Book sales momentum.

One of the first things I did when getting published was to research the sales momentum on books. What really jumped out was that most books have a peak selling period of between three and six months. Most often about four months, beginning to drop off on the fifth month.

Ideally, then, you'd want a new book to come out every fifth or sixth month to keep the momentum going.

One thing I'd learned by owning a comic shop was--if you have a good title and you are consistent about it coming out, the comic will do well. If you delay, the book will suffer, sometimes fatally.

For "Led to the Slaughter," I was very aggressive in promoting--at least, aggressive for me. I pointblank asked people to buy it. That seemed to work. It was my first book, I was pretty proud of it, and people were supportive. It got excellent reviews.
There's a graph I can access through Amazon that shows the sales history on my books.

If I go back to the beginning, when my first two Virginia Reed books were published, along with The Vampire Evolution Trilogy, the squiggly line is high and tight. Good sales, strong momentum.

Right up to the moment when the third Virginia Reed book was due to be published. Unfortunately, my publisher procrastinated for months, almost a year.

The graph line noticeably starts to fray. Becomes not quite so high, not quite so thick.

Looking back on it , I should have self-published something at that moment, but the publisher kept reassuring me that the next book was coming out soon and I didn't want to step on it. Eventually, he did publish an ebook version, but never did get the paperback out.

A year or so later, "Tuskers I" comes out from a different publisher, and again the graph is high and tight for about a year as "Tuskers II" comes out right on time. Again, I was somewhat aggressive, and people were supportive. Audio buys Tuskers and puts out a version.

Then this second publisher announces they are going for national distribution and Tuskers III will be delayed for at least a year.

This time, I do self-publish some of my finished work, but without a publisher, it's harder for me to promote. The graph frays again, starting to become loopy.

So I turn to a third publisher for "Snaked." Again, I am ready to be more promotional than usual, because this publisher really seemed to have things on the ball. Then he too announces he's going for national distribution. The book takes quite a while to come out.

The book is published... and nothing. Two months later the publisher decides he doesn't want to publish "creature" books anymore.

And the graph frizzes out.

Meanwhile, I keep writing. Meanwhile, I do believe my later books are as good or better, but I'm not willing to be aggressive on my self-published stuff.

For instance, as an experiment, I merely announce that I've published "Faerie Punk." Sales are non-existent.

Meanwhile I sold a ghostwritten book under the name of a best-selling author, which hasn't come out yet, and I'm not sure if it is ever coming out, but if it does, I'll be extremely interested in seeing how it sells. My hope was that this would turn into a regular gig, that I'd have a big publisher doing the promotional work. But it's like my first career with the bigger publishers, they take forever to answer if they bother to answer at all--what I used to call "sending my books into the void."

I'm still in the thick of writing, still feel like I'm getting better, but I'm just over here doing my thing and not paying much attention to anything else.

So I decided to just write.

I'm still in that mode, pretty much.

I have three new publishers, all of whom seem solid. The graph is starting to look better again since my books are coming out again on a regular basis, but pretty clearly I lost the momentum three times in a row.

But you know what?

I did my part.