KDD: Series starter sale
One of today’s Kindle Daily Deal‘s (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is any of twenty first books in a series for $1.99 each.
Series include (ratings shown on for the book being offered, not the entire series):
- Lost Love by Karen Kingsbury (4.4 stars, 87 customer reviews)
- Moonlighters by Terri Blackstock (4.7 stars, 277 reviews)
- The End by Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) and Craig Parshall (3.9 stars, 166 reviews)
- Hope Beach by Colleen Coble (4.4 stars, 397 reviews)
- Mia Quinn mysteries by Lis Wiehl (4.4 stars, 212 reviews)
- Shipshewana Amish by Vannetta Chapman (4.7 stars, 130 reviews)
These series have some things in common: all the ones I checked were from faith-based imprints (Thomas Nelson, Zondervan) of HarperCollins.
This deal brings up some interesting things in my mind.
First, I want to mention that we’ve had discussion here before about whether or not I should identify something as faith-based. For some people, that’s clearly a plus. For others, it’s clearly a negative.
You don’t have to be of the specific religion featured to prefer faith-based fiction. Some people like them simply because they tend to be less graphic, both in terms of violence and sexuality (although the former isn’t always true). They may also be less likely to use profanity, although it can be a bit nuanced: there are some faith-based thrillers that can be pretty shocking.
Other people want to know because they want to avoid them. Some folks feel like they are proselytizing in disguise (although it isn’t much a disguise…generally, it would be like my wearing a “Hello, My Name is Bufo” name tag on top of a Halloween costume). 😉 Others think that they may not be as well-written, both because of the constraints placed by writing for a specific audience, and because writing for an audience like that means you are a fish in a smaller pond, where the competition isn’t as fierce.
The same charges, of course, could be leveled at a number of genres: romance; science fiction; mystery; and so on. When something is categorized by the publisher as a “Christian mystery”, does that double the possible effects?
The second thing that came to me is series starters generally.
It used to be that publishing a first novel in a series was a considerable risk, as was publishing any novel (back in the paperbook days). While the cost differential between producing a p-book and an e-book may not be that high for a tradpub (traditional publisher), there was certainly a question of limited shelf space in the stores.
That limited space (and I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager) meant that book had to justify itself with continuing sales, and had to do it quickly. Why? We were paying rent on the space under that book: every day it sat there meant less money we would make on the eventual sale of it.
Shelf space is not an issue with e-books.
E-books also have a much shorter production cycle than p-books. There are authors who crank out an e-book every couple of months (some a lot faster), when in the p-book world, publishers tend to limit you to one a year (that happened to Stephen King, which is why he published under a pseudonym that even the publisher didn’t know, as I understand the Richard Bachman story).
hadn’t been popular, we wouldn’t have gotten the sequels.
Now, though, a publisher might have ten books ready to go when the first one is released.
Some even release them all at once, allowing for “binge reading” (and beating out Netflix to the model).
If you want to make a sale to a tradpub for a young adult book, for example, you may do a lot better if you already have a trilogy you can deliver.
The old larger economic risk model also explains to some extent why a first book may be quite different from the rest of the series, and why the first one may vary from the later ones on whether or not is available in e-book form.
The author, unless already a brand name, doesn’t have much negotiating power with the first book.
If that book becomes a success, the author can then negotiate with more people, get an experienced editor (which can be a big plus)…you know, get more resources provided for a “proven property”.
People find it odd, but the first book in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series (the original Wizard of Oz books) is probably my least favorite.
It’s a lot harsher (there are a whole lot of deaths ((or at least bodily destructions)) in the book…more than 100).
In later books, it is impossible to kill someone in Oz (definitely impossible to kill someone who belongs to Oz…there are sometimes debates about whether or not visitors also get that immunity). The books become more fun, sillier…and for me, a lot more enjoyable. They are also more consistent.
If the first book hadn’t been a smash, though, there probably never would have been a second (and on up to a fourteenth).
What do you think? Is there a series where you like the first book the least? Has e-publishing changed the dynamics on series? Are you more willing to get a novel if you know it is part of a series? Would you ever start a series not at the first book (I do not like to do that, unless they are clearly stand-alones)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.
* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.