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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I've been scratching my head on something so I figured I would ask.

I've read countless posts regarding releasing a new book and the subsequent increase in sales of older books. Is this only related to the new book having exposure as a new release and readers buying your backlist to read more? Or, for example, does releasing say book 6 in a series cause visibility to increase on books 1-5? Does a new release in the same series have more weight vs a standalone that is unrelated?

I feel I may be overthinking all of this. My suspicion is that it is simply a new book and after reading it or seeing it is part of a series, a person wants to read more so your sales on older titles goes up. Is this right?

Jeremy

 

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I can't really shed any light on this phenomenon, but I did see a significant up-tick in the number of sales for my first novel when I released the second one. In the first 4 weeks after releasing my second book, the first in the series sold more copies than it had in the entire time since it's release. It's interesting to watch them play off of each other, and am hoping to see a similar trend when I release book 3 later this year.
 

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We have two series with heroes/heroines who are unique in each book (standard for romances) and I find sequels in the series don't really have much of an impact on other books. In fact, we struggle to gain visibility on each new launch. The only thing that's worked for us is promotion of book 1, but the sell-through is still very low, > 2 percent.

I'm sure others writing more tightly coupled series have very different experiences.
 

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If the question is about how the algorithms work, then I can't answer it. I can say that in my case new releases do tend to bump up earlier books, although I don't know why. I can only assume it's as the OP suggests: a highly visible new book in a series makes people look for the earlier books.
 

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I can answer as a reader. If I see book 3 in a series and the cover grabs me I'll go look at book 1. If it seems interesting I'll buy it, and if I like it I'll read through to book 3. The more books in your series, the more entry points you're offering readers. Here's the caveat though. It has to be a continuous story ala The Wheel of Time or Harry Potter if you want to get my reading dollars.
 

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Chris Fox said:
I can answer as a reader. If I see book 3 in a series and the cover grabs me I'll go look at book 1. If it seems interesting I'll buy it, and if I like it I'll read through to book 3. The more books in your series, the more entry points you're offering readers.
I never thought of it that way - as providing more 'entry points' for a readers. That's a fantastic way of looking at it and I bet has a lot to do with the phenomenon of increased book 1 sales that many experience.
 

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With a good launch, a new book will be highly visible. Readers seeing it and liking the cover and blurb, then seeing it's the 4th or 5th in a series, will become curious. My last release increased sales of my first three books by a huge amount. Book one went up over 500% the day after the release and remained higher in sales volume for several weeks, as did #2 and #3, just slightly less so.
 

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A NYT best selling author friend says that you have no credibility as a new author with only one book out in a series.  When you have published your second book, some people will take the risk. When you have published your third book, readers believe you are serious about the series.

I did not think much about this until I started getting questions from readers on Twitter or my website who would ask "How many books in the Saga, and when do you plan to finish it?"  Then it struck me that he may indeed have something in his theory.

Even though he has dozens of successful books, he also says his new series is dragging compared to the older ones, and he is certain it's the same phenomenon - though of course on a different scale from you and me... He has a loyal following that will buy anything he writes, but some people are waiting to enter the new series until there are more books to read.

Sort of makes sense.

My third book is with my editor now - though it's a prequel. It will be interesting to see if that release influences sales of the first two.  Book 3 in the actual Triadine Saga is at about 30,000 words now, and is on track for a summer 2015 release.  Between the two of them, if the theory is correct, I should have enough momentum to have credibility with potential readers.
 

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I have two series, and I can say with certainty that every new "volume" increases the sales of the previous books in that series. Others might see different results, but so far this trend has followed for every single one of my releases.

It is more difficult to ascertain what impact a new series-title has on unrelated books in one's catalog. Sometimes I feel like we see a bump, other times not.

Recently, we released #9 in my best selling series. Book #1 (and throughout) doubled in sales while the new title was on the "hot new releases" list on Amazon. My firm belief is that this demonstrates the power of Amazon's lists, at least in my genre.

 

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We've had readers tell us - and readers leave reviews stating they saw they new book, grabbed it, liked it, and then went back and read the first 3 in series. We've had readers who told us they saw book #4, saw it was a series, went to book #1, liked what they saw, and started reading their way through the series.

Either way, about a week after releasing a new book in a series, we start to see a noticeable increase in book 1, then 2, then 3... It's golden when the entire series is on a top-100 list, because people tend to get curious enough to click with repetition, and you have multiple titles with similar branding calling out, until the reader thinks "I've seen that name here a lot; I ought to check it out."

Sadly, there's very, very little crossover to the second series in same subgenres - we only have one book out in it so far. That may change, with more books.

Thewitt, sometime look up the phrase "Ordering to the net", especially Holly Lisle's explanation. It's otherwise known as "how 'efficient' bookstore ordering killed midlist trilogies and left an entire generation of readers darkly suspicious if series will continue / be findable past book 2."
 

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Starting with book 5 in my series, i saw an uptick in sales. By #9 and #10, follow thru has waned. An ongoing series may be too intimidating.  Or I just might not be reaching my audience. In any event, even with #10 new, Sales for 2&3 picked up (#1 is permafree).
 

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I believe that a large number of shoppers don't get past the first few pages in the top 100 list of their genre when searching for a new book to read. (I know I don't.) When I release a new episode in my series, my mailing list generates a ton of purchases on day 1, causing the new episode to debut in the top 10 of Kindle, the top 3 of Sci Fi, and the top 3 of hot new releases. (And usually #1 on at least 2-3 sub genres of Sci Fi.) That's visibility.

When your new release is highly visible, people who were not previously aware of your series (maybe they only recently started using Amazon) see your latest release because it is so visible. If it intrigues them, they check out the previous titles and perhaps buy them.

With every release the sales of my previous episodes always go from 4-5 per day to 10-20 per day, and stay there for the first 4-6 weeks.

Quite simply, that is the power of a series, combined with the power of a mailing list, combined with Amazon's algorithms. In my opinion, there is no better marketing out there than that combination.
 

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A great way to promote the new release is by promoting the first book in the series. I always do that for any new release....if you can manage a BookBub for book 1, that's amazing.  If not, then some smaller promos on the earlier book is good. Even on the book directly before can be effective, say if you're releasing book 7, run a .99 sale on book 6....you'll likely sell a bunch of book 7s, as well as people going back to start with book 1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Chris Fox said:
I can answer as a reader. If I see book 3 in a series and the cover grabs me I'll go look at book 1. If it seems interesting I'll buy it, and if I like it I'll read through to book 3. The more books in your series, the more entry points you're offering readers. Here's the caveat though. It has to be a continuous story ala The Wheel of Time or Harry Potter if you want to get my reading dollars.
That makes sense entry point wise. What you describe is how I prefer to write. You *could* read a book out of order but the stories are designed to be read book 1, book 2, book 3 etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wayne Stinnett said:
With a good launch, a new book will be highly visible. Readers seeing it and liking the cover and blurb, then seeing it's the 4th or 5th in a series, will become curious. My last release increased sales of my first three books by a huge amount. Book one went up over 500% the day after the release and remained higher in sales volume for several weeks, as did #2 and #3, just slightly less so.
As I work to publish my series I do keep in mind the sales of your first book versus now with your most recent one. I've been happy to see my debut novel hang onto a few subgenre HNR lists and as I work to get book two out, I'm interested to see what happens.

BTW, 500% is impressive! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Joe_Nobody said:
I have two series, and I can say with certainty that every new "volume" increases the sales of the previous books in that series. Others might see different results, but so far this trend has followed for every single one of my releases.
I'm looking to see if this happens with my own releases. The plan is to have all three novels out by May with related short stories sprinkled between the other releases. We will see... ;)

thewitt said:
A NYT best selling author friend says that you have no credibility as a new author with only one book out in a series. When you have published your second book, some people will take the risk. When you have published your third book, readers believe you are serious about the series.
I've read that advice elsewhere too. It makes sense. Why read book 1 when there is no guarantee of book 2, 3, 4, and 5?

With my first book I set the preorder for the second book at the same time. I figured this might help readers to have confidence in an unknown author. So far, I've had about 50% sale through. I guess time will tell. I'm working to get book 2 out before the release date on the preorder and then keep on with my planned release schedule.
 

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Chris Fox said:
I can answer as a reader. If I see book 3 in a series and the cover grabs me I'll go look at book 1. If it seems interesting I'll buy it, and if I like it I'll read through to book 3. The more books in your series, the more entry points you're offering readers. Here's the caveat though. It has to be a continuous story ala The Wheel of Time or Harry Potter if you want to get my reading dollars.
Yep, that's how I roll as a writer! Gotta get a long span going, too much to tell in just one book.
 
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