As consumers, we often go for a sure thing – name brands, established retailers, familiar movie stars, etc. – because we like what they offer and we know what to expect. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep sell movie tickets, any one of the many Kardashians is perfect for soapy pop culture gossip, Trader Joe’s has the best snacks and wine bargains, and going camping without a Swiss Army knife might make it hard to open that non-screw top bottle of wine you picked up on the way out of town.
This is equally true for our entertainment choices; there’s a reason “binge-watch” has become an oft used verb in casual conversations. When it comes to books, the sure thing is a series, and while tons have been written about book marketing and book promotion for indie authors, there’s not nearly enough out there on promoting a series.
Just because you wrote a series doesn’t mean readers are going to binge-read it. You have to market it as a product that they want or need and then fulfill your end of the bargain.
So promoting a series is a different animal, with different factors to consider when thinking about how to sell your books. One is the pressure that comes with the all or nothing aspect of getting readers on board. If they don’t like the first title in a series, you’ve likely lost a reader for the books that follow it.
Another pressure is that even if readers do like the first book, a series asks them to invest a lot more time and money in your work if they want to continue to follow your story or ideas. That’s not always an easy ask.
So here’s a quick list of ways to take your series from just okay to a dedicated fan magnet!
1. Brand Your Covers
As your series evolves, so do your characters, your buyer market, and the competition. It’s not unusual for an author to get to book 3 before they really have a strong sense of what their brand is, and oftentimes their books don’t end up matching that identity. Work with a designer to get a real brand created for your book covers and re-release the entire series with the new imagery. This is a great book marketing opportunity on top of a great business decision.
2. Brand Your Titles & Series Title
George R. R. Martin is a great example of an author using this strategy with huge success; in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, each title played off a similar branding template: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons.
Again, if you didn’t have all this figured out at the beginning, that’s okay! Promoting a book series often means an overhaul at some point during your success journey. Use this opportunity to strengthen your brand and re-release your books with a new publication date.
3. Brand Your Descriptions & Product Pages
The descriptions for each of your books should also follow a template of sorts. Figure out a tone that works for your story line and your genre. Decide on some really strong keywords and phrases that make your books stand out and that sell readers on your product. Zero in on each book’s cliffhanger.
You’ll also want to be sure your series page is set up on Amazon. This is an option when setting up the books via KDP. If your books are already out and you’re not sure how to find this feature after the fact, simply contact Amazon support and request a series page. They’ll set one up for you.
Use these elements across your series and you’ll seem like an extremely professional and organized indie author, which are strong selling points all on their own.
4. Use Calls to Action
These are essential. Each book should end with a link to buy the next one, a link to sign up for your mailing list or newsletter, and a request to leave a review. If you’re asking people to send you their info, consider what you can offer as an incentive. Your best bet is to compliment your series through a short story or novella. And most authors who have written a series practically have these lying around on the virtual cutting room floor. Roll up your sleeves and dust off your keys to get started on one now if you don’t have one already.
5. Make Your First Book Free
Indie authors generally hate the term “free” or “loss leader” but these are proven book marketing tactics that really work. If you can’t wrap your mind around making it free, make it $.99 or discount the pricing regularly, like monthly, and be sure you’re doing promotions or ads around the price drop to pull in new buyers you’d never normally reach. Remember, you just need them to like the first one, so make it easy for them to get it!
Promoting a book series can be challenging, but the rewards are also multiplied exponentially once things start falling into place. If you put in the time and effort to make your series look like it was created by a mastermind who pays attention to details and who continually offers a high quality product, readers will take notice.
Best of luck to you on your series branding adventure!
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.