THE END IS NIGH…For Series Novels

I’m going to preface this post by pointing out that I’m giving you all full disclosure about what’s happening and why (as I did with my 2016 health scares). I have a unique relationship with my amazing fans and I don’t like leaving people hanging. What follows will seem like bad news for some, but there is a silver lining, so read to the end for that!

Because I’m the proprietor of Breakneck Media, the small press that publishes most Jeremy Robinson, Jeremy Bishop and Jeremiah Knight novels, which I write, I have to wear multiple hats. I’m an author, first and foremost, but I also create most of the covers, art-direct the rest, design and maintain the website, create all the video trailers, create the marketing materials, and…run the business. That means, on occasion, I have to mentally sit down with myself, look at the numbers, and make some hard calls.

In that past, that’s meant leaving a publisher. Now it means shifting my focus from writing series titles to standalone novels. While a good number of fans will no doubt disagree with the outcome (I don’t like it, either) the numbers don’t lie. I’m also going to lay out a few reasons for each series’ decline, but then propose a larger, theoretical reason at the end. So if you’re interested in saving any of these series, read to the end.

THE NUMBERS

While I’m not going to reveal sales figures or revenue numbers, I am going to talk in percentages, and reveal which series are being affected, all of which have a core group of fans who are going to be disappointed. I wish it could be avoided, but continuing with these series is unsustainable for me. There are a few series for which I plan on publishing a series finale, and with those books I expect to either break even, or take a loss.

JACK SIGLER THRILLERS

Falling under this banner is the Jack Sigler Thrillers themselves, the Continuum series, and the Cerberus Group books. Does that mean you shouldn’t read Helios, the next Cerberus Group novel? Not at all. The finale for all these books will be linked together in grand fashion, bringing together characters that have been separated for many books now.

So why cut the Chess Team? Many people view them as my most successful series of novels. There was a time, early on, when that was true. The first five novels did amazingly well. Since then, readers have dropped off at a rate of 50% per book. There isn’t a business model I’m aware of that continues to produce a product if that kind of sales trend is sustained.

THE HUNGER SERIES

Book one, Hunger, sold well, got great reviews, and was a strong start to a unique and action-packed series, which I personally loved writing. Book two, Feast, got far fewer reviews, but most declared it was even better than Book One. The problem was that sales fell by about 70%. Not continuing the series is a no-brainer. That said, I’m still hoping to write the finale and will be shifting the author name from Jeremiah Knight to Jeremy Robinson. With that, the Knight name will come to an end as well.

UNITY

Widely regarded, by those who have read it, as one of my best novels, Unity is one of my slowest sellers. I have a few theories as to why. 1) The cover, while amazing, is a painting. My observations of cover style and sales tell me that painted covers, for my audience, are a drawback. 2) It’s ‘young adult’. That didn’t matter for The Last Hunter, but I think the YA tag and cover together turned people off. 3) The subject matter—not Kaiju (Project Nemesis is one of my most successful novels) but robots. The two novels I’ve written featuring robots have not done well. Because of that, Unity is now being treated as a standalone novel. Is there hope for more? I plan to eventually update the cover to something more mainstream and market it as an adult novel featuring teenage characters (which is accurate). If that changes things, maybe there will be more.

FLOOD RISING

Also very well received by readers, Jenna Flood didn’t find an audience, and Flood Rising has been one of my slowest sellers. It was an experiment in mainstream thrillers, trying to reach a large audience that doesn’t pick up monster novels, but that could have also killed momentum as my large monster-loving fanbase passed on it. Also, like Unity, Flood Rising features a young female protagonist. I’d hate to think that had something to do with either book’s decline, but I have a feeling it did. As a result, Flood Rising is now a standalone story.

THE NEMESIS SAGA

“Wait a second,” you say, “didn’t you just say Project Nemesis was one of your most successful novels?” It is, and the series is dear to my heart, and it culminates in a crossover event ten years in the making, something no author has ever done before. But the series also suffered from the 50% decline for every new book situation. That said, five books had always been the plan. I get asked a lot about future Nemesis books, but the answer is complicated. I can’t continue the series by picking up where I left off. The current sales trend says I’ll lose money. But that doesn’t mean sales won’t pick up (Project Legion is still new), and it doesn’t mean I won’t feature the FC-P or Nemesis in other works. But to be clear, Nemesis wasn’t cancelled, it came to a natural and epic conclusion.

JANE HARPER

Also a very well received series that stopped after two books. This one is a little different, as the first two books are with a publisher, and I would have to publish Book Three on my own. Sales are not sufficient for the publisher to have me do a Book Three, but I would love to. Like Hunger, I love writing Jane Harper, and I hate leaving things open ended. Right now, it would likely mean taking a loss, and the cover for Book Three wouldn’t match the first two, meaning a loss in audience. Probably not going to happen until sales justify it, the publisher requests it, or the rights revert back to me.

