Book Sales Strategy #2 The Backlist

This should be Strategy 1.  A debut author with one book to their publishing credit will make initial sales to their friends and family.  After those sales, they need to do an incredible amount of marketing for every sale they make.  We’re sorry, but very few people (and we’re talking less than 0.0001% (almost infinitely small)) make sufficient money from one book to do anything except buy a cup of coffee occasionally.  It’s the reality. Writing for profit is a long game.

Theory suggests, and is backed up by a few experiments we’ve done, that you spend more on ads for your first book than you will ever make with just one book, yet many first-time authors fall into that trap.

Naysayers out there will point out a very successful first-time author they know. We’re thinking of a dynamic woman who wrote a book about rescue dogs. She’s making money.  However, when you see how much time and money she is investing in selling her books at craft fairs, charity events and any other location she can get a stand at, her balance at the end of all of this is probably only sufficient for the occasional cup of coffee (although we don’t know for sure). Stalls, printing, and marketing gimmicks cost.  The woman is very good at making connections. What she is doing is not wrong (even if she eventually makes a loss).  What she is doing is building a mailing list and a following, so that when she finishes her next book, she’ll make heaps of sales without doing anything except sending out a “book release” notification to her mailing list.

Her investment in time and resources now will have an increased payoff when she has a back list.  But can she write a second book when she is busy doing marketing?

But you don’t have the time or the money to invest prior to selling your books. You need your book sales to drive your marketing campaigns.  Backlist!

KJ Matthews has one book out and the next due for release 14th Dec 2022.  Her third is due for release at the end of January 2023.  Her strategy is to build a backlist and then invest time in marketing.  She has her eye on doing a few craft fairs/sci-fi Cons etc, in 2023 but wants to make sure she has enough backlist. Thus the investment in the stalls will be offset by future backlist sales. 

Likewise, for running Amazon Ads or Facebook Ads. You get more value when you have a backlist because if a reader likes your work, they will buy more of your books.  Thus one sale from the advertisement may get you a further 5 sales for other books.

Our overall advice. New authors should spend their time building a backlist.  Then, when you have a couple of books under your belt, start working on advertising and selling your books. As with everything, you have to consider your circumstances.

As always, Happy Writing!

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