Reading in the Age of Netflix
Five ways to encourage your fans to binge-read!
Ebooks have revolutionized the way we read—and find—books. We all love Netflix because it means we can binge-watch our favorite series the moment we discover it. Ebooks are no different! Even without Kindle Unlimited or another subscription reading service, the instant availability of ebooks means readers who love one of your books want instant access to all of them. Don’t make them hard to find! Here are five easy tips to turn the sale of one ebook into the sale of your entire backlist:
1. Link your series.
Many ebook retailers have incorporated support for series. What does this mean? At Amazon, if you enter your metadata correctly, a series landing page is auto-generated. Smashwords has a series manager tool, too. These pages make it that much easier for readers to find and purchase all the books in your series. Even better, once Kindle users reach the end of one book, they’ll be automatically given the option to buy the next book in the series. Additionally, make sure your series are clearly listed on your own webpage, and double-check that you’ve got your series listed on popular book-centered social media sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing. Turn that cliffhanger ending into an instant sale!
2. Always include a sample.
Is your book in a series? Include a sample of the next. End of a series? Link to something else you’ve written that incorporates similar themes or elements. Keep your samples short (no more than a chapter), and pick something that will pique someone’s interest. The sample doesn’t have to come from the very beginning of your book, so if you start off with backstory, atmospheric mood-setting, or a foreshadowing prologue that doesn’t mention the main characters, feel free to pick something more descriptive for the sample. And if your ebook layout skills are up to the challenge, make sure to incorporate purchase links to the sampled book at your preferred retailer. Want to be an ebook-publishing superstar? Also include links to review sites like Goodreads, your own author webpage, and any other social media outlets you frequent.
3. Unify your covers.
In the wild jungle of Facebook feeds, Amazon lists, and blog sidebars, you want your existing fans to notice your covers immediately. A unified, familiar cover scheme will visually train your fans to associate your covers with their favorite books. Think Pavlov. You want uniform font choices, similar cover layouts, and identically treated stock photos (color balance, overlays, etc.). See Courtney Milan’s backlist here. I could instantly pick any book she’s written out of a line-up, like the BookBub email that included a book of hers I’d never heard of. Bam! Instant purchase.
On a shoestring budget? No problem. Whip up a little icon for your name (like Lexi Blake’s streamlined “LB” icon) or series (see Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Anniversay Day Saga” medallion). Then scale it to whatever size is visually harmonious and place it in some void space on your existing cover images. Voila, instant brand!
4. Start an email list.
Whether you’re a social media maven with thousands of Twitter followers or a hermit with no web presence beyond your author page, you need a way to reach fans. Don’t discount the power of email! Fans who willingly sign up for notifications are worth their weight in gold…as long as you don’t abuse that trust with incessant updates. If you have a newsletter, keep them infrequent (no more than once a month). For new-release notifications, be succinct and include purchase links. And be sure to reward readers who sign up for your list with something fun and unavailable anywhere else, like deleted scenes, short stories, or discounts. There are lots of free or cheap tools out there for managing your email lists, too (e.g., MailChimp, Mad Mimi). Bonus karma points: Email lists are also a great way to showcase your fellow authors' books. Yours truly just bought three books all because Kit Rocha told me to.
5. Don’t publish book #1 until book #2 is ready.
Sometimes book #2 just refuses to cooperate: welcome to the sophomore book slump. From newbies to old hands, this malady can strike any promising new series, and the longer the slump continues, the grumpier fans get. If you’re a new author with a small or non-existent backlist or you’re launching a new pen name, consider waiting to publish book #1 until you’ve got #2 in the bag (or darn close to it). Whatever you do, don’t announce a release date until it’s firm! That means having a final draft that has been approved by multiple beta readers, doesn’t require a substantive rewrite, and is ready for copyediting. The dark side to instant availability is impatient fans who may abandon your series if the wait for book two is too long. Promising something and then failing to deliver won’t endear you to your readers.