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Second Book Sells Better Than The First?

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A new friend of mine is a published science fiction writer. She has recently released the second book in a series, and it has out sold the first book by 50% more copies in six months.

 

Color me confused, but I was surprised that people were buying the second book who apparently did not buy the first one.

 

Common?

 

(null)

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It's possible that people read the first one even if they didn't buy a copy (through a library or by borrowing from a friend or downloading when it was free, etc.).

 

I had a different experience, though. When I released The Winged Horse at the end of June, I sold four times as many books as I had in the month following either of the previous novels, but only half of those were for Winged Horse. That is, the new release drove sales of the previous titles, which had rather gone into the doldrums (perhaps due to the author abandoning promotional attempts while she finished the new novel, ahem).

 

Orren has published several books, too. It will be interesting to hear his take on this question.

Best,

M

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Seeing an increase in sales of the first in a series when a second is released doesn't surprise me. It's that 50% more second book than first that surprised me.

 

I would have expected relatively flat, as some readers abandoned the series and some read second hand, loaned, library or pirated eBooks on the first.

 

It's making me rethink character introduction in the second book. I've actually started writing book two and book one isn't finished yet...

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Orren has published several books, too. It will be interesting to hear his take on this question.

 

You rang? ;)

 

Interestingly, my previous two novels have been one-offs, so this isn't something I have experienced. My current novel, Firebird Alex, is part one of a YA urban fantasy series (and even though I've only released #1, the next two are "in the can" so to speak). So I'm very interested to see if this is the case, as sales of book one are slow so far.

 

I don't personally find it that difficult to believe. I think to some degree it depends on the writing/writer. I know that in my case, the following holds true in my "Sedumen Chronicles" series:

* Book 1 is the "origin story" of my heroine, Firebird Alex

* While each book builds on the last, and the first three definitely hold together as a trilogy, I am taking pains to ensure that each one functions as a complete standalone novel as well, so you can read any one without the others and while your experience might not be as rich as those who've read all three, you'll (hopefully!) get a complete and satisfying tale.

 

Do some people not like origin stories and prefer to pick up in the middle? Do people think that the second installment is always the best (a la The Empire Strikes Back)? Do people generally go for the book in the series that gets the better reviews, so if the second has better reviews than the first they'll start there? All of the above?

 

I don't know. But I do know one thing: readers tend to make up their own minds about what they'd like to read, regardless of what authors, publishers, and marketers may expect. :)

 

Orren

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