Promote your novel with a series of short stories
When I came out with my Conjure Woman’s Cat novella early last year, my publisher suggested using Kindle Direct Publishing to write a series of short stories set in the same North Florida environment. These stories would come out from time to time to give me something fresh and new to talk about, and each one would include a link on the author’s page at the end of the story to the novella.
There are several days to do this. One is to send some of the characters in your novel off on other adventures. For example, if you’re novel is about a detective, each short story might be about another one of his/her cases. On the plus side, this keeps your characters current and on your readers’ radar until the sequel to your novel (if there is one) comes out.
On the minus side, care must be taken to keep the events in the short stories consistent with the novel while making sure they don’t get in the way of the sequel. That is, the short stories become part of the canon, so you can’t have your detective getting a crippling injury in a short story that suddenly disappears when the next novel about him/her comes out.
I chose instead to write a series of short stories from Tate’s Hell, the notorious Florida swamp which I mention in Conjure Woman’s Cat. Since one of the stories had been out a while, I re-wrote the introduction to include a prologue from my conjure woman. Otherwise, the stories in the series use different characters. They do have similar covers and focus on the swamp one way or another.
The short stories can all be sold for 99 cents, entered in Kindle Unlimited so subscribers can read them for free while you get credit for the pages they read, and offered for free to everyone from time to time. Each download of a free short story introduces a reader to your work and then offers them an opportunity via the hyperlink at the end to try out some of your other stories.
If you like the characters, themes and location settings in your novel, then it’s probably going to be easier to think of a related group of related short stories than something totally different. I can’t promise you that everyone who reads one of those stories will buy the novel. But I do see that when I promote a “free day” for a short story on Facebook, that a lot of people download a copy.
As a bonus, those stories give you new things to talk about on your web site and on your Facebook author’s page. And, frankly, most of us need that because–unlike big name authors–we don’t have a seemingly infinite schedule of events to talk about (panels, conventions, book signings, movie deals, interviews and conversations with other celebrities, etc.) to keep readers engaged.
Food for thought on this Saturday afternoon.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Sarabande” and “Conjure Woman’s Cat”