I launched Evolution’s Hand Book 2: Dying Breath last week. Did I learn anything new about marketing? Did the launch and incessant checking of sales figures distract me from writing Book 4: Blind Exodus? Let’s look at the numbers before I answer those questions.
Progress Report 2022 Week 49 By the Numbers
The word count looks good! But it hides what I hope is a minor problem.
Based solely on word count, I did not do badly last week. But I’ve run into a bit of a problem: having four of the arcs so closely interwoven left little margin for error! Things have to happen in just the right order to preserve both tension and cohesion. I hope that from the reader’s perspective, it’ll be interesting and cool. But from my perspective, it’s slowing things down. It’s tiring, too!
Yeah, poor me. Having to work at it! I’m aware that’s really nothing to complain about. But it’s something I’ll want to keep in mind as I build future plots. Maybe there are some other tools I can use to help with knowing what to reveal to whom and when. Or maybe I can do some more plotting ahead of time.
Lessons from the Launch
This might be so obvious to you that you think I’m a blithering idiot, but marketing a second book in a series is different from marketing book 1. Think back to the book series you’ve read. Did you start with book 1? Or did you jump into the middle? If you’re like me, unless it was by accident, you prefer to start with book 1.
I thought I had a good marketing sequence laid our for the launch:
- Ask for social proofs/review for book 1 via my mailing list a month in advance
- Ask for pre-orders for book 2 via my mailing list 2 weeks in advance
- Announce the release of book 2 via both my websites (this site and my anime web site)
- Run a BookBub Partners add campaign for book 2
The results weren’t what I expected. So after thinking about it, I decided to rerun the BookBub Partners campaign, but for book 1. Its results were more like what I expected — plus, it drove sales of book 2, too! That helped me realized that the marketing for a second book in a series or beyond needs to be handled differently. I’m thinking about what that means for my approach.
I’m also thinking about what that means for the series Evolutions’s Hand. Let’s talk about that.
The Future of Evolution’s Hand
One of the things I like about the world I’ve constructed for Evolution’s Hand is that it can be the foundation for an indefinite number of books. Reflecting on m experience marketing Dying Breath made me ask myself something: how many books should be in Evolution’s Hand?
From an artistic perspective, I want to tell a specific story. I don’t want to draw it out if the series becomes a runaway success, because I’ve seen too many times when that approach degraded the work. Also, Evolution’s Hand introduces three specific narrative environments, and each could have their own types of stories. It would not make sense for those subsequent stories to all happen within the same series.
Events around this star, Ross 128, and this planet are important in Book 4: Blind Exodus. Picture is from this Wikipedia page.
From a practical perspective, Evolution’s Hand is a science fiction/techno-thriller/dystopian saga. That means there are readers who won’t be interested if I switch genres in, say, book 7. If I want to write something like adult humor, military science fiction, science fiction/horror. or even high fantasy, I’d need to have another vehicle — which means at least another series or a standalone book.
I have ideas for a science fiction/horror series. It won’t fit into the genre for Evolution’s Hand, and I don’t want that series to span genres. I want to fulfill reader expectations.
After giving it some thought, I think Evolution’s Hand will be a six book series. Here’re the titles:
- Executive Action (already published)
- Dying Breath (already published)
- Primary Target (completing its beta reading cycle)
- Blind Exodus (being written now)
- Darkness Falls (pre-plot planning)
- Crypsis (pre-plot planning)
If I keep up my current pace, I might be able to starting writing the next book or series of books in January 2024. That gives me a lot of time to think about what I’d like to write next.
Progress Last Week
Here’s how I did against my goals last week:
Complete preparations for Dying Breath and launch the book
Complete Conrad’s and Malhotra’s Plot Turn 2; Start James Butler’s Plot Turn 2
I’m combining two goals here, because it represents the challenge I mentioned in the “by the numbers” section above. I even pulled in Matsushita’s Plot Turn 2 into this section. All of those plot points played so intimately off each other that I had to write them as a unit.
It also changed up the cadence. Usually, my chapters turn out to be about 2,000 words. In several cases, what would have been a single chapter got shortened so it could interleave with others. The results reads fast (I hope!).
I came to another conclusion after thinking about this. There are really two main intertwined plots here: one focused on events on Earth, one on the events around Sirius and Ross 128. My plot braiding worksheet reflects that, but accidentally. I need to reflect on that so I can anticipate it and be better prepared when it comes to sections and plots like these.
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2022 Week 49
Here are my goals for the coming week:
- Finish Plot Turn 2 for all of the Sirius/Ross 128 arcs
- Begin Plot Turn 2 for the Earth arcs
- Research how other writers have approached marketing books beyond book 1 for a series
What Do You Think?
Have you ever marketed a book series? How did you approach book 1 versus the others books? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!