Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to Sell a Sequel

Author Peter Darley

First I’ll say – I am not a book marketing guru. However, through trial and error, I finallly figured it out. To sell a sequel, you need to have at least two books on offer. (Obviously.) Here’s how it’s done.
I’ve never earned a penny from my flagship novel – Hold On! – Season 1. . . by design. Hold On! was the marketing tool – for the series.

At the time I wrote Hold On!, the TV shows Prison Break and 24 were at their peak of popularity. I didn’t rip those shows off in Hold On! I simply borrowed ‘the tempo’. The vast majority of chapters (which I refer to as ‘episodes’) end on cliffhangers. This is the secret to creating a page-turner; a trick I also learned from Dan Brown. Readers tend to put a book down at the end of a chapter. It’s a writer’s mission to make sure they lose sleep. The readers must find out ‘what happens next’. That’s where cliffhangers come in.

You’re an unknown author. Create a series and end the first book on a killer cliffhanger – then give it away to the world. This part is agonizing, and you’re not going to get in with Bookbub.

But neither do you need them. If you can gather $1,000, you can hit #1 on Amazon’s free listings, which is better than Bookbub can do for you. I’m constantly updating my promo blog site list. Between each promotion, many of them disappear.

At #1 on the free listings (which validates your #1 bestseller status) – here’s the reality. Only 40% of those who downloaded it will even read it, but that’s 40% of around 60,000 downloaders. (24,000 actual readers.) A percentage of those 24,000 will be readers who will ONLY download free books, so they’re not the target either. Realistically, you’re looking at 3% of those 24,000 to buy your sequel. (720 at $2.99 a pop – $2,150.) You’ve more than doubled your investment.

But you need a sequel to pull this off, and this is the crucial trick. You need to have the sequel on sale before you give away Book One. At the end of Book One, put the link to the sequel at the end of the epilogue on the very same page.

This is a bane. When you write a book in Word, you have no idea what it’s going to look like on Kindle. You won’t know where the final sentence falls. You must upload your finalized manuscript to Kindle to see where on the page your final line falls. If it falls at the bottom of the page, you MUST add or remove text in order to leave room for ‘To be continued in . . .’ followed by the sequel’s ‘Buy’ link. If you add text, you take the final line of the story to the next page. If you remove text to make room, you might be compromising your vision.

If the link to your sequel appears on the page AFTER the epilogue, they’re not going to go looking. It has to be on the final page of the epilogue.
Everything about this is an ordeal. But it CAN be done.

Peter Darley (Author of the Hold On! Trilogy and Hold On! – Tomorrow.)

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