If there’s one thing that today’s writers need to understand, it’s that they have to always be thinking about the “upsell.”
What is “upselling?”
Simple — it’s convincing people, after they’ve purchased a product, that they actually want something else, too. As writers, we really need to understand this concept, because it’s what keeps our readers coming back to us, time and time again.
Let’s say that you’ve just written a book — “Truman’s Folly.” You’ve got a protaganist who is really unique, you’ve got secondary characters who come alive on the page, and you’ve got a strong, solid plot. All of that is great. It really is.
But, there’s one problem.
What are you going to do for an encore?
You see, if your readers have fallen in love with the characters from “Truman’s Folly,” they’re not automatically going to pick up your next book — which has nothing to do with the characters from “Truman’s Folly.” Sure, you’ll get a certain percentage who will be in love with your writing and will devour whatever you’re putting out there. That’s fine and there’s nothing wrong with that. (Hell, look at Stephen King and Dean Koontz, right? Oh, wait — King has written sequels and Koontz has entire little mini-series of books out there.)
Upselling is important.
There are tons of writers out there — and their number is growing every day. Some of those writers are going to just fade away, but some of them are going to stick around — and they might stick around because they’ve hit upon the art of the Upsell.
Basically, when your reader is done with your book, you want them to be primed for the next book. Period.
How can you do that?
Well, if your next book is set in the same “universe” as the first book, it shouldn’t be that hard. But, if your next book is totally different, you might need to prime the pump a little.
Well, one way that’s becoming increasingly popular is to provide a free “prologue” short story that is set before the events in your novel. They get a free book, and if you’re clever, you’ll make sure that you give them information on how to get the novel when it comes out.
Earlier, I mentioned Dean Koontz in regards to upselling, right? Well, it turns out that Koontz has written several short stories that were priced cheaper than his novels — and all of those short stories were set in the same universe as the books that he was selling. So, he whets the reader’s appetite with the short story, and then he comes out with a novel.
Pretty damned brilliant, if you ask me.
How does this help you? Simple — if you’ve got a book coming out on the Kindle, consider also having a shorter piece out there to act as a kind of emissary before the books arrives. If you’re a good writer, you’ll have people eagerly anticipating the arrival of the novel.
For more information about upselling, I’d like to recommend the invaluable “Write. Publish. Repeat” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. These are two guys who are making a living from their writing and have done it without the help of traditional publishing.
Now, go and write — and upsell the hell out of your project.