Wednesday, February 03, 2016

IWSG: How Many Books?

If it's the first Wednesday of the month, it must be time for another Insecure Writers Support Group post. You can learn more about the group here.

One of the things I've been hearing lately on my self-publishing e-mail group is that it can take at least five books in one genre, subgenre, or series for an author, especially a self-published one, to become established, or at least start to see steady sales. (I looked on the Smashwords blog and for evidence to support this, but I didn't find any. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, or maybe this number is only based on anecdotes.) Of course, some authors may hit it big with their first book, while others may write lots of books and never develop an audience. But aiming for five books will definitely help develop your craft and make it easier to market your work. For example, if you have five books in a series, you can set your first book to free or a bargain price to attract readers and place ads. You can also bundle books together to make them more attractive.

No matter how many books you have out, perseverance is necessary to succeed as a writer. It can take a long time to write a book, and it can take a longer time to develop a fanbase. Keep writing and keep publishing even if nothing seems to be coming of it. Every book or story out in the world brings you closer to your goals.

How many books do you think is the right length for a series? Do you like open-ended series, or do you like them to end after a certain number of books? Will you read an unfinished series, or do you prefer to wait until all the books are out? Feel free to answer in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think we had a guest at the IWSG site last year who also said it takes five books, and that was for any author, self or traditionally published.
I think releases closer together also make a difference. I'm screwed there, as I can only turn out work so fast. I do have a life! And I'd much rather be jamming my guitar than writing most days.

Pat Dilloway said...

I've had One series with three books sell far more than one series with eight books so I don't think five is any magic number.

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

If I like a series I find on my own (or through someone I trust) I read the books as they come out.
If everyone is talking about a hot, new series, I generally wait until it's finished or well-established (has a certain number of books in it) until I begin. I don't want to invest in something over-hyped to have it fall flat, or worse, end sour.

Sandra Almazan said...

Alex, it's good to know others think the same thing. I also have too much going on in my life to release books quickly.

Pat, isn't it odd how some series take off and others never do? Maybe it does have something to do with odd numbers.

Jennifer, I too read the books as they come out.

Diane Burton said...

I tend to read the books as they come out. I, too, have read that it takes at least 5 books to establish one's self. Whatever the "magic" number, we have to keep writing.

Sandra Almazan said...

Diane, writing is the most important part!

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