Who doesn’t like familiar characters?
Han and Leia? Kirk and Spock? Harry Potter? Katniss Everdeen? I’ll be back!, Aliens, James Bond? That last might be a little too much, since the franchise has almost become a parody of itself.
My point is that we enjoy reading more about characters we’ve come to enjoy or even love. To reinforce this idea, here’s a little bit of research for all of you science fiction fans who are interested in time travel. I researched the top selling science fiction, time travel books with a minimum of 4 stars out of 5 that were released in the last 90 days (from 7/20/2017 – 10/20/2017).
Here’s the advanced search category on Amazon in the Kindle store that I used: English : Kindle eBooks : Science Fiction & Fantasy : Science Fiction : Time Travel : 4 Stars & Up
The top sixteen books in the last 90 days are:
1. Affliction: Green Fields/ book 7/Aug 29, 2017/by Adrienne Lecter
2. Promises To Keep: After the EMP/ (Disruption Trilogy Book 3)/Sep 8, 2017/ by R.E. McDermott
3. Forged in Blood/ (Freehold Book 8)/Sep 5, 2017/by Michael Z. Williamson
4. Angel of the Abyss: A Novel of the Great Tribulation/(The Days of Elijah Book 3)/Sep 12, 2017/by Mark Goodwin
5. Etheric Recruit: A Kurtherian Gambit Series/Sep 13, 2017/by S.R. Russell and Michael Anderle
6. Bombtrack/(Road To Babylon, Book 2)/Aug 21, 2017/by Sam Sisavath
7. Tomorrow War: Serpent Road: A Novel/(The Chronicles of Max Book 2)/Jul 25, 2017/by J. L. Bourne
8. Nomad’s Galaxy: A Kurtherian Gambit Series/(Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 10)/Aug 17, 2017/
by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle
9. Empire of Glass/Jul 24, 2017/by Kaitlin Solimine
10. Nomad’s Force: A Kurtherian Gambit Series/(Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 9)/Jul 27, 2017/by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle
11. Bioterror!/(an Ell Donsaii story #14)/Oct 6, 2017/by Laurence Dahners
12. Darkest Before The Dawn/(The Second Dark Ages Book 3)/Oct 6, 2017/by Michael Anderle and Ell Leigh Clarke
13. Into the Fire Part I: Requiem of Souls/(Universe in Flames Book 9)/Oct 15, 2017/by Christian Kallias
14. Wisdom of the Chosen: Spirit of Empire/Book Five/Jul 25, 2017/by Lawrence White
15. ARISEN/Book Thirteen – The Siege/Oct 11, 2017/by Michael Stephen Fuchs
16. Viral Misery: /Book One/Oct 4, 2017/by Thomas A Watson and Nicholas A Watson
(Brief note: Although I’ve read some of his books, I’m not related to Craig Martelle. He does do good science fiction adventures, though.)
You’ll notice that 14 out of the 16 are books that are part of series. The sixteenth book is book one of a promised series. The only stand alone book is placed in number 9: Empire of Glass by Katlin Solimine.
This seems to support my point that once readers have invested time in reading a book they enjoy, they are more likely to read additional books that have the same characters. Once we like an author and a character, we want to find out what happens to them next.
To my discredit, my marketing is not up to the high level of competition that ebooks must face. I somehow thought that all you needed to do was to write a good story. It turns out that marketing is (probably/unfortunately?) even more important than a good story.
My two highest rated books in the same category (time travel — except for publication date) are:
#260 Heart of Fire Time of Ice/February 16, 2016/by E. S. Martell/4 out of 5 stars
#1015 All the Moments in Forever/April 26, 2017/by E. S. Martell (the sequel to Heart of Fire Time of Ice)/5 out of 5 stars
To give some credence to my original point, here are two quotes from the reviews on All the Moments in Forever:
- “5.0 out of 5 stars/I would recommend reading the first one to see the complete arc Kathleen takes. This book is action-packed and fancy-free. You’ll love reading about this scientist turned demi-god of space and time.”
- “5.0 out of 5 stars/loved it, loved it. Been waiting a long time for this book. I hope there’s a third. What a wonderful story.”
It seems like my readers also enjoy following familiar characters. My conclusion is that writing series is a viable marketing strategy.
What do you think? Would you rather read a series or a stand-alone book? What if the stand-alone book was really good and the series was maybe a little less well written?