Do you have more than one book in a series, perhaps featuring a central character (for example, James Bond), or a common genre (for example, historical fiction)?
If so, marketing your series (and even publishing your series) is a little different from publishing a single non-fiction book, for instance.
Take some cues from runaway success, and Outskirts Press author, Linda Rae Sande, on 3 suggestions to make your series as successful as it can be.
1. Make sure the cover design is consistent
Ms. Sande was diligent in ensuring that each of her romance novel shared very specific characteristics on the cover. One need only look at her boxed set to see exactly what we mean. Check out the spines of each book. The title is consistently in the same font and consistently in the same place. Ditto her name, and the “type” of image used both on the cover and the spine.
2. Promote from within
It goes without saying, probably, that readers of one book of your series are bound to be interested in the other books within that same series, right? So don’t miss out on that marketing opportunity. Make sure the front and/or back pages of each book in the series mention all the other books within that same series (including very specific ordering information, maybe a cover image, and certainly any reviews and/or awards that you wish to promote).
We hear what you’re saying: “How can you mention book 2 and 3 in the pages of book 1?” Well, that’s the power of print-on-demand. Publish book 1 as you normally would and while you’re writing book 2, start collecting reviews and awards for book 1. Publish book 2, and within the pages of book 2, insert promotions about book 1 with your accolades. Simultaneously (a writer’s work is never done), work on book 3 as you start to collect reviews and awards for book 2 and continue collecting accolades for book 1. See the pattern here? When the series is complete, make the necessary revisions to all of them to include all of them. Then it’s time to publish the all-important “boxed-set.”
3. Make a boxed-set of your series
Once you have three or more books in your series, create a boxed set that sells of them for a slightly discounted price (see image above for a perfect example). Unlike the convenience factor you experience with the zero-inventory “print-on-demand” aspects of your physical Outskirts Press books, “boxed-set books” are inventory-driven physical products, and as such, they demand a different mentality, and higher level of personal involvement, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s what to consider:
- BOX DIMENSIONS – Determining the dimensions of the box requires measuring the dimensions of the books to be included. If your box-set is going to include three 6×9 books, for instance, you have two of the required dimensions — the height and the depth. But you also need the width — that is, the size of the “opening” of the cased box itself. Say the spine of each book is 1 inch wide. That means your box must be approximately 3 inches wide. Of course, there is no such thing as “approximately” when producing physical products, so further down we will point you to a printing/manufacturing vendor who can assist you in determining your exact specifications (and produce your boxes for you).
- BOX DESIGN – Once you have determined your box’s dimensions, you need to determine what the boxed set is going to look like. It’s easiest (and least expensive) to duplicate your cover art on the outside of the box (since that high resolution artwork already exists). But, alternatively, you can produce a unique piece of artwork for the box itself. You’ll need to determine the artwork for the sides, top, bottom, and back of the box. You’ll also determine the “color printing process” to use. 4-Color is the best.
- BOX PRODUCTION – Like nearly any physical off-set products, the more units you order, the cheaper each unit is, so your printer’s quote will usually provide you with quantity/unit/price breaks. Remember that for each box you order, you’ll need to order enough copies of each of your books to insert into the boxed sets.
- FINALIZING THE BOX – Once your boxes arrive from the manufacturer and the copies of your books arrive from your publisher, you’re ready to finalize your boxed-sets. This is about as easy as you would expect. You’ll slip one copy of each of your series of books into the box. If your box dimensions are correct, the books should fit snugly inside the box with very little wiggle-room, and just enough space to pull them out one-by-one. You may even decide to produce two different boxed-sets, an “author signed” boxed-set (which is more expensive naturally), and a non-author signed boxed set. You could sign the box itself and/or each of the copies of the books inside.
- MARKETING THE BOX – Once you have a final boxed set, take several digital pictures of it so you can promote and sell it. People will want to see what your boxed set looks like. Then, upload the image, details and price to your author webpage and/or website. Since you will be handling the fulfillment of those orders personally, you will need to create a merchant account to accept secure online payments and receive notifications of orders. The easiest vendor for this kind of thing is Pay Pal (http://paypal.com) but Stripe (http://stripe.com) is also a good option. Once you have a way of taking and fulfilling orders for your boxed set, your marketing efforts will mimic the marketing steps you’ve taken to promote your books individually — that is, through social media outreach efforts, virtual book tours, promotional materials, blogging, interviews, etc. The advantage of having a boxed set is that for the same effort it takes to promote one single book, you can promote three (or more) books all at the same time, with a much higher price. The higher your price, the more flexibility you have with your margins, and therefore the greater discounts you can provide to your buyers as incentive.
- SELLING THE BOX – In addition to the Pay Pal and/or Stripe merchant accounts you will need to set-up for collecting orders from your own author webpage/website(s), you will also want to submit your boxed set to Amazon.com. In order to do this, you need to open up your own merchant account, which you can do by clicking here. Once your merchant account has been set-up, it will be in your best interest to also set-up a Fulfillment by Amazon account here. That way, you can send them multiple boxed sets in advance, and then they handle the individual order fulfillment for you, plus they notify you in advance when you need to supply them with more boxed sets. Another bonus: your customers will qualify for free shipping through Amazon Prime, which is something you won’t be able to offer with a simple merchant account.
If you’re interested in more marketing tips, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com and check out our Marketing Solutions menu. You can also access our wonderful Free Marketing Resource Center where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs!