Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Marketing the Second Book in a Series

A couple weeks back, I was asked (in the comments) how to promote the second book in a series, so that's what I'm going to talk about today. First, I don't claim to be an expert at all. I'm just sharing my experiences and hoping they'll help you. So, here we go.

Promoting a sequel or second book in a series is tricky because you want to get word out about the new book, but you also want to draw new readers into the series, which actually means promoting book one. You should definitely post about book two, though. Post the cover reveal, post teasers, post links to reviews, but always continue to promote book one. Your current fans won't need much encouragement to buy book two if they loved book one. A simple "it's release day" post will prompt them to run out and get book two. You need to keep trying to broaden your reach and find new readers for the series.

Even though the entire Touch of Death series is out, I continue to promote book one. My publicist even made this image for me:
Notice it's book one on the image. That's not to say you can't use images with both covers or all of them if it's a series. Go right ahead, but make sure it's clear which book begins the series because new readers will need to know that.

Over the summer, Stalked by Death, which is the second book in the Touch of Death series, was the Kindle Daily Deal. It became a #1 Best Seller in Greek Mythology on Amazon. What also happened was Touch of Death becoming #3 in the same category. Why? New readers bought book one when book two went on sale.

So, when you promote book two, don't forget to promote book one. You want to be loyal to your existing fans and continue to let them know about your new releases, but you also want to reach new readers and draw them in to the start of the series.

Do you have tips for promoting a second book in a series? Please share in the comments.

38 comments:

  1. Great post. I wouldn't know since I haven't written a series, but I do buy many books 2's.

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  2. Yes, need to promote both together. Maybe put the first one on special and always say in blog posts that this is book 2. Give blurb and links to Book 1 as well. Just my two cents!

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    1. Great tip for self-pubbers. Thanks for adding that. :)

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  3. Agreed. But I still notice many who read the first and enjoy it still don't pick up the second novel. Kind of weird, since I've been promoting both. *Shrugs* Maybe when the third novel releases, it will pick up.

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    1. Yes, this happens. I've been guilty of it myself. I loved Hex Hall, but still haven't read the rest of the series. Sometimes I think new shiny books take over our TBR lists and series get pushed down on the list.

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  4. I definitely plan to keep this in mind when I get around to the next book in the "Gabriel and Rum" saga (They're on Twitter BTW via @GabrielandRum, and finally have their own offical website: www.GabrielandRum.com, okay, shameless plug over-LOL)

    I'm actually more concerned about how to tackle this in the actual books themselves, more-so than the marketing of them. But it's good to be reminded of best practices beforehand.

    How much of "Gabriel" should be referenced in Rum's story is a big question mark for me right now. Rum's story is more self-contained than say going from HP 1 to HP 2, but Rum (my antagonist in "Gabriel") wouldn't be where he is in his story without having gone through what he did in Gabriel's story, both plot and timeline wise.

    Does Stalked by Death take place right where "Touch of Death" leaves off, Kelly?

    Or is it months or years after book one in the trilogy? Also, you wrote a prequel to the trilogy last if I remember right. Have/Would you market that in tandem with book one for new readers who didn't start when the series first started?

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    1. Stalked by Death takes place shortly after Touch of Death, but not immediately after. The same goes for Face of Death (book 3) following shortly after Stalked by Death.

      As for free prequels, I do promote them a lot to try to draw in new readers because free is a great way to tempt potential fans.

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  5. I have yet to release a series but I imagine I would always keep book one in mind when promoting book two. I agree with you 100 percent; you want to get the attention of new readers. I can't imagine them buying book two without purchasing book one.
    Great tips, Kelly!

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    1. I'm always amazed when I do signings and people buy the first two books together. I would expect them to try book one and then buy book two later if they enjoyed book two. However, I do see a lot of people buy two upfront and wait on the third.

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  6. Yeah, a direct quote from Jennifer is visual gold. Nicely done, Kelly!

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  7. Great points, Kelly! And some good ones in the comments, too. A series is definitely tricky in the marketing department!

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    1. It really is. I'm contemplating sticking to standalones from now on. ;)

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  8. Good advice. And hey, it doesn't hurt to have a blurb from Armentrout!

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  9. So true. Book 1 is the gateway story, and it needs to be pimped out with every subsequent novel. Great advice.

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  10. I haven't gotten that far, but certainly promoting all is a good business sense thing to do.

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  11. Oooh, that was me! I left that comment ...

    I already realized that the best thing to do with my ARCs for The Inquisitor's Mark was NOT to offer them up in contests. Instead, I've made a point of bringing them to events where people (especially kids) have most likely read The Eighth Day and hold a raffle for the #2 ARC. Last night I attended a Guys Read Book Club where they had just finished reading TED. The boys really coveted that ARC and the ones who didn't win are now clamoring for the sequel's release in January.

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    1. That's great! Thanks for sharing your experience, Dianne, and for posing the question in the first place. :)

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  12. Promoting both books is the best way to go. I'm going to have to do that when the sequel to Hurricane Crimes comes out. :)

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    1. Let me know when that is so I can have you on my blog.

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  13. I know when I find a series I like I tend to go see what books I can either buy or pre-order. For me If I like the series I don't have to see the cover of say book four to know I want to re-order it. So don't make me wait for the cover release to be able to do so.If book two is do well and you know people are looking forward to part three and seeing how it ends I would say start pre-sale then. if possible while the book is fresh in their mind still. people move on quickly and some times a good series can get left behind for a few years.

    That would be my only thoughts as a reader and a non writer. Matt @ JC's Book Haven.

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  14. I can see your point but I don't have control over when my publishers make the preorders available so it's not something the author can control unless he or she is self publishing.

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  15. What an interesting and helpful post. Thanks for your explanation and advice! :)
    ~Jess

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  16. Always excellent advice. I am still learning and experimenting with a text book. I see where I went wrong and have a lot of should'ves, but I am learning and hope to be an expert by the time the second book comes out. It's a journey and for each writer it is different.

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    1. Very true. Even if you mimic a NYT bestseller's strategy, you will come out with different results.

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  17. I have a friend who also writes series, and like you said, the second/third/fourth books are all good ways to increase readership of the series overall and continue sales of the first book.

    A surprising thing he told me about his sales numbers was that, as a self-published author (so this is more for the self-pub folks than the traditional folks), waiting too long between releases had a negative impact on sales. He said less than a year is ideal (or anywhere between 6-12 months), but around a year, people begin to forget about the series and you stop acquiring as many new readers.

    Just thought that was interesting. Great info as always, Kelly!

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    1. I've heard that too, Kiersi. We don't really have control over release dates when we publish traditionally, but I can see the benefit of releasing books closer together if you self publish.

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  18. Very good tips, Kelly. My tip would be promote the 2nd book just like it's your first book!

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    1. I think you have to be promoting book one at the same time though.

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  19. No tips from me, just hearty wishes of good luck. I assume the second book rides on the following created by the first. But, come to think of it, my kids caught the Harry Potter train after the third book came out and they were sold as a set of three. I wonder if you could offer the books as a set for those who would like to get on for the ride?

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  20. That's a very attractive image on Touch of Death. A good book cover plus a solid review help in exposure. I hear many authors set their first book free to gain readers' interest in the subsequent books and that has worked pretty well for most.

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    1. My publisher lowered the price of book one to $1.99 (ebook version). I do have two free prequels to the series too.

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