The Transparency Behind An Abandoned Series...

If I had to say the most common question I get asked by readers, this one would win by a landslide: "Will you ever finish X series?" So I thought I should just write up a really thorough post on my thoughts about book series and some of the behind the scenes decisions that go into continuing them or letting them end where they are. Because, frankly, it can be really hard to summarize my feelings on the issue in a quick email. So here goes... Almost every book I've ever written has kind of been intended as a potential "book one". What I mean is I always want to have the option to jump back with a similarly themed cover and sort of say... "If you liked book one, you'll enjoy this as well." What I have always tried to avoid doing is putting content inside the book itself that promises a continuation of plot or leaves a side character's situation on a cliffhanger. To me, the way I write books means I don't have to feel like I must continue the series. It's more like I'm going to keep providing similarly flavored books of a particular theme as long as my readers seem to be enjoying them. But as soon as I get a sign that my readers aren't really biting, I'm free to move on and try something new. The obvious problem with this philosophy is there is never going to be 100% consensus on which series deserves to continue and which ones should get left behind. The complete honest truth on how I decide is by the performance on the store. Let me just use the book's sales rank as an example here. I'll also use some real examples to give context on a decision to abandon a series. When I wrote the Objects of Attraction books, the first 4 books all hit the top 10 on Amazon. Then the 5th book hit the top 30. Then the 6th book hit the top 60. The top 60 is obviously great, but it's not the whole story. But either way, in that case I was personally ready to start a new project and I saw the declining success of the new books as my signal that it was okay to move on. Then I spent a long, long time trying to write my next self published book, The Golden Pecker. I put a ton of thought into what the best sort of "growth" from the objects series would be. It had been my most successful project ever and brought me all sorts of opportunities like foreign publication deals and even mobile game deals. So suddenly it felt like I had a lot more attention and expectations on me than ever before.

Being the people please I am, I wanted to live up to those expectations. I thought a really fun blend of where I'd been in my career and where I had started going was to mix rom com and BDSM. I personally wasn't aware of any examples of that mashup and thought it could be the start of a new, really fun niche. So I spent three times as long writing The Golden Pecker as I normally spend on books. When it was done, I thought maybe it had potential to be another Objects series, and I was really optimistic. I had in my head that I could write all different "pecker" books for the different BDSM clubs. The Golden Pecker, The Platinum Pecker, The Diamond Pecker, etc. Each cover would have the little chicken made out of a new material. But I didn't have concrete plans for what those actual stories would be like because I still wasn't sure if book one would succeed and justify all my plans. Then the launch came, and... The book struggled to hit the top 100 and didn't hold its rank for very long. As far as earnings went, it earned so little that I had no way to justify the extra time I'd spent writing it and wasn't even sure it would turn a profit long term after my launch and promotion expenses. So in that position, I had two choices. I could either follow through on my plan to turn it into another long series and churn out books even though the general chunk of my readers and the market were telling me the concept didn't grab them, or I could move on and hope to hit the mark better with something different. And I decided to move on from the series, because my best guess was that I'd essentially spend 3-6 months writing more books in the series and wind up actually paying my own money to get people to read it, haha. As much as I enjoy writing what I want, I can't make a career out of paying people to read my books instead of the other way around. One other factor is that I have to admit my passion for a project swings wildly depending on the enthusiasm I get from feedback. So when a book winds up being really popular like His Banana, I suddenly feel super excited to give readers more and have a lot of fun delivering, but the opposite is true. Negative feedback or just a lack of feedback can seriously drain my enthusiasm to continue a project. Just imagine if you got on stage to sing to a crowd. If they start yawning and checking their phones, it's going to be hard to maintain the energy and excitement you came out with. But if they are hanging on every syllable, you can feed off that energy. For me it is a lot like that from book to book. So I know that may not be the most concise or clear answer. But the truth is I won't always finish a series because I don't truly view them as a series. Even though I still get tempted to go back and write more in some previous series, I can never quite justify it or find the necessary energy because the last book already showed me that the willingness wasn't there from the market to pick it up. With all that being said, I still always feel really bummed when I see that there are some people who loved a series I walked away from and wish there was more. The only thing I can really say to that is I wouldn't be able to write books if I didn't love them. It's a lot like taking care of a child. The satisfaction and fulfillment doesn't really come from the process. It comes from creating something and kind of seeing where it goes with what you gave it. So I loved all these books just like some of you have, and I would've loved it even more if they all performed in a way that meant I could turn them into a long series. But I also can't justify spending three months pouring myself into a project I know is going to lose me money. I guess that's just the dirty reality of it. We're all stuck making sure we earn money at the end of the day, no matter how that lines up with our personal wishes. Hopefully that helps explain the thought process! xx Penelope

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