So I recently finished reading Sean Platt’s and Johnny B. Truant’s Write. Publish. Repeat., which is absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s even remotely interested in self-publishing, or publishing of any kind for that matter. It doesn’t present anything earth-shattering that people who’ve been self-publishing for a while won’t already know, but it does summarize the industry exceptionally well, and I culled a number of helpful tidbits from the book’s pages.
One of those tidbits was in regards to back matter (that’s all the non-novel stuff at the end of an e-book, for those of you not in the know). They suggested that instead of listing all your novels at the end of each e-book, you should instead list a link to your novels on your website. That way you wouldn’t have to update each e-book every time you released a new novel. Instead, just update your website, which you probably were already going to do anyway. It’s a rather obvious idea, but one I hadn’t thought of.
Then later in the book, they suggest an even better idea: They suggest structuring your book so that you never have to update the back matter.
Needless to say, I was curious. Updating books is a pain. I’d love to never have to update my books once published. But how could I pull this off? I want to make sure that in my series, each book points to the next in line. How can I do this without having the next book out yet?
Sean and Johnny recommended doing just that. Here’s how. Let’s take my upcoming Daggers & Steele novel, Cold Hard Steele. I’d probably have a prompt like this in my back matter:
Hi. I’m Alex P. Berg, a mystery, fantasy, and science fiction author with a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and a taste for heavy metal music. If you enjoyed Cold Hard Steele, make sure you check out the first book in the series, Red Hot Steele (LINK).
That’s not a great prompt because it directs people to my first novel in the series—which, if they’re reading book two, chances are they’ve already read it. It would be much better to direct them to the next book in the series, which hasn’t come out yet, like so:
Hi. I’m Alex P. Berg, a mystery, fantasy, and science fiction author with a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and a taste for heavy metal music. If you enjoyed Cold Hard Steele, be sure to check out the sequel, Time to Steele (LINK).
The problem with this method is that if I never want to update the back matter, I need to have that link, and I can’t get the link until I upload the book to Amazon, Apple, etc.
But Sean and Johnny suggested a great idea. Make that link a placeholder link, one that redirects people to a special page on your website that tells people the book isn’t out yet and instead asks them to sign up to your mailing list—which is a great idea! That way, people interested in buying that next book of yours immediately get funneled into the best way to make them aware when the book comes out. Genius!
The only problem is, Sean and Johnny advocate using some specialty software to funnel people around on your website once the book actually is available—because once it’s available for purchase, you want that placeholder link to take people to the purchase page for your novel.
Well, friends, there’s no need for that. You just need smartURL.
smartURL is a URL shortener, but it’s so much more than that. For one thing, it redirects global traffic based on geographic location. So, for example, if I post an Amazon link through smartURL, a person who clicks on that link in the UK will go to the Amazon UK site, and a person who clicks on that same link in Japan will go to the Amazon JP site, and so on. That’s really nice.
But the nicest thing about smartURL is that you can sign into your account and redirect where the shortened link will take you. So, I can make links for my back matter for books I haven’t released yet, links that initially send readers to a prompt to join my mailing list, and then, once my new books are finally released, I can change where the shortened URL sends people to rout clicks to the actual purchase page for my new book.
Pretty fantastic, huh? If you’re an indie author, using smartURL allows you to never update books that have already been released (unless you want to change the actual meat of your back matter). Overall, I think this could be a huge time saver, and I’m happy to implement this system before I have huge piles of books to update.