Alright, we’ve talked about the financial analysis side of the series and why I hesitate to say things like ‘failure’ when discussing the series. But there are major issues in the series and one of the advantages of having written for a while is being able to tell what the issues are. So we’re going to discuss the various ways I messed up this series and what I could have done better to increase sales.

Length between release Times

If you take a look at the data, it was 8 months or so between book 1 to 2 and over a year plus between book 2 to 3. If you’re in the indie business, the ideal is between 1-3 months generally, with various algorithmic reasons for that.  You can, if you do it right, extend it out to 6 months, but especially for a new series, faster is better.

Taking so long between releases is a problem for obvious reasons. So, that created an issue in terms of read-through rates as people kept forgetting about it.

Cover Design

This is a little more  of a question, but I’m not sure if the cover that I did was Gamelit enough. On the other hand, having it scream urban fantasy was done so that I could get the urban fantasy market, which I did in some ways, but also disappointed a bunch of them (because it wasn’t pure urban fantasy). So, that definitely contributed to the drop in my read-through rates.

Lack of Setting 

One of the more important aspects of urban fantasy is the setting, specifically the city. It’s like a 2nd character, one that makes the world more interesting and sets the theme and mood of the universe. Look at the Dresden Files and Chicago, it’s an important aspect of the world along with Marcone, etc. Look at Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere where his London is so recognisable and not – the world lives and breathes.

Except, I didn’t ever name my city in Hidden Wishes. I never said where it was, put it in a physical location, nothing. I never even mentioned what continent they were in, I’m pretty sure. It was not the way to do things, and it seriously didn’t ground the world enough. It meant that while the story itself was fine, people who read through it never were grounded in the universe. Which meant they didn’t feel the need to go back to it.

A too complete first book

So book 1 was generally well received. I had a rough idea of what it was going to do and ended the story and plot. It wasn’t the best plot out there (still more slice of life than a well worked and tight plot) but it had a relatively satisfying solution. 

But, I ended it with Henry having figured things out, with a potential sequel but no real hook. There no ‘open loops’ that desperately needed closing and so there was nothing driving readers to want book 2. Add the issue of lack of setting and it would make a difference in readthrough from 1 to 2.

Somewhat the same issue with book 2 to 3. This wasn’t earlier imagined as a tight 3 book series which was another reason why each book, in itself, was kind of too complete. 

Now, it’s possible to write series that are complete books in-between, but in those cases, the settings and the characters have to sparkle to the level that people want to keep reading in the universe. In addition, many of those universes that bounce around (Conan, the Vorkosignan saga) which aren’t linear in their writing don’t require the characters to progress in a straight line like Gamelit / LitRPG. It’s much harder to do books that way in this genre.

That’s about it

Looking back at the series, looking at what I failed to do is useful. I’ve tried to be cleaner in some ways with some of my work in the future, keeping in mind the failures of this particular series. It’s one of the reasons why I reduced the number of series too so that I didn’t have such long gaps too. 

Those who have read the series, if you can think of other aspects that failed, I’d love to hear from you too. As always, this is my own analysis and isn’t a be all and end all.

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