Self-publishing a book can sound complicated, and I won’t lie to you, it is more work upfront for authors. However, it can also be lucrative for many reasons, and for many kinds of authors! I’d like to focus on one group in particular this time around: the series author.
We get a lot of authors that come to us when they’re ready to release a new book in their series, because they feel stuck. Typically this happens because they went through a publisher or publishing service for book one.
And feeling stuck comes from their lack of access to their first book, and they’re unsure how to navigate continuing the series.
So in an effort to bring some clarity to the situation, I want to cover some of the biggest hurdles we see for series authors and why self-publishing your book series from the get-go might be an option you want to consider.
You Can’t Do an eBook Bundle
Bundle eBooks are a really great way for authors to create another product for their virtual shelf, and it also answers the desire a lot of series fans have to be able to binge books on their own schedule.
When self-publishing your book you have full control over which titles to bundle, when to release them, all the things!
But if your first book is released by a publisher or publishing service, and you don’t retain the full rights to the files and retail choices, this oftentimes ends up not being an option for you, and you miss out on a change to promoting yet another product for your brand with a unique opportunity for drawing in new potential readers.
You Can’t Change the Price of the Book
A popular strategy for series authors is to keep book one in their series priced lower, to really entice new potential buyers to give the series a shot – and this is really smart.
But we’ve worked with a number of series authors who don’t get to control the pricing for their first book so convincing a reader to start the series and pay a premium, really works against typical buyer behavior.
You Can’t Make Updates to the Retail Page
As you evolve as an author and a brand we always encourage you to keep a close eye on your retail pages, keep them current; aligned with genre trends and updated with smart keywords!
Your individual retail pages for your series titles should also support each other. This is especially important for book one, because ideally you’re updating that description to remind potential buyers there’s a whole series to enjoy, you can incorporate current reviews, etc.
If you don’t have access to book one there’s a good chance that retail page will remain stagnant, and won’t be pulling its weight to support your growing brand.
You Can’t Update Categories and Keywords
We talk a lot about the importance of categories and keywords and how they can really help pull in the right buyers for your book, versus floating around in the sea of 4500+ books being published every day.
Well, self-publishing a book on Amazon means you retain full access to everything about your book, including these important keyword and category choices. And this is something non-series authors face as well!
We did a podcast on understanding what self-publishing really is, and we’ve linked to it in our resources section, and I highly encourage you to take a listen if you haven’t already.
I don’t want it to seem like we’re anti-publishers or publishing services. That’s not it – because they can be a great option for some authors.
But the reality is publisher aren’t typically structured to play an ongoing role in your book marketing and brand development – that’s not what they specialize in. So, taking on random requests for price changes, keyword changes, and even category changes – isn’t a part of their core service offering. And it’s something you have to consider when deciding the options that are right for you long term.
You Can’t Rebrand Covers
Listen, no matter how you choose to publish it’s not uncommon for the first cover in the series to miss the mark a bit. And maybe not initially, but once book two comes out, or even three, and your author brand has become more solidified, it might make sense to consider an update across the board so the series really stands out and makes an amazing first impression!
However, if you don’t have full access to book one, you might be stuck with a series kick off that just doesn’t match the rest of your books, which is a major letdown. We actually worked with a client in this exact situation, he learned a lot about his reader market after traditionally publishing book one and knew he needed to change up his branding, and opted to self-publish the rest of the series but always struggled with not being able to do all the updates he knew he needed to do to book one.
So again, I don’t want it to sound like we only support self-publishing your book, it’s just that we see a lot of authors who make their publishing choices in a vacuum without considering the big picture.
The reality is you should work backwards after outlining the full spectrum of your long-term goals to decide what publishing options are totally right for you.