
✨ Post #amwriting progress
✨ Hone branding to focus on key tropes
✨ Add excerpt to previous book’s back matter
✨ Discount (or permafree!) book 1
✨ Host a read-along for book 1
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