8 Tips to Grow Book Sales by Promoting Backlist Titles

8 Tips to Grow Book Sales by Promoting Backlist Titles

Aerio Staff

It's exciting to publish your third or fourth book, but that doesn't mean your earlier work has lost its value.

However, when you lose interest in your older books, new readers might do the same. In fact, a strong backlist of books can help promote the sale of a new book and can increase book sales in general. Here's how published authors can make old titles new - and sell backlist books.

Tips For Promoting Backlist Titles

1. Create new content. New material that supplements the backlist title, such as a small character supplement, can draw new interest to an older book. Perhaps a secondary character ended up being a particular favorite of yours and/or your readers. Give that character her own new story or write her backstory, and add it to a new edition of your book. Or offer her extended story as part of a bundled deal. You might also consider adding a reader's guide that can help promote backlist books to book clubs.

2. Include old content. Insert the first chapter of one of your earlier books at the end of your newest release to entice readers into checking out your backlist.

3. Reach out to foreign markets. The publishing industry offers more ways than one to sell a story. Check with your publisher to understand the subsidiary rights written into your book contract, which outlines the different forms in which your book can be sold. These can include film rights, live drama rights, foreign language rights, serialization, and even theme parks. If your published books do not translate well to theme parks or films, consider approaching foreign markets to have your book translated and sold in a different language for a limited or extended period of time.

4. Seek out reviews. Good reviews increase exposure for published books and that means more book sales. Reach out to reviewers for fresh reviews, especially if you have updated your book in some way. Be aware that some publications will not publish book reviews of backlist titles in their magazines and on their websites. However, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and ForewordReviews own publications that offer reviews for a fee, even on older books. Reach out to PW Booklife, Kirkus Indie, Foreword Clarion and independent book reviewers to help promote backlist books.

5. Update the book cover or add artwork. Changing a book's cover is sometimes enough to get it noticed again. Published authors from the UK typically publish their books with a different cover when they are published in the U.S. and vice versa. Similarly, when a book is published in paperback it often has a different cover. Backlist titles can also benefit from a facelift. Work with a designer to come up with new covers for your older books that incorporate new content, positive reviews and blurbs, or showcase awards the book has won. Some published authors even put out special editions of backlist books that include illustrations or two-color printing.

6. Offer new or discounted pricing. Many published authors use blogs, social platforms, newsletters and email marketing to offer their older books at special prices. Tweak your pricing or offer discounted backlist titles for limited periods of time or as a bonus when readers buy your newest book. Test certain price points; just make sure you're letting your readers know when there's a discount available.

7. Hook into current events or trending topics. If you wrote a Russian spy novel involving election manipulation in foreign countries some years ago, you might want to promote that backlist title like mad right now! Or perhaps your older nonfiction book is about a trending medical or regional topic. Use that media relevancy in a refreshed marketing plan. The publishing industry is flexible and published authors should be, too.

8. Take advantage of podcasts. The publishing business is always evolving and book-related podcasts are currently a major part of that evolution. Start your own podcast or reach out to BookRiot, BooksontheNightstand, SoManyDamnBooks, or other book-related podcasts to help you promote backlist books. Launch a serialized or partial reading, open yourself up to a Q&A that you promote on social media, or just chat with other authors, professionals in the publishing industry, and booksellers.

Whether you're publishing a new title or not, you can grow your book sales in general by promoting backlist books. That's why it's important to reinvigorate your backlist from time to time, especially if you're not publishing a new book. Follow these tips and update your marketing plan for your backlist; you'll sell more books!