Backlist Book Marketing -- Making the Older Books Shine

Posted by Arthur Gutch
Published On Oct 27, 2014

"What do you do when a book has been on the market for awhile? Make it shine with a book marketing campaign to turn a backlist title into a new classic."

backlist marketing

There is just so much room on a bookshelf and most of it goes to new publications – that’s a hard reality authors must face. So, what do you do when your masterpiece has been out for a while but isn’t moving the way it used to? In the world of publishing, this is known as a backlist book. Sometimes all a backlister needs to shine is a little polish and the right book marketing.

Backlist vs. Frontlist

First, let’s get the terminology down. In old-school publishing, a backlist is a portfolio of older books, or for self-publishing, it means a author who has one or more older books to promote. 

A frontlist, on the other hand is the new publication, Edwin McDowell from the New York Times calls a backlist the backbone of a good publisher. As a self-published author, you are your own publishing house. A salient writer also knows the importance of a strong backlist.

Making that Backlist Book Sparkle

A backlist book has something a newer one is missing – a track record. You can use that to make the book stand out like a classic.

Get social – Social media is an author’s best friend if done correctly and comes in handy for a backlist book marketing campaign. First, make a list of every word ever printed about your title. Look for reviews – good and bad – forum postings and retailer’s comments. Make a list of the appropriate URLs and use them as social media promotions.

Hey friends, did you see what John Smith had to say about “My Perfect Story that took Six Years to Write.” He loved it! Check out John’s thoughts at …

Post a new blurb every couple of days. Add the occasional post telling people where to buy it, as well.

Create a reader’s guide and promote the book to reading groups. A reader’s guide gives a brief overview that also offers discussion questions to hash out the meat of the story.

Timing, Timing, Timing

Probably the best tool you have at your disposal for backlist book promotion is timing. Plan your refresh campaign around something else. It might be an event like a holiday or a major conference. Maybe you are re-releasing the book in ebook format. Even something as simple as a cover facelift is enough – dress it up and call it a new edition.

The most practical time to create a backlist campaign is when you are releasing a new book. You all ready have to market, so tack on the old books, too. Promoting backlist titles when introducing a new publication gives you credibility. You are not a newbie just putting out your first novel. You’re a veteran, so use your backlist titles to prove it. When doing book signings or readings, make sure to display copies of older books for readers to enjoy.

Classic books don’t happen by accident. It takes work to keep a book in the public eye. Author marketing gives you control over the promotion of your titles. Take advantage by creating campaigns to turn your backlist titles into classics.


Getting Publicity for Your Book

Topics: backlist marketing, self publishing, author marketing

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