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Marketing Your Series: a Plan for a Solid Launch and Sales for Years to Come

| Posted in Advertising, Book Marketing |

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Let’s talk about publishing and marketing a series today. It’s generally what you’ll hear authors recommend doing, since it can be tough to gain traction with readers when you’re doing unrelated stand-alone novels.

A series has the potential to be a bread-winner for an author, with later books in the becoming “auto buys” for fans who enjoyed the earlier books. But if you don’t see a lot of early success (or you do well with the launch, only to have sales drop off for subsequent books), you can have a love-hate relationship with your series.

Maybe you’re getting some sales, but not the kind of sales you hoped for. And maybe you’re doggedly pushing on because you keep hearing people say, “Oh, my series didn’t take off until Book 3 or 4,” or “You’ve got to have at least five books out in a series before you can expect to make it.”

If you’re on Book 5 of Your Awesome Series, and you’re wondering if it’s worth continuing, I probably can’t answer that question for you, but there are some things you might want to try before giving up. And if you’re just starting a new series, here’s a little advice based on what I’ve done in the past and I’m doing now. For the new visitor, I’ve got a number of series going, including one that I started anonymously with a pen name (I published the first four books in that one before sharing the name and managed to get it off to a good start. More on that here and here.) Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I wouldn’t recommend writing a bunch of series at once unless you’re super prolific, and even then I keep telling myself to finish some and streamline things! (I keep waiting for myself to listen.)

Here’s my MO for marketing a series these days:

The Book 1 Launch

I usually tell people not to put a lot of time and effort into marketing the first book, especially if you’re a new author and this is your first series. Why? Because there’s nothing else for readers to go on to buy, so you’re spending all of this time trying to sell something where you can only get one sale maximum per buyer. When you have numerous other books out, you stand to make much more per customer.

That said, everyone wants to get things off on the right foot, so why not try to get the ball rolling? Every now and then, you see a new series taking off from the beginning with a good Amazon sales ranking and lots of reviews within the first month. It can happen. I’m actually seeing it happen more often right now, thanks to Kindle Unlimited (more on the why of that here).

Note: on the chance that this happens for you, it’s a good idea to have the second book already almost ready to go; these days, I’m a fan of holding off on a release of a Book 1 until a couple more books have nearly been completed, so you can publish them a month apart or so.)

To have any hope of doing well with this first book, you’ll probably need a great cover, a great blurb, and a good book. Yeah, state the obvious, right? But let me say that by “great,” what I really mean is: this book looks exactly like the books that are selling really well in my genre, and the blurb sounds pretty close to what’s selling too.

If you have a super original story, that’s okay, but I’ve learned that it’s better to emphasize the stuff that is the same, or even generic/formulaic-sounding to you, rather than showing off how different your story is. Be honest, of course, but you’ll probably find that even in your original story, there are some common elements that appeal to the masses. I’d highlight those.

(I’m in the process of doing this for some of my older works myself–redoing the covers and the blurbs to more closely fit genre expectations. Just a couple of days ago, I put up a new cover and blurb for my Emperor’s Edge 1-3 omnibus, and the sales ranking went from well over 100,000 to under 40,000 without a price change or any marketing. That surprised me, because at that ranking, it’s not like the bundle is super visible on Amazon anywhere. The reason I made the change is that I’m hoping to snag a Bookbub ad this spring, and that will be the real test. I ran this bundle with BB in May 2014, and it didn’t have horrible results, but it didn’t do anywhere near as well as my Dragon Blood boxed set, which I advertised in mid-Jan with a typical fantasy-esque cover and a typical blurb.)

Launch price for Book 1

Even though I have readers now, I’ll often launch a new Book 1 at 99 cents, at least for the first few days.

I’m going to tell you something that probably isn’t a secret: if you can get enough momentum at Amazon, meaning enough sales spread out over the first few days of your launch, Amazon will start selling your book for you. What I mean is that your book will be appearing in your category lists, and it will appear in the also-boughts of lots of other books, so you’ll have the kind of visibility we all hope for. If your book has wide enough appeal (note stuff about typical blurb/cover), it could “stick” and continue to sell well, based on its merits and that visibility.

