Four Tips to Turn Backlist Books to Gold Mines

Karen Hardin Christian Literary Agency Priority PR Group Tulsa OK

Backlist titles (books over a year old) can be gold mines! These are your books and articles that have been previously published. That might mean one year previous or twenty, but yet are still available in the marketplace. For publishers the front end cost of production is past and any sales at this stage, assuming initial sales at least broke even, are simply pure profit. For authors it can be the same, blowing life back into a title that has gone dormant.

But just because a title or article is older, doesn't mean it can't be fresh or refreshed. That's the key.

Here are four faithful tips on how to bring back your backlist to a place of profit and attention.

1. Link to a Current Event 
a. Watch the news and find a way to tie your book back into current event stories. Be creative. Use hot key words in your title and at the beginning of your article so that your blog or article announcing the tie-in can be easily located in searches. Be sure to include a link to your book title in the article as well as you tie the two together.

2. Link to a Holiday or Event 
a. There are quirky holidays for just about everything. All you have to do is find one that you can wrap your backlist book to and then write a great blog or tip sheet and send it to your local paper or e-zine. Remember if you hope to get it accepted by a major print source you need to work 3-6 months in advance of their editorial schedule.

3. Link to a Trending New Release or Bestseller
a. Bestselling books can be great sources of free publicity for a backlist book as you ride the coattails of their buzz. Find a bestseller that focuses on a similar topic, trend, business tip, ministry insight, etc. in your book and breathe fresh air back into your title.

Here's an example of how this tip turned one backlist title into a NY Times bestseller. Although her book was already backlist status (and not receiving any marketing dollars by her publisher or much effort on her part either) it suddenly climbed the charts to make the NY Times bestseller list. It was every author's dream. It was coordinated by the author's own creative efforts.

The author recognized that a current bestseller by another author utilized a unique event and location which the author had written about in her own book. She contacted the author of the bestseller to let her know of the connection. It was a long shot. But amazingly the author contacted her back! The author of the current bestseller let her know she had actually read her book and used it in her research. She graciously gave credit to the other author, which the author used in her own social media announcements and tweets linking her backlist book to the current bestseller.

The result? A fresh wave of publicity and new readers for her previously published book as she rode the wave of publicity of the other book. And all because of a long-shot email as she made the connection between the two books.

4. Link to a your own New Release
a. Each time you release a new book, it is an opportunity to shine the light back to your previous titles. A book launch is a great opportunity to send out a press release and create media buzz. But be sure as you put fuel behind your new book that you point back to some of your older material with a great quote, endorsement or sales statistic that reminds the reader that you have other solid material.

A previously published title that experienced lackluster sales initially, can come to life once you have another title that begins to build steam. John Grisham's first book, A Time to Kill" was barely noticed with readers until his next book, "The Firm" became a bestseller. In the end BOTH books became major motion pictures as one fueled the audience for the other.

Remember backlist books are profit makers. They are unsold inventory either in your garage or in your publisher's warehouse that can help both of you profit when you remember to bring them back to the remembrance of the public with a creative, trending tie-in.

Karen Hardin - Literary Agent and Marketing Guru
PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency