Swapping an outdated cover for a new, fresh look can help to improve sales for a backlist title. It’s also a good opportunity to update the interior file if needed. Your book description might need an overhaul as well. These are all things you can do to revive sales on earlier books.
As an indie author whose books are available “wide” (meaning beyond Kindle Unlimited), I have taken the time to update the first 3 books in my 18 book Bad Hair Day mystery series.
New readers always want to start with book one, unless they’ve won a later book in a contest, bought one on sale, or picked up a review copy of your upcoming release.
It’s ironic that you have to hook them with the first book in your series, because this was your starter title and you may have written it years ago. It’s been 25 years since Permed to Death was first published in 1999. Reviews can reflect those early renditions if you’ve linked editions.
My original mysteries were published by Kensington. Then they were digitally published by eReads in the days when e-books were fairly new and books had to be scanned in to get a digital file. Scanning mistakes abounded because my subsidiary publisher did not appear to have proofread their versions (see my article HERE on scanning).
Unfortunately, some older Amazon reviews mention these errors, but there’s nothing I can do about them. This is why we need reviews on our latest versions to encourage new readers to take a chance on the book. If you reissue your backlist title as a new edition with a new ISBN and don’t link the issues, then you’ll lose all those early reviews, good and bad.
Permed to Death
I’d already changed my indie cover for Permed to Death, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, from its original design that I used after I got my rights back. There is one glaring review on Amazon that shows this older design. I tend to agree that it’s way too busy with too many colors, but this criticism no longer applies. You can see my changes here. The current cover is on the right. This design is by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica.
I am just now updating the covers for Hair Raiser and Murder by Manicure (Books #2 & #3). These new designs are by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I chose images this time to depict the story elements more accurately.
In Hair Raiser, my original indie cover was overly busy with the pool in the background. I wanted to keep the chef, but we couldn’t find a good illustration for an update that would work. Kim found this image and I loved the expression on the chef’s face. It perfectly suits the opening in the story where Chef Pierre’s rum-soaked Bananas Foster blows up in his face. I can’t help smiling when I look at this cover.
Murder by Manicure
For Murder by Manicure, I felt the spa scene on my original indie cover was too vague, even though I like the colors. The image did depict the story where a woman drowns in the whirlpool at a sports club, but my new cover is more distinctive. It’s clearly identifiable as a story that involves a manicure. Maybe it’s my opinion, but the nail tech seems to have a devious expression on her face and the customer doesn’t look happy. Makes you wonder what’s going on between those two, yes?
I took this opportunity to do another round of light revisions on Permed to Death since book #1 is so critical in attracting new readers. Hair Raiser gained some smoothing out as well while Murder by Manicure hardly had any changes at all.
I’m hoping Amazon will offer updates to its verified purchasers of these titles but there’s no guarantee. If you check (Go to Accounts & Lists, then Content Library, then Books), see if the title says Update Available in your list of digital books. If not, please let me know. Maybe there’s some way I can enable this feature. I’m rolling out these changes now so keep watch for them.
Any new change necessitates reuploading your books to the different distributors. In addition to Amazon, Apple, BN, Kobo, Google Play, Draft2Digital and Ingramspark, these may include MyIdentifyers.com, BookFunnel, and your own Website. And don’t forget the audio editions if you have new metadata. It’s also a good time to improve your Book Description. See if you can make it sparkle and drop in key words when possible.
Let’s not forget the Box Set including these three titles. Box Set Volume One: Books 1-3, plus my Book Sampler for newsletter subscribers, will both need to be updated as well.
It’s a brave step to go back to your earlier books and make changes. You’re not sure if it’s worth the time, effort and expense, but at least you can be proud to know you’ve put your best work out there. Again. As they say, revisions are never done.Refreshing Your Backlist Titles #indiepub #writetip Click To Tweet
I would love to hear what you think about these new changes.
The industry workshops at Orlando Reads Books Convention in Altamonte Springs, FL were excellent. They were aimed at advanced authors with all the latest marketing tips and tricks to attract readers.