In addition to mailing your list (if you have one), this is the time to try and snag some ads too. Most of the big sites won’t accept books without at least 10-20 reviews, so it’s going to be hard to picked up, but there are a few advertisers who will plug new releases, and the ads usually aren’t that expensive. Fantasy author C. Gockel maintains a big list of advertisers who promote 99-cent titles. (I wouldn’t spend more than $50 on advertising at this point.)

Note: This isn’t something that can only happen at launch. For example, I dropped the price on my Dragon Blood bundle to 99 cents for that Bookbub ad back in January. It had been out for a couple of months at $7.69, and that’s the usual price, based on the individual titles being 2.99/3.99. In the past, I had always raised prices again shortly after an ad like that because the sales ranking started to rise (this is typically what happens with Bookbub–you get a big spike and then Amazon sales gradually settle back down to normal) and there wasn’t much of a perk for only making 35 cents per sale on a book that wasn’t selling heaps. Well, the DB blurb and cover must have worked for a lot of people. For the first time ever for me, the book stuck at a pretty high level, hanging out in the 300s in the overall Amazon store for almost two months (I’m waiting for it to fall off any day now, and I keep debating whether I should raise the price up to 3.99 or so — still a bargain compared to the usual price — to see if I could make more before it drops off more drastically. But, I’ve seen increased sales of Book 4 and also of my other series, so I haven’t changed it yet.)

But back to the focus of the post…

In order to have a good chance of getting a bunch of sales early on, going with a 99-cent price tag for launch (i.e. the first week) can make sense, even if you already have fans and a mailing list (I’ll often do a 99-cent Book 1 just because I know I’ll discount it later anyway, and I want to give loyal readers who are on my list a good price).

Should you keep the book at 99 cents? Probably not. The exception might be if you’re selling so many books that you’re still making money and if you’ve got Book 2 ready to go soon, so people have something full-price to go on and buy. (The new pre-order system on the various sites can help out with this; if your Book 1 release has been hot, putting the pre-order up for 2 can help you grab sales before people forget about you.)

So what happens if your book doesn’t take off?

This is much more typical than the scenario I’ve written about. Even though we all hope for that awesome early success, it’s atypical.

So if Book 1 doesn’t take off, put the price up to 2.99 or 3.99 or whatever you’ve decided your regular price will be, and then forget about it (seriously, forget about it), until you publish Book 2.

Note: I don’t recommend leaving your book at 99 cents if it’s not selling that many copies. Later, you’ll want to run sales on it, and it’s easier to get ads on a book you’re discounting, rather than one that is always inexpensive.

The Book 2 Launch Strategy

First off, as soon as you publish Book 2 and get the store links, you’ll want to update the back matter of Book 1. (Do what I say, not what I do, because I’m not sure if I’ve done this with all of my older titles; I do make sure to do it now.) It’s up to you what you want to do (include an excerpt? just a link?), but you’ll want to let the readers know that the second book is available, so that anyone who picks up the first book and finishes it can easily go right on to the second.

Pricing

I’ll usually launch a Book 2 at full price, figuring the visibility on this title is less important (most people aren’t going to start at Book 2, so I feel Book 1 should still be getting most of the attention); there’s less incentive to start with a rock-bottom price. Besides, this is where I want to start earning some money by taking in the 70% earnings split from the vendors, especially if I decided to leave Book 1 at 99 cents, because it was doing well.

I’ll send out a notice to my mailing lists and plug the book on the social media sites, but I’ll probably put my focus on Book 1 again. I’ll often drop it down to 99 cents again and buy a few ads (if it’s only been a few weeks since it launched, I might not bother, especially if it’s still selling well, but if it’s been a few months, it’s time to renew interest in the series and try to get some new readers into the world).

I don’t do much on social media to seriously try and sell my books. I do know some authors who swear by their Facebook Events and Twitter links, but I find optimizing the sales page (especially on Amazon) and buying ads is a better use of my time and can get me far more noticeable results. Yes, it’s tough finding advertising where you come out ahead (make more in earnings than you spend on the ad), but this is still my preferred method, because it doesn’t take much time, and if you can sell enough to get on those lists and in those also-boughts, it can be worth taking a hit on the ads themselves, because you end up earning more in the long run. (Keep close track of this, as it’s not always the case. You have to have a plan. These days, I’ll try to line up five or six days’ worth of ads in a row to try and gain that momentum and “stick” on Amazon.)

