Sell More Books with Rapid Release-Author Toolbox

Sell More Books with Rapid Release-Author Toolbox

Rapid release strategy is the current hot ticket in the indie-author circuit. Many authors are saying this, combined with writing to market, is the only way to make any money as an author. The theory is that by releasing books on a fixed schedule: quarterly, monthly, or weekly (yes, weekly!) authors can capitalize on the Amazon algorithm and maximize their exposure and, therefore, profits.

Why does rapid release strategy work?

This strategy is most prevalent in category genres: romance, mysteries, etc. These categories rely on small numbers of voracious readers (those who read dozens of books a year) as opposed to the blockbuster strategy (large numbers of readers who read one or two titles a year) of traditional publishing. This small group of readers will be more likely to read indie authors, use digital, rather than print, and will utilize the Kindle Unlimited service.

Indie authors who use the rapid release strategy claim that the momentum created by the closely timed releases drive readership. I am not convinced this is the entire picture.

My theory:

I believe the success of this strategy is linked to the series model (grouping the books in a series, rather than single titles), not the actual spacing of the releases. As a reader, trying to sort through the garbage pile that is Amazon Kindle Unlimited is daunting. I don’t have the patience to download twenty samples trying to find something to read. Instead, I will start with a book I already liked, look at the “also bought” and then choose something from there. Then, I will binge read the entire series. I call this the “Netflix approach.”

Reading an entire series is far easier than searching through single titles each time I finish a book. The books don’t need to be in any numerical order, as long as they are similarly titled, or linked in some way so that I can reasonably assume the next book will be similar to the current. For example, I am currently reading a series of horror books called “The Haunting of …” These are all haunted house stories. Each has a different protagonist, and a different setting. Nothing links any of the stories except the author and the series titles. But since I enjoyed the first one, I have continued through the series. Some of these books are better than others, but personal laziness ensures that I will continue the series rather than going back to KU garbage pile. And because I know I’m not unique in this aspect, you can use this trait to sell more books.

Let Amazon sell your books

By grouping your books in a series, you increase your readership, because Amazon will prompt your readers at the end of each book to continue the series. With one click, readers will be looking at the landing page for your next book. If you wait months, or years between releases, you will lose readers. This is where rapid release comes in.

The rapid release capitalizes on the benefits of grouping books in a series because it amplifies the effectiveness of the Amazon algorithm that boosts new releases. By releasing rapidly, it gives this benefit to the entire series, not just an individual book. This means that rather than having a 12-week boost for a single book, a well-timed six book series could be boosted for 60 weeks therefore increasing the likelihood that a new reader will be introduced to the work. In addition, because readers tend to consume the entire series rather than search for a new author, they will also read more of your books. In addition, Amazon will remember which readers have read your books and recommend your other books or your new series when it’s released.

Using Amazon’s built-in system is far more effective than relying on your website and email list. I read over a hundred books a year. I habitually binge read authors’ entire backlist, but I have signed up for ZERO author newsletters. I have gone to ZERO Facebook pages. I have visited very few Twitter accounts or author websites. As a consumer of books, I don’t care about these things. I only care about finding a book I want to read, and the most effective means of finding my next read has been through the Amazon recommendations.

Am I in the minority? I doubt it. While there are superfans out there who will read every word of your newsletter, and there are authors who have obsessively devoted fan pages on Facebook, those are all devoted to people who are already fans. They do nothing to increase readership. If you don’t have an established fan base, these things will do very little to sell more books.

What if I can’t write a book a week?

Not all rapid release authors do a book a week. Some find success releasing monthly or every 11 weeks (These authors use the 12-week preorder schedule where they next book will be available for preorder the day the previous book is launched.) Nearly all successful rapid-release authors hire editors and book designers, and farm out as many other publishing-related tasks as they can afford.

If you are a slow writer, you can still use this strategy, but make sure you have all, or most of the books written before you release the first book. You could also pull a previously published series, give it a makeover and re-release using this strategy. Yes, you will lose any reviews you had, but if the series isn’t performing, then you aren’t losing much.

Research

There is tons of information about rapid release. Through the next month, I will be digging through these sources and reviewing several of them for you, so keep checking back.

Rapid release is a strategy that many indie-authors have used to finally break through the noise on Amazon and begin selling books. If you are having trouble getting traction for your writing, rapid release may be worth investigating.

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9 thoughts on “Sell More Books with Rapid Release-Author Toolbox”

  • Hey! I’m looking forward to reading this one very soon. Just a reminder, though, that you might want to add some version of the hop’s name to your title so everyone knows which post of yours to click into. 🙂

  • I love a good series too 🙂 I think I’ll rapid release as it sounds like a good strategy!

    I tend to find books through book reviews and book bloggers, sometimes on Twitter. I found it interesting that you don’t sign up for newsletters, given marketing ‘experts’ always say how important they, and social media, are!

  • I agree that there is merit in publishing regularly, but I think one has to balance that against quality of the work.
    With so many books being released every year, and so many available from years gone by, audiences have a plethora of books to choose from.

    I have met authors who subscribed to the philosophy of “one book every 2-3 months,” and after reading 1 book by them, I typically have no desire to try another. (Granted, I also have no objection to rereading from time to time.)

    I think an author needs to publish something at least once every 2-3 years, if not once a year, to ensure audiences don’t come to the conclusion that the author is “done,” but in some cases the solution can be to publish something shorter while maintaining quality.

    With the advent of digital mediums like Kindle, and the option to release content directly onto websites, there are no restrictions on length or format.

    I think the greatest risk for an author is for the audience to complete a story and decide that they never want to read that author again (which I believe to be quite distinct from not “liking” a story).

    In regards to a series vs a standalone, I agree that a series often has more appeal, but also offers additional challenges for the author. Some serieses opt to create a single conflict so large it can only be told over several volumes, while others resolve the conflict of book 1, and simply continue on to another adventure.

    The first can lead to an unsatisfying book 1 (which makes it unlikely for an audience to continue on to book 2), while the later runs the risk of becoming either repetitive or too dissimilar (alienating the audience).

    I do like the idea of writing the entire series (or at least books 1-3) before releasing book 1. That way the author can go back and revise after completing their rough draft for the series (though some don’t need to).

    In many ways, I feel the solution lies in letting a story be whatever length feels natural. Black Prism needs a sequel. The Lies of Lock Lamora (in my opinion) did not.

    However, I do think that rapid release can be a strong strategy for an early author, as audiences often want to keep reading a few books/stories from the same author, and new authors may not have much in the way of an existing library of content.
    That’s one of the reasons why, as soon as a story is finished and sent off, it’s time to start another (if one does not opt to work in multiple stories simultaneously).

  • I’m not a KU subscriber, so hadn’t thought through rapid release from that perspective. Interesting!

    I have seen a few multi-author series in KU – I guess that’s a way authors with a similar writing style and target reader can capitalise on the rapid release strategy without having to write at an impossible pace.

    I’ll be watching out for your next post!

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