I recently received the first review of my near scifi/technothriller novel, The Scorpion. Set in a future United States in the year 2050, it was a very enjoyable book to research and write back in 2005. It was put out there, like so many books in my catalogue, because I really had no idea what was going to catch on, and everything I had read said I should have as big a catalogue of work as possible. So The Scorpion was put out on Amazon, and has sold a little over a hundred copies to date. The review, from Amazon.UK, was a four star, and stated that they enjoyed the book and all the other praise I regularly receive for my more popular work. And then went on to say that the only problem was that it ended with the promise of a sequel, which was not delivered. Now, when I was writing novels for submission to publishers, I always tried to make them as standalone as possible, while also leaving an opening for a sequel. I would really have loved to have written a sequel of this book, just as I would have for many others. But economically, it just isn’t feasible.
Aura, my fantasy novel that tells the tale of the lives of triplets growing up on a world where the magical energy generated by the body controls the destiny of the possessor, is another such book. I was told by several people that it was one of the best fantasy novels they have ever read, and was asked when the sequel was coming out. At just over three hundred total sales in two years, the sequel is a long time coming. Same with my vampire novel, The Hunger, called by one online reviewer the best book of that genre they have ever read. A lady where I worked read it and bothered me constantly about the sequel. Alas, three hundred sales in two and a half years doesn’t cut it. And Afterlife, etc.
It takes some time and effort to write a book, and making five or six hundred dollars on it really isn’t much of a payoff. Well below minimum wage. Conversely, the books in the Exodus series all sell about five thousand copies in the first month and a half that they are out, and then continue to sell fifty to a hundred (or much more) per month for the entire time I have them out there. Well worth the investment of time and effort. In fact, if I wanted to pull in as much money as possible, I would only write books in that series. Which brings up the next category, those which sell fairly well, and have a couple of thousand fans reading them.
In traditional publishing those books might spark a sequel or two, then the series would die on the vine. I have started several series like that from big name authors, only to be disappointed down the road when they just stopped. Without any kind of resolution. Just an end. Refuge has a couple of thousand loyal fans, based on the sale of the third book, which was about two thousand. The same with The Deep Dark Well. I really don’t make all that much off of those books, especially as compared to Exodus. But I feel obligated to continue the storyline for those who are reading. The third book of TDDW trilogy will be out in July, and then I will have a decision to make. The first book of a second trilogy is already finished in first draft stage. It was written in 2011, when I got what I thought was a cool idea that fit into that Universe. But, if I publish it, I am committing myself to the other two books in that trilogy. I will be releasing book 4 of Refuge in September, and still need one more book to finish off the beginning of that series, which I had hoped would go on for twenty books. That will only happen if they catch on to a greater extent than they have so far. Can always hope, but I can’t plan around that hope.
When I was writing part time then publishing books in a series that really wasn’t selling all that well might have made some sense, trying to strengthen my catalogue, and hoping that enough people might eventually buy into it to really keep it going. I had another paycheck coming in from my day job. Now that this is my day job I have to make economic decisions, and some books that could have been series will remain stand alone. Which doesn’t mean that there won’t eventually be a series, just that it isn’t in the plans for right now.