When thriller writer Rachel Amphlett discovered that someone had created and published a reading guide and book catalog for her work and was charging readers to download it, she decided to take the matter into her own hands and create her own Readers’ Guide. Here she shares her process and the benefits, to help you do the same for your own back-catalog of books.
I like to think I look after my readers. I’ve always looked after my newsletter subscribers and social media followers and felt that the person selling this unofficial book was, to be honest, taking the [insert word here].
Time to take action.
Preparing the Official Reading Guide
I’d been thinking about creating an official guide to my books for about twelve months but what with writing and publishing at the rate I have been as well as the added juggling act that has been emigrating back from Australia to the UK, it simply hadn’t happened.
That unofficial guide kicked me into gear.
Planning-wise, I wanted to let readers get a feel for each of the books without alerting them to any spoilers. I’ve arranged the reading guide by provided two chapters from each book, starting with the series. At the back of the book are two separate sections. One lists all the books in series order, and the final section lists the books in publication order.
I use Vellum to create my books, so putting the Official Reading Guide together was an easy process.
Needless to say, my Official Reading Guide is free across all retailers so it’s more attractive to readers than the unofficial paid version, and I emailed KDP to have them remove the unofficial one so it doesn’t show up on my author page.
How an Official Reading Guide Can Inform Your Business
At the end of each excerpt, I provide some background information about the book and a link to that book’s page on my website. The reason for this is twofold:
- I want readers to have a choice about where to buy my books from (including from my own stores)
- I don’t want retailers sending me emails complaining I’ve got competitors’ links in my books
As a bonus, the analytics I can extrapolate from my website as I see how readers find my books and then click on different retailers’ sites is powerful demographic information I can use for advertising and future business development.
How I Use the Official Reading Guide in Marketing
For me, simply having the Official Reading Guide on retailers’ sites to drive away other publishers taking advantage of my intellectual property wasn’t the only goal behind this project.
I’ve been indie publishing since 2011 and currently have three series and three standalone books, so I wanted to create an at-a-glance checklist for readers new to my work as well as providing existing readers of one series a clue as to what else I’ve been up to.
I run separate mailing lists for each of my series, so this guide helps to engage those readers who might have discovered me via my Detective Kay Hunter series but who aren’t aware of my Dan Taylor espionage novels and gives them an opportunity to sample the novels before parting with their hard-earned cash.
I have a complex automation process for onboarding my readers, as well as automations for readers who have been following my career for a number of years.
I’ve now included a link to the Official Reading Guide in the fourth or fifth email in those sequences along the lines of “I’ve also done this – did you know?” and have seen a spike in clicks on those emails since the Guide was published.
Since publishing my Official Reading Guide, I’ve already noticed an increase in sales across my body of work, and readers have emailed me to say how much they’ve enjoyed discovering other books I’ve written that they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
In addition, the cover artwork for the Reading Guide will be updated to show the cover of my future releases as they’re published, keeping it relevant and helping new readers discover my work over the coming years.
If you have a number of titles in your back catalogue, I’d highly recommend you take a look at my Official Reading Guide and create one of your own – before someone else does.
(You are welcome to join my writing group and receive a monthly free newsletter with other tips and tricks like that she has used in her author-publishing business.)
OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips on this topic to add to Rachel’s? Feel free to share them here!#Indieauthors - ever thought of creating a catalog of your own books to boost sell-through and reader loyalty? @RachelAmphlett shares a case study of the guide she's created for her thrillers #bookmarketing Click To Tweet
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From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive