The reason I wanted to get a sequel out quickly was to avoid the ‘one blip wonder,’ the phenomenom of having a single book published that no-one notices and few people buy. I also needed the motivation that writing a sequel demands of an author, but that’s a whole different issue. Yes, the ending of my first novel, Been Blued, was written to leave readers wanting more. And yes, I did it on purpose. Any good salesperson would. In advertising, it’s the idea of creating a need, and thereby a market for your product. Right or wrong, I felt this was necessary to establish the idea of an upcoming sequel.
Personally, I hate it when another author has a cliff-hanger ending, then never writes a sequel. In my mind, that’s not an ending, it’s a copout. And don’t try to tell me it’s so that the reader can come up with his or her own alternate endings. A clever reader can still do that, but some people read because they know they’re not writers. Those of us who write and publish should be extremely grateful for them.
Now, as a ‘self-published’ author–although I often wonder if iUniverse doesn’t almost qualify to be a ‘regular’ publisher–I do the marketing and publicity myself. This means I’m constantly looking for [affordable] ways to promote my series. What I learned at my last book signing was that I’m not done selling the first book. I wanted to promote Martian Blues, the second title in my Martian Symbiont series. But I thought it would be good to have both titles available. It turns out that was a somewhat lucky guess. I sold as many of the first novel as the second, and only one person bought both. There are still people out there who want to buy the first novel when I’m promoting the second.
It was a bit of a shock. “In order to sell a book, promote the sequel?” Who knew? I don’t have a team of experts to advise me on what to do next to increase book sales. All I have is my own experience and what I can learn on the Internet.
Here are a few of the things I’m going to try next:
1) Getting celebrity endorsements. This sounds simple enough, but there are several things to think about. First, which celebrities might be interested in my series? What’s in it for them–aside from a free copy of my book? Unless they seem to like scifi, there’s no point in contacting them. Unless I also like them as a celebrity, there’s no reason for me to contact them. I’m not about to write an insincere letter to someone I don’t like, asking him or her to promote my book, which is almost like a piece of my soul. (If you’re a celebrity, and you don’t get a letter from me, don’t feel bad. If you like my novel, you can leave a message or a review on my website contact page. Go to www.ScifiAliens.com)
2) Radio advertising. I haven’t gotten their permission to mention them by name on my blog (I didn’t think of it in time,) but here’s what the radio station’s ad campaign will consist of–a horizontal ‘banner’ ad on their site that comes up a set number of time over the month; the second graphic, called a skyscraper, will be vertical. There are supposed to be a few radio announcements as well, and the oppportunity for site subscribers to ‘earn’ one of five copies of each novel. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be, even adding in the cost of providing ten books.
3) Of course, I will track the results. One of the most important things with any kind of promotion is to be able to answer the question: ‘how effective was it?’ Almost every website host will provide you with your statistics as part of the package you purchased, you just have to learn how to access them.
Speaking of making things accessible–let me give you a quick example of what doesn’t work. In the area where I live, there’s no passenger train service. One section of the track ended up being condemned, then rebuilt. Currently, there are no trains using the rebuilt section. Someone asked the train company about it. Their response was that they were waiting for the public to start using the track.
Okay…a few items instantly pop to mind. Like the fact that nobody I know owns or knows where to rent an engine and train cars. Next, until it made it into the local news, nobody knew the train company had this idea–those tracks have been used for grains, cattle, and equipment in recent years, not passengers; in short, there was no announcement or advertising. Even after this came out, the train company took no further steps to invite public users to sign up for, make us of, or pay for train service. No information equals no business.
Who isn’t using your product or service, but could be? How will they find out about you? What will you tell them about yourself? What can you offer that the competition can’t? Maybe it’s your product, or maybe you have a better price. There are many ways to stand above the crowd. Find your proverbial soapbox and get to work.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly