Author Topic: Dude, where's my series?  (Read 5135 times)

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Paulahy

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Dude, where's my series?
« on: July 28, 2008, 07:29 AM »
Corny subject title aside - just curious about those who have a series actively on shelves, right now.

I think we've touched on this before but does anyone know what the thought-process is and who determines how many volumes of a series a bookstore carries?  Or why a store might only carry the most current book in a series vs. a few copies of earlier books?

I'm confused and a little frustrated that with my series, the chains only carry the latest version.  So basically, if you're new to the series you're S.O.L. because they won't have the earlier books.  So the book likely primarily sells only to people already familiar with it.  If this were simply standard procedure I'd suck it up and stop whining - but at B&N (where my book is shelved in the series section) all the other series have at least one or two copies of the earlier books.  While mine tends to be the only series with only its most current volume.

I've done random searches on B&N's in different areas of the country and it seems fairly consistent that if they're stocking the series at all, That's What's Up is the only one they have in stock.  Which is of course better than my record with Borders - who doesn't seem to be carrying it all.  :cry2

Books-A-Million, online says it's "in stock."  But I was at my local BAM and they only had the latest book, as well.

There's nothing I can do about it.  And contrary to my tone, I'm not whining.  But I would like to know from others their experience with this.  I'd had high hopes that the stores would carry at least a few copies of each book, so each new book would help boost sales of the earlier books.  But that seems it would be a challenge if the older books aren't on shelves.

Also, for those with series that may be finished - how well did the books do once new books stopped coming out.  Does your book continue to sell when readers discover you  maybe via your website or some random online site?  I'm guessing that's when Amazon plays a larger part in the picture since bookstores may not have it.

I've long wondered about the life cycle of series books when it comes to sales record.

-P


Offline lindsey

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 07:42 AM »
Sorry. no answer, Miss P. Just another question.
For those with series in hardback, did the paperback release of earlier books make a significant difference in sales for newer books? And once the paperback was released, was there a drop in your hardback sales?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2008, 08:25 AM by lindsey »
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Offline Stephanie Ruble

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 09:09 AM »
I don't have a series out, but as a series reader, I can say that your series is not the only one this happens to. I've tried to find the earlier books for many series and not been able to. I am lucky to have lots of B&N and other bookstores in my area, so I usually check out several stores when I really want something right away. Sometimes I find it at a different store and sometimes I have to order it online. It's very frustrating for the new reader of an established series, but I can sort-of see their point, if the older books are not still selling. Still, I'd like to be able to find the earlier series books when I want to read them.

I'm wondering if they have earlier books for some series because they just wait for the old ones to sell through instead of sending them back, and other series books don't have the beginning books, or only have some of the series because they don't reorder when books sell. Or maybe not. Hopefully someone in the know will answer.

Sorry to hear your series is in this boat too Miss P.
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Paulahy

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 12:57 PM »
I'm wondering if they have earlier books for some series because they just wait for the old ones to sell through instead of sending them back, and other series books don't have the beginning books, or only have some of the series because they don't reorder when books sell. Or maybe not. Hopefully someone in the know will answer.


I'm probably simplifying it too much - but I'd think if a buyer knew it was a series, they'd structure their ordering around that fact once multiple books were out.  Basically, keeping at least 2 books of the older ones in stock, while keeping more copies of the newer book.

I don't know.  I'm speculating as well.

I realize it's also partly based on the book's track record.  You still see all of the Traveling Pants books and the original one came out...five years ago.  My first book only came out in March of '07.  ::shrug::

I don't mean to imply the earlier books aren't selling.  When I check Ingram, they always have a steady stock of the books and the books are selling.  How, I don't know since I've never seen all three of them in the same store at once.  But somehow people are buying the earlier books.  Perhaps ordering them from the store or online, as you've done.

-P

justJoan

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2008, 01:16 PM »
Maybe you don't see them on the shelves because they are all sold out? Maybe they can't keep them in stock, they fly off the shelves so fast!  :applause

I don't know why this happens. I don't have a series out, but like sruble am a series reader and have experienced the frustration of not finding earlier copies on the shelves. Unfortunately, it is the same situation in my local library . . . if they have any of the books to begin with, they rarely have the complete series.

Have you asked the bookstore managers? I'm not the bravest person in the world, but I might be brave enough to ask about it were I in your situation . . . maybe . . . :embarrassed2

Paulahy

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2008, 07:10 AM »
Have you asked the bookstore managers? I'm not the bravest person in the world, but I might be brave enough to ask about it were I in your situation . . . maybe . . . :embarrassed2

Actually I'm not shy at all about asking the manager.  I inquired last year about when it might be placed in the series section and they were very helpful. When I've approached them about not seeing the books, usually they look into the computer and say it's on order.  So it very well could be that I come at the wrong time.  And secretly, I always hope the answer is that they're selling that quickly. 

But the realist in me knows otherwise, especially since I can also look online and see exactly what B&N's are carrying which books.  And the truth is, this go round my local B&N isn't carrying any of them!  Not even the latest one.  No idea why, but am dealing with the reality that it may be the book doesn't sell as well here as I'd hoped.  On the other hand, it seems to be well-stocked in the Baltimore and DC area.  So I'm not complaining.

This is just one of those many issues I feel blind about when it comes to publishing.

