Promoting a back list can be frustrating, if a little boring, as we naturally want to concentrate on our latest shiny novel. However, all our books are worthy of attention for as long as they are available for sale. There are several ways to keep the back list titles fresh and you can actually utilize the change in seasons to plan it.
Firstly, can you categorize your books by season. Look at the season the narrative is set within or it’s genre and use that as your starting point.
Summer: romance/vacation adventures/a beach read/contemporary summer town story.
Spring: a character’s new life/moving to a new town, school or college.
Fall: chilly horror/mystery/monsters and Halloween.
Winter: isolation/struggles of survival/Xmas romance.
I think you get the idea.
Here are some other ways to keep the older titles fresh.
Do a live reading (if restrictions allow) or read on any social media site or streaming site.
Upgrade the cover.
Revise the content – new edit, additional information, add book club questions and new reviews.
Write a prequel.
Arrange guest blog posts centering on the back-list book(s).
Create a readers guide for book clubs.
Use niche topics to promote.
Utilize a podcast interview to promote all your books.
Request new reviews.
Offer a sale price.
What methods do you use to keep your older books fresh and saleable?
I have been writing since 1987. I started as a journalist, went to college in my 40s, and continued to write after that. My first book, “A River of Stones” was published in 2002.
You write in multiple genres – do you start with the genre and then the story or the other way around?
The genre usually. For my most recent book, I knew what the genre was going to be pretty close to getting it going. I have written mystery, YA fiction, middle reader, nonfiction, a picture book, Christian fiction, Christian Historical Fiction and science/fantasy, so you can imagine what my mind is like.
Which do you find the most challenging to write – fiction or non-fiction?
That depends on the research. When there’s a lot of research, the time it takes to finish a book is lengthened. The easiest books for me to write are those that mostly come from my head. If the book is based on where I live or a place where I’ve vacationed, the challenge is lessened.
Where did the ideas for the Brianne James Mystery & Susan Cramer Mystery Series’ come from?
I really wanted to tackle a mystery, and so I thought how it would be if I was a detective, having no training and no experience in the field. This is Susan Cramer. She loves a great mystery but she really has no idea – especially in the beginning – how to solve the crime. I am like that. The ideas after that came from my ‘strange’ mind. I am always asking what if questions. What if someone died in an old hotel and everyone thought You were the murderer? What if you were on a cruise ship and an old man died at your feet?
Do you have a favorite character and why?
I would have to say Brianne James. She is the daughter to Susan. And she has a little more of her wits about her. She is tough, too.
Were the series planned ahead or did the character’s dictate a continuation?
The series was not planned ahead. “Scrambled” was a one book wonder in the beginning. I wrote it because I was attending college and I needed money for school. I received a $500 scholarship from Mystery Writers of America after sending in my first chapter – a chapter I wrote for one of my college classes.
What is your writing process?
Get up. Sit down. And write. I treat my writing like I would a profession because it is. Writing is NOT my hobby. Yes, I love it, but I write because I have to. I go through multiple drafts and revisions before I call something finished. A have a part-time job as an aide at an elementary school, and two businesses – we publish too over here, [Idea Creations Press] and run a non-profit [Trees For Keeps], so I keep myself pretty busy.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
Our family just returned from a vacation to Bryce Canyon, Utah. It is a beautiful place. Every morning I would sit out on the porch and write. I loved it. At home I have my office. It’s not as peaceful as an early morning in the canyon, but I love having a work space just for writing.
Does your own life experience play a part in your characterizations?
This question makes me smile. Yes. There is a lot of me in my books. The goofy girl. The question asker. The mystery maker. The searcher.
Where can readers find you?
I love it when readers find me at my blog and learn something new about writing, marketing, or publishing. http://www.ariverofstones.com. I also have a fun Author’s Amazon page here.
