Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crossover Promotion

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?


  1. Get a gig on Oprah! What about going on local/state television programs to up the anty? Perhaps start with charity auctions around the place, offering a selection of your books as a prize and get on tv, then make contacts there and work the system? Radio broadcasts? Lots of people drive to work, perhaps talking on radio about your steaming hot novels...
    Um, other than that right now I can't think of it. But if you meet Oprah say hi!

  2. Do you really want to know? Okay, this is based on my experience of interacting with both readers and authors at my Enduring Romance blog. I'm in a hurry, so I might forget something.

    1) I had to Google you to find your website. A reader should NEVER have to do that! You're the member of two group blogs, but when I click on your Blogger profile there is no link to your website. Readers are smart as whips, but they're tired from working hard all day and are very busy. You should never be more than one click away on the Interent. Connect your website, MySpace, whatever, and blogs with direct links.

    2) You have a beautiful website. It's visually appealing and well-organized. I didn't really study it too closely, so I don't know if you're already doing this. On your 'Books' page, feature your cover art for each book and make it a link to your preferred seller, be it Amazon or whatever. Also, underneath the cover art, put the blurb. Under that put, "If you like TITLE, you might also like TITLE, TITLE, and TITLE." When readers find a book they love, they do want to find more like it. But, you've got to make it very easy and pleasant for them. Remember, they're tired and distracted by dinner boiling over on the stove.

    3) When your book is reviewed, if the reviewer doesn't already do it or doesn't remember, ask him or her to write a "If you like TITLE, you might also like TITLE, TITLE, and TITLE by the same author."

    4) Don't forget to build up your subgenre. This helps readers find even more books they'll love, it assures them you're NOT self-centered, and it builds up the popularity of the subgenre so more people are buying more books from everyone. Have a page listing and linking to other authors of novels like yours. Ask your buddy authors to do the same.

    5) Branding. This requires the cooperation of your publisher, of course. A recent example is the new cover art for all of Linnea's books. Although I like the old covers better, the similar look of her new covers grabs a reader's eye. "Oh, another Linnea Sinclair book!" She grabs it along with her armload of groceries and babies and heads for check-out.

    That's all I can think of for now. Got to go put my own babies down for their naps.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! Kimber, I've printed out yours. Lots of good thoughts. Thanks for the compliment on my website. It's made and maintained by our third son, who's professionally employed as a web designer. (Yes, the unified page for all the books does have the cover art, plus links.) I hadn't thought about my Blogger profile -- my name under "Links" in the sidebar of our blog page does connect to my website.

    Oh, and I have a MySpace page, but I haven't done much with it.

  4. Along the lines of what Kimber An said, add a hyperlink to your site at the end of each blog post. Over time, doing that should raise your Google Page Rank and should also add to the search terms Google attaches to you.

  5. Anonymous3:09 PM EDT

    >What’s the secret to luring readers who’ve enjoyed one novel into seeking out the rest of the author’s work?

    You know, even with my favorite authors, it still takes me years sometimes to read new releases and/or backlist books. For example, I adore George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (which I began about two years ago), but I haven't read anything else of his, including his new SF book which looks fab.

    Same with other authors. I also author & genre hop quite a bit to keep things fresh. I really want to read Dan Simmons THE TERROR, but I haven't yet. Why? Time, budget, and the fact that I actually am savoring the anticipation.

    The others here offered up great advice. I just wanted to pop in and add that sometimes with readers, it's just a time /priority factor--nothing to do with the books themselves. Just keep buggin' us...we'll get around to you!


  6. This isn't necessarily about crossover promotion, but it seems to me anything you can do to make it fun for readers to hang out at your website is a good thing. Make it simple though - we don't have the time or patience for things to load. I like to look at candid pictures from conventions and book signings. Lisa Shearin's pictures of her fencing at the Biltmore Estate is really cool!