Middle Book Syndrome?

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Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies–  ‘The New Baby’ Doing well and on a few Hot New Release lists.  Great debut and it should improve as the blog tour commences and the promo sites go live.  Will have a shiny newness for a little while.

Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero– ‘The Oldest Child’ Building up a little speed and getting attention due to the new book.  People will always want to start at the beginning, so every new sibling will bring him some congratulatory attention.

Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower–  ‘The Middle Child’ . . . Hey, guys!  I’m over here!  Look at me!  Hello?  Does nobody love me any more?

I’m definitely looking at a ‘Middle Child Situation’ right now.  Without going into exact numbers, books 1 & 3 are selling while book 2 is being left in the dust.  It could be that this is natural because a new book will always get more sales in a debut period and the first book gets more from those entering the series.  This puts the second book in a bizarre limbo.  People buying the third have probably already bought the second.  People buying the first are giving the series a try, so they won’t touch the second unless they enjoy the first.

Is there anything that can be done?  Maybe the following would work:

  1. Slip some second book promo into the new book promos.
  2. Do an occasional Tweet or FB post about the second book.
  3. Patience and see if book 2 gets a mid-month or January bump.
  4. Curl up under bed and mutter incoherently.
  5. Voodoo.  (KFC no longer counts as sacrifice quality chicken.  Spirits have standards, people!)

I know I’m doing this post after a weekend and early into the sales period, but it is something that I’ve been curious about.  The numbers really seem to be going my way at this time, but there is another part of the Middle Child Syndrome that could appear.  The second book could end up being the late bloomer and erupt later on, which could boost the other two.  A series is all about synergy where the books work off each other, so I’ll be paying close attention to how adding a third to the mix works.

Anybody ever consider Middle Child Syndrome when dealing with a series as a writer or a reader?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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30 Responses to Middle Book Syndrome?

  1. Don’t let Nyx know that Rainbow is suffering from middle child syndrome 😉

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  2. Kate Sparkes says:

    It probably depends on the series. In an episodic series, where the books don’t have to be read in order, it might happen less. In an ongoing story, though, I suppose you can’t expect most people to buy the second until they’ve read and enjoyed the first, which can take people some time if they have a long TBR list. I know I’d never buy the second before the first, or even at the same time (unless it was in a bundle). Your analysis of the situation seems spot-on to me. 🙂

    I hope things pick up soon for your poor middle book!

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    • Thanks. I’m still researching how to make a bundle as an indie author. Good point on the episodic series. Personally, I can never bring myself to read a series out of order because I always feel like I’m touching on spoilers for the previous books. That’s just me though.

      Part of me was hoping that the first two books being at 99 cents would be a good temptation. Still, it’s early in the month and it was a holiday weekend.

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  3. The Windowless Wood-Panel Room was a story I serialised on my blog in four parts. Blog stats showed more people looked at part four than any other. I immediately thought people were coming in late and just going for it. Or else they deliberately skipped to the end. Optimistically, I might think people really liked the end and went over it more often. As long as you didn’t feel grey and empty writing book two, conveying that in text-form, you’ll be fine. Maybe people lose copies of book one and book three more often, and book two is treasured and kept safe…

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    • I’ve noticed that when I divide stories. Part 1 and the finale get a lot of attention while the middle is left alone. I can only guess that people are starting at one of the extremes for some reason. Maybe it’s like how people jump to the end of a book to see if the ending is worth reading up to.

      I loved writing the second book and feel it’s stronger than the first. You get to see a lot more of Windemere and the characters are really pushed to their limits. Even better, I get to do some major plot shake ups. Finding that hard to do on the 6th book though. Need to look into a few subplots.

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  4. I’ve never experienced this as a reader. I guess if I love the series enough to get that far, I want to enjoy all of it, so I’m not just looking toward the finish line.

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    • I agree. This is why I’m guessing people who buy the third without the other two will (hopefully) get the previous ones. I’m seeing a few people that are apparently starting the series and those continuing with the newest. I’d like to think nobody is skipping right to the third, but there are all kinds out there.

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  5. tyroper says:

    I really liked the second book. The way it was structured and the continuous action. Looking forward to reading the third.

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  6. tyroper says:

    I think even Twin Towers gets the short end of the stick between Fellowship and Return of the King. So…

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    • Funny thing is that I know more people who talk about Two Towers than the other books. I think the middle book or movie of a series can be very strong, but it sales can be tough at first. It’s not the beginning of an adventure or the end, so people have to work up to it.

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  7. With a series I don’t know how you can skip the middle, you would lose so much of the story that way. I find the fact that book 2 is not selling as well to be very odd.

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  8. Jack Flacco says:

    This is a great analysis, Charles. I think you should curl up under your bed and mutter incoherently. But seriously, I wouldn’t worry about it simply for the reasons you mentioned. I’m sure you’ll see a boost in the second book sales once folks new to the series finish the first book.

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    • Fingers crossed. Though, I’ve seen that most of the advertising sites haven’t gone live yet. Only one and that was about mid-morning. The numbers have been staying still all day, but I assume a big boost will happen when people get home from work.

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      • Jack Flacco says:

        Amazon’s about 2 days behind with the rankings. They’re currently still reporting Nov. 29th. Yet, KDP seems to reflect what’s actually happening in the market.

        This is the message I’m getting from Author Central: “We are experiencing a delay in updating your sales info. Rest assured that we are working to update this page as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!”

        They added the exclamation mark at the end!

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      • That must mean their computer software is serious about this. They might even put a human being on the case.

        So, is it only the rankings or the sales numbers too?

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      • Jack Flacco says:

        Seems rankings have yet to catch up to sales. A disconnect with Author Central and KDP, it seems.

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      • My book came out night of the 30th and started getting rankings yesterday. I wonder if I’m affected.

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  9. Ellespeth says:

    Hi Charles! I’m dropping in especially to see how the book is going and to congratulate you on its release! I’m glad to read that sales are going well 🙂 Hopefully those buying book 1 will finish reading and move on to book 2.
    Otherwise, thinking of you and hoping other life areas are going on going on.
    Ellespeth

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  10. Charles I am sure all will work out in the end. If it were really a problem maybe delaying the next to allow more hype on the current is the answer. Of course obsession is as obsession does, so my comment won’t help much.

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  11. I don’t think there’s much point in promoting the middle book, to be honest. I mean, in the big world of traditional publishing, I think they only promote the second book if there’s a movie coming out about it. In my personal experience, I like shiny new things, and I like origin stories. So if we count the third book as the shiny new one, and the first book as the origin story, that doesn’t leave much room for the middle book 🙂 Promote one, promote three, and two will most certainly follow!

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