E-book Customization, Is It Worth the Hassle?

I recently read a series that I really enjoyed on my iPhone using the Kindle app. When I finished one book in the series, I wanted to move right into the next one. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. An excerpt of each new book was included in the back of the current book, but guess what was missing? THE NAME OF THE NEXT BOOK! There was also no link to buy the next book nor was the series order outlined on Amazon. Each time I wanted a new book, I had to go the the author's website and drill down three levels to find the series listed in order. Needless to say, this was a lot of work for me as the consumer to find a book I was anxious to buy. As authors and self-publishers, it behooves us to make this process easier for readers who are anxious to buy our next books.

This is just one of many reasons why it makes sense to include live links to your other books at the end of each book, especially when the book is part of a series. I've also discovered that it makes tons of sense to include your list of other books as the VERY FIRST THING after "The End." Make it easy for readers to buy more of your books, and don't send them through page after page of author bio and reviews before they get to what they really want: the next book.

So how does customization work? First of all, you need to have multiple books available before you can customize your e-books. If you're working on publishing your first book, there's no point in worrying about customizing. Once you have two or more books available, you'll want to include live links to the other book(s) in every new book you publish—and you will want to customize those links to each platform. This requires preparing different versions of the native file for each platform. The Formatting Fairies do a lot of customization for our clients. We see it as a smart way to ensure subsequent sales if readers enjoy the first book. It's also important to go back and update your earlier books with the link to each new one. Never forget that e-books have a permanent lifecycle. With new readers discovering your books every day, what is "old" to you is new to them. Keep your list of books and your author bio up to date. I re-upload all my indie books (soon to be 13 of them) four or five times a year to keep them updated.

About a month ago, I reposted all my e-books with updated, customized lists of other available books on Amazon and B&N. I still need to do this for Kobo and Apple, which is on my to-do list. In each of my single-title contemporaries, I included the first chapter of MAID FOR LOVE, book 1 in my McCarthys of Gansett Island series, along with a "buy" link to make it easy for readers to get it. Last weekend, I offered my single-title contemporary GEORGIA ON MY MIND as a Kindle freebie for five days. I had 55,000 downloads and it was the No. 1 free download on Kindle for most of the five days. I saw a big uptick in sales this week for MAID FOR LOVE. Because it's book 1 in a soon-to-be six-book series, this could lead to many more sales over time. Cross-promotion and customization works. It leads to additional sales. Why not make it easy for readers to buy more of your books?

Do you have questions about customization? Feel free to ask!