Review Your Backlist – 2015 Resolutions - Indie Pub It
You’ll notice I didn’t call them “New Year Resolutions”. There’s a reason for that.
This column and the Night Owl Reviews reader magazine is published on the fifteenth of each month. So you’re reading this sometime after January 14, 2015. If you made New Year Resolutions, the statistics say that there’s a far better than even chance that sometime in the next week, you’ll give up on them, if you haven’t already.
That’s the reason I’m calling these “2015 Resolutions” – meaning, they’re year-long adjustments to your indie business that could reap some very nice rewards.
Indie publishing is a game won by increments. Most of us write in small doses because we don’t have the luxury of full time writing. We squeeze production into our spare time. We don’t hit best seller lists the first month out but (often) end up selling more over the long term than last month’s #1; a copy here, a copy there.
Our backlist is our most valuable asset, and we add to it a piece at a time, building its worth title by title.
So wholesale, sweeping changes implemented in a frenzy of New Year enthusiasm isn’t your best strategy. You’ll get to today (post January 14th, that is) and already be burned out by all the energy it takes to change directions so wildly.
Instead, think about smaller changes, that you can implement easily and that last for the rest of the year.
Over the next few months I will explore some of the changes you can make that are incremental, but pay off in a big way. By presenting them monthly, I’m encouraging you to focus on smaller, sustainable changes.
Review Your Backlist.
If you’ve been indie publishing for more than a year, and adding to your backlist with workmanlike steadiness, then consider setting up a review schedule for your backlist. Once a month or biweekly (I wouldn’t recommend weekly – full reviews take time!), review one of your backlist titles.
Make it a thorough examination of every facet of the book, from the packaging (cover, blurb, etc), to reading through and picking up stray errors, to reformatting and re-issuing. Check the meta data and presentation of your book on every sales site it is distributed through. The technology that allows us to sell our books is rapidly improving, and current changes may give you an opportunity to re-present an older title in a way that attracts a new audience. Don’t forget to review your pricing policy on the book, too.
Here’s a checklist you can use and adapt, for reviewing your titles:
Monthly Title Review
Update your book’s metafile (s)
- If you keep all the meta data in a single file (very useful, as you usually need more than one part when you’re pulling meta data up), then check that file to see if there’s anything missing, out of date, or plain wrong.
- Alternatively, if you keep the meta data in separate files, make sure they’re all there and current.
- Also decide if you want to update any of the data – particularly the blurb. Does it still work? Can it be improved?
- Is your bio still current?
Check your book’s master file:
- Now is your opportunity to read through and tweak for missed oopses, etc. You don’t want to make major changes, because it then becomes a new edition and requires a new ISBN. Up to 5% of the text can be tweaked without requiring a new edition number. Aim only to clean up errors -- unless you want to create a whole new edition, which is beyond the scope of a title review. Reading through now will help you decide if a rework is in order, especially for much older titles.
- Also fuss over the front and end matter, making sure series information is up to date and that the most current versions of the blurb, your bio, etc., are in place.
- Does the cover need updating? (This will also affect the edition number).
- Once you’re happy with your master file, the book will need to be re-formatted for all the various editions you publish.
Go through book’s page on your site
- Is the format correct?
- Does the format of the page match other book pages on your site?
- Are all the buy links there and working?
- Is the meta data up to date?
- Could the excerpt be changed?
- Also read through the excerpt for errors that have missed later editing rounds.
Links on your site to the book’s page:
- Check anywhere on your site that you have links back to the book’s page – are they working?
- To conform with current standard
Your book on social networks:
- Do you upload all your covers to Facebook, or Google+?
- Do you have librarian privileges on Goodreads?
- For every social networking site where your book gets a (partial) piece of real estate, check to ensure that the cover is still current, that the meta data is up to date, and that links to buy pages are clear and working.
Check you book’s buy page on Amazon:
- Product description
o Including series information
- Author bio
- Other content.
- While you are on the site, upload the new edition/cleaned up version of the book, if you edited.
Check for the same information on every other distributor page, including:
- Amazon print
- Barnes & Noble
- Barnes & Noble Print
- All Romance eBooks/Omnilit
While you are on each buy page, take the opportunity to update the buy links file for the book:
- A simple Word file that contains every single buy link and the short code for it, listed by book title, will save you hours and hours of flipping through web pages to get the buy links (once again). Just cut and paste the code or short code you need.
- Now is a good time to make sure that all the links are in the file. Next time you need a link – especially if you have no on-line access at the time – it’s nice to be able to go straight to it.
Title reviews are thorough and time consuming (which is why only one or two a month is a good idea). As your backlist is so valuable, it pays to spend the time making sure each title is up to par. The title might be old to you, but to a reader who has just discovered you, the book seems freshly published. Make sure you wipe the dust off older titles so readers don’t notice their age.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published over 45 indie titles to date, including her latest fantasy romance, The Branded Rose Prophecy. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.