Here’s Why You Should Add Backlist Maintenance To Your Indie Vocabulary

Authors often raise their brows when I mention “Backlist Maintenance”.

Maintaining your backlist doesn’t sound sexy. For authors with only a handful of releases, backlist maintenance isn’t a thing. But when you get into the realm of 20 or 50 or (like me) 120+ published titles, backlist maintenance becomes critical.

Here’s why.

Indies make money from their backlist, not the latest release.

The first thing readers do, once they’ve read some of your work and liked it, is immediately look for anything else you’ve written.

Especially if you write in series, readers will binge on that series, then inhale your entire back catalogue. Those older, established titles? They’re the ones taking up valuable real estate on the book seller sites. They’re the ones with the multiple review stars and gushing reviews, with all formats populated. They wear a well-loved patina.

When readers trip over your older titles, the well-trafficked, well-maintained appearance may make them take a second look.

All titles are new to readers…unless you let them look old.

You wrote the book years ago, but the average reader doesn’t know that and doesn’t care. To them, your book is new…and possibly the find of their day.

Nothing will make a book look old and forgotten quicker than review quotes in the blurb description that are years old, or a bio paragraph with dated references.

The most dating — and damming — evidence of a dusty book: no mention of, and no links for, later books in the series.

All these little niggles send a subtle message to the reader that you don’t care if they click away. So they will.

The more titles you publish, the more breakages happen.

For example, Barnes & Noble recently changed their URLs for audiobooks. If you link to the audiobook version of any of your books, those links will now deliver the reader to 404 land.

Also, URL typos happen, and booksellers change their policy about allowing external links or not. Things constantly shift, breaking URLs, making your backlist of books out of date and more. Booksellers come and go. Your own site re-organization may break links inside books, too.

You have to stay on top of this stuff. As your backlist grows longer, you have to stay on top of it for every book you’ve got published.

The longer you’ve been indie publishing, the dustier the earlier titles get.

That embarrassingly scanty bio of yours that you wrote when you first got started indie publishing…is that still in the back of your earliest books? Worse, is it on the books’ retail product pages?

Is your list of other titles in the back matter of your books up to date? Have you ever added a working title to your list, that you later updated to the actual title, but it still exists in earlier releases, confusing your readers?

If you list all the books in the series in each book’s product description (and you should), is that list current? Or do the lists on the earlier books’ pages stop at that book’s release?

Are the covers out of date? Do they still match your brand? Or do they scream “newbie” to anyone who glances at them?

 — -

When you have a great many backlist titles, a single small change like updating your bio can take hours, if not days, to make.

The more titles you have, the more time you should budget to keep them updated and as fresh as you can. Set up a schedule for reviewing each old title or series. Daily, or weekly, blow the dust off them and make them sparkle.

The sooner you start, the easier the initial reviewing and updating. Don’t leave it until you’ve got twenty books out and you’re receiving confused emails from readers asking how they can get hold of the next title in one of your series because the link they have doesn’t work.

For every reader who takes the effort to ask you, there are dozens who say nothing and don’t buy your books.

Add backlist maintenance to your schedule of routine tasks, and avoid reducing your sales through sheer inattention.

3 thoughts on “Here’s Why You Should Add Backlist Maintenance To Your Indie Vocabulary”

  1. Pingback: How To Maintain a Backlist – The Productive Indie Fiction Writer

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