Today we are going to be talking about backlist titles. So if you have written a book longer than six months to a year ago, or you’ve written multiple books, it might be pushed to the back of your mind and you might be tempted to not market that book as much anymore.
You might think, well, no one’s going to be interested because it’s not a new release, and while you can’t advertise it as a new release anymore or even a recent release necessarily, you can absolutely- and you should -still market your book.
After all, if you are writing a Christian-based book, this is a message that God has given you to share with the world, and it’s not something to just sit on.
And while it might not be a new release, and it might not be a new book to you, there are many, many readers out there that it will be a new book to them and they will be interested in reading it.
So how do we get those backlist titles in front of new readers? That can be the challenge, right? And sometimes we can be overwhelmed, especially if we’re writing other books. So we need something that’s doable and quick and easy. And the best way to do that is to rally forces and we’re gonna dive into that and talk about that more in today’s episode.
I am just so glad that one of the listeners to this podcast is Christian author assistant, Amanda Geaney (Instagram @shelfesteem). And she sent me a wonderful free resource to share with you on this topic and it’s called the “Backlist Book Promotion for Busy Authors.” She put this together as a free resource for Christian authors and I will be sharing how you can get your hands on a copy.
I’m not going to be sharing all of the details that she includes because it is a wealth of information. She has a solid nine pages of easy-to-implement tips in here about marketing your book.
So a little bit about Amanda. She, like I said, is a Christian author assistant, and she has been working for the past five years to help authors connect with readers and market their books through social media, newsletter campaigns, contests, and launch team management.
She’s always looking for new ways to get books into the hands of her client’s ideal readers. We connected on Instagram and she is just a wealth of information for Christian authors.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
Book Marketing Mindset
Marketing books is something that a lot of us authors shy away from.
We’re not all built-in salespeople and we think we’re going to irritate people by promoting our books too much. But really we can’t promote our books enough.
Inside the Inkwell Collective, which is my paid membership group for Christian writers, every month I have a craft chat, which is basically like an open office hour or a fireside chat, and members can submit their questions ahead of time or in live time.
This past month was all about marketing books. A lot of times we try to overcomplicate things and we think so far ahead of all the things we need to do instead of just taking one short action step at a time.
I had recommended that people do actually two things. One was if you’re writing a book look for organizations or publications that focus on your book’s topic or theme. Whether you’re writing nonfiction or devotionals or even fiction, there are always going to be publications and organizations that address those topics, so be sure to get plugged into those.
Find out what their requirements are for submitting press releases or who their editors are or who you can talk to about your book or if they don’t review books per se or if they don’t recommend books in their newsletters, what you can do is suggest to write an article for them on a topic related to your book. And then in the byline you can have about where they can purchase your book, right? With your website, your Amazon page, whatever.
Go to where your readers are gathering. While social media is our first thought these days, that’s not the only place our readers go. Think about local places that you can go to speak. You know, there are always Rotary and Kiwanis and that kind of thing, but if your book doesn’t suit a business-minded audience like that, I’m sure that there are other smaller organizations if you do some due diligence and research. You know, Christian groups church groups, different things like that, that welcome speakers. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Let’s dive into the resource that Amanda shared with me. There were a number of these that I thought were really, really cool.
Backlist Book Promotion for Busy Authors
Whenever you are writing your newsletter, how many times do we think, what am I going to talk about? Well, she provides multiple, multiple tips here. If you go out walking in your area, maybe you’ve seen those little free libraries where people put books in, you know, and you’re welcome to take one to keep; of course you’re encouraged to leave one if you take one.
But they’re those little tiny little boxes on posts in people’s yards or along nature paths and things like that where you can grab a book. I know in my area there are multiple ones around the walking trails at the beaches. And some of our neighborhoods have them where individuals have placed them in their front yards.
But instead of just sticking your book in there, this is what she suggests in your newsletter: ask your newsletter readers who donate used books to a little free library to tag you on social media.
When they contribute one of your books, tell them they’ll get extra cool points for leaving a sticky note inside telling the new recipient why they love the book. I think that’s a great idea. And she says that she got a resource from there from the little free library locator, and she has a link for that in this resource.
So instead of just you putting your book in there, invite your readers, your newsletter readers to join you in doing that. Have them snap a picture of them beside the little free library or the note that they put inside, and have them share that on social media.
