You’ve heard about readers clearing out their bookshelves or reorganizing (and archiving) their digital libraries, but what is the author’s equivalent? Cleaning up your backlist, of course!
While the book sales boom is declining somewhat (as this report for the first half of 2022 shows), especially for print books, backlist books continue to be strong sellers, with their sales numbers dipping down less than half the percentage of frontlist sales. Pruning your backlist and keeping it evergreen is a great way to maintain consistent sales without too much worry or extraneous effort.
These words of advice can be helpful regardless of the state of book sales, however. And, no matter where you fall on the career author path – whether you have 1, 10, or 100 books in your backlist – it’s a great idea to revisit what’s worked for you before and give it a much-needed refresh.
Read on for tips and tricks on how to benefit your backlist!
Unpublish and delist titles – First things first: review your backlist. Take a close look and see what books you might want to either temporarily (until they’ve been refreshed) or permanently unpublish. KWL makes it easy to delist a book – simply enter the editing field of any of your eBooks and choose to delist it. Hit save, and you’re done!
This is especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of books you have available, or if you find that one or more of your titles needs more time to be updated.
Update your covers – After you’ve reviewed your backlist, make note of which covers aren’t working for you anymore – either because your cover design style changed, your own personal tastes shifted, or, of course, the cover didn’t do well! Readers are, as we know, drawn to covers first and foremost. Make sure your covers are exemplifying the content of your book, and not hiding the exciting work within behind an irrelevant or unappealing cover.
See some tips on cover design here.
Redesign the interiors – don’t let the inside of your books collect digital dust! Give them an update. Add content warnings, links to new books (especially if it’s an entry in a series), an updated author bio, a new author headshot, illustrations or art you had done for the book, or even a sample chapter or two from another title of yours at the end. A refreshed interior is a great incentive to put a title on sale or make an announcement that an update has been made to an edition of a book that they formerly loved.
Highlight series starters – promote your series starters! If you have an ongoing series, revisit the early volumes and promote them to your readers. Why not offer them at a discounted price, or even temporarily make them free to download? This is a great way to get people hooked on your heroine’s ongoing adventure.
Consider series possibilities – speaking of series… Do you have a backlist title that would benefit from a sequel? Can you add to the world started in one of your older works? Consider writing a sequel or starting a series inspired by one of your old titles. Building a strong series can lead to retaining readers, box set promotional opportunities, and benefit you when you opt in to Kobo Plus. Check out this podcast episode all about creating a series here, and listen to this episode about selling your series while you’re at it!
Promotional sales – promotional opportunities with KWL abound! Here at KWL, we run regular promos, some of which involve backlist books. For more information, learn more about our promotions here and listen to a recording of our live Q&A, How to Boost Your Backlist, featuring members of the KWL team.
Promote your backlist on your socials or newsletter – get the word out there! There’s nothing better for your backlist than reminding your readers that it exists. Post on you social media accounts, including it in your newsletter, create a banner on your website, and so on – there are so many ways to highlight your backlist available at your fingertips already. Don’t miss out on these opportunities.
However, make sure you find balance with your backlist and your new releases. Don’t overwhelm your readers with too much information about your books. Make sure you space out the updates, and choose to focus on one or the other each time – unless it’s relevant, of course, in the case of talking about a series or sequel.
Promo codes with KWL – if you publish direct with KWL, you can request promo codes from us. Why not put a backlist book on sale for a limited time, and offer that promo code to your readers? Offering a promo price is a great way to boost sales that have been dwindling, and a promo code offered to your readers can often be a great incentive to explore your older titles.
How do you boost your backlist sales? Share in the comments below!