Series novels not only give you the opportunity to develop your characters over time, but they also let you reach new readers who still haven’t discovered your books yet. Hook readers on one book, and chances are they’ll be begging for more.
Why should you consider writing a series novel? Readers often become attached to the characters in a continuing series, which makes writing them both lucrative and rewarding. With a built-in fan base impatiently waiting to devour the next installment, you’ll make your fans happy by giving them more of what they want. Meanwhile, you can find new readers by continually promoting your ever-growing backlist.
So how do you find new readers? And what’s the best way to promote a series? Below are some of the tactics I’ve used to promote my Sloane Monroe and Addison Lockhart series that have proven successful.
One to Two Months Prior to Release
1. Redesign platform elements. A couple of months before my book release, I kick things off by posting a new banner on my Facebook page, my blog, and other relevant sites. It includes the book cover reveal, the release date if I know it, and language such as “coming soon” so readers know to stay tuned.
2. Hint about the upcoming release. Whenever I can, I sneak in comments on my blog and pages about the book and how the writing is coming along to build anticipation among fans.
3. Publish and distribute an excerpt. I post the first chapter of the book on my Facebook page. This stirs up excitement for the rest of the story.
Two to Four Weeks Prior to Release
1. Publish teasers. A few weeks before my book launch, I start posting teasers with quotes from various characters in the story. You can easily turn your quotes into vibrant images using free apps like Canva. I schedule these teasers to post a few times each week until release day.
2. Promote the pre-order. If I am using the pre-order option, I’ll promote it at this time and be sure to include purchase links to all major retailers.
3. Distribute book to street teams. I send my street team copies of the manuscript. Though not a requirement, many are fantastic about posting an honest review for the book when they’ve finished it. Having reviews already in place on release day is pure gold.
4. Create Facebook ads. I create several inexpensive Facebook ads for the new book well before the release date so I can test a variety of creative and demographic targeting to see which one performs the best. I kill the ones that don’t work so I don’t waste any ad budget.
The cost of each ad depends on how low I can get the cost-per-click (CPC). If I can get it under $0.20, I feel better about setting a higher budget. I’ve had an ad running for over a year for which I spend between $10 and $50 a day because the cost per click is only $0.08. Adversely, when I create new ads, I start small, usually $3.00 per day until I narrow the ads down to the one that performs the best. Then I increase the price.
1. Host a release party. Sometimes I’ll have a release party on Facebook on release day and do hourly drawings for anyone who purchases the book that day. I like to give away prizes every hour for 12 hours that relate to the book in some way, like keychains with the book cover, book earrings (miniature book earrings of my book covers), tote bags with the name of the series, mugs, notebooks, etc. Anyone who purchases the book that day is entered into the drawings. The earlier they purchase the book, the more chances they have to win.
Or, if I prefer sipping some celebratory wine and not being glued to my computer all day, I preschedule a Facebook post and do a single drawing with a larger prize. If you try either of these, I highly suggest creating a paid ad for the book if you want the post to be seen. Otherwise Facebook’s algorithm will bury your post. I create an ad in Power Editor announcing the release party, and I target only the fans of my author page.
2. Update your online assets. I have a release-day checklist to ensure I remember to update my product pages and all social media sites to reflect the new book, including widgets, cover photos, etc.
3. Announce the release on your website. I also write a blog post and add the book to my website with links to all retailers. Make your links simple and easy for your readers to understand, and require only one click to complete the purchase.
4. Promote on Twitter. I promote the release on Twitter following the 80/20 rule (80% of my usual posts have nothing to do with promoting my books). I want the book to stand out when I tweet about it, so I won’t promote anything before the release date of a new book. On release day I hit it hard, posting about every 2–3 hours for three days. Remember to include an eye-catching photo of the book when you tweet.
5. Increase your Facebook budget. I raise the budget on my best performing Facebook ads to make sure they reach a wider audience. The best ads include links to the book on all the major retailers so readers can easily download the book, no matter which ereader they use.
6. Notify subscribers of your book release. I randomly segment my subscribers into three lists and send one newsletter to each list over the course of the first week post-release. This helps keep the book’s rank high for longer.
One to Two Months After Release
1. Run a BookBub Featured Deal. After the book has been released for a while, I run ads on on various sites, starting with the holy grail of them all, BookBub. I wait a couple of months to give the new book time to be reviewed by as many readers as possible before submitting it to BookBub. This helps drive a high volume of sales.
2. Coordinate Featured Deal date with other online advertising. As soon as I have a promotion date with BookBub, I plan to discount the new book so it’s ready for the promotion, and schedule all of my other paid ads, usually running around three each week for at least a month. Here is a full list of websites where you can advertise your ebook price promotion.
The length of my price promotion depends on how many subsequent ads I’ve purchased. Sometimes it’s only an extra week or two. Other times, it’s almost a month. If it’s a new release, I usually don’t keep it discounted for more than a week. On an older release, I like to stretch out the promotion and breathe new life into it.
A Few Additional Tips
When to Make Your First Book Free:
Making your first book free as a way to sell the rest of your series is an excellent idea. However, when you’re running big ads for a subsequent novel in the series, don’t make your first book free during those promotions. Why? You’ll lose out on sales on that first book.
Most people want to start with book one in a series when they first discover you, especially if they’ve never heard of you before. The same can be said for Facebook ads. Let’s say you run a Facebook ad for book #3 in your series at full price, but the first book in your series is free. Which book do you think a reader just discovering you will download: the one with a bit of risk involved, or the one without any?
Promoting Your Series in a Boxed Set:
I am a big fan of boxing up a series any way I can slice it. Right now in my Sloane Monroe series, I have three boxes:
- One for books 1–3
- One for books 4–5
- One with all six books in the series
I prefer bundling three books together instead of two, but since book 6 is still selling really well for me most months, and I haven’t released book 7, I decided to box up books 4–5 to generate some extra income in the meantime. It has definitely been worth it, and when book 7 comes out, I’ll slide book #6 into that second box.
This is the beauty of being an indie writer. Your options are limitless.
When to Release a Boxed Set:
If you’ve just finished, for example, book 3 in your series and you want to release both book 3 and a boxed set with books 1–3, wait a couple months before releasing the set. Give your new book the chance to sell on its own before you throw it into a set at a discount. If you bundle your books too soon, it almost always affects the sale of your newest book. You worked hard on that book, and it deserves its moment to shine before it’s swallowed up at a discount.
I hope some of my tips on book promotion have been useful and help you see what you can achieve with a book series. Happy writing!
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