We spend so much time building a platform and concentrating on gathering higher numbers of followers, fans and readers that we don't want to lose their interest between long works of fiction. While there are several ways to keep your readers engaged, I want to mention three of the most important.
1) Write a daily or weekly Blog
2) Keep them updated on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest
3) Write a short story or a couple of scenes that lead to the next big novel release.
It's the third option I want to concentrate on, especially since you're probably already doing the first two options. You could write novellas in between your large works, as I have done, but those will be totally unrelated to the characters in your long novels. Now I'm starting to get a lot of requests for a third book in my Highland Series. Several people are asking for Leith's story.
If you have a good series going that people don't want to let go of, you and your publisher will want to capitalize on that. For instance, if you have a single title book and would like to write a follow-up that isn't contracted, you might want to keep a log of reader emails, reviews, and social media comments from those who have requested you write a second or third book, or have requested you write about other secondary characters and give them their own story. Once you start building up a large database of requests, you can submit them with your proposal for follow-up books.
If it will be a while before the follow-up books release, in order to keep your readers engaged with the characters, you could write short scenes and make them available as ebook downloads for newsletter subscribers or for all your readers on ebook formats. These scenes could lead up to the next big novel release. Be sure to discuss it with your editor and make sure your publisher approves of your ideas.
If readers download these scenes and really like them, once they realize that there are other books available, you'll continue gaining readership that will build for the next big book release, plus they will go back and read the other books. This is another marketing tactic that is a bit unconventional, but effective if done well. We can learn from Hollywood and the movie industry.
Think of The Avengers!
Today is the big release of The Avengers, but since 2008 they've released five other movies with the same characters leading up to the big finale movie. These build-up movies were Captain America, Thor, Iron Man I and II, and The Incredible Hulk. Fans loved them and want more of the same characters. Tickets will be selling out everywhere today. (Yes, I'll be in line!)
So what are your thoughts? Have you tried anything like this? Do you think it would be effective?