How to Grow Loyal Fans For Books Two and Three

To ensure the success of your sequels, you need to think about your fans and what they’ll want from the books that you’ll write.
Once you’ve decided to be a writer and own it as your occupation, (although not necessarily full-time if you have another career) the next decision is obvious: what will books two and three be like? To ensure the success of your sequels, you need to think about your fans and what they’ll want from the books that you’ll write. In our blog, Five Secrets to a Successful Series, we mention at number 4 how important it is to engage your fans and build the anticipation for your next book.

Here are all the things you need to consider to grow loyal fans ready for successful launches of your future books:

Consistent quality of writing


Even before you start your next project, you need to critically review the quality of your writing - preferably with the help of a copy editor on book one - and ensure that your second and third books will achieve a similar high standard. Readers won’t stick with a story if the style of writing grates on their nerves or dips into low quality work. Common fails are: too much description; stilted dialogue; repetitive action or interwoven plot lines that get too complex to follow. You do need to choose a hook to line up the next book from the previous one. This is a real art, because if you leave too many loose ends, it causes frustration; yet you do need one or two, so that future books can link back to the first.

Strong theme


Readers and book bloggers typically have a genre of books which they prefer, which is why traditional publishers select manuscripts with strong themes - with no overlap. SilverWood author Melanie J Firth writes fantasy fiction, set in the world of fairies. She says, "When writing a series, it’s got to be something you’re passionate about and because I’ve linked the personalities of each fairy character to a crystal, I’ve found that my audience is wider than expected. I originally wanted to reach older children and teenagers, however, my books are also popular with people who take an interest in all things holistic and the crystals themselves. It’s meant I’ve been invited to do talks at Mind, Body, Spirit fairs and meet more people; of course, events are the best way to directly engage with your fans."

Speed of writing


Once the first book has been published, readers will be left wanting to know more about what happens after they finish it. If you want to keep their interest, you can’t keep them waiting too long before the next book is published. So, you’ll need to be prepared to write books two and three under a little pressure. To help with the speed of your writing, set yourself a schedule or mini milestone goals and try to stick with your plan. Author Melanie says, "Often it’s just the discipline of getting started because I’ve found the desire to write grows by doing more writing. But I have to make it part of my routine and schedule the time in - to fit it around my full time job."

Depth of the characters


To guarantee the success of a series, readers need to fall in love with your characters or at least care about what happens to them. Typically, you’ll share background from their past as well as current events to give them depth. Each book also needs a strong catalyst for the story - it might be an event in the character’s life, a change in their family or a regular part of their job. For Lucienne Boyce, the Dan Foster Mysteries each hinge on a criminal case encountered by Dan as a police detective. To help your readers stay engaged ready for the second and third books, you can consider writing character profiles, discussion points or snippets from their life to post on social media.

SilverWood author Adrian Churchward points out, "We beginners are in danger of repeating too much information about the characters in subsequent books, such that the reader complains he/she "has seen it all before" OR we don't write enough about a character's traits and motives because they are explained in the first book, so the reader who hasn't read the first book complains that they don't understand the characters' development and interaction with each other - and there are many people who don't read books in order of publication."

Design of the whole collection


If a reader wants to collect the whole series, it’s important to ensure the designs work together on their bookshelf, paying attention to the details such as a number on the book spine and changing the colour or blending the designs for each new book. To help her books stand out on the shelf, Melanie has planned six books in her fairy series, which will create the colours of the rainbow when all placed together.

Marketing before the launch


On marketing, Adrian Churchward says, "My mindset has completely changed from earlier years. If I want sales, I have to treat my writing career as a business and invest time and money in marketing and promotion, starting with building a mailing list. Unless an author is publishing just for a hobby, he/she must understand that marketing and promotion is just as important as the writing. And nowadays, this isn't limited to indies/self-published authors. Many household names who take the traditional route are now expected to participate in the publisher's marketing and promotion."

Reviews: To engage readers in advance of the launch, it’s possible to offer a free advanced review copy of the manuscript in return for reviews. Sending out these copies is a great way to make readers feel special and boost your pre-launch marketing.

Social media: Ahead of your publication date, you can start to share posts to engage your fans on social media. On Instagram, you might do a book cover reveal, share photos of you with the book when it arrives in print, show people behind the scenes where you write or places that have inspired your writing. On Facebook, you might want to write posts about how you feel at each stage - finishing the writing; getting the book edited; receiving the cover design proposal; seeing it in print and planning your book launch - even if it’s an online event! If your book is non-fiction and relevant to your profession or your readers’ professional life, LinkedIn is another great way to spread the word - using a combination of written posts and some images.

Regular book marketing


Blogging: Having picked a strong theme for her historical fiction novels, author Helen Hollick runs a regular blog entitled Of History and Kings. By sharing new articles with her fans regularly, they know what stories she is working on and when to expect them. She also shares her research for discussion and records her talks for readers to listen again.

Email news: Developing a mailing list so you know who your blog and book readers are is even more valuable. To encourage readers to sign up, you can offer a giveaway - such as a free short story, a novella or ebook which visits your main character as either a side story or prequel to your first book. Growing your mailing list means that when you’re ready to publish the next book, you can alert them in advance, send out book teasers, and encourage subscribers to engage with your social media pages - where you can promote reviews, the book launch or local book signing events (once we’re out of lockdown and can organise events again!)

Video marketing: As there are regular planetary movements and events in the world of astrology, author Pam Gregory runs a YouTube channel where she gives out news on the likely impact of these events. Her first book, You Don’t Really Believe in Astrology, Do You? is promoted on the homepage of her channel.

Advertising: To market your book more intensively, you can set up Facebook adverts or Amazon advertising to promote the book once it’s published. When you know more about your audience, you can effectively target them by age, profession, location and social interests using the tools on the platforms - or get some help to do this, so you’re continuously tweaking the campaigns to improve book sales.


Want to know more?


For more help with book marketing and building a loyal fan base, do browse our Learning Zone articles or book a free Discovery Call with us for advice.

 

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J A Higgins