The Challenge of Promoting a Sequel

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How do I avoid letting the cat out of the bag?

I’m working on the updates for my website and have discovered a major challenge: how do I tell my readers about Secrets She Left Behind without revealing too much about Before the Storm? You see, Secrets She Left Behind stands alone just fine, but it is also a sequel to Before the Storm. If someone hasn’t already read Storm, how do I tell them about Secrets without giving away the twists in Storm? Not only is this a dilemma with regard to my website, it will be a dilemma at my upcoming speaking engagements and signings. (The back cover copy of Secrets gives away the major twist to Storm, as well).

I’ve seen two reviews of Secrets so far. Both were obviously written by people who hadn’t read Before the Storm, and both were excellent, so I know the book stands alone just fine. That is a goal when I write any books that are linked: they must work apart as well as they work together, so that’s a relief. But picture this: I’m at a bookstore where I’ll be speaking. People approach the table where the books are displayed and casually read the back covers, as they will most definitely do, trying to decide which book to buy. I hate that they will learn what happens in Before the Storm when they read the cover copy of Secrets.  

However, there’s almost no way of describing the story in Secrets without giving away Storm. I’m determined to come up with a way to talk about the new book without ruining the surprises in the older book. It’s going to be quite the challenge. For those of you who read the Keeper of the Light trilogy backwards (and I know there were many of you!), did it bother you that you knew what was going to happen in the first book when you got around to reading it? Am I worrying too much about this?

12 Comments

  1. brenda on March 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I am so so so jealous-and I am NOT a jealous person-those lucky reviewers…reading that book already.
    How do you not give away???I have no clue…sorry.

  2. Margo on March 20, 2009 at 8:31 am

    At your display table I think you should have a big sign posted that says ‘DO NOT READ THE BACK COVER OF SECRETS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BEFORE THE STORM’!…seriously tho, it is a dilemma because I am a reader who wants to be surprised…I’ve even done away with reading jacket covers on new books because
    they give out way too much information.
    If I had read HER MOTHER’S SHADOW before KEEPER OF THE LIGHT I would have been SO disappointed…part of the ‘shock’ was reading the 3 books in order…I can’t tell you how much HER MOTHER’S SHADOW completely took me off guard with the surprise at the end.
    One of the things I love about your WIP is that you share just enough information to intrigue us but never give out important details. Diane, you’re so good at writing the WIP that I think you’ll do just fine writing and speaking about SECRETS.

  3. brenda on March 20, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    That is prob. the only thing that Margo and I differ on–I don’t like the suspense…I want to know at the beginning…tell me please…I know Margo and I love the same authors and books…but no way, Margo…I want to know NOW what happened. The next time, Diane, write the two books and put them out about one month a part. šŸ™‚

  4. Gina on March 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Diane, I don’t understand. There are TONS of authors that write sequels. Can’t you post the words “SEQUEL TO BEFORE THE STORM” on the cover of SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND. Obviously, that’s an indicator to read BTS first.

  5. Gina on March 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    And, for the record, I’m like Margo. I like to be surprised. The twists in your stories Diane, are the best.
    I hear you Margo, about the jacket covers, they give away alot these days. I don’t like to read them either. I prefer the element of surprise.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on March 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Gina, I can understand how this dilemma appears to be so easily solved. It boils down to–as so many things in life do–business. It’s crucial for an author’s new release to do well, especially in the first few weeks. Therefore it MUST stand alone so that it’s not dependent on sales only to those readers who’ve read the first book. And therefore, the publisher will never advertise it as a sequel (unless the author’s a really big name). Does that make sense?
    This wasn’t a problem for me with the KEEPER OF THE LIGHT trilogy because I could talk about the contents of the second two books without giving away the contents of the first. With SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND, it will be more of a challenge. I plan to find a way, though.
    I agree with you about book jackets giving too much away. Same with reviews of books and movies. When I read a review, I only want to get a sense of whether or not I’d like the book or movie. Then I stop reading.

  7. brenda on March 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    A thing of the past-I know this is off the topic-but I wonder–do you girls and guys still write? I have been doing an informal survey with students…I know that I mainly email-when I used to receive l0 letters a week-those days are gone. However, I make sure that I send hand written notes/cards to my children and grandchildren frequently. My eldest granddaughter asked me, “Nana, would you start putting dates on the cards/notes…we save them.” What a smart little girl. Today, after volunteer tutoring at the library (I like to volunteer occasionally as a tutor, S.S. teacher or something-if everyone did that-wouldn’t the world be easier??another story)…Anyway, my two best friends (they are sisters and my “adopted sisters/friends” met for lunch to celebrate one of their birthdays. I surprised them (with other gifts) with two handwritten notes…they were written by their MOM to me and of course, she always signed my notes with MOM also…we loved each other that way. The women were absolutely thrilled and quite nice about choosing which they would take. I think they liked the notes better than the gifts…I have tons of cards from my mother but NO HAND written notes…darn it… Do you guys still send snail mail? Do you receive it? Do you save some? Of course, I can’t save all the notes and letters through the years-esp. from students…but there are a few…

  8. brenda on March 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Diane, two of the students I was tutoring (for ACT prep/SAT)…told me they are eagerly awaiting your book. They attend different schools, but I have had both of them in classes at those schools. BOTH agreed they can’t do not absolutely do not like the TWILIGHT books-Margo-I guess that makes three of us in the world…them and me… (Hey!!! That makes two things you and I don’t agree on…oh well…) Funny.
    Diane-you are reaching all ages.

  9. Diane Chamberlain on March 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    My stepdaughters, all in their thirties now, ALWAYS send thank you notes and have since they were kids. They were raised right, and not by me. šŸ™‚ They’ve trained me to do it, though I’m not as good at it as they are. I know their kids will be raised the same way, so at least those thank you notes will still go out through snail mail. It’s true though, that the days of long newsy handwritten letters are over. At least kids are writing. . . even if it’s “U” for “you” etc.
    I love that your students are looking forward to my books. I do know my audience cuts across generations–I can tell from my email–and that gives me great joy!

  10. Gina on March 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for explaining that Diane. I guess I never really thought of it that way. I always look forward to sequels of my fav authors. I didn’t realize this could be quite a challenge. I’m sure you’ll figure something out. You always do. *hugs*

  11. Raimie on March 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I finished reading “Before the Storm” during Spring Break…. bummer… I wanted MORE! Thanks for a great read! Book jackets: I DON’T BOTHER WITH THEM! I’m with Margo – I like the surprise and you have truly surprised us many times. I read the “Keeper” trilogy out of order and enjoyed each one individually. I can’t wait for the new release!

  12. pauline mc donnell on September 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I am a new reader from Ireland of Diane chamberlains books, and have thoroughly enjoyed the 5 I have read so far. Thank you so much. You keep writing and we your public will keep reading.

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