-P

SarahP

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 07:20 AM »
I do not know how those decisions are made, Miss P.  However I do know that I just did a big re-revision to the second book in my series so that readers who hadn't read the first book would know what was going on.  Re-introducing the characters from the first book, adding brief reminders of what happened in the first book, re-describing some of the places, etc.  Seems to me that's a pre-emptive move to be sure readers can enjoy the second book even if the first one isn't on the bookstore shelves...

Offline Carrie Ryan

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2008, 08:09 AM »
Sorry. no answer, Miss P. Just another question.
For those with series in hardback, did the paperback release of earlier books make a significant difference in sales for newer books? And once the paperback was released, was their a drop in your hardback sales?

Interesting question -- I'm curious about that too! 
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Paulahy

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2008, 08:27 AM »
Re-introducing the characters from the first book, adding brief reminders of what happened in the first book, re-describing some of the places, etc.  Seems to me that's a pre-emptive move to be sure readers can enjoy the second book even if the first one isn't on the bookstore shelves...

I agree.  The first two books in my series can stand alone.  You could read one or two and still feel somewhat in the know for book 3.  Despite that, for every book I insert reminders throughout on certain things to help clarify - just in case there's a new reader.

Though I had a reviewer who started with book two say there were definitely some things she felt in the shadows about.  I don't know that they can be helped totally.  I mean it's a series book, after all, and you're writing to appeal to a reader who likes to delve back into familiar territory.  Re-hash too much and you turn the regular series reader off, IMO.

A little OT - but I like this discusson...

I was a Patricia Cornwell fan for years.  But by book 5 or so, there were certain repeat characteristics and reminders that drove me nuts.  It was like - Yes, yes we get it she loves to cook!!!  After awhile it came off as too much telling, even though I realized she did it for the new reader to the series.  Another thing that drove me a bit nuts - I never felt her characters grew.  From book one to book seven, her adult characters never "gave" in on their most stubborn traits. 

I love that in YA it's about the characters changing based on experiences.  Cornwell wrote as if adults can never change.  And that's just not true.  Yeah, it may take a lot to make us change, but we change!

But I digress.  I was going to say that one and two, of my series, are stand alones and were actually written as such.  But I've always felt that books 3-5 are for the "fan" of the books - even with the reminders etc...  If you start with three, I think you could follow the action fine.  Where I think having read the previous books helps is with the character's motivations.  As a new reader you might feel some of the actions don't ring true, simply because you haven't been on the journey the entire time as that character's well, character developed.  :smile

What I'm trying to have faith in, is that someone will pick up any of the books, not get frustrated that they've "come in the middle" and be willing to go back and read the earlier books.  Though, in all honesty, the series takes the characters from 9th to 12th grade. So there's a good deal of maturing that occurs and ideally the reader will take that ride with them in order.  Ideally!

-P

Offline Harrietthespy

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2008, 08:41 AM »
Part of it may be the publishers are paying for shelf space. I do know that there are premiums paid for books that are face-out or on tables and end caps.  It may also be an inventory control issue.  Does the chain KNOW it's a series?  A lot of the ordering decisions and where to place the book are made in the central B&N office and not the individual stores.

It's a game - not dissimilar to grocery stores where products at eye level were put their because the manufacturer paid an incentive bonus to the store.

So is the issue that the national chain decided to focus on regions with heavy AA populations?

I remember walking into a Hallmark Gold Crown store 15 miles from my house.  I asked (intentionally) for a Mahogany card.  The manager said they didn't know about the cards and they didn't have a lot of African American customers in the area.  I said "really? How does that explain me?"

Then I went back to work and emailed a colleague in corporate who ordered the store to carry the products.  Product placement is sometimes based on subjective observations made by managers about perceived customer demographics. Or a detached centralized office using a spreadsheet and some weird data (like drawing a circle around a store and discounting the invention of the car for moving people beyond their own narrow boundaries).

I've developed relationships with two local CRM's and it has made life much easier, but not a slam dunk.  They have only limited control over what they can carry........C
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Paulahy

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2008, 09:12 AM »
C - I used to think that was the case re: corporate centralizing the book at stores with heavier Af-Am customer traffic.  However, with the exception of one, the stores carrying it in my state are by no means in heavily African American neighborhoods.  The B&N's in my state tend to be in generic middle class 'burbs with diverse residents. And if I look up a predominately Af-Am area, say Atlanta GA, the B&N's carrying it are actually the ones in the generic middle class 'burbs, while the "urban" centers don't seem to carry it.

As you said, I wouldn't be one bit surprised if the answers (were there really any) came down to some vague, fuzzy data issued from on-high i.e. corporate office.

I went into my local Borders once to talk about signing stock copy and the assistant manager said 'Oh your books sell really well here.' Yet every single time I went back to that Borders they either still had the same books I'd signed or they were out and the computer indicated you had to order it b/c there were no plans to stock more.

Maybe the Asst. Mgr was trying to make me feel good.  ::shrug:: 

I believe B&N knows its a series, because now that book 3 is out, they stock it in the series section.  It was in general YA fiction during the release of books 1 and 2.  For what it's worth, it's usually face out as well.  :hurrah

I'm enjoying the discussion.  It pretty much reinforces that there's more we don't know than do about the process once our job of writing the book is finished.

-P

HeatherBrewer

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Re: Dude, where's my series?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2008, 10:42 AM »
Sorry. no answer, Miss P. Just another question.
For those with series in hardback, did the paperback release of earlier books make a significant difference in sales for newer books? And once the paperback was released, was there a drop in your hardback sales?

In my case: yes and yes.