Writing into a series is a proven way to build an audience and increase sales. Many authors rely on their series to drive consistent revenue from month to month and year to year. In this post we’ll dig into why series are so effective, and how authors should promote series to maximize their potential.
This is what we’ll cover:
The Math Behind Series Success
Writing into a series is a lucrative endeavor because it helps readers stick with an author and in turn, purchase more books from that author. The most difficult, and most expensive, part of book marketing is getting (acquiring) that first reader. What you want to do is pay less for the reader than you earn from a reader. When you only have one title that is extremely difficult.
For example, let’s assume you pay $1 to acquire a reader by advertising and providing your first book for free. You have earned no income but have outlaid $1. If you are able to sell Book 2 to that reader for $2.99, you have now earned $2 from that reader ($2.99 * 70% royalty rate). So with Book 2, you are now profitable. If you are able to sell Book 3 to the reader for $3.99, you have not earned an additional $2.80 ($3.99 * 70% royalty rate). The reader costs you $1 and has earned you $4.80 ($2+$2.80). The more books the reader purchases from you, the more that reader is worth to you. The value of a reader over time is sometimes referred to as the “lifetime value” of a reader.
Not every reader will go on to read every book. However, you can aggregate data across your readers to get a sense of the lifetime value of a reader to you. Here is an example:
In this example, the author has five books, and based on the aggregate read through from her readers, she is able to calculate that she earned $622 for every 100 readers who pick up her first book. Those readers will earn her $435 in royalties ($622*70%). That means that the lifetime value of a reader to her is $4.35. ($435 divided by 100 readers). As long as her cost per reader is below $4.35, the author will be profitable.
How To Promote an eBook Series
Due to the math we outlined above, the most effective way to promote your series is to make Book 1 in the series free or to price Book 1 at $0.99. That lowers the barrier for a reader to try your series and hopefully hooks them into the other books in the series. It is not enough to simply discount Book 1; you have to let readers know about it. There are multiple marketing tactics authors can leverage to promote Book 1 of their series:
When marketing Book 1 of a series, authors should also consider the pricing of the subsequent books in the series. The demand curve is pretty simple – the lower priced the book, the more likely a reader is to purchase the book. So, when promoting Book 1, an author may consider discounting Book 2 and Book 3 as well, in order to drive sell-through and read-through of the series.
Amazon’s Series Page
Amazon’s Series Page is a great tool to promote your series. Special thanks go to David Gaughran who alerted me to the Series Page in this book (chapter 19). The Series Page provides the following invaluable benefits to authors:
- The Series Page gives you a branded landing page for readers that highlights your series. Unlike the Amazon book page, you are not competing with other books or Amazon advertising on the Series page.
- The Series Page allows readers to purchase the entire series at once with the click of a button. Authors report significantly higher sales of books in a series when readers are sent to the Series Page.
- The Series Page is personalized to each reader. Amazon knows which books the reader has purchased previously and adjusts the Buy Now button to only include books the reader does not yet own.
- The Series Page makes it easy for readers to determine which books in a series they have not yet read. This means that even if you are promoting Book 1 in a series, sending readers to a Series Page has the positive side effect of also alerting readers who have already read Book 1 to other books in the series.
To learn more about Series Pages and how to get a Series Page on Amazon please read our post here.
The Freebooksy Series Promo: Series Marketing on Steroids
The Freebooksy Series Promotion drives readers directly to the Amazon Series Page. It is a highly efficient and effective way to drive readership of Book 1 AND to drive read-through of other books in the series. If your series is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, a Series Promotion will also drive KENP reads. Here are some stats from authors who have utilized the Series Promotion:
The data shows the correlation between price points of Book 2 and Book 3 with sales. The higher prices generate more revenue but sell fewer copies. The lower prices move more copies but at slightly lower revenue. Your pricing strategy should reflect your goals. We had one author who earned a Bestseller sticker by generating lots of sales of follow-on books in the series.
If your book is enrolled in KDP Select, a series promotion will also spur KENP reads. Here are the reads reports for Book 2 and Book 3 of a cozy mystery that ran a feature series and was enrolled in KDP Select:
Something important to note is that when you release a new book in your series, it will take some time for Amazon to add that book to your series page. So if you are looking to boost sales of a new release, make sure that the latest book is showing on the Series page before you send loads of traffic there. Some authors have noticed that when Amazon is in the process of adding a new title to the series, the entire Series Page can go down. Please make sure to check that your Series Page is both updated and live before running marketing initiatives.
Authors have noticed getting more returns from a series promotion than a regular feature. Returns on a series promotion will be higher because overall sales from the feature are higher, and when a reader makes a return, they are likely returning multiple books in the series. For example, if you send 100 readers to an Amazon Book page and 30 readers purchased your book and 2 readers returned your book, you would have 2 returns. However, if you send 100 readers to a Series Page and 30 readers purchased your 3-book series and 2 readers returned the series, you would have 6 returns because all books in the series are returned.
There are two primary reasons readers will return books: 1) They purchased the book and series by mistake or 2) They start reading Book 1 and realize the series is not for them, thus returning Book 1 and the subsequent books in the series they have purchased.
How To Book a Freebooksy Series Promo
Running a Series Promotion is quick and easy.
- Schedule a free promo day for Book 1 in your series
- Pick the date and genre for your series promotion within the Written Word Media Author and Publisher Portal
- Enter the information for Book 1 of your series at checkout
- Click the “add book to this series” button at the bottom of the page, and enter the information for the next book in your series. Repeat this step until you have added all the books in your series. Our team will change this link to the Series Page once your feature is approved.
Series Marketing Recap
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! In summary, writing into a series is a good idea if you are looking to become a full-time author. The 3-step strategy to marketing your series is:
Step 1: Get as many readers as possible reading Book 1 to get hooked in the series. To do this, you can:
- Price Book 1 in the series permanently at 99c
- Make Book 1 free (either using KDP promo days if you are enrolled in KDP Select, or making Book 1 permanently free)
Step 2: Increase read-through of your series by:
- Offering chapter 1 of the next book in the series in the back matter of each book
- Run price promos of other books in the series to spur sales
- Send readers to your series page on Amazon
Step 3: Let readers know about your series and your promos through effective marketing channels such as:
- Running a series promo on Freebooksy
- Running ads on Facebook or Amazon
- Building your newsletter list
Questions? Let us know in the comments below.