Oh, book market. Must it be this way? All come-hither glances and faint, lingering traces of your maddening perfume? Did you mean to leave those corset hooks unfastened? Are you trying to drive me crazy?
So, a week after Nekhet’s release, it’s selling briskly, and I’m delighted. (Reviews are good, too; thank you!) But it’s being outsold, by a 3:2 margin, by Reswyt. And yes, I did drop Reswyt to $0.99 for a while to celebrate the launch of the next book, but that doesn’t explain the surge in sales that happened before Reswyt went on sale. So while I’m positively giddy about Nekhet’s sales, I’m left with more confusion than confidence in those of Reswyt. It was on sale before Nekhet was released, you know. I mean… (Checks watch, drums fingers. Awkward silence ensues.)
I love you, book market, but we have communication issues at times.
I’ve done a bit of informal polling of readers on the subject, especially newcomers to the books, and the consensus is this: you’re not a series until you’re a series. That is, for all the good intentions I might have had in writing Reswyt – and making it the first book in a planned trilogy – as a reading audience, you’re just far more comfortable with a second book next to the first on Amazon’s (virtual) shelves. And it’s not a vote of no confidence; it’s simply an acknowledgment that a solitary first book might go somewhere, or it might not, and there’s no point in investing in an unproven commodity. I can understand that; I’ve experienced the same sense of concern, I suppose, in starting new-author series in the past. (I wasn’t counting Tad Williams’ prior work before I took a deep breath and dove into Otherland with him in real-time.)
Also present in the informal conversations I’ve held is the idea that, anymore, you’d rather read a series from beginning to end in quick succession – in other words, while you’re waiting on the second book in a first-book series, you’d rather take note of its existence and read the first two books of a three-book series, or (preferentially) an entire series right now. There’s a certain awareness, or expectation, that the experience of gorging on a series is superior to that of being served courses one at a time. Again, I can see the logic here, because there’s few visceral thrills like leaping into a new series, loving the first few chapters, and knowing that there’s much, much more to come. But it’s also vaguely disturbing, because it seems to suggest a market that places a premium on completion over content, or worse (shudder), speed over substance. Yes, in a perfect world, there would be fantastic series, like Iain Banks’ Culture, brought to market with effortless speed. (And Banks dashes off eminent fiction works I’d labor to even mimic with depressing rapidity.) But I wonder how realistic a goal that would be for many authors. And I wonder what’s more truly entertaining – ‘series gorging’ in a month, or the delicious anticipation of waiting for one of my favorite authors’ new works to come out?
So let me guess: once the third one’s finished, the first two will sell even more?
All right. I’ll take that. Maybe I’ll run a Facebook poll on the subject. In the meantime, I dub thee a conflicted tease.
You fickle, fickle minx.