This is the second part of a four-part series on how to market a book which is part of a series.
When to Market the Book
So, let’s recap. In my last post, I differentiated between three different kinds of series. The first, which I call Wheel of Time, after Robert Jordan’s series, is a set of books which are wholly dependent on one another to tell a complete story. The second, which I call Xanth, after Piers Anthony’s series, is a set of books which are wholly independent of one another, each telling a completely independent story that is set in the same milieu and may or may not use the same characters. The third, which I call Pern, after Anne McCaffrey’s series, is a mix of the two, and includes books which are wholly dependent on each other, but also includes books which are in the same milieu and may or may not use the same characters, but are nonetheless independent of any dramatic, series-wide story arc.
Let’s assume you have a fourth book in a series. How do you market this book? The answer depends on two factors. First, are you marketing your new book to fans (i.e., those who have read and enjoyed your first three books) or are you marketing your new book to new readers (those who have not read your first three books)? Second, are you marketing a book that truly stands on its own or are you marketing a book that is dependent on the previous books and may be dependent on following books?
These two factors set the stage for your marketing plan. If you are marketing to fans, you can market a new book by itself and as part of the series, regardless of the second factor. If you are marketing to new readers and your book is truly independent, then you can market it just as you would a stand-alone book, though you should include somewhere deep in your marketing, perhaps at the end of the book itself, a pitch for the series. If you are marketing to new readers and your book is dependent on books that have come before and/or after the book you are marketing, then your primary marketing efforts will have to focus on the first book in the series, because that’s where new readers really need to start.
Basically, if you have a dependent series, then your job is to hook new readers on the series by hooking new readers on the first book of the series, where the story actually starts. Makes sense, doesn’t it? In this case, you only want to market the subsequent books to fans, because new readers simply won’t appreciate it.