REFUGE

Now, there is a little hope for this one, as sales haven’t been horrible. They haven’t been amazing, but it could justify a second book. The real challenge is that the format of this book is complicated. Merging five stories by five authors into one story was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as an author. I love how it came out, and I would like to see a second book, but I need to be mentally prepared to handle that job before leaping into it. Could I write a second book on my own? Sure, but that feels like a betrayal to what made Refuge an original and cool concept.

THE BERSERKER SAGA

I’ve been sitting on this crazy, post-apocalyptic Viking epic (along with Cerberus Group Book 2, Helios) for about a year, mostly because I’ve been aware of this growing problem with series books and wanted to figure things out. Currently, Viking Tomorrow (Book One of three) is slated to come out in the next few months. If sales are great, we’ll get three books. If not, we’ll tell the story in two books. Why say this up front? Either way, this series will not hang. You don’t have to fear an open ended, cancelled series. Assuming Viking Tomorrow sells at least okay, we’ll have a definite ending. The question is, will it be in two books, or three? Read lower to find out how you can help make that happen.

WELL GEEZ, THAT’S DEPRESSING. WHERE IS THE SILVER LINING?!

Over the past year, I have released three standalone novels. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably read them along with some or most of these series titles. They are Apocalypse Machine, The Distance, and Infinite. The key here is that all three books have reached audiences far larger than my series books, and have received a LOT more reviews, which helps reach even more readers. If not for those three books, I’d be considering a career change to romantic thrillers. So what do these novels have in common?

In terms of story, not a lot, but they are all heavy on the sci-fi. They are all character driven, and they’re all standalone. They’re generally regarded as being more well written, more meaningful, and just as entertaining as my other books. And sales have reflected that this is what my readers want—fresh, original stories with all the action from before, but with more substance. And honestly, it’s what I prefer to write.

Over the next year, as Breakneck Media shifts from series titles to standalones, I’m writing fewer novels (5 – 6 per year, max…which is still a frikkin ton…instead of 9ish), and publishing a novel every two months, rather than every month as I’ve done in years past (to keep up with all the series). They will all be a bit more on the sci-fi side, featuring aliens, kaiju, time travel, subterranean realms, and monsters. They will also be character driven, involving motivations beyond stopping bad guys (though bad guys will still be stopped in crazy ways). And each will be a standalone story.

Here are the titles for the standalone novels currently in the pipe: Forbidden Island, The Divide, Highway 37, The Hollow, and Flux.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Glad you asked (just pretend you did). The one observation of series that failed to take off, tanked after book one, or declined over time is the number of reviews. I think that readers, excited about a new series, post a lot of reviews for Book One, which helps sales take off. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, you can read my post about writing book reviews here. But when it comes to future books in a series, fewer readers post reviews, even if they liked the second book just as much or more than the first.

The way Amazon works now is that sales are pretty well connected to the number of reviews received. The more reviews a book gets, the more they recommend it. If readers of a Book One aren’t following me on Facebook or Twitter, or aren’t subscribed to my newsletter, they’ll likely not remember to look for Book Two a year later. But when enough people write reviews for a Book Two, Amazon will let people know about it.

So, if you want to help a series, or a novel (by any author) the best thing you can do aside from telling people naturally, is by posting a review on Amazon (and Goodreads, B&N, Kobo, etc). I’m not expecting a hundred people to run out and post reviews for Feast, but I’m pretty sure if it happened, sales would leap. That said, posting reviews for standalone novels is also critical (and Infinite could use some more). 😉

IN CONCLUSION

There WILL be one more Jack Sigler Thriller, wrapping up the Chess Team and Cerberus stories. I have hopes that all of these series will find success down the line, allowing me to finish them. Nemesis could return, but not in a ‘Book Six’. Viking Tomorrow could launch a new three-book series, but not without your help. Standalone novels are currently the future, and that future is bright! Despite having to stop so many different series, I’m really looking forward to telling more original and creative stories.

I get a lot of messages about all these series, so I hope this makes sense to everyone and leaves all your questions answered. If not, please comment, and I’ll reply!

30 Comments

  1. I guess you would have to count me in as one of your declining readers. At one time I was hooked on the CHESS Team stories. But as the series wore on it started to get really far fetched. No longer an action thriller, you began to “jump the shark” so to speak in regards to Jack and the whole going back in time storyline. That is when I quit reading the Chess Team stories. You made Jack too powerful and too goody two-shoes. I was going back and forth with your Chess Team stories and Matt Reilly’s Scarecrow stories (but not his YA titled Jack West Jr. stories). The whole Hryda/Hercules thing was not a help either.

