Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Seven

Number Seven

Never Underestimate The Power Of The Backlist

As frightening as it might be, some writers don’t even know what the backlist is. So, let me quote from Wikipedia…

A backlist is a list of older books available from a publisher, as opposed to titles newly published (sometimes called the front list).

Building a strong backlist has traditionally been seen as the way to produce a profitable publishing house, as the most expensive aspects of the publishing process have already been paid for and the only remaining expenses are reproduction costs. A strong backlist is also a form of The Long Tail in modern business plans.

“The backlist is the financial backbone of the book industry, accounting for 25 to 30 percent of the average publisher’s sales,” wrote The New York Times. “Current titles, known as the front list, are often a gamble: they can become best sellers, but they are much more likely to disappear in a flood of returns from bookstores. By contrast, backlist books usually have predicable sales and revenues.”

While this definition is aimed at publishers, the same thing apply to writers…the backlist is a great source of steady revenue. Also, a new release will usually lead to spike in sales of backlist titles.

The lesson to be learned here is that you should always talk up and promote your backlist. Just because a book was released five years ago, that does not mean that there is no more money to be made from that title. Talk about it, spread the word, get readers interested, and convince them to buy that old book.

Every dime you make from the sale of a backlist title is a dime you didn’t have yesterday.

Keep Loving!


  1. Hi, Alice…

    You are, as you suspect, at a perfect point in time to start pitching the other books in the series. With the revised versions available and the upcoming release of the series wrap-up book soon, you have a wonderful opportunity to make not only the sales on the new work, but make more sales on the earlier stories.

    Knowing how (and where!) to start can be a daunting task, sometimes even overwhelming.

    A few suggestions I might make are to start as soon as possible talking up the backlist on social media, mailing lists, and other forums. You can do this by either pitching the backlist titles and then mentioning that the last book in the series will be out soon (a date would work best, I think), or you can reverse things by talking about the new story and then remind folks that there are earlier books available as well.

    In general, variations on this concept will accomplish two things: (1) Let readers know you have a new story coming that wraps up an established series, and (2) Let the readers know that the older works are indeed available at the same time.

    After the latest book has been released for a while (say a couple of months), you may want to look at a “boxed set” of all the stories. This would probably work best if the set were available for a limited time only, and then go back to the individual titles for sale.

    Keep Loving!

  2. Dear Melodee and Friends. I must confess that I do absolutely nothing with my backlist. The titles are present and available on my Amazon Author Page and my website, but beyond that I let those beloved offspring languish as if I only care about the new baby currently cradled in my computer under work in progress. I need to change this bad behavior because that cradled baby is the last (#6) book in a series – my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense. And, meanwhile, Amazon has done be the favor of bundling the first five, probably because of their synced up cover designs. I have also gone to the trouble of having each of those five books re-edited and polished, and the brand new spiffy versions are available at Amazon and all of the other e-tailers. So, what have I done to let anybody, other than my faithful helper team, know about any of that? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. In fact, this is the first place I have written a word about it. I’m hoping I will mend my ways before the finale #6 book comes out. A relaunch of the rest of the series backlist would definitely be in order then. But, the feeble truth is that I have no idea where to begin, much less what to do after that. Well, if it i true that confession is good for the soul, mine must be in heaven right now. Thanks for listening.
    Alice Orr –
    A Wrong Way Home – Alice’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 – is a FREE Kindle eBook HERE. Enjoy!
    Alice’s latest novel is A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE.
    Praise for A Time of Fear & Loving. “Alice Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.” “Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t want to sleep.” “The tension in this novel is through the roof.” “I never want an Alice Orr book to end.” “The best one yet!” “Budding romance sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.”
    Look for all of Alice’s books HERE.

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