Make the first book in your connected series free for at least a month at a time.
Make sure there are links to at least 2 sequels in the back matter.
Make sure there is a hefty sized excerpt of Book 2 or a link to one in the back matter.
Masterfully and subtly set up the core conflict of Book 2 in the storyline of Book 1.
Feature this series on all your social media and websites.
Advertise the free book in every conceivable place. Spend money on this.
Make Sure Book 1 is BRILLIANT.
What About Stand Alone Titles?
We’ll be covering tips on selling more stand alone titles in a future post, promise.
I know there’s a lot of resistance to this method. Authors feel it devalues their work, and there is some truth to that. Reviewers of free books are much more nasty—they often go in with a preconceived notion that the book is garbage, and seek evidence to support that theory. So they’re gunning for you. Don’t use this if you can’t handle that.
But time after time I have found that the more books I give away, the more books I sell. And this is particularly true with book 1 in a connected series.
Here’s what you need to know: Don’t bother doing this until you have at least two sequels and a pre-order for a third, live on the retailers’ sites.
This Matter of Back Matter
Back Matter is the stuff you insert after “The End.” And the chief thing you need to know is that the further back it is, the fewer people will click on it. The first page after “The End” is the most powerful, so that is where you want the link to Book 2 in this series, and a thumbnail of the cover art. Under that you can put a link to an excerpt of Book 2.
After that it’s up to you. What are your top priorities after they buy the sequel? Add links, not too many, in order of their importance to you. Options include things like mailing list signup, website link, blog subscription button, or more book links.
When you put in the links to the sequels, put the Kindle link in your Kindle version, your Nook link in your Nook version, the iTunes link in your iTunes version, your Kobo link in the Kobo version, etc.
Remember that the more times the reader has to click, the less likely she’ll end up buying. You want one click that takes them directly to the book’s page on the retailer’s site.
Going Free at BN
Sidebar; You can’t make a book free via Nookpress, so you’ll have to choose another party like Smashwords or D2D to distribute to them for you. I like D2D because it lets me put the Nook specific links to the sequels. SW only lets me include SW links to the sequels. A reader who got a free ebook at BN is apt to buy the sequel from BN.
Feature the Series Everywhere
Whenever I’m focusing on selling a given series, I change my Facebook header to one featuring that series. I change my Twitter header as well, and I add the free book 1 to the front page of my website. Having a single focus for each round of promotional blitzing seems to give me better results than promoting multiple series at a time.
I create Tweets promoting the series and set them to re-circulate using Smqueue. I ought to delete the old ones and focus only on the series I’m currently promoting, but I don’t always do so. Bad writer!
Meme made with the WordSwag App and a free image from Pixelscroll
Another great tool I’ve discovered is a fee app called WordSwag. It allows me to create custom memes I can post on my social media. Funny, sassy, sexy lines from the characters are often the catchiest and most frequently shared. Make sure you include your website on every single meme so people know where to go to find more info.
Post the memes to Pinterest too!
Advertise the Freebie!
Spend some money on advertising. Set your budget ahead of time. My strategy for freebies always begins with Bookbub. The very first thing I do is apply for a Bookbub ad. Everything else is built around the date BB gives me. If I’m turned down, then I do everything else anyway and hope for the best.
Once I have that BB date, I start booking ads with other advertising sites and try to set them for the week prior to the BB ad, so there’s a nice build to the BB ad. This helps with Amazon’s algorithms. Some of my favorite ad sites are:
*This is a small sample. I have a list of a couple of hundred ad sites that I’ll figure out a way to share with you all soon, I promise. I just try a few new ones every time, and make notes on what works and what doesn’t.
I also love playing with Facebook ads. Mark Dawson has a fabulous e-course on Facebook Advertising for Authors. It’s pricey but worth it.
Going Free at Amazon
To make a book free on Amazon you have to first make it free at the other retailers. Then simply log into your Author Central account, and from there, click the contact us button, and send them an email telling them your book is free at other sites. Include links to the book on those sites. I emphasize, you must do this from Author Central. The Contact Us button on Amazon.com is not going to help. That’s a different support team, focused on customers, not authors. You’ll only confuse them.
Making Book 1 Brilliant
I’m going to help you with this. I’m working on a nuts & bolts course to make every writer a better writer, and I’ll be creating blog posts from time to time with tips excerpted from it. I don’t have a time frame just yet, but stay tuned. There will be another course on Law of Attraction for independent writers coming in tandem with it. Or maybe they’ll be combined.
Setting up book 2 in the context of Book 1 goes hand in hand with just plain good storytelling. It can’t be obvious. The characters must be integral to the plot of Book 1, with just enough intrigue about their conflict to draw the reader in. You want them to know there’s a story there, and to be eager to read it.
But of course, the best ways to make your book brilliant are these:
Write when you feel great! Not when you feel tired, uninspired, lazy, depressed, or sleepy.
Love your story. If you’re sick of it or bored with it, so will the reader be. So if you don’t love it, change it.
Believe in your talent. If you don’t think you’re the best thing to hit literature since Margaret Mitchell, neither will anyone else. Besides, what you believe in, is what you create.
Trust your muse. Write what’s coming to you without doubting it, questioning it, toning it down. Let it flow as it’s given to you. Toning down or holding back, weakens your tale.
I hope this helps some of you up and coming indies out there. I’m going to categorize the nuts & bolts posts like this one under Indie Author Basics, and I’ll be adding more as I go along. So send me your questions or post them in comments. And for you woo-woo types, don’t worry. We’re not changing focus, just expanding what we cover here. Same audience, same philosophy.