There’s a disadvantage to working as far ahead as I do. It’s no big secret that I’ve pretty much got Book Four in my series mapped out and I’m starting to create scenes for Book Five. This of course, doesn’t factor in the stand alone novels I’ve already got concepts for, as well as working titles.
One might think that it’s a gift to have a wellspring of creativity to draw upon. In most cases it is, and the majority of my brain is not complaining. But in my usual fashion, I always get more excited for what’s way around the corner than I do for what’s right in front of my face.
This leaves me at a loss when it comes to marketing. I’m supposed to be getting people super excited for my new release when it already feels like old news to me. Trust me; I am excited and all tingly for the middle of this month, but I’d rather talk about my work in progress which likely won’t come out until next year. I’d have to write really fast to squeak out another book by December and I just don’t think I have it in me.
When I do put on my marketing hat, I speak about the release date, preorders and teasers for Book Three. I’m also still trying to drum up readers for Book One, since in a perfect world, people would start there and read them in order. So all of my efforts are focused on those two books, leaving Book Two in the corner, playing the role of middle child.
Let’s get it straight: Book Two is a fully functioning, quality read. I spent long, hard hours working on it and it’s just as good as the others. But it’s a companion to Book One. You’d miss a lot if you came in there, unlike starting at Book Three and going backwards. So it’s forever destined to sit in the shadows. The novelty has worn off now – it’s not the new release anymore, so marketing it in and of itself is not the option it used to be. The best marketing tactic for Book Two will always be hooking people with Number One.
I didn’t mean for it to happen, just like I’m assuming parents with three children don’t mean to make the middle child feel left out. I wouldn’t know; I stopped at two kids myself. My husband and I both only have one sibling, so I’ve no real world experience to draw upon. Only this and how I feel kind of bad, like Book Two is somehow a living, breathing thing.
I’ve often read that readers like series, but they also want to have the installments feel like stand alone novels. That’s understandable, and much easier to adhere to if you’re writing a mystery series as opposed to a romance where the heroine of the books is the same. Relationships are tricky and they build upon prior experiences, as they do in reality. So I’ve compromised and met people in the middle. My series has three heroines; you’ll be able to start at Book One, Three or Four.
I’ve also met a number of people who will wait until the entire series is released, then they’ll binge read all of the books. I’ve done that myself, finishing thousands of pages in a matter of days because I have to know how things end. Right now. This totally backs up the phenomenon that many authors say happens: once you have between three to five books published, your sales seem to increase dramatically. Provided, of course, that the novels themselves are good. But that’s a given, right?
So I keep plugging away, promising Book Two that it will eventually reclaim its popularity like in the good old days when the spotlight was focused upon it. I covered its ears when my beta reader told me that she really liked Book One, but might have enjoyed Book Three a little more.
After all, there are some things that middle children just don’t need to hear.