Rather than try to answer every question on if a series is healthy, I’m just going to flat-out tell you. It’s just easier that way!
For most readers, this might be boring, so I’m sorry about that. But if you’re interested in knowing why I’m writing things in the order I am, here goes!
In order of… whatever order I happen to pick because whatever. (I’m not feeling well today and this is a task my sick brain can doooo.)
For the sake of simplicity, this is only on Amazon. (Booked’s initial numbers were not just Amazon; I had overall data available.) No, the Patreon stuff doesn’t skew numbers all THAT much, and I’m aware of the changes in selling, so it’s factored into the labeling/general analytics.
And frankly, if 200 people paying $10 a month are like “please write this, please?” realistically… chances are, I’m going to add it to the schedule at some point!
Side-note: thank the Patreon crew for voting in Grave Affairs; they’re the reason it’s coming up sooner than later. 🙂
Okay, so, here is how I’m going to do this. I’m going to look at Amazon’s lifetime, and I’m going to list the series name, the sell-through percentage to book two, and the sell-through percentage from the first book to the last through. I will lead off with “Healthy” “Unhealthy” and “To Be Determined.” If an explanation is needed, I’ll explain. I will also give a small update on where I’m going / when with the series.
Unhealthy: Magical Librarians. We’re not gonna beat the dead ponies over this one. It’s overall sell-through (with the data I have from a website tool) is in the 20% ballpark. (18.5%ish.) (The software I used to monitor sell-through has all sources for these two books.) Amazon alone has a semi-healthier (but still terrible and categorized as unhealthy) sell-through of 39%, and the others brought it down to the 20% era because they had volume and far lower sell-through.
So, unlike the rest, which were done just Amazon for this post, the initial data I pulled was all sources.
And no… even if I only calculate using Amazon, 39% from book 1 to book 2 is unhealthy. 50% is the minimum I view as healthy between a book 1 to book 2, and 60% is what I want to be seeing. So, 57% (like Mag Rom Com) is lovely healthy and skirting on what I want to be seeing to be pretty pleased!
Healthy: Witch and Wolf (4 Book series): 75% / 49%. This series is complete.
Healthy: Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count): 57% / 14%. Explanation needed: Plaidypus is not old enough to have its stabilized sell-through figures yet. But out of the gate, over a 19 book series, 14% comparing book 1 to book 19 is perfectly fine! I’m delighted, frankly. Over time, this will increase. Catnapped is around 20%, and every book prior has a slight increase of sell-through percentage. This is absolutely normal for a long series like this.
That said, outside of the planned books in the series and my current two planned spinoffs, this series is done. I’ve done what I’ve wanted to accomplish, and once all these books are written, it rides off (happily ever after) into the sunset. This is a good thing.
I’m working on finalizing Doggone Mess at the moment.
Healthy: Lowrance Vampires: 54%. I will be working on book three as soon as time allows. It’s on a back burner because of sales volume right now, plus I just have SO many other things I’m trying to accomplish. Variety is my spice of life, so I’ll be back to this soon enough. The itch is starting to grow…
Healthy: Karma/Balancing the Scales: 64%. Note: This absurdly high sell-through rate with decent volume is why Old Secrets was prioritized. It’s clear y’all want this, so I am giving it to you, because dedication should be rewarded, and you all just like these books. Old Secrets is one of the open files on my computer right now.
Healthy: Fox Witch: 53%. Note: This one will be entering rotation after I finish two books off my project list. (AKA complete two primary or play project novels.)
As a side note: I’m actively writing eleven books right now. ELEVEN. It’s getting a little ridiculous over here!
Healthy: Bernadette Franklin: 80+%. All the books by this pen name have roughly the same number of sales. The volume is low, which is why this isn’t prioritized, and I REALLY do these for pure joy and fun. So, I very deliberately don’t push these too hard. The next one is Murder Floof, and it is one of the like 11 open files on my computer right now.
To Be Determined: Moon Tamed / Audrey Greene: Sales on book one were okay, and this is a passion project so I’m generally ignoring it and just making sure the star ratings are over 4.5. This is casual.
To Be Determined: Grave Affairs / Dead Weight / All New Pen Names. While preorders are decently healthy for Dead Weight, it’s impossible to project how well this will do. Same with Grave Affairs. Right now, Dead Weight has below a thousand preorders, but it has earned enough to pay its basic bills, so I am a happy author. Of course, the only person who isn’t getting paid with this book right now is me, but my staff are all getting paid and that’s the important part. I can worry about profits later.
These are open files on my computer.
Healthy: Royal States. 66% between Null and Void to The Captive King (original 1st book and 2nd book.) 46% from Null and Void to Runaway (Null and Void released first although it is now 3rd in series.) Storm Called and Taken sold fine. Null and Void to Storm Called is 64%, Null and Void to Taken is 46%, and Storm Called to Taken is 72%.
I am over the halfway point in Trickster King, and it is one of the open files on my computer.
Healthy: Dae Portals: 76.6%. This series just has really low volume, so it’s not a priority. If it sold better, I would prioritize it. (This is one of my lowest selling series, period. It’s just not… something anybody wants. But people who DO buy it generally move to book two.) Yes, I will be working on this, just not right now.
Healthy: Jesse Alexander: 61%.
(Edit note: I had done the background work which was why I asked which one you wanted me to slide in next, but it’s 61%, and it’s perfectly healthy. It had exited the brain in the list because I was handling the ones people were panicking about first.)
Also editing in:
Healthy: Wolf Hunt: 78%. Low volume.
So, simply put, the only unhealthy series I have right now is Janette’s stuff, and that’s the reason why it’s back burner passion project fodder. There is a direct correlation between ratings, buy rates, and sell-through. 4.4 stars has a moderately healthy sell-through to book 2. The only one to buck the trend is Witch & Wolf, which has a 4.3* rating, which is why 4.3 is the minimum survival star rating. I don’t advertise it because the book does NOT sell when advertised. But those who do bother with buying tend to buy through this series. I just can’t advertise it because nobody wants to buy it.
Probably because of the star ratings, not because the book is bad or I need to try harder on it. (The books are fine. They’re older books of mine, and I’ve improved at writing since then, but there’s also nothing really WRONG with them, either.)
4.4* is healthy enough to advertise.
4.2* is simply not.
The only thing getting the ax due to performance is the librarian series, and the only ax it is getting is a refusal for expansion. The series is cancelled after episode five. And episode five was the only intended episode to be made.
It’s not like it’s ending on a cliffhanger. It just isn’t getting an entire world built out of it, and it will ride off into the sunset with no dangling threads of note at the end of book five.
Also, please curb the idea that authors should “try harder” if a book is rated poorly. We are already trying hard, I promise you.
You just didn’t like our effort… and that is fine. But I promise you, I spent 300+ hours on each of those books, and I did not just tune out while working on them. Both took me about six months to write each, and I poured a lot of effort into those books.
This is not a matter of me trying harder.
It’s a matter of it wasn’t to your taste.
And that is fine.
I hope this lays some of your worries to rest. I’m not coming for any of your series… I’m going to be finishing everything. It’s just a matter of time.
Please note I excluded Standalones and first in series without a second book. Because I can’t give you data on those in this comparison.
The only unhealthy series is, unfortunately, the librarians one… and it’s okay. Not every series can be a winner, and the fact that all but one ARE winners kind of made my night. I was expecting more borderline than what reality states is the case.
Have a picture of my cat. She is refereeing our dungeons and dragons game.
I beg of you, please grab your nearest towel and don’t panic. Please.