My Books

FAQ Update

I figure it’s time for another Frequently Asked Questions post (and I probably need up update that page on my website) because I’ve been getting some similar questions lately.

When is the next Rebels book coming?
That’s a complicated situation. I do have plans to write another one and I’ve even done some of the research. I’ve got a general idea of what the plot will be (the second and third books went far from my original series outline, so my original plans for this book were blown up and I’m having to figure out something new). The problem with this series is that the original publisher still controls the first book. They’re doing nothing at all to promote it and have it priced outside the range that might make people try it, and since they don’t get anything out of the other books in the series, they have no reason to want to promote this book to encourage people to get into the series. Although that book was loved by teachers and librarians and made it onto several states’ lists of recommended reading, it didn’t sell well enough for the publisher to continue the series (there was also the weird thing that the editor apparently bought it with the idea that it was a standalone book, even though I submitted a series outline with it). I published the next two books myself, but they haven’t sold all that well, and since I don’t control the first book, there’s little I can do to promote the series and get new people hooked on it. Foreign markets aren’t interested in steampunk, so I haven’t managed to sell it elsewhere, and in audio, I’ve got that same problem of the original audio publisher not wanting more books, and no one else will take on the rest. That means I’m not making any additional money from these books. I calculated the time it takes me to write them, the cost of publishing them, and how much money I’ve made, and it came to less than minimum wage. So, I can’t really afford to write another book right now when there are other things that earn more for me.

However, sales of the first book are getting close to the threshold where the rights will revert to me. Then I could publish my own edition and do things to promote it to hook new readers, and then it would be worthwhile to write more books. This is yet another reason I’m not doing another book right now. If I put out a new book in the series, that would raise awareness of the series and it tends to raise the sales of all the books, which would then delay me getting the rights back.

So, the short answer is that I’ll do another book either when the sales of that series get to a point where doing more books would be worth my time or when I get the rights to the first book back.

Will there be a sequel to Make Mine Magic?
This is yet another case of a publisher buying a book from me and then not wanting to continue the series. This book was an Audible Original, so it came out exclusively in audio. But they’re discontinuing that program, not doing new novels anymore (mostly they’re doing novellas that are in conjunction with other major series, from bestselling authors, which I am not). I’m getting ready to put out a “print” (e-book and paperback) version, and we’ll see how that sells. If it sells really well, then it may be worthwhile for me to write another book and then see if Audible will buy the audio rights to it while I also put out the e-book and paperback. I wouldn’t be writing the second book under a contract where I know I’ll be paid, so I’d need to feel confident that I’ll earn something from writing it.

Will there be another Fairy Tale book?
I do want to do more books in this series because I love it, but I’m going to have to repackage it. I absolutely love the art I commissioned for this series, but that artist became a big deal in the meantime, so I can’t get her to do more covers, and that means to keep them consistent, I’d need to rebrand the series with all new covers. It would be expensive to do all new covers, and I haven’t been making a lot of money lately, so that’s a lower priority right now. I need to earn more before I have the money to spend.

What about the Enchanted, Inc. books?
I think that series is concluded. I haven’t come up with more ideas. But I have been playing with some shorter side stories, either focusing on backstory or secondary characters. We’ll see what happens with those.

I know, I sound terribly mercenary here, but I’m running a business, and I need to make a living. I don’t want to spend the hundred or so hours it takes to write and publish a book (at least), only to realize I could have made more money by spending that time working at McDonald’s. I have a bit more flexibility as a publisher than one of the major publishers might, since I don’t have full-time staff (other than myself) to pay and am not maintaining office space in New York. On the other hand, I just have the one author and can only do a few books a year, at most, so I can’t count on other authors or books to pick up the slack if one book or series fails to perform. I may not be as quick as a publisher to pull the plug on a series that isn’t selling well, but I can’t afford to devote a lot of time to a series that isn’t picking up readers. When I decide what to write, it’s a mix of how much fun it is, how much work it is/how much time that kind of book takes, how well it sells, and how likely it is to get subsidiary deals, like foreign sales or audio rights. If I could get a series to take off so that I was making decent money on it, that would give me a little freedom to work on some of these other projects that are fun, though maybe a little less profitable, but right now, I don’t have that luxury.

I’m working on the fourth Lucky Lexie book and have the fifth one planned. So far, that series is selling so-so. With more books, I can afford to maybe do a bit of promotion to try to get new readers. I’ll re-evaluate the future of that series after book 5 and some promo.

9 Responses to “FAQ Update”

  1. Renske

    Understandable you have to think of the financial side. It feels strange to hope a book will sell worse, but as it seems inevitable, let it happen soon so you make your own plan.

    I hope you can find the right way to promote Lucky Lexie as it seems magical cozy mysteries are kind of a genre, at least when I look on Goodreads.
    (For Goodreads it might help a little if a new book is on the website early enough in the month before the publication month, so people can get in the ‘new books by authors you have read’ email.)

    • Shanna Swendson

      That’s a good point. I’ll have to look at how to get stuff on Goodreads. I still haven’t figured that site out.

      • Renske

        There are some groups on the site aimed at authors.

        Getting the book information listed, once you put it on your blog you don’t really have to worry, as it seems several readers of your blog are active with adding books to Goodreads. I’m one of those, but some times others have been faster than me to get it on Goodreads.

        • Melisande

          It’s been forever since I’ve been on Goodreads, but if they have a way to list books that are similar to, the Finishing School series would be a good one to have Rebel Mechanics suggested on.

  2. Laura Carter

    Hi Shanna. I’ve read both the Enchanted series and the Rebel series – a couple times, and have started the Lucky Lexie series, and I really enjoy them. I enjoy the voice a lot and feel like I can relate to your female lead characters even though wild and crazy things keep sidetracking them. I just want to send some encouragement, sounds like the business side is a little tough. Can’t wait until inspiration strikes and something great happens for you. Good luck!

  3. Brenda

    I will buy Make Mine Magic, probably as an ebook. I bought and enjoyed the Lucky Lexie ebooks, and also added them to my library consortium’s Overdrive collection, where they are circulating well. Looking forward to books 4, then 5. I agree that magical cozy mysteries seem to be popular, such as Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats series. Any short stories in the Enchanted, Inc world would also be very welcome. The high quality of your writing and the lighter tone make your books bright spots in my reading year. Thank you!

  4. Melisande

    I’m thrilled to hear Make Mine Magic is coming as an ebook, I’m not able to do audio books. I am thrilled to find out that more Lucky Lexie books are in the works. Those have been such a terrific read. It’s sad to hear some of my other favorites are on indefinite hiatus. What format helps the rights revert the fastest?
    Thanks for the update!

  5. Natalie Hall

    I can’t wait until you are finally able to make the 4th book in the Rebel series! Don’t stress over it though! I’m sure we all understand if it takes longer than expected. The wait is worth it!!! YOU GOT THIS SHANNA!!! 🙂

  6. Alli

    Excited to hear any news about Rebels. Those books are fantastic. It’s one of the steampunk series I recommend whenever someone asks me for recs. The publishing game is a tricky one and anyone invested in your work understands that writing is your job and you have to get paid for your time. Keep up the great work and keep taking care of yourself!

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