These are my notes, and any errors are due to my misinterpretation. This is a general summary of what I learned.
Mastering the Art of Ad Strategy with Bonnie Paulson
Set your release date. Book ads on the right platforms. End ad promo before or after release but skip that day. Create engaging content. Analyze via read-throughs, ranking, newsletter signups, and reviews.
Pick a comp title and then look at their “Also Likes.”
AMS ads are most beneficial for authors whose books are in KU. Not so much if you’re wide. Consider dynamic ads at Amazon for $5 per day. The tone of ads should match the blurb tone. A Landing Page can hold reviews, blurbs and excerpts.
AI in Your Author Business with Mandie Stevens
Prompts for using an AI:
What tropes are in my book blurb?
How can I raise the stakes for my characters?
Show me some Facebook ad examples. (Don’t use emojis.)
Give me some ad headlines that I can use.
Give me some engaging questions for my Facebook page.
Be as specific as possible. i.e. Give me some engaging questions for cozy readers on Facebook.
How can character A conflict with character B?
Can you help me punch up this opening?
Beware of mentioning sex or violence to the AI and specify that your work is fiction. i.e. “How can I kill somebody?” might raise red flags.
You can ask the AI to break down your story into chapters and scenes.
Upload your work and then say, “Something is missing. What can I do to fix it?”
Direct Sales with Bonnie Paulson and Mandie Stevens
You determine pricing
Control over cover
Bundles, upsales, add-ons
No competition from other authors as on a retail site
You have to redirect readers who are used to buying at Amazon
Change all the back matter links in your books
You should post a new release on your website store first before uploading it to retail sites.
Shopify and Payhip for Direct Sales with Fulfillment through BookFunnel (WooCommerce is another one). Bookvault for print copies. For print copies that are signed, charge an extra $5 or $10 plus postage since you’ll have to mail them out.
Offer reward points for reviews or sales that can lead to discounts or free shipping.
“Top and Tail” Email Drip Campaigns – first and last ones; fill in more later
Drip campaigns are automation sequences
Things to talk about in the drip campaign:
Were you able to download my book?
Did you like the book or have a chance to read it?
Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?
This is my favorite part. What’s yours?
As a reader, do you find drip campaigns (i.e. automated email messages) to be welcoming and enticing, or do they annoy you?
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Reviews are an author’s lifeblood. At best, they can strongly influence new readers to buy your book. At worst, a slew of poor reviews or low numbers may lead your publisher to think twice about accepting your option book. The quantity and ratings also affect your promotional opportunities since some ads require at least 10 reviews with a 4.0 or higher average. For a writer, getting reviews is paramount.
When a reader goes to an online bookstore site to scout out a potential new read, she’ll read the story blurb, look inside for a taste of your writing, and then read the customer reviews. Editors and agents may also look at reviews of your prior titles when considering which author to take on. Like with any business, we want to make a good impression.
This discussion does not involve how to get reviews. We’re going to talk about what you can do with a review once you receive one.
Here are some steps to take:
Create a subfolder labeled Reviews under your book title in your word processing program.
Copy and paste the entire review to a blank page and name the file. Put it in the Reviews folder.
Add the reviewer’s social media links.
Pull out several quotes. Add these quotes to your page of Tweets for this book title.
Add the review to your website’s book page.
Make a meme with a quote and for a featured book review. Examples:
Share the review on your social media sites. Tag the reviewer.
Leave a comment on the reviewer’s site thanking her for the review.
“Like” reviews for your book on Goodreads and BookBub.
Add it to the editorial reviews on Amazon if the reviewer didn’t post there.
If you are self-published, add the quotes elsewhere, such as IngramSpark and Barnes and Noble through their publishing platforms.
If you are trad published, copy the review to your editor.
Make a meme including several advance quotes for a new release
Keep a personal list or spreadsheet with each reviewer’s name, contact info, social media sites, and links to your reviews. This will give you a head start for your next release. Don’t forget to add how they’ve acquired your book (i.e. you sent them a file/link or they got it on NetGalley) and the dates for all correspondence.
