Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Waiting till the series has finished


I've talked about this in the past and mentioned how it's hard for authors to keep going, whether indie or traditionally published, if readers do not buy their books when they are released. I don't remember if I did a dedicated post about it or just mentioned it in passing on a related topic. Anyway, I wanted to talk about it here because I saw an author discussing it on social media.

Here's the thing. A lot of books come out in series these days. Some of them are standalone or loosely connected stories within a series where previous characters might make a cameo appearance, and some of them might have an overall story arc that ties the series together; some crime they need to solve, some enemy they need to defeat, and that story arc builds from book to book. Then there are series which follow the same characters throughout the entire series while they overcome obstacles and challenges to find their happy ever after in whatever form that might take.

Personally, I prefer to read standalone books. Whether entirely standalone or standalone in a series, but I know a lot of people prefer to read a series and I see many asking for series in book groups. More specifically COMPLETED series because they don't want to wait for another book in the series to come out or they want to binge read it to the end without waiting.


I think not wanting to wait is being pushed on our culture with the likes of Netflix and other streaming services that drop an entire series at a time allowing the consumer to binge watch it in a day or two without having to wait. Being able to do that, filming a series in its entirety before releasing all the episodes requires a tremendous amount of resources in order to pay all the costs that arise from such a production before realsing its returns. Take the show Bridgerton, for example. It's a runaway success when it released, but do you know that it cost about $150 million to produce? This means the company needed to finance all of that to pay everyone before they see a lick of return on their investment. They've gotta have some deep pockets there.

How does this relate to the book world? Well, in traditional publishing, publishers often look at past sales to determine if the series or author is worth continuing with. Whether they should finance another book being written since they would have to pay the author an advance to have it written (this depends on the author's contract) and they'd also need to pay for all the services associated with producing a book such as editing, proofreading, and cover design although a lot of these might already be sunk costs since they are likely to be an in-house team.

If a reader or many readers like an author's books or series but decides that they will not buy the books until they are all out, it means that sales for that previous book (the one used to measure future publishing) would tank. If the numbers are no good and the books do not sell well, a publisher is unlikely to want to invest in future books because it means no or low returns. Publishers do not publish books out of the goodness of their hearts. They are all in it to make money. Everyone along the entire production chain of a book.

Low sales

I'm going to say this again so it's clear. Low sales means low returns on the investment on the author and the book. This means (to the publisher) it's a bad investment and not one worth pursuing. Ever seen a lot of series that come to an abrupt end and there are no new books forthcoming? Aside from some cases where the author can no longer write due to various reasons, a poor selling book can be the reason. Or if suddenly an author is no longer publishing? It might not be the author's decision. Their publisher might have decided to ditch them since they are not selling.

Waiting till the last book in a series is out before buying the book might work for a reader who wants to binge read the books, but it would also mean that reader could potentially be shooting themselves in the foot because they publisher might decide to ax the series or the author.

What about in the indie world? The equation is pretty much the same. This time though, the publisher is also the author and their income and therefore their livelihood is dependent on the sales of the books in their series. It's even easier for an indie author to turn on a dime and make a quick decision to pull a series and stop continuing to write and release the books since they are the sole decision maker in the entire process.

I have seen many, many indie series languish without an ending because they haven't sold. Off the top of my head, several authors and series come to mind. I've seen authors apologise to readers telling them that they will not be finishing a series because the books have not sold well and yet I also see readers clamoring for more books in that series while refusing to buy them to read when they release. You see what's happening here? Authors will move on to books or series that are selling and providing an income or heaven forbid, they quit writing and go back to some other day job. Or how about they don't quit writing, but they have to take on a day job to supplement their income which means the books come out even slower so readers have to wait even longer?

Woman reading

Readers these days have become incredibly spoiled. I admit I'm one of them too. I've gotten used to some of my favorite authors releasing a book a month. The wait is minimal between books so even in a series I'm diving in the moment the book comes out. Books have become shorter for that reason too. Authors can crank out a 100 page book faster than if they crank out of 350 page book. There are some authors who can rapid release and do a book a month, but equally, there are authors who can't. But readers with their impatience (and Amazon algorithms which is a whole other topic) are creating a culture of wanting books fast. Good things take time, as do good books.

All I'm saying is if your favorite author stops writing your favorite series because you've decided to not read or buy the books until the series is finished, they you may be the reason you never get to see the end of the series. I'm not saying read the books when they come out immediately (I do it but then I'm used to waiting years between books too) but consider buying the books when they come out to contribute to a positive return on investment for the book/author/publisher. You can save the books to read until the series is complete and binge them then, but know that you are contributing to the continuation of the series that you love.

At the moment I'm waiting for the next book in a series where I loved the first book. No indication from the author if the next book in the series is going to come out anytime soon. She's already published three different books and started a new series with two books out already but nothing on the series I'm waiting on. Did the book not do well? Did it not sell? Did readers not love it? I do not know. I've seen some people ask about the next book in the series. Just today someone mentioned waiting for the book but so far nothing. I do not know the reason for this next book not being published. Maybe it was lack of sales or lack of interest though I find that unlikely because I remember lots of buzz around the book when it released. I read it because I saw it being recommended frequently in a book group. Maybe the author lost interest? Maybe the new books and new series were louder in her head and she needed to write them first? Who knows? We never really know why there's no next book in a series unless the author or publisher tell us which they often don't.

Buy button

Bottom line, if you love an author or a series of books, buy them even if you don't read them right away. That will ensure you are contributing to the likelihood of the next book being written and published. To quote something I saw posted on social media: if someone says "I'll wait until the series is finished to buy the books" it likely the author hears "it's okay with me if this series is never finished."

Remember, there are very few authors who can write to satisfy the binge culture. And the ones who do, their books will be shorter. If that's what you want, more power to you. But if not, support your favorite authors by buying the books when they come out.

So do you like to binge your series or are you like me and willing to read them as they are released and wait for the next book patiently? There are so many other books to read in between waiting. 🙂

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