This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Second Book Sells the First

            When I published my second mystery novel, Wash Her Guilt Away, four months ago, I had only two commercial hopes for it. One was that it would sell better than my first mystery, The McHenry Inheritance. The other was that the second book would attract new readers, who would then go back and buy the first book in the series.
            So far, so good. In a short time, I’ve discovered that there are considerable benefits to an author who has multiple books in a series on the market. Not the least of these is that when I do a free promotion on Amazon for one of my books, there’s another book that people can come back and pay for later, if they liked the one they got free.
            What has really surprised me, though, has been how much that first book has benefited from having its successor on the market and being part of a series. I expected it to get a sales bump, but nothing as good as it has so far.

A New Wave of Interest

            In the six months before Wash Her Guilt Away went up on Amazon, I was devoting nearly all my literary energy into getting it done, and almost nothing to promoting The McHenry Inheritance. As a result, McHenry sales had plateaued at a fairly low level.
            When the second book came out, the sales impact on the first was immediate. Wash Her Guilt Away appeared on Amazon April 30, and in May, with no particular promotional effort on my part, paid e-book sales for The McHenry Inheritance were ten times what they’d been in April. It was the book’s fifth best month for sales since it had come out in July of 2012. Publishing another book in the series made that much difference.
            For both May and June, sales of Wash Her Guilt Away were more than double those of The McHenry Inheritance, which was what I would have expected. But in July and August something else has been happening. The first book has been accounting for a bigger share of total sales.

One Good Thing Leads to Another

            Wash Her Guilt Away sold 30 percent more books on Amazon in July than The McHenry Inheritance did. And as of midnight last night, August is the best month so far for Quill Gordon mystery sales on Amazon. Best of all, the good month has been fueled by both books. As I write, the second book is leading the first in paid e-book sales by only one copy, and with five days remaining in the month, their respective sales positions could conceivably flip.
            What’s more, The McHenry Inheritance has a reasonable chance of beating its previous best month for sales this August. Even if it doesn’t, it’s having its second best month, which is quite the sales renaissance for a book published more than two years ago.
            All this has been very encouraging. From the sales and reviews so far, it’s beginning to look as if some people are enjoying my mysteries and that I’m beginning to build a small nucleus of readers that could conceivably grow with the publication of more Quill Gordon mysteries. I don’t know if that will happen, but there’s one thing I can say for sure. After seeing what publication of the second book did for sales of the first, I really want to get the third one out there (next year some time) and see what it does for the first two.