Send out a reminder letter after the book goes live with buy links to reviewers who have downloaded the book but have not yet posted a review.
Send thank you notes to reviewers who have followed through.Your Book Was Reviewed - Now What? #BookPromotion Click To Tweet
Keeping meticulous records will show you who to approach for your next release. You’ll know who responded and who didn’t and where they posted reviews. This list will be fluid, changing for each book. Just remember to always be courteous, thank the reviewers for their time, and share their posts on your social media sites to show your appreciation.
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While it may seem a no-brainer to reissue a backlist title in print format, it’s not so easy. There’s a lot more work involved than you might think. Assuming you’ve revised your traditionally published book earlier and reissued it in digital format, you’ll need to refresh this material before converting it into print.
My eight backlist romances had been traditionally published. I revised these stories by improving the writing with tighter sentences and better editing, and then reissued them in e-book format. But then some of my readers requested them in print. This is for you, my friends!
What does a new print edition involve?
- Back Cover Copy – Use your long story blurb but first see if it needs updating. Add any mention of awards this title has won and a few review quotes.
- Purchase and Assign an ISBN number for the paperback edition. See my Previous Post on this topic. You’ll need to know your publication date when you enter the data at MyIdentifiers.com.
- Front and Back Material – Add the new print ISBN number to your copyright page. Update your books list and your biography. Add or revise any of the other front or back material. See my Previous Post on this topic.
- Review your chapter headings and space breaks for consistency.
- Distribution – Decide if you will be distributing the print edition via Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, and/or Draft2Digital.
- Format for Print – Either learn how to DIY or hire someone. Carefully review your file for any conversion errors.
- Either way, you’ll need to know what trim size you will be using (i.e. 5.5 x 8.5) white or cream paper (I use white) with black & white interior, gloss or matte finish (I like gloss), and for IngramSpark, the paper weight (I choose 50 lb.) and Perfect Bound paperback.
- Cover Design – Once you have the pdf file with a page count, you can send all this information to your cover designer. Be aware the cover templates are different for KDP and IS. Your designer might charge extra for doing both.
You have your cover and your print file in pdf formats. Now what?
- Update your e-book with the revised blurb, copyright page, bio and book list. Update the title’s metadata at the same time.
- Upload the print edition to your chosen distributor sites. Set the publication date.
- At IngramSpark, you can set a future publication date and approve preorders. Carefully review the eProof when IS notifies you that it is ready. Check over the parameters for the cover and the spine in particular. If all is well, Approve the book as the publisher. Once the book is available, you can override the publication date and order a Proof copy. These will look the same as the finished product. There is no ARC bar or marking like for KDP. There’s also no limit on the number of copies you can order.
- At Amazon KDP, upload everything but do not add a date and Save as Draft before you hit Publish. KDP does not do pre-orders. You have to come back and Publish on your release date. Meanwhile, you can order up to 5 Proof copies. These will come with a bar across the front cover stating the book is not for resale.
- Collect your book buy links when available and add to your website, Books2Read site, and anywhere else your various editions are mentioned.
Book Launch Tips
- Decide if this will be a full-blown release or a soft release. I do the latter since this book has already been available in a revised e-book format.
- Either way, prepare a blog post, a page of FB and Twitter posts, a newsletter mention or feature, and announcements for other sites.
- Consider offering your e-book on sale at the same time as the print book’s release.
Check out my romance reissues HERE.
Coming Next after the Light-Years series:
I am honored to have an essay in Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction. Edited by Diane Vallere. Publishing a book can be scary. Figuring out how to promote it can be straight-up frightening. When the seas of book promo make you feel adrift in unfriendly tides, keeping your head above water can be difficult. Enter PROMOPHOBIA, a collection of essays by Sisters in Crime authors who share their advice and experiences.
