Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Backlist is Front of Mind Today

Our topic this week is “whatever is on your mind”…

I have a ton of things on my mind, like migraines (I have one today), Legos and Duplos (my toddler grandson has just discovered the joys of Duplos so here I go for the third time into the universe of Legos - luckily I LOVE them too), politics and debates, carbohydrates…but of course this being SFF7, we’re supposed to be talking about the craft of writing. 

Writingwise, my backlist is on my mind. I have somewhere in the vicinity of 35 published books available (8 paranormal romances set in ancient Egypt, one fantasy romance and the rest science fiction romance). I try to keep my backlist fresh in reader’s minds by taking snippets from the older books for the weekly hashtags like #1linewed and #Bookqw. I do bookstagram ads. I feature one book from my own backlist every week at the end of my New Releases Report on my blog, which typically covers 50-60 new releases by other authors, in SFR/Fantasy/PNR. I’ve been doing a series of “Why I Wrote (insert book title)” posts on Fridays on my blog, talking about my influences and interesting trivia related to the books…

I try for the legendary BookBub ads...pricey but wow, can they move backlist books! Hard to get though, especially for scifi romance, which has to be put in the BB Paranormal category, where the competition for attention is huge...

I’m wildly happy at how well my current Badari Warriors scifi romance series is doing. I’m thrilled that readers seem to be enjoying these characters and their adventures and romances (nine books so far and going strong). I’m having fun writing the books for sure.

I’d just like it if more readers also discovered the other 26 or so books on my backlist. June was very encouraging, with quite a few books sold outside the Badari Warriors series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed the trend might continue.

I deliver the same essential elements in every book, whether SFR or ancient Egypt – a strong hero and heroine, adventure, romance and sometimes a touch of the mystical/inexplicable element that I myself used to love so much in Andre Norton’s science fiction and fantasy (although she needed more romance LOL). I write what I personally most enjoy reading. (Although I do love a good Regency romance but so far have never written one.) So if you like one book from my pen...

I have done a couple of boxed sets...

I do have some crossover readers who’ve told me they enjoy the ancient Egyptian PNR as well as the SFR. I get it that not many people want to jump from the far future and high tech to the far past and gods and goddesses with unusual names (to our ears) directly intervening in daily life. Or vice versa!  I enjoy writing the Egyptians though – excuse to do research, yes!!! – so I’ll keep on with that series . It’s a wonderful changeup for my Muse and a creativity refresher.

But back to the backlist, I’ve run some ads and I do think they help a bit. I don’t do newsletter swaps, Facebook takeovers, Book Funnel giveaways and many other things I know other authors do, for various reasons. I’m all about minimizing my stress and only doing those things I’m comfortable with. I accept as part of that decision, I have to accept the results. I’d go nuts running a zillion Facebook ads for pennies and doing A/B testing and etc. though. It’s just not me.

I do subscribe to the common wisdom that the best advertising for the older books is to write another book. I think writing the next book and the one after that is the key, especially if you find "your readers".

So far I have no desire to put new covers on older books and re-release them. I’m not saying never to that idea – I’ve seen other people do it quite successfully – but it’s a question of allocating my scarce promo dollars where they’re most effective. Better to buy a new Badari Warriors cover and get that next book out than to spend the money on a new cover for a five or six year old title.

Book piracy of the backlist (and the frontlist) is a HUGE problem. I spend a LOT of time on takedown notices. I used to use and love the Blasty service for this but it’s undergone some strange metamorphosis into a seemingly zombiefied “charge your credit card, do a few robo takedowns, no real service, no one home to complain to” tool. For years I ignored the issue of piracy as being too much a whack-a-mole game that the author could never win and many sites are actually just phishing for credit card information but there are some who are defiant and almost make a game out of their efforts to give away the hard work and heartfelt words an artist created. 

The thing is, I have rent to pay and bills to pay and I do need groceries and cat food for Jake the Cat…if I want to write more books, I need a roof over my head and food to eat.

(I’m paying bills today so all this is on my mind…)

I just read a series of M/M fantasy romance novels that I cannot get out of my head because they were so good and full of layers and details and new things to discover upon re-reading. The Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat, which is a trilogy and you really need to read all three books. I would DEVOUR that author’s backlist…except there really isn’t one, or at least not in the fantasy romance genre. The three books and several short stories about Damen and Laurent are it, other than a series of graphic novels about a group of students at an academy competing for a fencing team. Which I have to admit, does not excite my interest.

I do tend to be a stream of consciousness person so there you have it for my trains of thought today…at least I tried to keep the discussion somewhat tied to my backlist!

Try it, you’ll like it! (Assuming you enjoy my books in the first place of course.)