Toward that note, another suggestion that Amanda shares is when readers create those really cool pictures on social media of your book, and they say how much they like it, ask if you can repost that.
I’m more familiar with Instagram, that’s the platform of choice for me. With Instagram, when someone posts an image and a comment in their post, you can share that to your stories. And so if you do that, be sure to tag that person so they know that you shared it. And if, like she said, if you can in advance, ask them if it’s okay to. This is just great way to get other people, not just you, talking about your book.
It doesn’t matter if your book was printed six months ago, a year ago, three years ago, if people are still reading it, have them share about it.
You want that book to still be front of mind and selling.
Of course you should always ask for reviews. The main takeaway for me is to don’t be afraid to ask your subscribers to share about your book and share about your work. Obviously, you want to provide them with value – you don’t want to be asking them every single newsletter ad nauseum, right? We don’t want to turn them away, but don’t be afraid to ask either if you’ve been serving your readers with a monthly newsletter for months at a time and haven’t asked them to provide a testimonial or a review or share something on social media, then do that periodically.
Talking about real libraries, this is something I had known, but Amanda shares too: libraries allow patrons to recommend books that they would like to read. Now, it doesn’t guarantee that they will go ahead and get a copy of that book, but they keep a tally of books that patrons request.
I know in my local area there isn’t a huge Christian book selection. It’s frustrating. So what I can do is ask the library to purchase this particular author’s book. And if I ask enough times, if there are multiple books by that author, or if I get my friends in the area to ask the library to purchase those copies as well, there’s always power in numbers, right?
So just ask them to ask a library to purchase a copy. They do have a budget, by the way, to purchase books so you don’t have to donate your book to the library. A lot of libraries will ask if you’ll donate as the author and you can, if that is something that you are comfortable doing, you by all means can donate a book. But they do have budgets to purchase books if your book is available to purchase through their catalog.
If your book is just on Amazon, the library probably won’t purchase it. But if your book is available on their ordering catalog, which if you have published through Ingram Spark, then it will be available to them to purchase.
I thought this was another really, really good idea. Amanda says: Don’t just tell your newsletter subscribers about a sale. Provide them with a graphic, which your book cover or whatever and wording that they can copy and paste to their social media feeds. I thought that was genius.
It’s so easy. You already have the image created for your own purposes, and you already came up with that blurb about the sale. Why not share it with your newsletter subscribers and ask them to repost it? That is just such a great idea. And she says to do that with your lead magnet as well.
Yes. I think I will begin to implement those ideas. Why not just repurpose it?
Of course, we want to promote our book on the website, so any books that you have, you’re not going to delete an old book and replace it with a new book we’re going to add to it, right? List all the books that you’ve written and published on your website, as well as on your Amazon author page.
Amazon’s gonna keep all those books. So make sure that you periodically update your website. So if you’ve published a book maybe five, six years ago, Amanda says, maybe replace a lead magnet, maybe update a book cover if it’s looking dated.
Update your website regularly. The easiest way to do that is if you have a blog because that shows Google and all the other search engines that you’re active. So maybe you haven’t written another book since the one you published three or four years ago. But in order for your book to be found easier by the search engines, then it’s best if you continue blogging and pointing people back to that website.
The search engines pay attention to websites that get more traffic and are updated. It shows that they’re live; they’re not just dead sites. So that’s something easy that you can do. It might be time consuming – yes, I’m well aware of that – but it doesn’t involve a lot of cost.
Amanda also shares some great tips about BookBub as well as things you can do at GoodReads. If you’re not on GoodReads as an author, I really recommend that you get on there. That is where a lot of readers, especially book reviewers, hang out. So be sure to take advantage of that.
I’m not going to go into that in detail. That might be another episode for another day. I’ve considered creating a GoodReads episode, but I will say that this document that Amanda has, has some really great tips about it.
We already mentioned Amazon, but if you have a backlist title, maybe reevaluate the keywords that you chose to get some new traction. You can also change your categories as well. if you go into your Amazon Author Central Page, you can do all of that. You’re not locked into that forever. You can go in and change those periodically, so that’s a good idea.
Book related changes that you can do: I mentioned already about if you have a dated looking cover that no longer really strikes a fancy with today’s audience – it’s not resonating with them because it’s not what’s popular today – you can get a new cover.
Maybe you write fiction and you submitted to some contests and you won some contests, or maybe you have some really great reviews or testimonials from high-level celebrities or industry people. If so, be sure to update your book to reflect that.