Right now, I have more money than I have time, so time is a far more precious commodity. However, when you’re getting started, it’s often the other way around. That’s when social media and blog tours and such can make more sense. The good thing is that you’ll find it easier to use social media to plug a book that’s 99 cents rather than one that’s $4 or $5. That said, it’s even easier to plug a free book, which brings us to the next section.

Book 3 Launch

As with Book 2, update the back matter of the previous book.

This is often the time where I’ll make Book 1 free for a while. It’s up to you if you want to go with that tactic. You can try another 99-cent sale instead, but you can often get a bunch of extra visibility from bargain-watching-and-sharing blogs (I.e. Pixel of Ink) by making a book free, especially if it’s the first time it’s ever been free. Chances are, you’ll get a lot more people checking out your first book, people who might not otherwise have tried a new-to-them author even at 99 cents. (Don’t assume that the freebie seekers won’t go on to buy your other books; I’ve found that simply isn’t true. A free ebook is basically the same as a physical book checked out from the library. Haven’t you found authors whose books you went on to buy after first discovering them at the library?)

You’ll probably want to throw down some advertising to plug your free book. Even though that sounds counterintuitive (pay to advertise when the book won’t make you any money?), remember that you’ve got two more full-priced books in the series that people can go on to buy.

Note: you may briefly lower the price of Book 2 to 99 cents while you’re running ads on Book 1, especially if you get a big site like BookBub or Ereader News Today to advertise the first. If you make mention of that in the Book 1 blurb (i.e. Book 2 is also on sale for 99 cents, and here’s the link), you might get some people buying the second book at the same, or shortly after they download the first for free. I’ve definitely found that this works, and I think that if you can get more than the first book into the hands of readers, they’re more likely to get sucked into your world and become committed to the series.

To stay permafree with Book 1 or to boost it back up to full price or 99 cents?

This is up to you. My first Emperor’s Edge book has been free for three years. If people haven’t tried my stuff before, they can always try that one. It’s the library book strategy. Because I like having a free sample out there, I’ll probably continue to leave it free.

That said, with newer series, I haven’t been leaving the first books free. I had my Balanced on the Blade’s Edge free around the holidays, but after about three weeks, I put the price back up to $2.99. Part of this was to make the three-book bundle look like a better deal, but part of it is also because free downloads really drop off after a few months. You have to keep buying ads if you want that first book to stay at the top of the free lists, and with more people belonging to Kindle Unlimited (where they can get unlimited borrows a month), there seem to be fewer people surfing through the free lists overall.

If you’re not getting a lot of downloads of the freebie, you won’t be getting that many people checking out the following books in the series, so you might as well be getting paid for the sales Book 1 does get. Also, as I said before, it’s easier to get ads when you’re lowering the price of a book, as opposed to simply plugging something that’s always free. Most of these ebook sites and mailing lists want to share bargains with their readers.

David Gaughran, in his Let’s Get Visible, calls this strategy price pulsing. It’s up to you to see what works best for you, but if your Book 2 sales ranking is above 100,000 on Amazon, chances are your permafree isn’t doing much for you right now.

Book 4 and Beyond

By now, you’ve probably sensed a theme here. Every time I release a new book in a series, I’ll go back and put Book 1 on sale and buy some ads for it. Sure, I’ll plug the new book to my mailing list and social media followers (in short, the fans who have already read all of the other books), but I don’t do much else to promote the new book. It’s all about getting people into the series back at Book 1.

Now, if you have the kind of series where a person doesn’t have to read the books in order, then you might do things differently (for my pen name, any of the first four books could technically work as stand alones, so I may eventually do more advertising of books other than the first). But if your series and world will be confusing for those who don’t start at Book 1, I believe it makes sense to focus on getting people to try that.

By the time you reach Book 4, you do have a new advertising/sales strategy that’s available. You can, as I mentioned above, box up the first three books in the series into a bundle. I talked more about the whys in my 3 Reasons to Bundle the Early Books in Your Series post, but in short: it’s easier to get ads on bundles because you’re offering a big discount, such as $9.99 to 99 cents, and people who read the first three books all at once are likely to become more committed to the series than those who only read the first one. Also, it gives you the opportunity to play with covers and blurbs. Maybe you want to go a different direction, try to rank in different lists, try to target different keywords, etc. This is your chance without possibly ruining a good thing with your regular series books and sales.

