Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How it works with series books...

So, when someone is writing a series, and someone else (for instance, you) is reading a series, there's only one way to make sure the series continues.

It's pretty obvious, right? People vote for the sequel by buying the book that comes before it.

I'm busting my behind right now writing a sequel, and though this particular project is not in any danger that I'm aware of, I cannot help but be aware of the cold, hard reality that without strong sales, there is no real future for Dogsland beyond this one book that I'm writing now.

Fact: If you liked NEVER KNEW ANOTHER enough to want to read the whole trilogy, you should have at least a passing interest in the sales figures of NEVER KNEW ANOTHER. How does anyone concerned express their interest in Dogsland in a manner that helps create a future for the series? Well, tell people about the book. Write reviews in places where people go to find new authors and new books. Basically, spread the word. Recommend the book to friends. Boost the signal. Sales aren't imploding, or anything. This isn't to say that we are in danger. We aren't. But, sales could always be better, and good enough does not exist in the world of media artifacts. If you believe that books like NEVER KNEW ANOTHER should be the kind of books that go on best-seller lists, you can actually take an active role in making that sort of thing happen.

(I'll be the first to admit that I am probably preaching to the choir, here, because I know many of my readers here have done exactly this...)

Fact: Word-of-mouth sales are the most effective marketing tool in the universe. All you have to do is tell your friends you liked this book you read. Tell them on Facebook, in person, on a blog, on twitter, in passing in a book store, as a request to your library, or anywhere else the topic of books comes up.

What's great about spreading the word about books you like is it's a great way to find out what other people liked, so you can be the recipient of the same sort of marketing. So, when you meet someone cool and mention a book you like, you tend to get that in return. You can check out these books, and discover something awesome and new. This is how I found out about Kurt Vonnegut, once upon a time, when someone I went to high school with recommended Vonnegut to me because I liked John Varley (I was 14, and didn't know anything about Vonnegut at all, yet). This trend continued. Garcia-Marquez came to me this way. Borges did, too. Other books, lesser and greater, all came to me this way. People talking to each other about what they liked to read, and what I might like, and what everyone is reading were effective marketing tools to get me to purchase stuff and check things out from libraries.

I remember my Uncle Andrew introducing me to Eduardo Galeano when we were talking books at a family gathering my sophomore year of high school, and buying Walking Words in a Border's in New Jersey later that day for the drive home. It was fantastic. I still have that book. I still check it out now and then, and wonder why I have such trouble finding more Galeano in the world. I remember girlfriends and friends all long gone with Umberto Eco, Ursula LeGuin, and more.

Most, if not all, of the authors I love the most were found not because I went looking for authors, but because I was talking with other readers. Most of the authors I hate, as well, came through this method, but I'll spare you the list. (Needless to say, it is educational to discover that one of your friends or girlfriends has terrible taste in books either occasionally or constantly. It is enlightening, in fact, to know this about your cohorts.)

Many of you have done what I'm suggesting already, and I cannot express how grateful I am. I hope that at 12:25 am on a Friday, at my computer screen, and after about my third or fourth night in a row toiling into the wee hours since early morning (just for you and your entertainment and enlightenment, because I love all of you, and I am grateful to anyone who reads my books) that I deserve your support. I do all I can to earn it every time I crack open this laptop, and type into the webwires what imaginings crawl out of the black hole where I have an imagination like some people have a psychosis.

To those of you that have said something -- anything at all -- thank you.

To the rest of you, remember this: If you like a series of books, and want to see more of them, there is only one thing you can do to help make that happen. Boost the signal of the series.

Please, if any of you are reading a series (not mine!) drop a line below, and let people know. I'll check things out as I can. Because, I'm not the only writer out there busting the ass. There's quite a few of us, with quality stuff if only people hear about them in this very psychically-crowded media-saturated world we live in.

Personally, my favorite (completely, wildly different) two series at the moment are the light, fluffy milSF Vatta's War series from Elizabeth Moon (especially Marque & Reprisal), and the Ambergris books of Jeff VanderMeer, most recently with the masterful weird noir Finch.


Anybody got a signal to boost? There's a few folks that come here regular-like, and I know they might like to hear about your favorite series of books to read. I know I'm curious. I'm known to buy a few books.

Boost the signals, people. Believe it or not, Whedon was wrong: It is very, very easy to stop a signal by choosing not to boost it. You can stop signals. Signals are stopped all the time.

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