How can a new book be effectively used to promote other books in an author’s backlist? What’s the secret to luring readers who’ve enjoyed one novel into seeking out the rest of the author’s work? It’s been a frequent source of frustration for me that new releases don’t seem to produce the carryover effect I’d hoped for. My Silhouette vampire romance, EMBRACING DARKNESS, was my first full-length fiction opportunity to reach a mass market audience. The bio in the front included my website URL. The book sold fairly well (as far as I could make out) and got a 4-star rating from ROMANTIC TIMES. I hoped for at least a temporary bump in sales of my earlier works to people who liked my vampires in EMBRACING DARKNESS and discovered other books in the same universe on my web page. I saw nary a bump, not even a discernible blip. If I enjoy one book by an author who’s new to me, I usually check out her previous work and sometimes even buy from her backlist. I assumed (well, yeah, we know what that word spells) other readers would react in a similar way. Whenever I’m interviewed, I mention books I’ve had released by several different publishers, and if appropriate I make a point of mentioning that my vampire series is listed chronologically on my website. I send out a monthly newsletter with excerpts and review links, as well as other goodies such as interviews and brief book reviews. I occasionally give away books from my backlist through various venues; if that tactic draws in new readers for the rest of my oeuvre, I haven’t noticed. I haven’t even seen any crossover from my e-book sales with Ellora’s Cave—fairly high-volume for e-books—to sales of my books from other e-publishers (not so high-volume), even though EC’s readers are obviously web-savvy and willing to buy e-books and small press releases.
I’d hate to think the obvious answer is correct—that almost everybody who reads one of my novels reacts so lukewarmly that he or she has no interest in ever reading another. :) Setting aside that possibility, is there a secret to stimulating crossover readership? I’ve often encountered the advice that an author should promote herself more than promoting any particular book. What are the most effective ways of doing that, other than things I’m already doing?