Book 5 and Beyond

I only have one series (okay, two, since the pen name has five books out now) that I’ve gone this deep with, and I’ve been neglecting it (my Emperor’s Edge stuff) this last year, since it’s been finished since 2013. But I’m planning to see if I can get it some more loving this year (step 1 was redoing that boxed set, since that’s a lot cheaper/easier than redoing the covers for the entire series).

With that caveat shared, what I would recommend here is to do some evaluation. If you’re selling well enough that it makes sense to continue, keep going. Keep trying to get more people into that first book. Now and then, make it 99 cents or free and make the rounds with the advertisers. Once a year or so, make the bundle 99 cents and advertise it. I’ve even seen a few authors with big series out there make the entire 3-book bundle free, at least for a while. I’ve also seen people box up books 4-6, not with the intention of selling them at 99 cents but to give readers deals by giving them a couple of dollars off the regular price.

An idea I’m kicking around, since my entire EE series is finished (it ended up being seven books or seven and a half books, if you count a substantial novella), is boxing up the entire thing. The only reason I haven’t is because Amazon drops the cut back down to 35% if you price an ebook over 9.99, and I wouldn’t want to sell the entire series at such a low regular price.

But back to that evaluation stuff.

If you’re five books in, you should be able to tell… is this series thing working? Am I covering the costs of cover art, editing, and advertising for each new book? Am I making enough money after all of those expenses are accounted for that all of the effort is worth it?

If this is your first series, you want to come into things with realistic expectations, but at the same time, if you’re up to Book 5, and you’ve been doing all of the things I’ve talked about here, and you’re not making any money (or you’re in the hole), it may be time to either wrap things up or to put the series aside and try something else for a while. If you’re just writing it for the love of it and don’t care about money, then that’s one thing, but most people who are this committed to publishing their work (who have put this many books out) want a return on their investment.

If you’re worried that your existing readers won’t give a new series a try, that’s a valid concern, but if you stay within the same genre, maybe even the same world with some crossover between new characters, then they might just come along for the ride. You also have the opportunity to appeal to all new fans by starting over again with a Book 1.

Or… you could take what you’ve learned and try a different genre or sub-genre. A whole new world. Some authors strike gold with their first series, but your next idea might be the one that appeals to a lot of people. One thing I do know: it’s really tough to predict what’s going to be a winner ahead of time.

Final note: before scrapping anything, ask other self-publishers what they think about your covers and blurbs. We authors can be really bad at evaluating or our own stuff. But you would be surprise how much of a difference these two things can make!

Thoughts? Questions? Experiences you want to share? Please leave a comment below!

 

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Comments (53)

Great post, Lindsay. Lots of food for thought here. I hear that “series take off at book 4/5/6…10” canard a lot. Has that been your experience with your books? Have you experienced a bump after Book 3 or 5? Or have sales been steady?

I never had anything “take off” unless a Bookbub ad was involved. 😛 But I did steadily get more readers, just by continuing to promote the first book (and having others recommend them too), and that can get you to the point of making a nice living from your work, so nothing to complain about!

I wish I had read this a few days ago! lol

I just launched book 1 in a new series yesterday (a big departure from my popular series) and book 2 is still in my head. Having read your advice, I plan to forget about book 1 and stick my head down and write the next couple of books in the new series.

Just want to add that your blog has been invaluable for me in stepping away from my publisher and jumping into the indie pool 🙂

Thanks, AW! I need to bug you to come on our podcast someday. You’ve done a great job with your steampunk series. 🙂 Good luck with the new one!

I’ll email you. Not sure if a podcast would work as I have crazy slow hobbit Internet & a weird accent! Lol

Great overview, Lindsay!

I think indie authors should request that Kindles show the book cover and author page when you first open the ebook. I’m a serial reader and the majority of the time I have no idea what the name of the book I’m reading is and no clue who wrote it. And I read way too many books to keep up (also at the end of an ebook, Kindles show you a recommendation for a next book and I honestly don’t know for indie authors if it’s a book by the same author–i.e. a sequel–or some random other person’s book).

