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If you want to write a sequel, go ahead and write it. The sooner you write it, the sooner you can start selling it. If you're only considering a sequel to sell more books, don't do it. Too many stand-alones have been ruined by sequels that shouldn't have existed.
 

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Let's consider the figure of 1,000.

If half those people buy book #2, that would be 500 sales. I bet if you sell 1,000 books, you'll still have fewer than 40 people on your mailing list, though.

Probably more like 10% will buy the second book. Will the second book create a buzz and drive up the first one? Uh, how can it with 100 people maximum buying it? Unless they're all super-duper social media pimpers.

Therefore, my final answer is 3,000 copies annualized or 250 in the first month so long as it doesn't drop off sharply.
 

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My second and third books are priced higher and make more money than the first, though not by much now because I raised the price to $3.99.  I have about a 35% conversion rate from those that buy the first book to those that buy the second.  Almost everyone who buys the second, buys the third.  I've sold about 500 copies of Clutch since October.  But if I didn't have the second and third books out already, that's about 250 books I would've never sold in that period of time.  It makes a huge difference in your bottom line, especially if you price them higher. 

If I had waited to see if people would like Clutch I'd probably never write the sequel, let alone finish the five book series.  It's a weird book and really, it's not the best one of the series.  Pretty much everyone who reviews all three, says so and I agree.  My fourth book is written, book 4.5 is a novella and I finished that tonight both are on track for publication before June, and this series will be complete with book five this fall. 

That means if a reader picks up the first book and enjoys the series, I'm almost guaranteed to keep that reader for five more sales (including the novella which will be priced at $2.99).  Meanwhile, the next series on on track and it's like a continuous cycle that's pretty much self-sustaining.

I say write the sequel if it's a story you want to tell.  You will find fans, how many isn't guaranteed - but that's never guaranteed. 
 

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Lots of people won't buy a series until at least three books are out. I agree that the real question is, is there more story to be told? New books in a series drive sales. If I'd used Dayla's formula, I never would have written book two in my series. Sales took off after book two was out and got better after book 3.
 

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I dont care if 0 books sell, I'm going to write the follow up if I want to and the story needs it.

Given ebooks dont go away, they can sit there not selling and later on, when something else I write, sparks interest, those who bought it may consider other stuff I've written.

At least that is the theory ;)
 

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Deanna Chase said:
Lots of people won't buy a series until at least three books are out. I agree that the real question is, is there more story to be told? New books in a series drive sales. If I'd used Dayla's formula, I never would have written book two in my series. Sales took off after book two was out and got better after book 3.
I agree, Deanna. I barely sold anything when I had one and then two books out. Sales didn't take off for me until I published the third (and used Select for the first, but that's another thread...)
 

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I agree with those who say it's more a matter of whether you have a story to tell, not how many people have bought it. That being said, at some point there are diminishing returns for adding more books to a series.

Using Dalya's 1000 figure...let's say you sell 1000 copies of the first book, and maybe 350 copies of the second. I understand that sell-through tends to be higher from the 2nd book to the 3rd book than it is from the 1st to 2nd book, so let's then say that you had a 35% sell-though at first (JanneCo's conversion rate), but then it becomes a 60% sell-through (once people are invested enough to read the second book they tend to invest themselves in the series). But that's 60% of the 350, or 210. Even if there's a 75% conversion rate for the 4th, then that's only 157 people buying the 4th.

Anyway, my point is that by all means you should write the 2nd book if you feel you have more of a story to tell. (But not simply for the sake of having a series.) And you'll likely trigger a resurgence of sales of the 1st book once there's a second book simply because some people don't bother with books until they see there's a series. In fact, you'll likely see an even great resurgence of sales of the 1st book (and 2nd book) once the 3rd book is out, because some people don't want to bother with a series until there's at least 3 so they can marathon them.

But at that point you should definitely ask yourself if it's worth it to continue to add to the franchise. If sales warrant it (and by that, I mean you're making back your investment and then earning a profit), then go for it as long as you're still enjoying it. But if you're not seeing the series take off by the 3rd book then it might not ever take off, in which case continuing down that road might not be the best use of your time...unless you truly want to continue with this series.
 

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I guess we all suffer from "confirmation bias" in seeing all our decisions were sound when we look back upon them. An advice thread isn't much more than all of us talking about how glad we are about every choice we made. 

I really should refrain from this type of self-indulgence.  :D
 

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Dalya said:
Will the second book create a buzz and drive up the first one? Uh, how can it with 100 people maximum buying it? Unless they're all super-duper social media pimpers.
Or unless you have something else going for you. In my case with the second book, it was the Nook First program.

I'd have to look back and check to be certain, but I think I'd sold less than 500 copies total at B&N of the first book in its first year. And yet I still somehow got accepted into the Nook First program. (It's amazing what a personal recommendation from one of their favorite authors can do.)

