Chapter 34: How to Market for a Book Series

Writing a series (or even books aimed for the same audience) is one of the smartest things you can do.  Why?  Repeat customers are much easier to reach than new customers.  On average, it takes three to four books for a reader to remember the name of an author.  And readers tend to shop for new books by author names first.  I’m evidence of that myself, as I pre-ordered both Legendary and Finale when they respectively came out, because I was so in love with Caraval.  Stephanie Garber hooked me on the series and didn’t have to do any follow-up marketing to keep me buying the books.

Various authors, such as Joanna Penn, have also talked about how book sets do better than individual books.  Penn has even said that when she combined a trilogy into a set, the set sold more than each individual book combined.  Why?  Think of when you go to Netflix and are looking for a new tv show to binge.  Do you pick one with only one season or with three or four right there ready to be watched?  The binge mentality of this generation has made it so that some readers won’t even invest in a book series until there’s multiple books available to dive into right then and there.  And don’t forget about branded covers!  Start by thinking of the overarching theme of the entire series, and bring it onto the cover.  Think of Harry Potter and how every book had a similar format adapted for the specific plot.

When you publish a new book in the series, it doesn’t make sense to focus your external advertising on anything but the first book.  You have to bring them into the start of the series, otherwise they’ll look at the ad and likely feel too lazy to seek out the first book themselves.  Advertise for the upcoming book internally in a place where your already existing fans know where to find it – your website, blog, podcast, etc.

Don’t forget about pricing!  It’s good to have a solid, low introductory price.  Free or 99 cents would be ideal for the first book, and then for the second onward pricing at $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99.  Charge more if you see your readers are willing to pay more.  It’s a business after all!

Pick a damn good series title.  Some authors such as Stephanie Garber in her Caraval series I mentioned earlier, or myself in my very own The Freedom Game series, use the first book’s title as the series title.  This is good if the first book title encompasses the series as a whole.  But, if you know the mood of that title won’t fit later on, start thinking.  Think of the overarching plot or, as the wonderful Russo brothers might say, the endgame.  A great example of this is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Each title is then branded to a similar template: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and finally A Dance with Dragons.

The description of your book and the product pages should also follow a similar template.  Match the description to the tone of the series.  Zero in one each book’s cliffhanger.

Have call to actions!  Each book should end with a link to buy the next one, a link to sign up for your subscription list, and a request to leave a review.  Also, compliment your series through a short series or novella.  Keep it cheaper (around 99 cents) and bring them into the universe.  Make them fall in love with your characters.

That’s all I have for now.  I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July last week!