A short disclaimer first: I have yet to self-publish a book series, so you just read this post and take what you think would work.
Ah, one more thing: there’s no recipe, no secret marketing formula that’s going to ensure huge sales. I don’t have it, and quite frankly, no one has it.
Here’s a list of things that I think indie writers should consider when publishing a book series:
- You need some time between releases. Even if you have them all ready, it doesn’t mean that you have to publish them all at once. I’d say that at least 3 months between releases is fine, maybe even longer. I say this because it takes some time to build up a readership for your book. Also, promoting your book takes a lot of time and energy; you have to focus on the first of the series, get as many people as possible to buy it.
- The style of the covers has to be consistent: similar cover art, the same font-types for book title and author name, stuff like that. That way people will instantly recognize the books from the series.
Some might say that all your books should have similar cover layouts, but I have never agreed with this. I think some books have their own personalities, they demand a certain style of cover. Maybe it’s just the reckless soul in me talking now, but that’s how I feel.
- Now for the tricky part. How much do you price your books for? There are a couple of options:
- Price them all the same. 99 cents, $2.99, it doesn’t matter.
- Price the first title significantly lower than the following books.
- Give the first title for free.
The last two options are kind of cool. Why do I say that? Well, first you need to understand how a reader’s mind works. Or how a buyer’s mind works. The lower the price, the less they stand to lose if they don’t like the book. And if it’s free, than there’s no risk at all.
Way I see it, book series have this about them: a lot more people will have to read the next title in the series, as opposed to writing individual novels, with nothing in common. Of course, this depends on how well your first book is written – that’s another thing you should focus on: not just great content, but you should have a real story there, something that won’t make readers feel cheated.
Conversion rates always vary, so you can never know how many of those who read the first title will read the next ones, but it’s never 100%, it’s not even close to that.
And there’s one more thing here, which is kind of common sense really, and one of the reasons why giving the first title for free appeals to me: the more people read the first title, the more people read the following books.
The world of self-publishing is all about exposure: when the scandal erupted about John Locke paying for reviews of his books I said that book reviews are useless if you can’t get people to your Amazon page.
So you need exposure. Giving something away for free ensures that.