If you want to increase your “brand” awareness make Amazon Kindles actually show it…! It’s way too much effort to find out what you’re reading and who wrote it

Totally agree- the big thing I miss with ebooks is that you no longer get to see the cover or the blurb when you open the book (unless you press the page back button which I have started doing actually.)

Hard won insight freely shared . . . thank you as always for your generosity. Just reading your posts makes me excited — even better than a high octane fantasy novel because I know this stuff works! Some us have been throwing about ideas for a fantasy box set on KBoards but I think we all realised that we know very little on the subject 🙂 Would you consider doing a podcast on boing shared box sets? Cheers.

Yes! On the SF&F marketing one, we’re going to talk amongst ourselves next week, and discuss bundles a bit. I’m trying to get someone from the Epic bundle to come on as a guest too.

Oh, also check out The Writing Podcast show with Anthea Lawson/Sharp. She talked a lot about bundles — she’s started several of them.

http://www.thewritingpodcast.com/9/

Thank you. Will check the link out. And love your podcasts.

Thank you so much for this detailed breakdown! I’m just starting into my first series, so it’s timely advice.

Sharing your post on my writing message board, too. 🙂

Thanks, Hannah. Good luck with your series!

I’m getting ready to release the fourth book in my series and have a stupid question about an omnibus. If the first three books are not exclusive to Amazon (i.e. in KDP Select), is it still possible to enroll the omnibus that would include the same books?

Nope, they’ll slap your wrist. I had that thought once, too, but all of the content has to be exclusive with KDP Select.

Nice, meaty post that I have bookmarked and referenced. When newbie indie fiction authors ask me for advice (why, I don’t know, since I’m barely beyond newbie myself), I always point them to Lindsay’s e-Book Endeavors.

I was impatient and published my first book-in-series back in October 2014, but other than a couple of experiments in really-cheap marketing spots, I’ve adopted the “forget about it” approach. When the second book comes out in April (fingers crossed!), I plan to price it at $0.99 for a week so my tiny cadre of newsletter and FB fans can get a deal, then make it regular price while I put book 1 on sale and promote the heck out of it. All while I’m writing book 3, of course, but maybe with a short story with the main characters from book 1 first, to satisfy the several requests I’ve had for it. When I’m ready with book 3 (November-ish?), I’ll again promote the heck out of book 1 to get sell-through for the series.

My cunning plan is, of course, subject to revision resulting from vendor catastrophes and game-changers, of course.

Good luck, Carol! I think Murphy talked about cunning plans not surviving first contact with the enemy… or something like that. 😀 It sounds solid though!

Thanks for putting this down on ‘paper!’

Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a choice when it comes to my series, because it’s serial fiction. 🙂

Each episode is maybe 40-50 pages on Kindle, so I have to price them accordingly. My first episode is $0.99, and will probably stay that way, other than the occasional free sale. The following episodes are all marked at $1.99.

This is sort of an experiment, based on the Realms & Sands guys, and J.C. Hutchens, so we’ll see how it goes. After the first season is completed I’m planning on compiling them all together into one volume, which should make for some interesting pricing ideas.

Thanks for the tips, though, Lindsay! Later this year I will have a more traditional series coming out, and this will be invaluable!

Hi Lindsay, I just found your blog today. Thank you for the information. Do you have any posts about cover art..I’m not good at designing and would like to get some art for my first book but I don’t know where to turn…..thanks in advance. I’ll have to bookmark your site 🙂

Thanks for stopping by, Desmond. Here’s an old post on cover art: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/tips-and-tricks/ebook-cover-art-tips-glendon-haddix/ If you’re going to hire someone, you can check out Glendon Haddix from http://www.streetlightgraphics.com and Deranged Doctor Design http://www.derangeddoctordesign.com/ (I’ve used both).

Great post, Lindsay and thanks for sharing your insights. Is this valid for NF too, do you think?

Martin

Martin, if they’re tied together by a common thread, and if it’s the kind of thing where people will want all of the books in the series, sure. I often see non-fiction authors jump around with their topics, where each one might appeal to a different audience rather than all appealing to the same audience.

Just found your blog today through Joanna Penn. Very informative post, and now I’m wondering if I’m doing it all wrong. 🙂 I have 3 different series, one with 3 books and the other with 4. Hmm.

Thanks for stopping by, Grace. I have a bunch of series I’m working on too. If I were smart, I’d write one from start to finish and release the books in fairly rapid order, but it’s hard to keep the muse harnessed to the wagon. 😛

I’m totally stealing this! 🙂

I’m launching a YA thriller book series in April. This post comes at a perfect time. I especially like your thoughts on .99 vs free and how long the book should be discounted, etc.

Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I’ll let you know how it all plays out for me.

You’re welcome, Pete. Good luck with your new series!

I confess that it took me a long while to go through this post and make notes on all the useful information–there was so much! Two questions, though: if releasing 1 book/month is ideal, why did you wish you’d had Book III ready to go less than a month after Book II released? Also, have you ever considered doing a post on how to optimize your sales pages? (unless of course you’ve already done so–in which case let’s just pretend I never said that). 🙂

One book a month is ideal and more is even better, though I don’t know many authors who can manage that. I would have to stick with one series and one pen name and write novels in the 70-80k range to have a chance. 😀

That’s a good idea for a post, though my sales pages aren’t all that awesome, so I don’t know if I should be the one to talk about it. Maybe when I release Warrior Mage, since I actually picked a title for that one that’s very typical of what’s in the Top 100 of the epic fantasy genre. If you’ve got a great title, great cover, and great blurb, you’re golden. 😀 (A lot of people, myself included, don’t do a very good job with titles.)

Thanks, Lindsay! Also, I don’t believe your modesty and fully look forward to any posts you might do on sales pages!

This kind of thing totally worked for me, especially launching and gaining audience with a .99 first book. Great advice.

I haven’t done a 3 book bundle of the first ones yet, but that’s next after I release another book or two in the series. It’ll be interesting to see how that works.

Hey, Annie! I heard you on Simon’s podcast, and I’ve seen your books rocking it. Looks like you’ve got it down! 🙂

This is the strategy I had planned on doing and doing for my first book series, like the exact one. So glad to see it as a viable strategy from you.

I wrote the first four books before releasing the first one so I could keep up with releases. Book 3 will be release in the next few weeks. So far, I think it’s doing well.

I have a second series where the first two books are ready to go now but I was thinking of waiting and releasing all 3 at the same time and then a 4th a month later or so, to see how that does.

Fun stuff!

I’ve been following your blog for a while now but hadn’t yet read any of your work even though I picked up EE book 1 for free probably a year or so ago. I finally got around to starting EE about 2 weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. I’m on book 3 now and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know who likes fantasy.

I’ve been a fan of your advice, but now I’m also a fan of your work. 🙂

Thanks, Sarah! I’m glad you’re enjoying the series so far. Thanks for recommending it too!

This is such great advice! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate to hear the words ‘if your first book doesn’t take off, then forget it. Seriously, forget it.” It is something I’ve intuitively sensed but now it has been affirmed.

What do you mean by “update the back matter for Book 1”?

Sorry, newbie wet behind the ears over here. *waves*

You can include an afterword that let’s people know that the second book is out and include a link to it. Some people also include excerpts.

Stupid question–how do you take a book off permafree on Amazon if it has price matched your free book on other sites? Bump the price back up on the other vendors and let Amazon know?

Yes, you have to make sure it’s not free anywhere else. Eventually, Amazon’s bots should figure that out and return your price to normal.

Lindsay, your website is a mine of information. Thank you for sharing your experience and providing a wealth of resources for writers – like me – just starting out.

This is post is just one of many that I have enjoyed and learned so much from.

Thanks.

Thanks, Chris. I’m glad you’re finding the blog useful! 🙂

Lindsay,
Another informative post. Thank you so much. Any plans on giving us an update on how your pen name project is coming along after a few months and five books out?

I definitely will at some point. I’ve been busy with my regular LB stuff this last month (and that will be the case for the next month or two too), so I haven’t been thinking about it much. They’re still selling, but naturally not as well as they were when I was publishing more regularly and doing some promos. The pen name did finally get accepted for a Bookbub ad (on the 9th!), so hoping that will give the series a nice boost. 🙂

Hi Lindsay – –

Among the dozens of knowledgeable people I’ve found in KBoards and some other sites, you are the standout in terms of thoroughness and also kindness. I’m new, with a new publisher, and have much to learn yet. So when I found your blog and went back to read *everything* I was blown away by your adaptability to the KU revolution, and subsequent testing and persistence in refining series techniques. Your experience and insights confirm our decision to launch initially in KSelect and KU. then pull sets for wide distribution when we think we can beat KSelect’s performance.

