From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI often mention that promoting stand-alone books requires completely different strategies to promoting a series. Marketing strategies, like the highly effective tactic of making one book permafree as a gateway into a series, won’t work for stand-alones. So, how does one go about that?

Bookbub Partners has the answer here. Continuing my Bookbub Insights series of posts, here are 6 ways to increase sales of stand-alone books.

1. Cross-promote your standalone title in similar books

Cross-promotion isn’t just for books in a series. Standalone books present just as big of an opportunity to gain loyal fans. If readers fall in love with your writing style, or the way you build tension, or the elegance of your descriptions, or the steaminess of your romance scenes, they’ll seek out your other books, whether your characters from this book continue their story or not. In fact, over 60 percent of readers have purchased other books by an author they discovered through an ebook price promotion.

Make it easy for readers to discover your standalone books by promoting them in your other standalones’ back matter. If you have a large backlist, feature books from the same genre or the ones you think fans of that book would enjoy.

Here are some more Bookbub resources to help you learn how to do this:

2. Encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list

Your mailing list will be an essential piece of your marketing puzzle, whether you write series or stand-alones or both. Collecting email addresses lets you reach out to fans who have specifically opted in to receive communication from you. Whenever you launch a new book, you can reach out to them and let them know about your imminent release.

You can also use this list to promote your backlist stand-alones! Just make sure you have a good reason for reaching out, so you don’t seem spammy. For example:

  • Let subscribers know about a discount on an older standalone.
  • If your book is a romance, email your subscribers about it on Valentine’s Day. If it’s a thriller, promote it on Halloween’s. If it’s historical fiction, on July 4th, etc.
  • If you write funny chick lit, suggest one as a fun summer read in June.
  • If you’ve written historical fiction about the Tudors, email subscribers asking if they’ve seen the hit new Tudor-related TV show. If so, they might enjoy your book.
  • If your book features athletes overcoming great obstacles, email a promotion to subscribers during the Olympics or a relevant sporting event.

In addition to promoting more of your standalone books, you should also provide a link or instructions for joining your mailing list in your back matter. As you write more and more books, your mailing list will grow, and you’ll have more people to contact for each book launch. Be sure to make it easy for people to sign up for your mailing list on your author website as well. This way, if readers don’t skim through your back matter but Google you later, they’ll be able to sign up, too.

Here are some reasonably priced email service providers you could use to build your mailing list, create forms for your website, and send email campaigns:

3. Focus on getting reviews early

Reviews are an essential marketing element for any novel, but especially a standalone that can’t piggyback on the success of related titles. Without any previous books to go by, consumers look to reviews to validate their purchasing decision.

Check out my post, How to Score Great Amazon Reviews: Resources and More, for tips on getting reviews for your book.

4. Run an ebook price promotion

Once you have enough reviews (perhaps 3–6 months after launch), discount your book to $0.99, $1.99, or $2.99 for a limited amount of time and promote that price drop via services like BookBub. Readers are more likely to buy a discounted book than a book at full price from an author they’ve never heard of, as long as the book’s premise sounds interesting. The vast majority of the readers have discovered a new author through an ebook price promotion.

For many authors with one standalone, running a free promotion doesn’t make as much sense as it might for a series because there’s no direct line of revenue. So to run a standalone promotion, discount your book for a limited time instead.

Authors featured by BookBub see massive revenue spikes during their promotions. Each of BookBub’s categories has anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers, and books selected as Featured Deals get sent to these highly engaged email lists. The resulting sales volume could be enough to hit some of the bestseller lists like The New York Times or USA Today, which can be hugely beneficial to the success of a standalone title.

For example, hybrid author Cheryl Kaye Tardif increased sales of her standalone book 130x by discounting the book to $0.99 and running a joint BookBub promotion and Kindle Countdown Deal. The high volume of book sales launched her book into Amazon’s Top 100 overall bestseller list. Sales continued to climb even after the book returned to full price.

Book Sales of Submerged

graphic: Bookbub

5. Promote to a relevant audience on social media

Authors who think it best to promote a book to the widest possible audience would be wasting money. Instead, they should target people who have expressed interest in similar books or genres, or specifically follow authors who write related content. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience.

6. Write connected stand-alones

While some independent authors report greater success with their series titles vs. stand-alones, there are many out there who simply know their story is complete or firmly don’t want to take away their characters’ happily-ever-after. If writing stand-alones is your preference, you can create connected stand-alones instead. There are a few ways you can create a connected stand-alone:

  • Create a spinoff for a secondary character
  • Create an entirely new story set in the same world or universe
  • Create a new story for a later generation of characters (the same universe in a different time period)

You can even mention the main characters of your original standalone in passing in the dialogue or reflective prose to get readers excited about the connection. Once you create these connected standalones, you can use series marketing strategies to your benefit, such as:

  • Create consistent cover designs across these books
  • Cross-promote the connected standalones in your back matter
  • Create a box set including the connected books

Read the complete post on Bookbub

Next in the series: Bookbub Insights: Launch a New Book that’s Part of a Series

You can find a fine example of a one-month marketing plan on Alana’s blog.


All this marketing stuff does your head in? Relax with my award-winning children’s book, Runaway Smile for free!

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