The Ups and Downs of Promoting the Third Book in a Series - Guest Post
Promoting your own work is never a stroll in the park, at least as far as I’m concerned. It’s more of a gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride: always there’s that fear that I’m intruding on people’s time, that they will think me boastful (modesty was still a virtue when I was young). Unfortunately, at least for a shy introvert writer, the publishing industry has changed a lot in the last thirty years. Self-promotion has become a big part of our lives, and while perhaps some enjoy that side of things, I believe most of us cringe slightly whenever we post something in the hopes of selling a book.
Ah, gentle readers, remember, if one day you feel an author is flooding your feed with a deluge of promotional material you couldn’t care less about, we don’t have much of a choice anymore. In this Trump/Kardashian Cult of Celebrity era, it’s do or die: self-promote aggressively, or let your books rot in obscurity. Be indulgent towards the unknown wordsmith trying to sell his or her imagination to you in the only way that’s available, find it in your heart to leave a like, or even a share…
But back to our subject: what’s different about promoting the third book of a series?
Well, for one thing, I have gained experience. My skin has grown thicker; and if it still feels like I’m selling off a speck of my soul every time, pressing the post or tweet button is less and less painful. The posts themselves have improved, become more aesthetically pleasing at least. I know better where to post, what and when; my promotion routine is more organized. I have built a database of (free or at least not too expensive) possible advertising venues; finding the right people to talk about my book is still hard, but it’s getting easier…
All this however has little to do with the series aspect.
I am lucky, in a way. While part of the same world, one created by the ancient gods sickened by the rampant atheism growing in our own, all of the books in the Gods Inc. Series can be considered standalones. Yes, there are recurring characters such as CEO/Queen Louhi (a mortal demigoddess turned vampire, on a diet), her irate bodyguard Andrew, Jupiter and other bumbling gods… but apart for one foreshadowing element in the first one leading to the second, all three stories get resolved by the end of the book. Reading them in order may make the experience more pleasurable, but it isn’t essential.
The difference might seem trivial at first glance, but on the contrary: think of selling a Discworld novel versus selling The Return of the King, third book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The former will contain a whole story, the latter will be lacking its beginning, and all the information that comes with it.
Of course, beginnings are strange things. In a way, Lord of the Rings truly begins with The Hobbit…
Now don’t get me wrong, when you’ve sold a ton of the first book, it’s a good thing that to finish the story, readers will have to pick up the next one, and then the third one, which I guess you would barely need to promote at this point (and this is probably why movie studios like those so much they now divide the last book in two). The difficulty will be selling the third one to someone who hasn’t read the first two.
So if, like me, you haven’t sold a million of the first books, promoting a standalone should in theory be an advantage. If potential readers understand it’s a standalone. Therein lies the problem: people see book three, and think: “Well, I’ve got to start with the first one”. Personally, I find this to be the hardest obstacle, the lowest “down” of the roller-coaster ride. First, there is no real way to make it obvious, and two, even when you explain, often people don’t quite believe you.
Then there’s the fact that you’re always selling the series as a whole anyway. You want people to get the third book whatever happens, but you’d be glad if they got all three. However, a three books commitment might be more frightening an investment than just the one.
In the end, promoting the third book of a non-sequential series is a bit like walking on a tight rope: “You’ll like this book, I promise! Nah, you don’t need to read the other two… but then again you might enjoy it more if you do.”
by Gabriele Russo
Book 3: Gods Inc. Series
Fiery Seas Publishing
November 13, 2018
Hercules, guardian of the Lemuria Zoo, has a big problem: the Zoo’s divine animals have been going crazy. To make things worse, Queen Louhi, the CEO of Gods Incorporated, has just arrived for her yearly visit… with a new fiancé in tow (along with his yenta-minded grandfather Jupiter). Of course, the fact that Hercules is desperately in love with her doesn’t help his plight in any way whatsoever.
His attempt to cover up the situation quickly blows up in his face and they finally realize the animals’ madness is caused by artificial means. Cue in the bodiless god Mimir, who reveals that the real target of the mind-altering poison is Yggdrasil, the World Tree.
And if the Tree loses its cohesion, then so will the barriers between the worlds, crumbling the foundations of reality. Who in gods’ names could be crazy enough to want to do something like that?
FIERY SEAS BOOKSTORE: https://www.fieryseaspublishing.com/product-page/incoherent-gods
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabriele Russo, AKA Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur-Rousseau, was born in Quebec City amidst a family of book lovers – her father had dreamed of being a writer and both of her brothers are published authors.
Since she earned her Bachelor’s in History, it was no surprise (except to her) that she ended up working in restaurants, eventually owning two, which almost drove her mad. She sold them and was nursed back to pseudo-sanity by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.
That’s when she answered the family calling and decided to write. Armed with her ideas for the Gods Inc. series she went back to the University and got her Master’s in Creative Writing.
She now lives with her husband in Culpeper, Virginia, where she divides her time between painting, ripping apart and reconstructing her recently bought historical home, playing tennis and, of course, writing more books.