The downside of writing sequels

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  1. #1

    The downside of writing sequels

    So I am about to publish books 3 & 4 of a series I author, and it was a ton of work, 340,000 words...yada yada yada.

    What bugs me the most is that sequels suffer from half-life syndrome.
    No, they aren't written by Gordon Freeman.
    See, with sequels there is a half life, or really a quarter life (but that doesn't sound as cool as half life.)

    Here is how it works: If 100 people read your first book, then only about 75 will read the next book, and 50 the next book, and on and on until you get down to just your most loyal of fans & family.
    So I am feeling bummed that after all of this work, I can safely expect lower revenues than the first book.
    So I have been marketing the crap outta the first book because it is the gateway to the series, but that means I am marketing a 4 year old book.

    Also, it is a PITA when sending out pre-release copies: I can't very well send out the 3rd or 4th book of the series to someone who hasn't read the first books...right?
    So even though I can directly market the 4th book, if people have not read the 1st book then they ain't gonna buy the 4th book...

    Worse yet, while I am fighting for every sale, batshit-crazy Omorosa is selling a million copies of her tell-all book about the White House.
    There is no justice in the universe.

  2. #2
    I hope she suffers a myocardial infarction while masticating the feces that passes for a best seller these days.

  3. #3
    Completely agree. You have basically articulated why I don't write series if I don't need to and try to stick to standalone books if there is any choice in the matter.

    I know the (good) reasons why people do it: We fall in love with big ideas/epic story-lines/wonderful characters and feel compelled to pursue these things to what seems like a natural conclusion and I agree with all that. However I also believe that life is short and writing time for most people limited and that expending years or decades of time toiling away on a single extended story, one involving largely the same cast of characters, the same locations, a mostly unchanged style of storytelling, a constant theme (or set of themes), etc instead of sowing one's literary oats is not always a good idea either.

    I think this is especially true if you are still cutting your teeth and figuring out your identity as a writer. Don't get sucked into a multi-year investment that in all likelihood won't make you millions nor offer you the full breadth of learning that comes with trying-then-failing-then-starting-something-new. Not saying that applies to you whatsoever, but it does to at least some people. Balance is the key word.

    I also have a real issue with series and sequels that degrade in quality with each cycle and become nothing more than a weird status symbol for the author. This is likely to happen when series get written for reasons other than because the story warrants it. When writers continue to hump the cadaver into a massive 20 volume epic that could have been done much better in far fewer books, only the sense of grandeur that comes with finishing about "Vampyre Death Legacy Part 19" was just too tempting, regardless of the fact it isn't very good and hardly anybody reads it.
    Last edited by luckyscars; August 11th, 2018 at 07:49 AM.
    "All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."

    Ernest Hemingway



  4. #4
    On the other hand...

    The 75% of readers who want the sequel (assuming they enjoyed the first book) are relatively easy sales. You need to let them know it's available, but you don't need to persuade them to take a chance on a new concept.

    And if you do do promo for the later books, it can inspire people to pick up the first books.

  5. #5
    Readers dropping out of the series is definitely a bummer.

    But you also have the option of selling a bundle at a higher price than a standalone, while still offering a discount (compared to buying all the books individually), that should appeal to those looking for more bang for their buck.

  6. #6
    An unknown flogging a book is tough, you need to get your name on a lot of peoples lips. Murder? Become a TV personality? Sports star? Rabid, foaming lipped, imbecile Trump supporter?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle R View Post
    Readers dropping out of the series is definitely a bummer.

    But you also have the option of selling a bundle at a higher price than a standalone, while still offering a discount (compared to buying all the books individually), that should appeal to those looking for more bang for their buck.

    Y'know I have seen other writers offering boxed sets, but no such option is available thru CreateSpace. Hell, they don't even offer the option of pre-sales. I've been meaning to dig around and find out how these authors were able to put together a package deal.

    It's prolly expensive.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    On the other hand...

    The 75% of readers who want the sequel (assuming they enjoyed the first book) are relatively easy sales. You need to let them know it's available, but you don't need to persuade them to take a chance on a new concept.

    And if you do do promo for the later books, it can inspire people to pick up the first books.


    True dat. I had pretty good pre-sales on Calizona 2. It was nice to have a pile of sales on release day.
    I guess I'm really bummed because the sales will be meh, but this particular book was a TON of work.
    I gotta up my game on marketing.

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