Divided into categories: Identifying Your Niche, Book Community, Social Media, Online Promo, Publicity, Connecting With Readers, Going On Your Own or Participating with a Group, Events, and Thinking Outside the Box, PROMOPHOBIA will open your eyes to the opportunities around you. The contributing authors share their personal experiences about what’s worked for them (and in a few humorous cases, what didn’t) to provide a beacon. You’re no longer in the dark. You’re not swimming alone.
If you’ve ever wondered if you could have done more for your latest book launch, then this book is for you. If you’re tired of relying on the same old strategies release after release, then this book is for you. If you want to readjust your sails and angle for a fresh gust of wind to carry you farther on your writing journey, then this book is for you.PROMOPHOBIA - Taking the fear out of book promotion #bookpromo #Promophobia Click To Tweet
Once you’ve finished the latest revisions on your novel and sent it to your editor, what then? Do you begin work on the next book? Not yet. This is the best time to write all the blogs for a blog tour. The story is fresh is your mind, so it’s prudent to write these articles while you’re close to the book.
A blog tour may include the following:
A Day in the Life
If you’re smart, you’ve been jotting down possible blog topics as you write the book. These can include research subjects, what inspired your story, how you selected this setting, the writing process, or bonus materials such as world-building details.
I start with the research topics and write three to five posts based on these ideas. For my upcoming mystery, STAR TANGLED MURDER, these articles include History and Mystery, Tea and Murder, Clues and Buttons, Ghost Stories and Lost Treasure, and Independence Day Celebrations. Whatever doesn’t get used on the blog tour can be applied to my personal blog.
Next, write A Day in the Life for your main character as another post. What’s her typical day like? How is it disrupted by a murder? How does she plan to deal with it? This is written from her viewpoint and meant to entice the reader with a sample of your writing and tone.
If you want to encourage comments, have each guest post end with a question. Consider offering a giveaway on these guest articles from among the commenters. You’ll also want to offer a grand prize for the entire book tour, perhaps a Rafflecopter for a gift basket, signed print copy, or other related items. If you do your own contest, you’ll need to supply the code to the tour organizer. I like to do it myself because then I get the mailing list.
At the bottom of each post, after the final question and giveaway, I give my story blurb with buy links and then add a section called About the Author with a short bio and social media contacts.
Once these pieces are written, choose two to four excerpts and save them as separate files. These may be requested by your blog tour organizer.
For the interviews, you’ll have to wait until the tour organizer sends you these from the individual hosts. In the meantime, you can draw up your own interview if so desired. Use it to answer questions ahead of time that you figure will be asked, such as How did you come up with this idea? Or What’s coming next for you? As an alternative, you can add your own author interview at the end of your book as bonus material. Or submit it to a podcaster as part of your marketing plan.
Once you have your blog tour pieces assembled, you’ll need the metadata to go along with them. This includes your book description with ISBN numbers and buy links. Regarding your book blurb, have long and short versions available. These will be used in any Spotlight-type posts with your author bio and social media links.
When you’ve completed your blog posts and any associated materials, you’re ready to move on. Now’s a good time to write your launch party posts and reader discussion guide. For more ideas, Go Here to learn what else to do. If you’re a writer, how do you spend the time while waiting for editorial feedback?What comes next after revisions? #writingtip #writingcommunity Click To Tweet
Oct. 7 – 31 A Scary Good Giveaway
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Oct. 17 – Nov. 2 First in Series Mysteries with Humor
Enter Here to win a copy of PERMED TO DEATH, book one in my Bad Hair Day series, along with 45+ First in Series Mysteries with Humor AND a brand new eReader from BookSweeps!
Looking for a fun Beach Read or a new book for the holiday weekend? Grab a copy of PERISH BY PEDICURE on sale for only 99 cents! Limited time offer.
Salon owner Marla Shore finds herself fixing more than just hair at a Fort Lauderdale beauty show. When the much‑disliked director of Luxor Beauty Products is murdered, Marla jumps into sleuth mode. Suspects include her former college roommate, a pompous celebrity stylist, an ambitious company sales rep, and an aspiring hairdresser to the stars.
