Whether you’re publishing the next book in a duology, trilogy, or a longer series, launching a new sequel is a huge opportunity to capitalize on the success of the previous books while capturing new readers.
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. To make sure you gain as much momentum as possible for your latest installment in a series, implement these effective book marketing tactics.
1. Include an excerpt at the end of the previous book
The previous book’s back matter will be prime (and free!) real-estate for promoting the sequel. If the book is a great read or if it ends in a suspenseful cliffhanger, readers will be eager for more when they reach the last page. This is where you can include the first chapter of the next installment to give readers a taste of what comes next. Bookend this excerpt with links to purchase the sequel, and make sure the link works on every reading device.
The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson includes the first chapter of the sequel The Tudor Bride in the back matter, with links to purchase the ebook before and after the excerpt.
Learn more about how to create these links here. Additionally, update the back matter of each of your other books to link to this new title. Group your series together so it’s obvious to readers where your sequel fits into a particular series, and in which order they should read.
2. Publish an excerpt before the sequel’s release
While you should update the back matter of your previous books with an excerpt or link to the new sequel as soon as possible, there may be readers who’ve already read your older books and won’t see the updated back matter. Build up the buzz by publishing an excerpt of the first 1–3 chapters of the new release. On the last page of the excerpt, link to a page where readers can pre-order the new release.
Once you publish the excerpt on your website, share the link with your mailing list and social media followers. This will get fans of the previous book excited for what is coming in the next installment, and increase awareness of the fact that you are publishing a sequel.
3. Create consistent branding across connected books
This might seem like a basic tip, but it’s important to create consistent branding between your sequel and previous books in the series to make the purchasing decision easy for readers. A unified cover and title style will help readers recognize connected titles and encourage them to purchase subsequent books.
Another effective tactic is to create a master name for the series and indicate the order of books within the series — you can even number the books on their covers — so there’s no confusion when readers are looking for the next book.
Once the cover is set and you add the book to retailer sites, indicate the order of books within the series in the product’s title. This will also help retailer sites organically link connected books together so later books are recommended to users via their algorithms. You can also list all of the books within the series in the product description.
Taking as much confusion out of the buying process as possible will create a better experience for readers and increase sales!
4. Run a price promotion for book #1
Once the back matter of the previous book has been updated to promote the newest title, temporarily drop the price of the previous book in your series to free or $0.99 and promote the discount using a service like BookBub. It might seem counterintuitive to drop the price of book #1 as part of book #2’s marketing campaign, but this tactic will help drive a high volume of new readers to your series. On average, our partners have seen a five times higher increase in sales of the other books in a series when the first book is discounted vs. any other book in the series.
Not only that, but 77% of bargain readers also buy full-priced books. So once readers are hooked on the previous book and discover your sequel via your optimized back matter, they’ll be eager to find out what happens next, and they’re often willing to pay full price for the sequel.
5. Permanently lower the price of book #1
Alternatively, make the previous book permafree instead of running a limited-time discount — you can use the first book as a permanent gateway to the full-priced sequel.
For example, making the first book in a series permafree can be an excellent way to attract new readers. While lower prices will get a book more visibility, readers are far more likely to take a chance on a new author if a book is free. In fact, BookBub readers are 10 times more likely to click on a book that’s offered for free than a discounted book. And those readers don’t just hoard free books — 60% of surveyed readers say they always read the discounted books they’ve discovered.
This exposure can have a huge impact on the sales of the newest title in your series. Over 60% of surveyed readers said after downloading an author’s book for free, they later purchased another book by that author. So by keeping the previous book free, you’ll generate more fans over the long term who are likely to buy the title at full price.
6. Reach out to fans via your mailing list
If you have a mailing list in which you’ve collected email addresses on your website or blog, this will be a valuable channel for marketing the sequel. Collecting email addresses lets you reach out to fans who have specifically opted in to receive communication from you. Some of your subscribers may have signed up after reading the previous book, so they’ll likely be interested in news of the sequel’s imminent release.
Here are some ideas for when you could reach out to your mailing list:
- If you’re providing free advanced reader copies in exchange for reviews.
- When the book is available for pre-order. (Give away the free excerpt in this email.)
- When the book has launched. (Run a contest for anyone who buys the book that day, offering a gift card or another fun prize to the winner.)
- When you’ve dropped the price of the previous book.
If you don’t already have a mailing list, here are some reasonably priced email service providers you could use to build your mailing list, create forms for your website, and send email campaigns:
7. Create a box set from early books in the series
If you’re releasing a book that comes late in a longer series (e.g., book #4), consider including the first two or three books of the series in a box set to promote the new full-price installment. This is similar to making the first book in a series permafree — if you offer the first few books at a discounted price and have subsequent books at full price, readers will be invested in the characters and want to know how their tale ends. You can read tips on creating single-author box sets here.
8. Update your social media cover photos
According to a survey by Marie Force of 6,000 readers, 69% of readers use Facebook to find information about their favorite author, and 88% of readers follow their favorite author on Facebook. While you don’t want to spam fans with constant promotions, you can brand your Facebook page/profile (and Twitter profile, Google+ profile, etc.) with a unique cover photo design to build awareness of the new sequel.
Independent author Cheryl Bradshaw updates the cover photos and banners on her Facebook page, blog, and other relevant sites and profiles a couple months before her new books’ releases. The designs include the book cover reveal, the release date if she knows it, and language such as “coming soon” so readers know to stay tuned.
Once the book is released, she’ll update these assets again with new terminology that makes it clear the next book in the series is now available for purchase. This also reminds fans of the release, since updating a cover photo appears on fans’ news feeds.
What would you add as tip #9? Share your tips for publishing a sequel in the comments below!
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