This isn’t a completely wrong myth. In fact, it’s the most common advice given to new writers – and I give it too all the time. All too often, writers will write one book, do a bunch of marketing, see some sales, drop off the 30 day cliff and then stop and come into other author groups asking – ‘what other marketing things should I do?’.
And the more experienced authors all shout – go write and release your next book. That’s your best marketing tool.
And that’s not wrong.
And you knew this but was coming, you need to have set yourself up to make full use of your existing readers. This means having social media running, a website, a newsletter, etc.
In addition, it might not be the best advice if you aren’t getting ANY traction at all.
Let’s try an example for the 2nd point.
You release a book. You sell 50 copies.
You release book 2. You can expect – 50% of book 1 readers to buy. That means, you get 25 books bought.
Will that be enough to get you onto some also bought lists? Will that you ranked on Amazon at all (in their top 100 lists, etc.)? Will any of the ‘organic’ methods available on Amazon or any of your other retailers work?
Probably not. You might only get 1 or 2 reviews too at best, which isn’t great. Unless they are super rabid fans, you aren’t going to get much in terms of word of mouth marketing.
Sure, you might see an increase in sales of book 1 a little, but if your book 2 isn’t ranking, then book 1 won’t get much of a boost which means you won’t get much sales.
So what then?
Promotions are required. You need to keep on-going promotion (social media, newsletters, your website, etc.) going for both on the ‘well, this is obvious’ level of things, but you also need to consider getting things like AMS running on book 1. It’s quite possible that you might lose money, but if you have any hope of building up for book 2, you need readers.
Let’s use some numbers as an example:
Book 1 sells 50 books in month 1
Month 2 (with AMS), you sell another 20
You keep selling another 10 books for the next 4 months before you release book 2.
You now have a total readership of 110 readers.
Now, you release book 2 – you suddenly have it doing 55 sales on release in the first month, potentially ranking than book 1.
If you made a small loss getting those additional 60 readers from AMS, this might well be worth it, since book 2’s better ranking likely meant that book 1 saw more curious readers come in.
If you hadn’t done the marketing, it might be that you’d only have say 60 readers total when you are ready to release book 2. Which means at a 50% readthrough, you have 30 readers. A lower release ranking and more importantly, a much lower bump for book 1.
Now, obviously, it’d be nice NOT to lose money on AMS. And there’s something to be said for not running anything, releasing until book 3 and then turning on AMS / FB / etc and pushing so that your ROI is at least positive or breakeven. So that when book 4 releases, it might get a much better release and push.
All that’s strategy and depends on budget / release timelines / etc, but worth considering.
What if I get 0 Sales?
Well. Here’s another question. What if you had 0 sales at all? That’s an interesting question, and I’d say you have two options. Write and release 2 more books (cheaply) then run the promotion for all 3, hoping to make money back. Maybe even go permafree on book 1 so that you have a cheap way of pushing sales.
Drop that series for now. And find another book / another idea to write in. In that sense, what you’re looking for is a niche that you can write in that has significant interest. You can, eventually, go back to the original series and write on it – but you’re not letting down readers (remember, no one has read it!); and you can hopefully build readers who are interested enough in your writing to look at your other work.
Basically, yes, your next book is useful; but that presupposes there’s interest in your work. If you have no foothold (or very low); you might be better finding a new niche and/or throwing money at your marketing to build up your audience.
Certainly, at a certain level, once you have 3 books in a series (or a lot more standalone – 7?9?) , you should be advertising to find readers. The idea behind the ‘next book’ idea generally requires you to either find a new niche and/or have an existing readership who can push your other books in the series up. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t work.
Like the business blog post? Want to support me writing more of them? Want to read ahead (2 weeks) of others? Become a Patron and choose the $2-tier to be able to read the business posts only and ask questions about the business side of writing.