“Find your favorite beach chair and a tall glass of lemonade to enjoy another Marla Shore mystery amidst the fashionistas! The perfect read for a beach chair.” Nancy Martin, author of the Blackbird Sisters mystery series
“Perish by Pedicure is filled with hair-splitting humor, unexpected nail-biting twists, and a bad hair week caused by former in‑laws while Marla cuts to the roots of the case.” Midwest Book Review
“Nancy J. Cohen leads readers into the world of beauty shows, where salon owner and amateur sleuth Marla Shore finds things more tangled than a model’s tresses.” Miami Herald
“Perish by Pedicure is a suspenseful and enjoyable read… the perfect gift for your hairdresser.” Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
“If you want something lighthearted to pick up and just laugh, then this is great.” Fashionable Maven
If you enjoy the story, please leave a review at your favorite online bookstore.PERISH BY PEDICURE is on sale for 99 Cents. Get your copy now! #mystery #beachread Click To Tweet
More July Mysteries on Sale!
Check out the full list here: https://books.bookfunnel.com/endsjuly31st_mtssales/1wnh2p92ik
Booklover’s Bench Giveaway
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Would you like to create your own book trailer? Various companies will do trailers for you, but their work may be similar to what you can do on your own with a slide show. Wouldn’t you rather pick out the photos and music that best suit your story?
You may already have a program on your computer if you have an older version of Windows. See if you have Movie Maker installed. If not, you can do the same type of trailer on PowerPoint or Animoto (https://animoto.com/). Even BookBrush now has a section for Book Trailers (https://bookbrush.com/video-creator/).
If you’re a big moneymaker, then you can do a full cast production using real actors or voiceovers. But if you’re the average writer who wants to give your readers a taste of the story without breaking your bank account, this may work for you. Or check out Fiverr at https://www.fiverr.com/ to see what they have to offer for less cost.
Do Your Homework
Go to author sites on YouTube and find trailers for books in the same genre as your work. Note the text on each slide and the type of image that accompanies it. Listen to the music. How does it make you feel? Does the story move quickly while giving you an idea of the plot and main characters? What elements don’t work for you? How long is the trailer? What do the credits say at the end?
Write Your Text
Now write your own text in verse form, one line per slide. Be brief, offering your story points in as few words as possible. The text should give viewers an idea of what your story is about, the tone of your work, and an introduction to your main characters. It’s not an easy task. Try to keep your video under two minutes.
Register for the royalty-free photo site of your choice. Most of these allow you to purchase a package of credits. In the Search feature, put in keywords for the type of picture you want (i.e. romantic couple, beautiful redhead, angry businessman, gloomy castle). Scroll down until a photo catches your fancy. Click to add it to your Favorites or Lightbox.
Match an image to each verse in your text. Be sure to check the licensing agreements before you make your purchase. Then buy the ones you want. I usually buy the medium or large size, depending on the features at that site. Download and save each image to your computer.
Decide upon the tone of your video and put keywords into the search feature on the music site of your choice. Is your story dark and scary? Light and funny? Upbeat and bouncy? Intense and mysterious? The music is important because it elicits an emotional response in your viewers. Check the length of the music clip against the length of your trailer, and make sure it’s long enough. Again, download and save the clip to your computer.
Open a New Project in your program of choice and then Add Photos one per slide. If you want a blank slide to add text only, click the Credits button.
Once you have your pictures laid out as slides, add Captions for each one. This is where your text goes in the text box. You can drag this box to wherever you want it placed or resize it. You can also change the color of the text. If it’s a light background, choose a dark text. If you have a black or dark background, make the text white. Alter the font as needed.
You’ll now see Video Tools and Text Tools, at least in the program that I use. Here you can alter the Duration of each slide. I try to have the duration of my text shorter than the video. So a video slide might run for 5 seconds, and the text for 4.50. Under Text Tools, choose Effects. This gives you options for how you want your text to scroll or appear on the slide.
