Which book do you advertise in a series?
An absolutely awesome author friend offered to carry our swag advertising Peter’s books to a con this weekend, and plop it on the freebie table. Since we already had some left over from our last con, I boxed it up and shipped it to ’em with grateful thanks. Last night, on the way to the county fair, I said sadly to Peter “Of course, we’re advertising the wrong book for that crowd. I should have made brand new ones for the first in series.”
He gave me a puzzled look, and said “What? Don’t you always want the latest release to be the one you advertise?”
And I thought, if mine own husband isn’t tracking this fine point in marketing, it might be a point some of the other MGC or commenters have missed.
Readers are not a giant monolithic block of people who all want the same thing, at the same time, and are willing to buy it at the same price point. Instead, your readers will fall into and out of multiple overlapping circles, like a crazy-quilt 3-D Venn kaleidoscope.
Some fans will buy your works as soon as they come out.
Some fans will buy your works as soon as they discover your work has come out.
Some people will try your work based on recommendation, and then buy all the rest of the work you have out.
Some people will buy your work based on sale price point, and maybe get around to reading it, maybe not.
Of those, some will never buy anything priced higher, but will buy if you drop the price and they find out about it.
Others use the discount lists as a method of curation, and will go on to buy more of your books without regard to the price if they like it.
Some fans will buy everything you put out, then their tastes will change and they’ll wander off.
Most readers will like your works in one genre or subgenre, but may not follow you to another genre or subgenre.
Some won’t follow for months or years, then try it, decide they like it, and work their way through the series.
Some readers won’t even touch a series unless it has at least 3 books in it.
Some readers won’t touch a series longer than 5 books, a trilogy, or a serial, unless it’s finished.
Some readers have never heard of you, but would try you if they knew you had stuff they wanted.
So, who are you advertising to? And how?
If you are advertising to fans who will buy your latest as soon as they discover it’s out, then it makes sense to advertise your latest book. This is the provenance and power of mailing lists, or fan forums on social media. We had swag printed for Peter’s latest Laredo book on this principle, for our home con where people know him.
On the other hand, if you’re advertising to someone who’s never heard of you, but would be really interested if they knew you existed, far better to advertise the first in a series. This is where I should have printed off new swag for this con instead. (Either the first in the Laredo War series of gritty milscifi, or the first in the more space-opera Maxwell series.)
If you’re advertising to people who may or may not have heard of you, but won’t pick up the trilogy until it’s complete, or the series until it’s passed the ordering-to-net death spiral of three books, then you want to advertise the box set, the omnibus edition, or the “final book in the series!” or “the last of the trilogy!”
If you’re trying to lure fans from one subgenre to another, you want to toss in pull quotes by people respected in your majority-fan subgenre. Ideally, they’ll be well-liked across both, so it’ll also attract the interest of the new subgenre fans to your older work.
Price point sensitive is a really hard market to reach, and not very lucrative when you get them. Bookbub says they notice a distinct drop in sales if they run an ad for the same book within six months; their reader pool has a low enough turnover that you’re not going to get that many additional sales on the same book. Some authors have very good returns from working through their entire catalog on Bookbub, others don’t. (I know one gent does very well at that on the thriller market, but scifi? Fantasy? Not sure. Need more data.)
Consider your readers, and choose wisely.