Re your emphasis on having more than one volume at the start:

We hired a proven editor *after* doing our own three-person “edit” on our lead-off series novella. She was tough as nails and, let’s call it, “supportively direct”, so we changed plans and went to school with you and others. My second volume at 38K is now in edit, and the 3rd and 4th are about half drafted. (We’re following a carefully plotted but flexible multi-volume series outline.)

Now, we see that we need to be even smarter. We’ll be releasing mini-series of shorts (8 to 12K) that key back to our main series characters and locations, to build interest in advance and links to the erotic romance “world” created in the main series.

FWIW, we’ve settled on a strategy to hopefully give us some traction via the non-Amazon sites. Each mini-series tells a full, evolving, story in segments that stand alone as complete incidents. These are 8-12K in length, good for reading on the fly or at lunch or before bedtime. The segments are NOT cliffhangers, since the reader is clued in as to the direction the tale will take in the upcoming segment. It lets us develop the characters and create a much more interesting and richer context.

All segments will be in KU, avoiding the problem of KU readers discovering a 2nd part only to find the preceding opening of the story is NOT available on KU. Ah, but how about the rest of the reader base? Each multi-part story will have a prequel that is permafree. BUT, that need not be read before diving into part one.

Your comments would be welcome! But thanks many times over for your education and guidance and encouragement of we who follow.

Peace and Lust
Ariadne

Hey, Ariadne!

It sounds like you have a good plan. I don’t know a whole lot about serials, especially ones that are that short, but I’ve definitely heard that they can work in those categories (it might be tough to pull off in epic fantasy :D). I don’t know if you’re a podcast listener, but you might check out an interview that was just posted on the Romance Writers Rodeo with Sky Corgan. It sounds like she’s doing pretty close to what you’re describing, and she’s making nice money. Here’s the link: http://www.romancewritersrodeo.com/sky/

I wish you lots of luck. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog!

Figured I’d post and say a few things. First, I have a bundled set of novellas and it never dawned on me to put it in different categories that also fit the books. That’s genius… so thank you. 🙂

I’m working on a series of 70K word novels. I have two out right now about angels and demons and a fictional hell I made up based on Dante’s Inferno and a bunch of other stuff from mythology. I was looking around at what was selling in the genre (mine are doing alright, I just wanted to see the Top 100) and I found your 3 book bundle for the Dragon Blood collection. I purchased a copy to check out your writing style. I’m a few chapters in and I really like it.

My question is regarding the first in the series (in general). How long do you generally use a permafree strategy before saying that’s enough copies and reviews and switching it to $0.99 or $2.99 or something like that? Do you have a number or have you more based it on time (like when you said the book was free for three years)?

Hey, Randall!

Thanks for checking out the boxed set. The last time I set a book free, I only did it for about 2-3 weeks and ran some ads during that time before putting it back to $2.99. I kind of liking having *something* free at all times, so people can check out my work without having to plunk down any money, but I think cycling in and out of free seems to work just as well for me now.

Good luck with your novels!

Another great post and at a great time for me. I’m working on a new series and the post gave me a lot to think about and is helping with the long term planning.

Thanks, Lindsay!

Thanks for this post. I’ve got it bookmarked and have been coming back to it every so often as I get ready to release book two in the series I’m writing. Great stuff here.

Hi Lindsay,

Thanks for this post, it was very informative. I’ve read other things about marketing a series, but I have a question.

What are good marketing strategies for a stand-alone book? Any recommendations?

Thanks,
Naomi

Stand-alone is tough, Naomi! I’d put it in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited to start out with and see if you can gain some traction that way. My fantasy writing buddy Moses Siregar made a preview of his first book (before there was a series) with the first third or so of the novel and put that out for free as a way to get folks to want to buy the novel.

Thanks for this article! I’m reading a bunch of your articles in an effort to aid my switching from a trad-pub author to Indie. It’s a mind-boggling amount of information to take in, but you break it down into neat pieces. ;o)

I hope everything goes well for you! Thanks for reading!

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