A Question for You Series Writers

While browsing through the links we’ve collected for sites to promote your books, I came across an article by Michael Gallagher of Free Kindle Books & Tips, explaining why he does not promote any books in a series, other than Book 1. He had some very good points, if you’d like to read them here. Further, he doesn’t recommend running them for free anywhere else, either.

Now I am rethinking my “official” launch of A Boy Named Rabbit, which is Book 2 of my Wake-Robin Ridge series.

How do you folks who have series out there handle this? Do you promote each book in the series the same way as you did the first one, freebies and all, or do you come up with alternate ideas? Or do you just start putting together Boxed sets, and promoting them that way? I’ve got a boxed set already up. Maybe my best bet is to run promos on that, and let A Boy Named Rabbit sales grow organically, via Mail Lists, special offers on my personal website, etc. Somehow, though,  I can’t imagine that being nearly as successful as that first free run, but I don’t want to alienate readers, either, by the fact that Rabbit is not really as effective as a stand alone book. I do make that pretty clear in my book descriptions, but we all know how often people buy without reading those carefully.

Thoughts?

14 thoughts on “A Question for You Series Writers

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, as I near completion of Book 2 in my (what was going to be a) trilogy (and is turning into a bit more than that).
    One of my buddies has just released the last book in her own trilogy with a huge launch bonanza, but it’s been Book 1 that she’s had available as a freebie throughout the launch, and Book 1 that she’s been pushing, which makes sense unless each book is a complete stand-alone.
    I certainly plan on running promos on Book 1 when I launch Book 2, also alongside the launch parties and blog tours – readers need to start at book 1, and what better way than to promote it alongside launching the next, so they know when they finish that first one, the next is already waiting 🙂

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      • Thanks for your input, Deborah. Okay, so if I understand you correctly, I could launch Rabbit’s book with whatever limited hoopla I can muster up (which wasn’t going to include anything so grand as a book tour, though some guest blogs would be nice), and simultaneously offer Book 1 for free? And perhaps the Boxed set for a discount?

        Would I also offer Rabbit at a discounted price so those who have already bought and read Book 1 would be able to get a bargain, too?

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          • I had planned to offer #1 free, and in fact, as soon as I get the 3rd book written, I figured I’d offer it at 99 cents all the time. But I was going to do a free promo for Rabbit, too. Now I’m thinking maybe not. Sheesh. Why is this stuff so hard? I just want to WRITE. I hate spending days and days on this part. 😦 Oh, well. Better suck it up and get busy. Thanks again, Deborah. You are always so helpful!

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  2. Since I don’t really have more than one book out, I haven’t really thought about this too much, but I have put a little bit of thought into it.

    I have one series I plan on keeping with a publisher and another I plan to self-publish (at least for now). I will promote every traditionally published book to the satisfaction of the publishing company it’s through, so I don’t really have an opinion there.

    With the ones I plan on self-publishing though, my goal is to promote each book up to three months before their release. I have everything scheduled out for each release with the only thing I need to do is fill in the dates.

    Leading up to my release, I plan on having a cover reveal and an initial “before release” virtual book tour. That way, there will be reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before the book releases.

    On the day of the release, I plan on having a “release day party” on my social media networks. This was something I was just introduced to with the release of my traditionally-published novel and it was pretty good for promotion, so I’d like to try it with new releases.

    Once a book is released, while I’ll promote it on my personal sites and my social media sites every once in a while, I probably won’t do as much promoting as I do with new releases. And as each book comes out within a series, I’ll probably make the first book in the series free or cheaper than before to help promote the series.

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    • You’ve put a lot of thought into this, and come up with a really solid-sounding plan. I hope it works for you. I’ve been utterly paralyzed with this third book, and haven’t settled on any kind of plan at all, except that I know my time is very limited. That’s why I wasn’t planning to do a blog tour, though I guess I could change my mind. But since I’m already working on the next in this series, and the second in my second series, I don’t see how I can do it. 😦 But nothing’s cast in concrete.

      I’d love it if you’d keep us posted here as you start implementing your plans. Of course, we will be one more spot where you can promote, but we could also learn from your experiences as well. That would be great. And however you do it, I wish you the best of luck when the time comes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Great post!

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      • Thanks! It’s something I’ve actually only thought about recently as I wasn’t certain if I was going to try to self-publish anything other than short stories/collections or if I was going to aim for traditional publishing with all my works. For now, I’ve decided that the only one I’ll aim towards traditional publishing is the series I have started that way.

        Most of these ideas have come from my experience so far in the blogging world the past year. I was a host for book tours and welcome the chance to do so again sometime in the future. Also, I mentioned the release day party idea with the publisher. Book signings are always a plus because you get to “meet and greet” your readers, which is awesome.

        As for when everything’s going to be happening, that’s still very much in the air as while I have first drafts of three different novels, nothing’s made it to edits yet or further. Still have a long way to go. I would love the chance to post more as I get closer. I’ll also always post whatever I’m working on up on my own site.

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  3. I don’t know too much about this, because I haven’t written a series – though I am planning on a book two for one of my novels, and a sequel for another, but in those book promotion newsletters I belong to, the majority of books offered at no cost are book 1 in a series.

    I do have a question. Shouldn’t an author who writes a series supply some sort of quick recap to the reader pertaining to what is essential from past stories as necessary to the understanding of the newest story? Maybe as a prologue, or more cleverly, incorporated somewhere in the story.

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    • On the free thing, I’m mostly just talking about a 2 or 3 day special free promo for the new book, which is standard, I think. But the first book is supposed to be a hook to the series, so you want to come up with a plan to either make it free permanently, or keep it at a much reduced price. I’m planning to make mine 99 cents, after I finish the launch promo, whatever I end up doing. I think I’m going to run a free promo for Book 1, and a simultaneously countdown sale on Book 2. I’ll worry about promoting the boxed set later. I have to wait 30 days before I can do it, anyway, so I have time to maybe do a guest blog or two, if I can find any takers.

      As for recaps, you should definitely have some things in the 2nd book that refer to big events from the first one, though personally, I like to insert short references here and there. A line that says, “When Mac and I first moved in, we did so and so,” or, “Our first year of married life saw us doing this or that,” or maybe referring to the drama that happened the year before, but short. Not in huge blocks, and not too much.

      Some people prefer to spell out everything that happened in the first Book, but I not only don’t enjoy doing much of that, I don’t appreciate reading big chunks of it when I’ve already read that first book. It’s old news to me, and while I like a refresher here and there…oh, yeah, Mr. Smith was the name of the caretaker who died in book 1…I really don’t like paragraph after paragraph being retold.

      Of course, this is subjective. I’m a person who would never, EVER read a series out of order. Others aren’t. And there are lots of opposing opinions. I think I’ve included enough reminders in my 2nd book to keep readers on track, and my son says he could read between the lines in Rabbit, though he hasn’t read book 1. But in general, I’d be sad if anyone read Book 2 first. There’s no way for them to understand the depth of what my characters went through in Book 1, so I plan to be sure it’s very clear that it is a continuing storyline, and really should be read in order.

      Hope that makes sense. It’s by no means gospel, as I say, and you’ll find folks on both sides of the issue, but that’s my view, for what it’s worth. 🙂

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  4. I think Rabbit stands alone as a story. I don’t think, if I started with that as a reader, I’d feel lost or like it wasn’t complete. It’s clear that it’s part of a series, so readers who enjoy it would go back and get the first one, but I don’t think it would be a problem for them to start with Rabbit if that was the one they found first. Sure, there’d be some spoilers if they read them out of order, but nothing that would ruin the first read–I think we tend to assume the main characters will get together in the end anyway. 🙂

    Alternatively, someone who discovers Rabbit via your promotion for that book, maybe reads the sample and likes it, might say well golly, I didn’t know about this series, but it sure looks good, think I’ll go buy the first one and start with that.

    As for me, I’ll be promoting the next book in my series the same way I did my first. I’ll take discoverability anywhere I can get it, and that Hot New Releases list is something to consider. Book 2 does depend on the first book in some ways, but not so much that it ruins the second if you haven’t read the first. There’d just be some inside stuff you wouldn’t get. In any case, I took that first book (permanently) down to 99 cents, so people who think it looks interesting can pick that one up first with minimal risk.

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    • Thanks for weighing in, Jen. As someone who has read both books, you have a solid perspective of how Book 2 plays off of Book 1. I’m glad you think Rabbit will work on its own. And I wasn’t as much worried about Sarah & Mac’s story line, since yeah, you pretty well expect them to work things out. (Though Mac’s reaction to Rabbit’s appearance would be far better understood if they read #1 first.) Still I think I gave enough hints and references to keep the second book making sense, and I’m glad you also think it did. I’m actually more concerned about the scene that references the OTHER couple in Book 1. I’d prefer certain scenes in Book 2 regarding that be a surprise, but again, if they read Book 2 first, maybe it will encourage them to go back and read Book 1.

      I like your plan for promoting your second book, too. And after reading your first one, I will definitely be looking forward to Book 2. I’ve been thinking along the same lines myself. Since I can’t offer Rabbit as a freebie until March 1 (has to be 30 days after publication), I’m thinking I’ll do a combined promo first of a countdown for Rabbit, and a free promo for Book 1, simultaneously. Then, some time after March 1, I’ll run at least one free promo of Rabbit. And somewhere along the way, I’ll run a countdown of the Boxed set. Of course, this plan could change, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me right now.

      In the meantime, I’d like to find a blogger or two who’d enjoy doing an Author Interview with me, so I can chat about the book a bit. I’m hoping some of the folks I’ve interviewed on Bookin’ It might be interested, but I’m by no means going to push it or anything. Just if they’d like to give it a try. Since I’m not expecting to do a full blog tour, this would be one way to reach more people.

      Thanks so much for your input here, and I can’t WAIT for Peak of the Devil to come out. And remember to let me know if you want a reader before release date. 🙂

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        • Jumping up and down, going “Me, me, me!” Yes, I’d LOVE to answer 11 questions for you, and I can be pretty silly, if the occasion arises. (Just ask my husband). I can do silly, serious, or anything in between, and I love talking about my books and/or characters, so email me, and let’s set something up. I’m excited. (Can you tell?)

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