Any product launch is a big deal. It adds up; all the work to design and publish your book, plus all the marketing that goes into hyping up your audience. The goal is that your hard work will pay off as a lot of initial sales. But what happens after that first couple of months, when the initial surge of sales is over and your book moves to your backlist?
Because you know how to promote a book and you put in the marketing effort before your launch, you’ve got a solid foundation already in place. The next phase of your book’s life will be as a passive selling product. Don’t let that phrasing fool you. Passive sales still require work on your part to make them happen.
Book Marketing For Passive Sales
Passive selling involves consumers seeking their own information to help them make a purchase decision. During your book launch, you’ll be engaging in active selling; where you’ll go out and ask new and existing readers to give your book a try. As you shift to passive selling, you’ll focus on simple book promotion ideas to make it easy for people interested in a good book to find yours.
Since you’ll want to focus on your next book, you can’t devote as much time to your passive selling efforts. You need quick, easy to execute book marketing ideas to target potential readers.
Book Marketing Ideas
There’s nothing new about these ideas. But consider how you can leverage these common marketing ideas in simple ways to generate continual revenue from your backlist.
1. Run A Backlist Book Sale
This one might seem obvious. Still, it’s worth mentioning: the absolute simplest way to sell from your backlist is to run a sale on those specific books.
If you have a large backlist, you can set up the sales as a series, perhaps putting each book on sale for a week. Then you can rotate through the unique books, giving each one a chance to appeal to your readers at the discounted price.
This is a great chance to see which of your older books is still popular too. If you see one title always selling well when it’s on sale, despite being a few years old, that’s a good sign people like the book. Maybe it’s time to do a second edition or special release with a new cover?
2. Offer Free Samples Of Your Book
It’s going to be hard earning author revenue if you just give the book away, I know. But you need readers first. So give them a taste!
In the marketing world, this is called gated content. You offer a piece of your book, like say the first chapter, in exchange for your reader’s email address. Email capture is key to long-term marketing success—rewarding new readers for access to their inbox is a brilliant trade off!
Ebook Creation Guide
Free information about creating and publishing your ebook using Lulu.
Don’t forget to include a link at the end of the free chapter to buy the rest of the book. That way, it’s easy for readers to keep reading by purchasing the complete book. Giving away a small portion of your book is a low-lift way to build your audience and make some sales (when they’re hooked and can’t stop reading).
3. Promote Your Book On Your Site
Do you blog regularly? Or have graphics on your home page? Create simple banners or sidebar graphics featuring your book to put up on your website or blog. Update them monthly to reflect a different backlist title.
This isn’t advertising that will drive a lot of sales, but you’re reminding your readers that you have the book available.
Or you could make small ads featuring the free chapter we just covered. Once you’ve decided where to place these ads on your site, make a template. Then, you can create them for all of your backlist titles.
4. Optimize Your Website With Link Building
There are two important strategies you can take to improve your Search Engine Optimization. When someone uses a search engine to find and purchase one of your products, that is peak passive sales.
First, look for other sites that will link to your site. What I mean by that is to find websites like blogs or book review sites that could link to your site. For example, if you’ve written a blog post about cover design, you could look for blogs by other writers who only mention cover design. Send the blogger an email or message on social media to see if they might link to your post within their post. This is called Link Building, and it’s a great way to increase traffic to your own website while building your authority and expanding your network.
This includes retail sites! Make certain any retail site product pages have your book’s metadata correct. You can also look for blogs that might benefit from a link to some content you’ve created (like a blog post or video).
Second, make sure the blogs and videos you create have links to other content (and products) you own. This will help search engines understand how your site is structured. Sites with good link structures show up higher in Google’s search results, making your pages more likely to be clicked on!
5. Sell Your Book On Social Media Platforms
This one will depend a lot on which platforms you use and how you use them. What you’ll do is create 1-3 posts featuring your book’s cover and a link to buy it. Keep any copy on your post simple and evergreen.
The point is to have a library of ready-to-go posts featuring your backlist titles. You can share them periodically, reminding your fans of your past works and (hopefully) catching the attention of new readers.
Lulu’s Social Channels
Lulu’s Social Channels
6. Create Automated Email Campaigns
If you’ve built up an email list, you need to put it to use! If you’ve got a big backlist, you can email any fans who buy a book to check out other titles in your catalog.
Automations are key; if someone adds one of your books to the shopping cart on your site but doesn’t check out, have an automated “cart abandon” email flow in place to remind them about the book they forgot to buy.
7. Start (Or Join) A Book Club
Okay, this one is a bit obscure. But if you can find a book club that reads books in your genre, you might convince them to try your book. If you’ve involved yourself in the book club, you can offer free ebook copies for the attendees to entice them into reading.
The goal, of course, being that once they’ve experienced how good your free book is, they’ll be eager to buy other books you’ve written and recommend your book to others. You’ll be expanding your audience and likely adding to your writing community as well.
8. Offer Tiered & Bundled Products
Brandon Sanderson recently made history eschewing a publisher and using Kickstarter to fund his next book series. If you haven’t yet, check out the Kickstarter page for these books. Pay extra attention to the ‘Support’ section. To buy these books, it would cost you $40. But Sanderson has tiered offerings going up to $500!
You don’t need to go that far, but you can use crowdfunding to offer exclusives and extras. Or you could have bundles on your own website; making it easy to buy all the books in a series.
We usually reserve tiered products for a book launch; but you can adapt these techniques to sell your backlist too. Combine a few older titles to offer a ‘classics’ deal. Or pair the book with some complimentary product that ties into the book. One of my favorites is to create a ‘special edition’ of an older book to reignite interest or catch some readers who might have missed your original launch.
Book Marketing Never Stops
Sorry, but it doesn’t. Even relatively passive methods for earning from your backlist will take some work (and time). But selling from your backlist is also key to earning enough from your books to sustain yourself. The best book promotion ideas for your backlist will be simple and repeatable. Develop a plan for your books six months or a year after the book launch. Once you know which methods work and have some templates put together, the process of continually marketing your book for passive sales will get much easier.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.