Anyway, B&N hand-promoted my second book for me, which drove sales of the 1st book there. I sold more copies of the 1st book in a single day during the Nook First program than I'd sold the entire year before. LOL

It's now been nearly 8 months since that book was released, and I think I've sold more copies of the second book at B&N than of the first book. But that's because B&N included the second book in some lovely promo emails, so I had people discover the series by means of the second book. Some went back and bought the first, but I can tell from my sales that others did not.
 

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I can't speak to how you should decide whether or not a sequel is prudent, but I can tell you how I decide to continue a series. It's really not an artistic decision for me at this point; it's a business decision. I'm the sole income earner in my household. I just can't afford to prioritize my personal (totally arbitrary) concept of artistic integrity.

So here are a few of the factors I consider:

I know about how much it costs for me to produce a novel. I also know how much money I need to make off of all of my books combined in a month to "break even" on life and business expenses. So, generally, my new book needs to not only sell enough to cover its own production costs, but improve the sales on older titles, so that I hit this magical break even number.

I know how many people are on my mailing list and Facebook, who provide the majority of my initial sales, and I know what % of increase I've seen on those since the last time I released a title. So I can guesstimate from those numbers how much I will sell on a new release in one week (which varies between individual series, and is lower for new projects unrelated to existing series). I also keep track of conversion stats for release announcements, so I can always look back to that. For instance, 50% of people who click on the link in the email will buy it immediately; 70% of people who click on the link on Facebook will buy it immediately. And I have historical numbers on clicks as well.

I keep track of sell-through on my series, so I can also project how much a new book in that series will sell within a certain time frame. My next release is in my Cain Chronicles series, and this is what sell-through looks like on that:

Episode 1 > 2: 79%
Episode 2 > 3: 99%
Episode 3 > 4: 99%

My mailing list has increased 24% since the last episode came out. I could guess that I'll sell about 24% more of episode 5 than episode 4, in the first week. But in the slightly longer term, I'd say sales of episode 5 will still be somewhere around 99% of the sales of episode 4 after 6 weeks, if all factors were to remain consistent. It won't be consistent, though--the price will be higher, since episode 5 is actually a full-length book; it's been a longer period of time since I released the last one (two months versus two weeks); my overall reach has grown significantly since episode 4 came out. It does give me a number to work off of, though, and I can project units sold and earnings from there.

All of this also influences the price I choose for a new release, and estimates on royalties earned. By comparing statistics on my two separate series branches--YA/NA PNR series versus adult UF series--I can plan out the timing of releases, as well as what releases I need to make, so that I'm always hitting that monthly "magic number." Or at least, doing my darndest. This is all pretty much guesswork, in the end. But it's very educated guesswork!

Oh, but just to prove myself a hypocrite...my UF series only sells about 1/3 of what my YA/NA books do. I keep writing those anyway, even though they're longer and more energy-intensive. Why? Because they're fun! I love my UF books. ;D As long as I'm still operating within reasonable profit margins (I pretty much expect my UF books to earn 300% of money invested in three months, whereas my other books do some other number I don't feel like calculating, but it's better), I'll keep writing the less-profitable stuff that I love. :)

I am really tired, so I hope that post made some semblance of sense.
 

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Rachel Schurig said:
I agree, Deanna. I barely sold anything when I had one and then two books out. Sales didn't take off for me until I published the third (and used Select for the first, but that's another thread...)
I call that being ready when opportunity knocks. (The Select thing). Don't they say 95% of the work is just showing up each day?

Of course everyone's view is tainted by experience. And there does come a point when you have to decide if it is worth it to continue a series or move on. But a brand new series the author can't know that until they've been in the game a while. That's why for this question by this author, my advice reminds the same. Is there more story to tell? If yes, then write it.
 

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I really wish I had one of those crystal balls. I'm currently 2 books into something and debating whether to make it 3 total or 4.

I guess I have no faith that if I simply write it, they will read/buy. And it's so much work to breathe life into something and commune with the divine muses, while also getting everyone's names right all the time.  :D
 

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I don't know if a mystery series is at all the same as the kind of series you're considering, but.... My cozy mystery is my slowest seller. It's just under 6,000 copies sold now and will be 3 years old in February. I always intended to make it a series and write more of them but got diverted by the romances, which sell better. However, I've decided to stop stalling and write the second mystery in the series and put out at least one a year until I reach 5 on the theory that all of them will do better when there are more of them. If I'm wrong, the 5th one will be a wrap up that ends the series. I know as a reader I'm happier to find a mystery series that already has quite a few books available, so I guess I'll see what happens when it happens.
 

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I was half-finished with Peccadillo by the time Reprobate was published. Peccadillo was published December 15th. I'm now working on Rogue. I don't relate sales figures with the desire to work on the Amsterdam Assassin Series. I set out to write a series from the get-go. The books and short stories sell. Not in the four figures, but that doesn't matter to me. My characters living in another head besides my own, that's the reward.
 

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If you're writing to earn some coin, then a sequel or PREQUEL (that's one a lot overlook, at first) should be of the highest importance... one book helps sell the other.

If you write for fun, who cares... it only matters whether or not the story line is compelling enough to hold your attention.

Either way, it's a great exercise in writing  :)
 
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