Today marks the one year anniversary of the publication of Fated. (The UK edition came out on the 1st of March, 2012: the US version a couple of days earlier.) I had an Encyclopaedia post written for this week, but decided to spend this entry looking back on the past year and taking stock instead. So, it’s been a year since the Alex Verus books were released into the wild – how are things going?
One of the weird things about being a writer is that it’s very easy to end up very disconnected from the sales and reading end of your books. The further along in the creation process that a book gets (first idea, notes, first draft, edits, copy-edits, etc) the less involved the author gets. While you’re planning and writing your novels you’re absolutely, 100% responsible for every last detail that goes into them. Then the edits come along and you’re still mostly responsible, but other people are involved. Then there are the copy-edit and proofreading stages, which require less and less author input. And by the time the book gets onto the shelves, you’ve more or less dropped out of the picture completely, and it’s just as well because by that point you’re busy with the next book anyway.
This means that authors tend to end up surprisingly under-informed about how their books are selling. I sometimes get asked how many copies I’ve sold, and I usually have to admit that I have no idea. I do get royalty statements, but only biannually and when they finally arrive they’re always three months late. Even when you do get sales figures, it’s hard to translate them into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ unless you know a fair bit about the industry. If a book sells 5,000 copies is that a lot or a little? What’s the threshold for ‘good’ anyway? 10,000? 20,000? More? This is then further complicated by how long the book’s been out, what the profit margin is on the editions that are selling, the likelihood that it’s going to keep selling in the future, the relative economic climate and the state of the industry, the phase of the moon, the price of tea in China, the alignment of the stars and the probability of the awakening of an elder god, etc.
So it’s tricky for me to figure out how well or badly my books are doing.
With those disclaimers out of the way, however:
From what I know, the Alex Verus series seems to be doing well, possibly very well. The books have continued to sell following their release, and the sales of books 2 and 3 are a high percentage of book 1, meaning that people who buy the first tend to like it enough to buy the others (which is a big thing for a series). Both my UK and my US publishers seem very happy about the way things are going, hence the contract for books 4 and 5 – I’m not going to predict whether they’ll want books 6+, but right now, chances look good. The number of readers picking up the series on sites like Goodreads has actually increased from last year, and Fated is still getting new reviews even now.
One result of all this is that I’ve become a lot more confident about working on an ongoing plot for the Alex Verus series. Back when I wrote Fated I didn’t honestly expect it to get published, and when I wrote Cursed and Taken I had no idea that there’d be a fourth book afterwards. Now it feels more as if I have some breathing room, and I can start making the individual books fit into a larger story. (No matter how good the individual episodes of a series are, sooner or later you want something longer-term.) Book 4, Chosen, is going to kick off the major story arc of the Alex Verus series, and from Book 5 onwards each new book is going to progress that story in some way. Probably. I’m still sketching out the details, but I do have a solid idea of where the story will end up and who the primary antagonist will be . . . not telling anyone, though. :P
So for now, things look positive for the Alex-Verus-verse. More later!