When I first released Aisuru in 2015, it was as a standalone novel. Likewise, Deviations came out February 14, 2016, also as a standalone novel. Then in July, I decided to package the two books, along with the upcoming At Week’s End (then Girl in the Forest) into a series. With some help from friends and fans, I choose the name Hakodate Hearts for the series. Aisuru and Deviations got new covers to reflect the name, I updated my site and the books’ meta data, and thus a series was born.
The plan was for At Week’s End to come out later in 2016 or early 2017, but then my mom passed away in October of 2016, my older brother the following January, and yeah, suffice to say 2017 ended up being mostly a throw away year. I got little done writing-wise as I was just coping with the losses and trying to keep my head above water.
I’ve slowly recovered, and eventually was able to release At Week’s End in July of 2018. Even then I’d started having my doubts about that decision I’d made two years ago, the decision to put my books in a series. But I felt I was “committed” and had to see it through, so I did and it came out as Hakodate Hearts Book 3.
During the lead up to the release and since then, I’ve tried to emphasis that the books in the series are standalone novels, so readers would know they could be read in any order, but the “series” had a bigger problem. And it’s time to finally admit it: while they are in a “shared world”, my three novels are NOT a series and never should have been.
For a reader reading Aisuru, Deviations is about as different a book as you can get, and coming to it has likely led to more than one WTF is this? It isn’t that one is better than the other, but Aisuru is a fairly light fantasy love story, Deviations a heavier LGBTQ+ romance with a darker overall feel and voice. Likewise, At Week’s End is women’s fiction, not YA like the other two.
The end result? Sell-through, i.e. people going from one book to the next, has been abysmal! It’s nearly impossible to promote Deviations or At Week’s End due to the series number on them, and their sales have been pathetic compared to Aisuru’s (which certainly aren’t all that awesome either).
Overall I’ve earned $931 in income from the three books, and $616 of that is from Aisuru. Despite efforts at promotion and doing Net Galley runs, Deviations has only a single Amazon review, At Week’s End has none, and neither has sold a copy in over a month.
So…what now? Well, I decided it’s finally time to clean up this mess and fix my mistake, which means going through and trying to kill the Hakodate Hearts series, returning all three books to their proper standalone state. Waiting to hear from my cover designer now how much it will cost to redo the three covers for each of the titles to remove the series info (e-book, paperback, and hardback for each).
On the good side, as far as I can tell, I do NOT need to issue new ISBNs for the print versions – not that I don’t have them to spare, but it would mean doing new editions and bar codes for the print versions versus a quicker text change. In KDP Print, in particularly, doing a new edition is a pain in the tush, so avoiding it is ideal.
I have no idea how long it will take the changes to propagate through the distributor sites, and there will always be a few places that have them listed as being in a series, but overall, my goal is to fix this mess within the next few weeks. Ganbatte!