Under Video Tools, click on Animations. Here you can add Transitions between slides. Keep in mind that these transitions cut some of the time out of the slide before and after. Each time you want to view the effect, put the cursor in front of a slide and click the Play button. Next do the same for Pan and Zoom. Make choices there so your pictures aren’t static.
When you have arranged your pictures and text to your satisfaction, add the Music. You can adjust the track as needed, like timing it to start further in by changing the Start Point. Also, hit Fade In at the beginning or Fade Out at the end if desired.
Add credits at the end by clicking Credits. This will be a text only slide. Here’s where you put the credits for your images and music plus another slide for your book cover and publishing details. Remember to Save your project often as you work on it.
When you are totally done, Save the Movie as an HD version. Your trailer is ready to upload to YouTube and elsewhere. Sign in to your YouTube account and upload your file from there. Once it’s live, copy the Embed code and add it to your website. Use the link to entice readers to watch the piece on your social media sites. It’s another tool in your arsenal to excite viewers about your upcoming release.
Places To Post Your Book Video
Book Goodies: https://bookgoodies.com/advertising/authors-tell-us-about-your-book/
Remember to add your video to all your social networking sites plus your website and blog.Create Your Own Book Trailer #bookpromotion #indiepub Click To Tweet
WATCH MY TRAILERS
Styled for Murder: https://youtu.be/yT95QwTzT58
Trimmed to Death: https://youtu.be/AHwKfK-vTIY
Facials Can Be Fatal: https://youtu.be/6OTw5232Eeg
Peril by Ponytail: http://youtu.be/T2Vao7yDIVY
Hanging By A Hair: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Shear Murder: http://youtu.be/ePpShWy3Wbw
Launching a series all at once can be a daunting task. You have to plan the promotion campaign with tight deadlines. This release schedule was a new venture for me. With two backlist trilogies, it made sense to book the releases close together. This meant getting all the titles ready before the pre-order dates.
Once I’d completed my revisions, here is what came next:
- Assign individual ISBN Numbers and add to Copyright pages (optional but recommended).
- Mention this title was previously published by your former publisher if it’s a reissue.
- Add new front and back material.
- Complete formatting for each book.
- Add updated book covers to website.
- Convert book into digital and/or paperback formats.
- Set release dates.
- Add book to vendor sites and schedule as pre-order.
- Create memes for series as a whole and for each individual book.
- If running a sale, create memes for sale book(s).
- Write tweets for each title and for overall series.
- Schedule a newsletter.
- Book ads if desired.
- Write blogs for Cover Reveals and Reissue dates.
- Add distributor links to scheduled blog posts and website.
- If a reissue, decide if you want to link to earlier versions to retain reviews.
- Claim your titles on BookBub, Goodreads and Amazon Author Central.
I decided to run a pre-order sale. With the titles respectively at $.99, $1.99 and $2.99, this would give readers a saving of $6.00 over the regular retail price of $3.99 each.
There appeared to be a spike in sales for each book on their release dates, presumably due to preorders. The first book in each series had the most sales. I’m experimenting with these books on Kindle Unlimited and will evaluate the results once the royalties start coming in.
Would I do this again? Not for original titles. You’d have to write all three of them first and then promote your books to the next millennia. It gets tiring fast. There’s a reason why publishers produce one book a year in a series. You need time to contact reviewers, plan a promotional campaign, schedule ads, write copy, and so much more. It’s easier for backlist titles when you already have reviews, but you still want to attract new readers with fresh covers and added bonus materials.
In conclusion, a back-to-back publication schedule may work for more energetic writers, but I wouldn’t do it for my original works. I need more time for advance planning. In this case, though, with all three books in each trilogy already written, it was easier to get them ready for a fast launch.Back-to-Back Book Releases: Yay or Nay? #bookpromotion #pubtip Click To Tweet
Have you ever rapid-released several books in a row? How did that work for you?
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