We need to talk, humans.
This decision has been several books into the making, but unless circumstances change (significantly) with the May 16, 2019 release of Burn, Baby, Burn, the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series will be discontinued. We know this decision will upset some people, but all good things need to come to an end, and my human hates hearing how readers complain about how a series should have died at $x number book in the series.
No Kitten Around started the trend of lower average ratings for reviews, which was kinda mostly continued with Blending In, and saw a noticeable dive with Cheetahs Never Win. (Before my human discussed this issue and the series’ imminent end on Facebook, the book had dropped to 4.3* average and had less than 70% 5* ratings.)
To our human, that’s a very clear sign it’s time to hang the series out to dry and work on something else the readers may like more.
Maybe it’s a matter of the haters speaking louder. Maybe people just couldn’t be bothered to buy or review the book.
But here are the facts:
Sales were down.
Reviews were not as happy as before. (Lower average stars, etc, etc, etc.)
This was not a one-off book decision. This was over multiple titles. Sales are a touchy figure to discuss, but here’s a basic truth of the situation:
Cheetahs Never Win was up for preorder a month longer than No Kitten Around, and it barely kept pace with No Kitten Around. Blending In had a similar preorder length to No Kitten Around and sold hundreds of copies less than either other title.
The first week sales are pretty critical for a book, but the human does consider sales after the first week, too.
Sales have been down, period.
Most of that is on the human. She wrote the book. She wrote the description for the book. She picked the cover art. Combined, these things aren’t selling the books.
That’s fine. Sometimes a series just needs to die. Really, it’s okay. We know there are a lot of people out there who enjoy the series, but the human gambled on audibook, signing a contract for Cheetahs Never Win to put it into production to learn the gamble is likely to fail even before the sample 15 minutes is recorded.
Sales of the digital copies generally reflect sales of the audio copies, and it isn’t looking promising at this point. Honestly, the human doesn’t expect Cheetahs Never Win will earn back using the math that she must do to keep writing. (40% goes to taxes, 40% goes to the household, 20% goes to paying for everything she needs to write.)
As sales drop, that 20% figure becomes smaller and smaller, so the human can’t afford to write books people don’t want to read or buy.
The human enjoys writing all sorts of things, and she has a lot of stories she’d love to write that she has high hopes will perform well.
But here’s the thing: she’s already putting in a LOT of books on the schedule this year that will probably not earn back for 3, 4, or 5 years.
Steel Heart is one of these books.
Wild Wolf and The Edge of Midnight are two more of these books.
She’s also working on continuing the Requiem series. More of these books.
She’s doing this because she loves the books and readers have asked.
But they’re poor fiscal decisions.
She really can’t afford to keep writing books people aren’t happy with or have lost interest in and/or just don’t want to see continued.
The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books are starting to join the ranks of books that may not earn back.
It’s a gamble she can’t afford right now.
To see this change, this is what needs to happen:
Sales for future books need to go up rather than down. (Burn, Baby, Burn is essentially the series’ last chance for a while.) The human has picked 3,500 combined preorder and release week sales as the number needed to keep the series trucking at around two books a year, with one more Magical Romantic Comedy coming out in 2019 if it reaches the benchmark. 2020 will depend on how many, but she’ll likely do one on May 16, 2020 because that’s what she always does, even if the series does ultimately ‘die.’ (But we’ll see.)
Otherwise, books will release as the human has budget and covers and finishes them on the side.
That does mean there will be more (see the list above) but there won’t be any guarantees on when and why. There won’t be any preorders, and my human will stop investing in the series in general.
Here’s the thing: she just invested $10,000 to breathe life back into this series. While she made the $10,000 back… barely… it did not work as well as hoped. She’ll ultimately make a profit from the investment as new readers pick up the other titles in the series, but the promotion just didn’t do anywhere near as well as hoped.
To her, it feels like the series has reached a plateau, and that’s okay. Maybe it has. It hasn’t been due to a lack of effort on her part, but it’s hard when she busts her ass on a huge ad campaign to drive new readers to a book and it just doesn’t work as well as hoped.
She’s considering herself exceptionally fortunate that the gamble made back its money at all. But she’s not expecting to see much of a profit. That’s life.
But it’s definitely a factor in the decision to retire the series from active production once Burn, Baby, Burn releases.
If this decision bothers you, there are things you can do to help:
1: Be bothered to leave honest reviews. Sometimes, a series just needs to die. That’s okay. Be honest. But please, be bothered. If only the unhappy people leave reviews, then their voices will be heard over those who love the series.
And thus, the series dies quietly, much to the confusion of those who loved the books and don’t understand why the series might be ending.
2: Contact your local libraries and request the books, especially if the book is not yet for sale. They can preorder for their library, too! Their sales definitely count as copies sold.
3: Convince your friends to try the series out. To help out with this, our human has permanently set the price of Playing with Fire to $0.99.
She’s trying, but there comes a point where it’s not worth the time and general investment to continue trying. That’s okay. The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) books have been a joy for her to write, even during the difficult times.
There will be new books, other series, and books that have humor, snark, and sass in high quantities. But there’ll be science fiction action adventure romps, pirate books with sentient ships, magic, and romance, and all sorts of other things going on.
For long-term series, her next large series is called Seeking the Zodiacs, and the first book will release later in 2019. It will have 13 books in total; one prequel novel and 12 main series books. (You guessed it, one for each Zodiac.)
She’s really looking forward to sharing Hypnos with you, as she’s been having a blast working on it.
But, as always, the ultimate decision on a series’ fate is in the readers’ hands. This has always been the case in publishing. Publishers won’t continue to release books that aren’t selling, and they’re not likely to continue even a trilogy if the first two books don’t do as well as they need.
As an indie, our human has more flexibility than a traditional publisher. But she pays all the bills herself.
And that means when three books in the series start to strike out, perhaps it’s time to say goodbye for a while… at least as a main project series.
After post edit note: Burn, Baby, Burn won’t be available for preorder until 90 days prior to its release date per Amazon’s rules.