I 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:
- Ideas on how to cross-promote books in the back matter
- How to create the links when your book is on multiple retailers
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.
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!
6.3. My readers asked me for a sequel to my Vikings story, but from my point of view, that story is wrapped out nicely, having found closure: the story of the lives of that generation is told. However, as it is based on the idea that the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was a Viking who taught them certain trades and commerce (which is one of the historians’ theories), I found an idea of a sequel which could be also stand-alone: fast forward from 1050s to 1520s… when the conquistadors come to Mexico and the Natives believe that the bearded gods had returned… and another clash of the civilisations. The descendants of Sigurd / Quetzalcoatl, now Native after almost 5 centuries of mixing with the Natives, meeting the conquistadors (which were of different European ethnicities, matching the travels in my initial Vikings’ story (which title translates something like “The wanderers of the sea”.)
That’s a great premise for a story! I had no idea such a theory exists, but it makes perfect sense.
Awesome tips! Thank you very much for sharing this, Nicholas 🙂
A pleasure. Glad you found them useful 🙂
Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.
Great suggestions to keep in mind for promoting, with or without BookBub! A keeper, for sure.
Glad you found it useful 🙂
I agree; it makes little difference whether you use BB or not. It’s just their data that’s important, in order to reach marketing conclusions.
Thanks for the pingback to my post! Authors helping authors is another great marketing tool!
One of the best 🙂
Really like this article, especially because much of the advice applies to everything, not just Bookbub 🙂
Oh, absolutely. Only the first post in the series related specifically to Bookbub; the rest simply draws on their data to reach marketing conclusions.
Once again, excellent info. Thanks!
I’m glad you thought so 🙂
I’ve been slowly implementing a promo strategy over the summer that appears to include most of the BookBub recommendations. It’s been a painful process because I’m not naturally marketing-minded, and I’m also hesitant at taking on the technical aspects, like setting up an email system for gathering names, because I know that once I’m immersed in writing again, I’ll forget the details. However, I’ve concluded that, particularly for writers like me who don’t write series, this kind of strategy–using permafree, etc–is pretty much essential if one is to progress. I’ll be doing a blog post next week once the whole system goes live, and am trying not to get too excited about the prospects.
I wish you best of luck with the promo – and will be looking forward to the post 🙂
You’ve broken this down really well, Nicholas. Your posts are always so helpful! Thanks for such a great read.
Thank you so much, Sue! It means a lot to hear you say that 🙂
I am a BookBub testimonial. I have taken advantage of several free books and once hooked on an author or the first in a series, I will purchase the next book or two.
Thanks for sharing that! 🙂
More excellent tips, Nicholas. Mr Rossis, you spoil us!
(Apologies to Ferrero Rocher)
Best wishes, Pete.
Lol – you’re too kind. And now I have to get me some chocolates… 😀
Reblogged this on Mary Blowers, Author and commented:
Another great article full of tips by Nicholas Rossis. Try some this weekend and increase your sales.
Reblogged this on Lizzie Chantree and commented:
Great blog post by Nicholas C Rossis.
Some great suggestions and good insights, thanks.
A pleasure. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
My pleasure. I like to pop by every now and again for a few insights.
Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
A Great Follow-up article by Nicholas 😀
Excellent advice. I think the standalone books are fairly common in the indie world. You have many who have that one story to tell. Do you it’s different for those with only one book to sell? I just noticed a lot of advice connects to having more than one.
I think it’s really hard to promote when you’ve only got the one book published. Some advise against wasting any time promoting (other than building your platform, of course) until you have at least three books out there.
I’ve heard that. Though it seems kind of risky since there are a lot of platforms that work solely with new releases.
I’ve seen a few posts recently on email newsletters. I’ve wondered how much content you should put into a newsletter and what the frequency should be. Eg, half a dozen articles once, sent out every two months; ten articles every month; random number sent out once in a blue moon…
Is there a rough guide to the amount of content and frequency? I wouldn’t want to set up a newsletter and then ‘short change’ subscribers by not sending them very much.
Depends on what you use said newsletter for. The frequency depends on the value of the content. High-value content won’t tire people even if sent daily. Strict self-promotion will annoy, even if sent annually.
Let me offer an example: I may be overcautious, but when I launched Infinite Waters, I didn’t send out a newsletter. I’m saving that for the free days. It’s my way of offering my subscribers what they’re really interested in.
Hope that makes sense 🙂
The ultimate goal would be to attract more readers for the novels, but as your article suggests, I wouldn’t want to spam people.
I’d be looking at content similar to the articles on my blog, but exclusive to the newlsetter; maybe one article related to the books (character interview, background story, short story) and the rest related to ‘similar interest’ subjects, recommended authors/books and so on.
But I don’t want to add to my existing workload, so I’d be looking to find a balance between keeping people engaged without them feeling hassled!
Sounds like a plan 🙂
Reblogged this on Books and More.
Great information, Nicholas. I have several stand-alone’s that will benefit from the advice. The promotional possibilities for indie books are much more flexible when compared to trad books where pricing is generally fixed. I’m so relieved I switched.
Glad to hear it! If you ever feel like writing a guest post on your experience switching to Indie publishing, I’d love to host it 🙂
Will do 🙂
I love Bookbub! This is good advice, thanks for sharing!
A pleasure. Thanks for reading. I’m glad you found the tips here useful 🙂