It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I adore the X-Files. I’m a huge fan of this series so when they announced that the show was coming back to Fox for six episodes, I was over the moon (no, really, you have no idea). Then I read this piece in Forbes and realized that this was less about what the fans wanted and more about the fact that the show a) makes a sweet amount of money for Fox via Netflix and b) this is the season of the series and serialization. This show does well, even 13 years after it aired which is pretty amazing.
Still not seeing how this relates to book marketing? Let me break this down in a different way. For a long time Amazon has had their own version of Netflix in Amazon Prime but it wasn’t until they launched Kindle Unlimited that things really started to kick up another notch. Now, for $9.99 a month you can “rent” books via their subscription service and while a lot of folks (authors) have been complaining about this service I think that if used correctly, it’s a great way to bring fans to your book.
When I teach classes and speak with authors, I often talk about “short is the new long” and what I mean by that is shorter books are gaining immense popularity. This does not mean that long books are going away, far from it. But shorter books are a great way to bring more exposure to your main title. Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you have a book out or two books in a series. They’re average length books that are doing ok on Amazon, maybe not great. You’d like to do more with them. How about creating spin off books with various characters, all of them tied to the original series? Now you’re pushing out more books and more content that are leading readers to your main books and you can use Kindle Unlimited to do this. The key here is that your core focus stays on the series or the main theme of the single book, if you just have one.
If you don’t know how Kindle Unlimited works, let me take you through it. So you have to have your book or books in KDP Select in order get your books enrolled in the program, once you’re in there you are now added to a growing list of titles that are free to paid KU subscribers. So let’s say you wrote three shorter spin off books that are 50 or 75 pages and they’re in KDP Select so they are in Kindle Unlimited. Guess what? With the added exposure that Kindle Unlimited gives you, your shorter spin off books are getting picked up and leading readers to your main titles!
The other element (with a nod to the TV industry) is serialization on WattPad. So WattPad is a site where authors can share their work and in so doing, build readership. They are often sharing a chapter at a time, so releasing a book in episodic format and by doing this, you are now bringing readers back to your original book.
The thing to remember is that consumers are discovering content in different ways now and Netflix is a large part of this change. Back when the first season of House of Cards ended The West Wing (a show that ended in 2006) started trending. Why? Well the guess was that House of Cards was feeding the interest in politically based shows.
Consumers are looking for content and it’s a rare occurrence that new readers just stumble on a single book, they are often led there in other ways. Sure, you can lead them there with social media but even that reach is getting competitive in its own right, you can lead them there with video and blog posts but you still have to get them to your website, so perhaps an even more powerful way is to lead them to your book using other, shorter books.
This technique, by the way, works regardless of the age of your book. So let’s say you have a title that’s older but still relevant. Why not create spin off books that push more attention to the original title.
This also feeds into another trend I’m seeing about striving to own the virtual bookshelf, populating your category with more of your books, to increase the odds that a fan of your genre will stumble across one of your titles, which will also help drive more interest to your older books. Creating shorter books is the easiest, most effective way to do that.
The overarching message here is that subscription services and serialization are changing the face of marketing, perhaps faster than any of us expected it would. Readers are devouring content quicker and no longer sticking to “one author”, if they’re interested in science fiction for example, they want to experiment and explore new titles and new voices. Gaining more attention using the subscription model with a goal of owning the shelf in mind, will help spread your message much farther than on social media or through your blog alone.
This is the future of book publishing.
I do believe.
And by the way, here’s the Forbes article I mentioned at the beginning of this post: