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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Here's something I'd appreciate hearing some more opinions on, because I can't make my mind up! (Please bear with me, it's a wee bit complicated to explain  :eek:)

I have a series, currently 4 books, with number 5 out soon. Don't know yet whether I'll continue after #5. Genre: detective/spy

I'm considering turning #3, #4 and #5 into a trilogy, with #1 and #2 as prequels.

Why? Well, #3-#5 have turned into a trilogy, whereas #1 and #2 can pretty much stand alone. #2 is the least popular title in the series (based on feedback and reviews) and while I personally think #1 is great, it seems to get extreme responses from readers (half love, half hate it).

Considering the reactions to #1 and #2, I'm thinking it might make more sense to start readers off with #3-#5, then they can look at the prequels if they want to read more in that world.

But how would I do this is the Amazon universe? Renumber #3-#5 as #1-#3, with the prequels as #4 and #5? But then what should I do if I do write another book - I can't renumber the prequels every time I add a book to the series?

Or is it best to just take them out of the series completely and rely on them popping up in the Auto-Boughts?

Or might it be enough to put on the cover and subtitle that series #3 is "Part 1 of Whatever Trilogy"?

Would appreciate hearing your thoughts and ideas, because I just don't know what to do anymore ...

Thanks  :)


 

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You may be able to unpublish all five, reorganize as you want, may need to alter the titles, then republish. I haven't done that but in theory it should work. If the same title is used I believe Amazon will lash the old to new, which could cause buyer confusion, hence the suggestion for new titles.

Prequels are kind of an over-used cliche that will be denounced when the anti-prequel-trend hits with the demise of Star Wars and Super Hero franchises.

Amazon seems to reward 4+ book series with more traction than trilogies. Beyond 5 book series the increases seemed to taper off.
So perhaps just sit tight with what you have and write the next story of the series or a new series with the same characters.

.
 

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In general, reviews are stronger on later books in a series. Are you sure that the response you're getting is something other than this norm rather than the usual case where your audience is getting refined through attrition?

If you go through all this hassle, you could end up with your new book 1 getting the same mixed reaction from new readers as the current book 1, because book 1 is where you normally see that. Then the readers who aren't your audience stop reading, and those who are continue with the series and reviews improve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting that AMZ likes longer series - that's a reason to keep the books together.

Have also noticed how reviews generally get more positive through a series, but this isn't so much what's been driving my ponderings in this case. Feedback from beta-readers, and my own feeling is that the latest three books are stronger than #1 and #2.

Perhaps one of the issues isn't just how good (relatively) each book is, but also that #1 and #2 can be read stand-alone, whereas #3 thru #5 should be read in order. How can I communicate that with covers and sub-titles?

 

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WegR said:
Perhaps one of the issues isn't just how good (relatively) each book is, but also that #1 and #2 can be read stand-alone, whereas #3 thru #5 should be read in order. How can I communicate that with covers and sub-titles?
You don't need to. That's perfectly fine as is. Having Book 1 be more toward stand-alone (with some open threads) is good for a series. It proves to readers who like your work you can tell a complete story, and gives readers who aren't feeling it an offramp that doesn't end with "Half a book! I hate cliffhangers!! Wouldn't read another one of these if the author paid me!!! 1-Star!!! I'd give it zero stars if could!!!!!" Using cliffhangers or longer story arcs later in a series isn't a problem either. You've earned reader trust from your audience by that point.

If you really think Book 3 is the better entry point, switch the order around, but expect the anti-cliffhanger 1-stars as part of the trade-off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Lovely - thanks for the advice. Sounds like my options are to either leave as is, or renumber so #3 becomes #1.
 

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In marketing you think about funnels. What will 'funnel' my potential customer into the different areas where I can work on them / with them / get them to do stuff.

Your existing readers will not care since they already read your stuff - except if you rearrange things they may think it is a new book and buy it --> make it visible in the blurb f.e. at the end that this is a reorg to avoid negative comments.

For new readers: can they start with 3 or does 3 have things in it which would make it annoying, make them feel they missed something? --> rework 3-5 to not need having read 1+2.

Personally i dont want to invest reading time into single books anymore, even if they are long (I am a very fast reader). If the blurb of one says "full standalone, but books 2-4 are connected" and I see the row of the 4 books, I am happy. Reading one means there is more if I like it, and if I am invested after one, I am fine with three more books connected (I am already a customer).

This leaves out current #2 which makes it weird to have it at the end as new 5 - and make it difficult to for readers to understand "this is not next in series". So again the question: what is the best reading funnel?

Imagine again the new reader: They go on amazon and see 5 books:
position 1 (strong)
position 2-4 (old #3-5) somehow also marked as triology but confirming they can be read alone, adding in the blurb "the story continues in #6!!"
position 5 (old #2) describe as "an early stand alone story, can be read any time ..." - if I click on it I should understand it is not a continuation, read at your own risk.

when #6 comes out (will it?) rework the marketing materials to funnel people from new #4 to #6 and make old #2 an "also mention". the funnel will likely be more successful if they go from triology to the new book.

Now all of that leans on keeping #1. If that is not necessary - they can start with #3 - I would think about a small max one page introduction to your books explaining "this is the big meat, the triology, to be continued but if you like there is also #1+#2". Rework the covers and blurbs to start old #3-#5 as new #1-3 and add the old #1+#2 as 'extras'. The reader should be able to discern the two - meaning you will need again think about launch of #6.

I would look around other authors, but consider only numbering the triology and items beyond that and mark the first two different. This way you should be able to insert an new book after the new #3. hth

If you are a star wars fan: imagine how rogue one and solo are part of the universe and the story but not part of the main triology or prequel / sequel. By positioning them seperately viewer immediately understand what to expect from them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Nicole - looking at the series in terms of a funnel is really helpful. It helps to take a step back and stop looking at them as a series of books/stories, and start looking at them dispassionately as marketable units.

 
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