A reader left a comment, quite puzzled about my stance re: star ratings. As such, I’m going to expand on the whole issue of why the series is dead in the water.
Ratings is only the beginning of the shit show for this series.
At 4.2*, Booked for Murder is literally my worst-rated book. At 2k reviews, it’s significantly, well, bad. It’s not a loved series. Yes, 57% of people rated it 5*. That’s great!
…57% of people did not buy book two.
So, here’s the complete decision making process on why this series is dead.
1: 4.2* rating really DOES mean that when I spend money to advertise the books, people see the rating, also see ratings for my other books (usually 4.5* and above) and go “Hmmm, this obviously isn’t as good of a book compared to the others.” (And they may or may not pick another book.)
At current estimate, every dollar of advertising spent brings back a quarter. I’m taking a $0.75 (matured) loss per every dollar spent on this series. That includes sell-through to the next book.
I can’t afford to take $0.75 per $1.00 spent losses. The star rating does, unfortunately, play a huge factor in this.
2: Sell-through rates are abysmal. The Mag Rom Com series enjoys a more than 50% sell-through rate between Playing with Fire and Hoofin’ it. (Generally, you check sell through from the book you’re interested in and the book that comes after it in series. Mag Rom Com series is a little more complicated than that, because SO many books serve as gateways.)
So, let’s dig into this for example.
As more than 50% of people who purchased Playing with Fire have purchased Hoofin’ It, this is a healthy (VERY healthy) sell-through rate. It doesn’t matter if people purchased Playing with Fire because they bought Hoofin’ It. Or they bought Playing with Fire because they bought Whatever for Hire. The key here is that at first glance, there is a very healthy sell-through within series.
The sell-through rate between Hoofin’ It and Hearth, Home, and Havoc is 44%. HHH is one of the least liked books in series. So as such, it’s no surprise that HHH’s sell-through to SKP is 99%. (SKP is more popular.)
Hoofin’ It compared to Whatever for Hire is 95%. That is not a typo. (Which puts WFH compared to Playing with Fire also at over 50%.)
Plaidypus, compared to Playing with Fire… has better same sell-through than Booked for Murder to Booked for Kidnapping. (And BfM and BfK have had more maturation time.) That is 19ish books deep into the series.
So, this is why the star ratings is mentioned, because it’s just the first piece in the collapse of the Librarians series.
They just aren’t good books compared to my other novels. This is fine.
The readers have spoken, and I listened.
I try my best EVERY book. I didn’t write like shit on Booked for Murder. It was one of my favorite books to write. I poured so much into that book.
Here’s the thing: I wrote a book you, as readers as a whole, simply did not like.
That’s fine, and you told me you didn’t like it. That’s also fine. But star ratings is only the first part of the series collapse.
They DO matter for sales. They matter a lot.
But there are other elements at play that state, very clearly, that the series deserves it fate. That many are low rating AND not buying book two says everything we need to know: the series is dead.
I will still write the whole thing. I will do so with joy because I LOVE THESE BOOKS.
But what I love isn’t necessarily what readers love.
And that’s why this one is slated as a passion project, and I won’t be doing any spin-off series, etc.
I don’t want people who didn’t enjoy book one going out and buying book two. But I DO want readers to understand why books fail.
Booked for Murder failed. And that’s a-okay. Star ratings DO influence author decisions… but the book’s performance is why it is truly dead.
Not only are people telling me they did not like this book as much as others, they are putting their money where their mouth is, and a below 20% sell-through rate doesn’t lie.
And as such, I’m letting it go. I will continue it because I WANT to. I don’t want to leave series unfinished.
But I am NOT going to prioritize it over books like Old Secrets (Karma #3), because it has a 63% sell-through rate and people love the stories.
I’m not going to prioritize it over the absolute FLOOD of emails I got about Grave Affairs. (Thank you for writing in, everyone! You flooded me, I got overwhelmed, and I’m delighted you’re so interested in the new series! There is going to be a KITTY in it, too! A KITTY.)
I’m not going to prioritize it over the Fox Witch Books, which has a 52% sell-through.
People rated it as they felt it deserved… and they spent their money elsewhere.
And THAT is why the series dies, with a whimper rather than a bang. I expect sell-through for book 3 of the series will be much, much higher, but as I CAN’T advertise book 1 without taking huge losses, I just can’t do anything about the situation.
And don’t tell me it isn’t because I didn’t try.
I spent thousands of dollars trying to make the series happen.
People said, clearly, in terms of ratings AND sell-through, “Stop trying to make this happen!”
And so I am.
This is not about trying harder.
It’s about making a sensible business decision so I can keep writing books people will LOVE… like the next Mag Rom Com, the next Karma Book, and the next Fox Witch Book.
But since we’re here, the second worst-rated book of mine is Inquisitor. I get a HORRIBLE sales rate trying to sell the book. (The book was badly rated out of the gate but never recovered.)
Unlike Booked for Murder, the sell-through looks like this:
Inquisitor to Winter Wolf: 75%
Winter Wolf to Blood Diamond: 79%
Blood Diamond to Silver Bullet: 82%
Total series sell through from book 1 to book 4: 49%
So, 49% of people who bought book 1 made it to book 4.
(That series died for one reason: It was done! It was only meant to be a quartet!)
But because of the sell-through, you have a three book karma series, you have the wolf hunt series, and you have the other W&W series.
Alas, the volume wasn’t enough to keep it chugging beyond that, and honestly… the main stories I wanted to tell are all wrapping up in the series I’m doing in the world already. I have STANDALONES I want to write (and may very well do later for fun), but the world did fab among those who DID buy it.
Selling Inquisitor, however? A bear. It has horrible click to buy ratios, and I lose money on trying to advertise the series.
Because of the ratings and reviews on book 1.
But hey, those who DO try it… buy it?
And that’s faaab.
To give you an idea of volume, though… I’ve had preorders with more sales than poor Inquisitor. If I pooled together all of the Inquisitor sales, I would just miss USA Today. (And the book released a long time ago.) the fact it would JUST miss USA Today is great! It just doesn’t have volume.
I know some people L-O-V-E Janette and co. So do I! That’s why I’m making sure it gets finished.
But most simply do not, and the ratings are the visual proof of this. The subpar sell-through is the true reason the series dies.
Because let’s face it… below 20% is horrible.
People just didn’t like the book.
Please don’t feel badly about it. *I* don’t. I just sigh, because I love the series more than I should.
It’s okay. Really. Not every book I write is going to be a winner.
But since we are here… here is the cover for Booked for Theft.
I call this the “Bradley is gonna get himself seduced” cover. And Ajani is not sure she wants to be anywhere near said seductions.
I also call this the “Who, me?” cover…
P.S.: I am totally trying to find a pair of glasses like hers, because I adore how fucking ridiculous they are.
And yes, when my designer was making the cover, I asked for them to be even more ridiculous.
Art by Rebecca Frank, as always!
P.S.: Please please please don’t go out and buy a book you don’t want, y’all. Please. Save your money for a book you DO want. All I’m doing here is giving you more information on why there won’t be a spinoff, and why I’m not going to be prioritizing it compared to series with rockin’ sell through.
P.S.: Please vote in the comments:
1: Jesse Alexander anthology of shorts and novellas of her and the gang causing trouble between books 1-2 and the interlude between books 2 and 3… OR Book 3?
The shorts and novellas will have interludes from multiple POVs, similar to how Water Witch is, all in first person.