Kathryn is a lover of words and a bearer of mood swings. When she is feeling the need to inspire, she writes a Christian fiction book. If a mystery is waiting to be uncovered, she finds it. If something otherworldly is finding its way through her fingertips, she travels to it.
Kathryn has been a reader since she was a young child. Although she took classes in writing as a teen, it wasn’t something she really thought would become her career until she was married. And even then, it took a few more years for something worthy enough to publish to manifest itself.
Kathryn’s first book was published in 2002. Since then, many other books have found their way out of her head depending on the sort of day she is having. Kathryn is a journalist, a teacher, a mentor, an editor, a publisher, and a marketer.
Her greatest joy, other than writing her next book, is meeting with readers and authors who enjoy the craft of writing as much as she does.
As writers and authors, learning new skills, keeping ahead of genre evolution, trope changes and writing methods is vital for our continued improvement as a wordsmith. With the industry changing so quickly, we need to be ahead of the game.
The best ways to do this are:
Join a writing group
Read articles on the book industry
Take courses and workshops
Attend writing conferences
Subscribe to industry newsletters
How do you keep current with the writing industry?
This past weekend, I virtually attended When Words Collide and attended as many sessions as I could, while also being a co-presenter and panelist. Although, there was information I already knew, there were also those little nuggets of wisdom, insights and knowledge that made each session a gem. My notes were prolific and my follow up to action each gem will take several weeks.
There is always something to learn, whether you are just starting out on your writing career or have years of experience. We can have tunnel vision and ease into a ‘comfort zone’ so easily, when there are so many other calls on our time.
Some things can be scheduled monthly, such as updating your website or blog with current information. We don’t want a visitor to read upcoming events from 2018! Modify your bio to include your latest book, current WIP progression and appearances etc. Don’t leave your blog stagnant – post content regularly. (This can be once weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly – just a known routine, so followers will know when to expect you to post).
We all have several social media accounts, so make sure they reflect the latest news, images etc. so they are in line with your current activities. This makes your author platform current. Also check links to ensure they are working properly or direct to a new site, if a change occurred. Refresh content and images so your platform doesn’t look dated or tired. Renew your copyright dates for all content across platforms on 1st January each year – this is one that can be missed very easily.
Can you share tips on what you do to stay updated and improve your writing skills?
A book cover is an intrinsic part of any book. It is the initial draw for a reader to pick up the book before reading the blurb and deciding if the narrative appeals or not. For any of the best seller author’s you may pick the book in the knowledge you know their writing style and genre. However, have you ever wondered why there are differences in the actual book cover depending on where you live in the world.
Take a couple of Stephen King books for instance. (You all know I love him!) I have the UK and USA versions of two of his books below. The images relate to the narratives but are very different in atheistic.
So why the differences?
Publishers buy the text of a book, not the cover as the cover is the property of the initial publisher. So this means international publishers have a choice:
Negotiate a license for the initial cover or,
Make their own cover.
Publishers generally choose the second option, as it gives them the opportunity to make their own creative choices. This is dependent on their market and the position the book. There may also be factors, such as the size of the market. The UK has a smaller marketplace as opposed to the US, which is a larger geographic area. The book cover may need to be more specific in a larger marketplace. Each editor has their own vision for the book and a good sense of their market, so will use a cover that best serves that genre’s (and author’s) readers. In most cases, publishers are only buying rights to the book for a single country or language, so can tailor make the cover to suit.
The other reason for a change in a book cover is to update it to current atheistic and tastes. A book cover published in the 1970’s would look outdated and tired, so a new look can attract younger readers.
For example: The Stand. As you can see the 1978 original is dark & light fighters, then the TV movie tie-in cover and also an array of other covers. It gives you an idea of the development of a cover for the same narrative.
Do you have older versions of books on your shelf? Care to share?
I did actually change one of my covers. The first one, I created myself (and it looks it to be honest!) The second I hired a designer. I love the imagery.
Then when I wrote the sequel, my designer created a complimentary cover.