Photo: some flower found somewhere in Australia. (I want to say Cairns, but I’m not 100% sure.)
Fans of $x series (insert whatever your favorite series is) tend to get upset when they do not get the next book in their series right away. It doesn’t matter if the series is long or short, if it’s 2 of 3 books finished, 16 or 32 finished, or anything else like that.
Readers get upset when they are not given the thing they specifically want.
I’ve seen this trend time and time again. “Why do you have so many series? I want $this book… when will you do THIS book?”
Here is the simple answer: my brain loathes and abhors doing series back to back. In fact, my brain hates it so much it would Very Much Prefer if I could have at LEAST six books between the next in the same series, please and thank you.
I tend to do 3-5, because that lets me continue to pay the bills.
I thrive on chaos. I have so many ideas, so many books I want to write, and z-e-r-o desire to stick in the same playground for two books in a row. As it is, one book takes me something like 300-500 hours to accomplish nowadays. (Up from the 200-300 before the nitpickers decided they REALLY had to have perfection or their world was over as they knew it.)
I do not want to spend 600-1,000 hours doing the same thing over and over and over again.
After 300 hours of working mostly on one project, I want to run wild and free (and burn the entire series that book was in to the ground) while sipping the tears of readers disappointed I did not give them what they wanted when they wanted.
Seriously. Go on. Do something for 300 hours… see how you feel about that thing when it becomes highly repetitive with zero variation. (See: proofreading.) The end of every book is proofreading, where I can’t fiddle, adjust, etc–I am SOLELY looking for errors.
This is mind-crushingly boring. Tedious. Duller that fucking sun-blasted dirt. At least a hundred hours is dedicated to reading, rereading, and rereading yet again the same exact book. Just looking to make sure I used their instead of there, or ‘did I REALLY need that comma?’, or ‘was that how that character’s name is actually spelled?’
I will not be changing this tendency. I hate writing a world or series back-to-back, and I won’t do it. This job is hard enough without deliberately doing something my brain absolutely hates.
If you can’t abide by an author picking and choosing order, I’m REALLY not the author for you. I have a lot of books and series I’m working on, and right now, I’m prioritizing the books that are one book from done while still working on one or two that will pay the bills while those are passion projects that incur debt.
Yes, I write books that incur debt and have the books that are doing well pay for them. I like finishing what I start.
But when a series is not paying its own bills, it is not going to be prioritized in the slightest. I know a bunch of you won’t buy books unless the series is done. This is a consequence you pay for your choice. It’s definitely your choice to make, and I wish you well on your reading endeavors. You are definitely entitled to spend your money as you wish.
(Here comes to uncomfortable truth… you are NOT entitled to demand I spend my money how YOU wish. I’m the one paying the expenses for the books, not anyone other than me. And as such, while I will, from time to time, ask for reader preferences… the choice is not in the hands of the readers, nor should readers feel they have the right to dictate what an author works on next.
No author on this planet is ever beholden to a reader to finish a series, period. I choose to finish every series I started even when they don’t earn back because I want to. It’s the same reason I incur debt on audiobooks that commonly take 2 years. I want people with dyslexia to have access to books. I want people who can no longer see to have access to books. I even want people who are doing dishes to have access to books, although I wish that element of the audience would be a little more inclined to sit down and be kind and not speak from time to time. Okay, often. (Because let’s face it, when talking about audiobook accessibility, I prioritize those who NEED them, not those who have it as a convenience.)
And those who need them deserve quality products, not just a machine reading to them that lacks any spark of creativity. They don’t deserve the bare minimum that abled-minded and bodied people think they should get.
One part is “what pays the bills” ( I have one primary series that pays the bills. This is the anchor series. That’s it, that’s all. I have one.) I have a second series that thinks about paying the bills but doesn’t quite do so yet. This is Susan Copperfield. I’m hoping the G.P. Robbins books can serve as a new anchor series and pay the bills. The first book is promising, but here’s the reality of the G.P. Robbins situation: the book broke even after all expenses.
That’s it, that’s all.
Lilith Daniels has already flopped as an anchor series possibility, so has been shunted to play / passion project status already. Her current preorders (and Patreon contributions) have her projected to be releasing, after her first two weeks, at a loss. People just aren’t interested, and that’s fine. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I REALLY want to write this book, so I am. And I really want to write the second book, so I will. But at the moment, I only have committed to two books, and that’s all I have covers for. If the second book doesn’t break even out of the gate, Lilith Daniels will be done unless I REALLY want to revisit that world for a standalone.
And yes… that is how life as an author goes. I have a collection of something like 10 or 20 novels that I have plotted and need time to write that are testing the waters to see if they can become anchors for my career.
Here’s the reality: without an anchor series… I cannot continue this career path. I will need to just finish the stragglers, cut things short, accept my losses, and walk away and find a new career.
Every author faces this same problem. Some authors have hugely rabid fanbases who will buy everything… but that’s not what an anchor series is.
Anchor series are what brings in new readers to help continue paying the bills.
And a lot of readers see the Magical Romantic Comedy series and go “Well, that’s too long, I can’t start that now.”
Food for thought, food for thought, food for thought.
Bernadette Franklin makes so little money that I only do those if a book that pays the bills and several of the ‘non-payers’ does better than expected.
This isn’t just a game where I can go whee, write all the things! I have to evaluate earnings, I have to look at what will pay my staff, and what will pay my rent.
I attempted to make Vigilante Magical Librarians an anchor series, gambled on a large-scale advertising campaign, and lost. It’s the only major advertising campaign I’ve done that actually busted out. The Mag Rom Com series ultimately paid for that failure. So, rather than make use of the spinoff ideas and fun stuff I had planned for Vigilante Magical Librarians, I shelved them, did the mental hoop jumping to remove the threads that would have opened those spinoffs, and moved on with life.
Writers aren’t a charity for your entertainment, and I think it’s important that readers are reminded of that.
But above all… my brain HATES working on the same world back to back. I need a cool down period on characters. By the time I’ve reached my 300+ hours of working on a book, I REALLY need a break from them.
Preferably in the quantity of 3-5 books worth of ‘doing something else.’
Because yes, I get sick and tired of Satin and friends in the Mag Rom Com series. I want to light the Royal States on literal fire after 300 hours of working on a book. I will go to a corner, sometimes, and just literally scream out my frustration at the end of editing a book because I am so tired of working on that thing.
Variety is the spice of my life… and the bills need to be paid. So, when series fail and don’t earn their keep, I try new things in search of that series that WILL earn its keep and help me keep writing when the mag rom com series is over.
Because once it’s over, there will be no more major releases that pay the rest of my bills for months upon months, making sure my staff gets paid and I can pay off my rent.
Once it’s done, it’s done. And once a series is done, for an indie like me? I don’t earn that much on my backlist.
My real money comes from the first two weeks of a book or audiobook’s life. After that, it’s just dribbles of pennies here and there, here and there.
If I want the pennies to be more, I have to pay for advertising. That’s just how this industry works.
So, I diversify my series in hopes that I can continue to write, and that some of these series start earning enough for me to pay my bills without the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series ever being involved.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention this again. 95% of my readers read one thing: the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series. The rest of you are super fans, and while appreciated… the super fans alone don’t pay the bills.
The super fans are super appreciated, but the reality of the situation is… I can’t keep writing if only the super fans are buying. This is just a cold and hard truth of life.
Books are expensive, and my staff deserves to be paid well for their work.
I hope this food for thought has not disappointed you too much and gives you a better understanding of “why all the pen names?” and “why so many series?”
Everything will be done… unless I kick the bucket first, and well, I won’t be around to care how many people complain at that point, so that’s fine. I’d really rather not kick the bucket at this stage, so let’s work with “I’ll get there, eventually… as the money allows.”
And readers, alas, are in charge of that element of things, not me. I just make the most of what I can do, understanding that once the Magical Romantic Comedy series is done and the 95% who only read that series wander off… it’s probable I’m done, unless there’s a new anchor series that picks up the slack.
Right now, there’s not.
And that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
So, don’t think too badly of me for not writing back to back Magical Romantic Comedy books… once they’re done, the whole parade grinds to a halt. And I won’t be bleeding that rock dry solely to keep making money.
The series has a set ending, and that is all she wrote.