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Book Series July 17, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I read today that the market for series and the market for picture books have gone soft. Then I picked up my mail and received my royalty check from Royal Fireworks Press. I was pleased to see my Kirsten Hart Series for MG (middle grades) and YA (young adult) readers has been selling better than I expected.

Even more surprising, my tween mystery, The Glass Inheritance, increased sales in 2009 over the previous three years. This, for a nine-year-old book. The reason for the uptick may be that The Glass Inheritance is still sold on Amazon.com while my Kirsten Hart books, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down, can only be purchased through the publisher (online, by phone, or by mail), some bookstores, or myself. People who heard about me or my books may have found it easier to order a copy of The Glass Inheritance than the other two books. In addition, when a series comes out, an author’s earlier books will often pick up sales too.

As might be expected, the first book in my series, A Shadow in the Dark, sold more copies than the second book, Living It Up to Live It Down. Children who read the first book in a series may not go on to read other books in the series, but if they read a later book in the series and like it, they will frequently back up to the first book and read that. Typically, the first book is the bestselling.

Publishers like series because, if a series catches on, sales are almost self-perpetuating. Some children make it their goal to read every book in a series. I know because I was one of them. I read most of the Nancy Drew and Phyllis Whitney mysteries and all the Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, Meg, and Kim Aldrich mysteries, besides others.

Writers interested in selling a series now should make sure it has a strong hook (something that will pull readers in) and be willing to sell the first book alone. Even though publishers like series, most publishers have been struggling with down sales and are now less willing to take risks on an entire series (especially if it’s written by an unknown author). If a book sells well, though, they may then be willing to talk series, or at least sequel.

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