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How do you keep your backlist sales healthy? I've noticed that outside of crime, where backlist sales always seem to be fairly respectable (even years after publication) most other genres, especially thriller, seem to fall away. It's like there are simply no new readers coming onto the market, which of course is not true. So how come there were enough new readers for good backlist sales in 2018 but not in 2020? There isn't that much more competition now. Is it the cost of ads? I have watched backlist sales tumble to the point where a book is only making money for a few months and then it's as good as dead. This is forcing me to write in genres with better backlist sustainability, like crime and while this is a solution, it's frustrating having so many books on the market (some bestsellers, high aggregate reviews and big sales) that now apparently no one wants to look at.

Wasss goin on? ???
 

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I have the opposite experience.  95% of my work was published 2018 and before, and I'm a full time author.

My first novel (published 2001, and then published on Amazon in 2011) is my bestseller. it was permafree from 2011 until 2018, and the also-boughts are all over the place. But even so it sells.

Books 2-7 in the same series were written and published between 2002 and 2014, and they sell as well.

(Genres: Science fiction humour, fantasy humour, space opera, historical paranormal, middle grade, scifi adventure and one non-fic.)

I was wide for years, and went KU exclusive at the end of 2019. Either way works for me - wide meant occasional bookbubs, exclusive means AMS + pagereads.
 

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What I've observered over the last five years is Amazon pushing new books more and more and old books less and less. My new release sellthrough has trended down for years.

The algo used to push my older books along with my new release. Now it pushes other new books.

I still get some backlist sales via my new releases, but I also need to advertise to keep those series selling. I do a combo of price promotions and PPC ads. I like micro targetted AMS for backlist series (only keywords that are dead on, not broader ones). It's very low maintenance but it doesn't work for every book. I try to experiment with my backlist. Swap covers, change blurbs, make bundles, make theme bundles (I'm only one for three on this but the one was really good and they're pretty easy to do), participate in multi-author giveaways.

It takes more work now, but I still make a lot from my backlist.
 

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I don't publish super-often and make the majority of money from backlist.

The most important thing to realise is that if you want to sell back list, it's up to you to do something to sell it.

Gather a mailinglist, do box sets, cross-promotions, paid ads, whatever. Do something.
 

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Crystal_ said:
I try to experiment with my backlist. Swap covers, change blurbs, make bundles.
I agree with the others too, but this in particular. I'm always experimenting, tweaking and renovating my older stuff. Usually I pick a title or series which is my worst performer, so there's no risk of losing income by making things worse. Then, a month later, I'll repeat with the new underperformer.

I have the same approach to ads - sort by impressions and go to work on the tail end.
 

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Simon Haynes said:
I agree with the others too, but this in particular. I'm always experimenting, tweaking and renovating my older stuff. Usually I pick a title or series which is my worst performer, so there's no risk of losing income by making things worse. Then, a month later, I'll repeat with the new underperformer.

I have the same approach to ads - sort by impressions and go to work on the tail end.
It's amazing what a rebrand can do. I republished books that made about 4k total the year I unpublished them and they made over 30k in two years (I was foolish and republished book 2 & 3 a year after book 1. If I did them right away, I would probably have made 50k already).

I have one $25/day AMS ad going (you know AMS. Sometimes it spends. Sometimes it doesn't) and I make anything from $30-100/day on the books, depending on the AMS and how recently I did a free run on book 1 (I do at least one per KU cycle). It's very low maintence but it adds up. And these are books that totally failed when first released, that anyone would label not commercial. They aren't commercial, but I can still appeal to as broad a readership as possible.

I did another rebrand in 2018 that did so well I picked up the series. And now I'm finishing up book #6 and that series is my best performer in English and killing it in French.

Do the rebrand.

(I've done others, several, that did nothing for sales or even dropped sales, but that is worth the risk IMO).
 

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Crystal, I'm curious if you republish the rebranded books as new books, or are they linked to the previous ones/reviews? I think I might have given someone wrong information in a different thread.
 

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I published them with a new ASIN because I did some medium sized revisions (with a note about the rewrite/content/previous publication at the start of the book). I didn't have issues, probably because the books didn't really sell in the previous versions.

With my other rebrand (a successful ish billionaire series), I also did a light rewrite and republished with a new ASIN and a note about the previous title... And I had a lot of issues. I thought a note at the start of the book was enough, but most people either ignored it or didn't see it. I really needed the note in the blurb too. These two books did sell a decent amount. I republished/ repackaged to bring the books closer to my brand. If I did it again, I'd publish those as second editions.
 

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That makes sense. With revision, it's a different end product, and if there's a note for readers that's fair enough. I can't find the thread I posted in so I hope that OP sees this, though I still think doing it just for the purposes of evading low star reviews is probably not a good idea, and if I remember correctly that was their intent.
 
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