Another good idea that Amanda shares is to release it in a new format. Have you ever done an audiobook? If not, now might be a good time to do that. That will get new eyes not only on your audiobook, but then they might be wanting to look at your traditional book as well.
Of course, there are lots of things you can do with sales and discounts and coupon codes. I’m not going to go into that either, because again, that could be another entire episode. But one thing that she shares here is about raising awareness; just easy things that you can do on social media: Celebrate your book’s birthday.
I don’t know if you caught the episode that I have with Jenn Hand and My Yes Is on the Table. And so just shortly after we did that interview and the podcast aired, I was following her on Instagram and I saw that she celebrated her one-year book anniversary and she had little cookies and was sharing them on social media. It was fun.
If you are writing fiction and you have characters and character profiles and so forth, consider creating character sketches to put on your website or on your social media and on your Amazon author page. If you tuned into the episode with R.M. Ruiz, author of The Chosen Kids Saga, you heard me gush about her character sketches that she has on her Amazon author page.
Make your book marketing fun for fans. Create a character quiz. Host a virtual Q&A, that could be on social media. Provide fans with a hashtag that they can use to promote your book. If you’re not using hashtags, that’s a really, really easy way to get the word out and hashtags are searchable. So if you have someone type in, hashtag the name of your book, any post that has been created with that hashtag will come up. So that’s really good to have your fans, your readers, sharing that hashtag, helping to get the word out, helping to push that search for your book.
If you have a book that is book club worthy, offer to mail signed book plates or backlist bookmarks to participants. And sometimes, they will have one session where they have the author come on a Zoom call with them to ask you questions. Pitch yourself to book clubs or at least let them know on your website that you’re available for that.
And then of course, celebrate special occasions. For example, June is Audiobook Appreciation Month. July. 30th is paperback book day. August has National Book Lover’s Day, and November 1st is National Author’s Day.
Collaborate with other writers that you know personally or can connect with through places like Book Bub giveaways and contests on GoodReads.
Also, since I’m a host of a podcast, I just have to say, if you are an author, pitch yourself as a podcast guest. Don’t just say, I want to come on your show to sell my book. No, don’t do that. But whatever your topic is about with your book, pitch that topic to podcast hosts and collaborate in that way.
Attend authors conferences. This is my own tip here. Attend authors conferences or book expos or book festivals. Don’t bring cases of books with you, but have copies available to show, “Hey, this is my book.” And then you hand that bookmark or whatever marketing material you have that has either a QR code on it or an easy URL listed on it so that people can easily purchase your book.
Make it easy for readers to find your book. If you just say it’s on Amazon, they probably won’t remember your book and they won’t remember to search for your book. Connect with people and don’t be afraid to share about your work.
One last easy marketing tip that I am going to share with you, and this was something that I had known, but I had neglected to do for a very long time, and a member of the Inkwell Collective so kindly and graciously pointed it out to me that on my email signature, I didn’t have my book. Hmm. I quickly added that and remedied that.
Every email that you send out, if you create a signature, it’s already there. You don’t have to type it every single time; it’s just easy marketing to let people know that A, you’re an author, and B, here is the book. You hyperlink it; you make it clickable so that people can immediately go to your website or to your Amazon page and hopefully purchase your book. You aren’t even technically selling them on your book; you’re just allowing them to naturally see it and be curious, and when they are curious, they can click it.
It’s not salesy, it’s not sleazy. It’s just super easy. And none of these suggestions, like I said, it’s a nine-page document. None of these suggestions that Amanda shares are sleazy or super salesy or anything like that. They’re just what authors need to do: sell books.
Let’s Start Book Marketing!
We need to step out of our comfort zones. A lot of us are introverts and you’ve heard me say it before: we need to trust God. We need to pray and ask him to reveal to us where our audience is gathered, and then we need to act in obedience to what he tells us to do and how to share our message with the world.
So, thank you so much, Amanda, for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with the Ink and Impact audience.
I hope that you have learned at least one new marketing technique that you can put into practice today. And of course, I know you’re going to want to get your hand on the full “Backlist Book Promotion for Busy Authors” resource!
With that, I am going to call it a day, and I look forward to coming back with you next week. I pray that you will have a blessed week. And remember, don’t just write a book. Make an impact.
The Inkwell Collective
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