    • JRobinson

      June 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Understood, David. Have you checked out any of the newer standalones (Apocalypse Machine, The Distance)? Granted they’re on the weirder side, but are widely regarded as some of my best.

  2. I’ll be sad to say goodbye to King, Rook, Queen, Bishop, et al, but I understand. You have to write what sells, that way you can keep in writing :) I’ll still be around regardless… and hey, that’s why there’s such a thing as a re-read :)

  3. Connie Terhorst

    June 10, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Sorry to read about me having to tell some of my buddies who kept me up at nite bye bye you will be missed. But am glad about the wrap up plans. No matter what I have loved all of your books so keep it up. One question when is Helios coming out really want to read it.

  4. While I’m disappointed that Unity won’t be finishing it’s story I understand why. Granted I wanted a the main robot in some sort of figure form, and that cover as a poster now that I think of it, I’m an adult I’ll get over it. And I’m sure you have some people telling you things like “I’m so invested in this world it’s not fair I can’t get any closer” or something similar (not here obviously but I’m sure somewhere on social media) just remind them you have a family to think about and support as well. I look forward to see what’s coming next.

    • JRobinson

      June 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      I have to have the same conversation with myself. I was as excited about the story as anyone who might read and love it. Deciding to not continue was really hard because I was so invested. But yeah, family and bills come first.

      • F-Bomb is a tremendously fun character, and I was really looking forward to seeing how the kids handled the alien onslaught, but your logic is sound. Mr. Spock would be proud.
        Your latest books have been deeper, inspiring more introspection. I have thoroughly enjoyed them, but I hope to see some of the fun of characters like Hudson and Cowboy in future stories. There have been several funny moments and quips, but the looseness of characters like them has been missing.

  5. I have loved reading pretty much everything you have written over the years. King and crew was the first glimpse into your world and I dove in and never looked back. I always leave feedback on the books and always look forward to your next books. I am glad that you are going to finish out Kings story and the hunger series because I love them both and I know all good stories have to come to an end. I also understand that in order for you to keep doing what you love and to make a living sometimes you have to mix it up but I am glad you have not had to switch to romantic novels and hope that you don’t have to unless it involved nemesis getting revenge for a broken heart 😀 Seriously though I am glad that you will continue to write as you are one of my favorite authors to read and I look forward to seeing what works you come out with next.

    • JRobinson

      June 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      No worries about me ever stopping–it’s all I know how to do well! I’m all in without a backup plan. :)

  6. I am as 100% reader,reviewer as you know . You write them and I will be there to cheer you on.
    I will miss Chess Team ,Refuge,Hunger, etc but I know you have great stories,monsters and heroes in store for us.
    Write on!

  7. Linda Collins

    June 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    I will definitely miss the Chess Team…But, I also understand why you have to end certain books….Maybe one day , you will bring them back…Will not stop me from reading and reviewing your other books…Can’t wait to see what comes up next…Salute to the King….

  8. You know what I would buy the heck out of, Jeremy? A how-to by you on this: “Because I’m the proprietor of Breakneck Media, the small press that publishes most Jeremy Robinson, Jeremy Bishop and Jeremiah Knight novels, which I write, I have to wear multiple hats. I’m an author, first and foremost, but I also create most of the covers, art-direct the rest, design and maintain the website, create all the video trailers, create the marketing materials, and…run the business.”

    (Maybe call it POD People II: The Poddening … or maybe not!)

  9. Chalk me up as a person who will miss the series. There is something I love about creating a whole world and trying things together. I also love a continuing story line. The Chess team books have probably been my favorite world ever. Sad to see it coming to an end. I will continue to read anything you put out though.

    Thanks for the good times!

  10. I have yet to read anything other than the Nemesis series but am planning to before I start on Legion. I just want to say as one of the brave few to tackle the Kaiju genre in literature you have inspired my own writing. There is nothing wrong with trimming down and focusing on what brings you both joy and profit, it’s hard to write if your power get shut off. Looking forward to all your future work.

  11. I have to be honest. After reading your books I can hardly pick up any other author before I finish ALL yours first (so, for other authors…sorry). Nonetheless, we all have to maki choices in our lives and fully support yours because literary genius like are very, very (and I know we shouldn’t abuse on this word, but… who cares!) very hard to find. I’m just happy it happened in my lifetime and it’s a privilege.

    I’m finishing classes at the university, a lot of exams to correct, trying to make some academic productivity projects up and running, but looking forward to continue dreaming action and depth with your work. We all support you and keep up being one of the most creative writers of our time.

  12. First, I love your books. Unfortunately I would be another of the numbers that fell off the mark. I can read through approximately two to three books a week, as an insomniac. I try to avoid series titles because it never fails, I find myself at 0300 saying, “well d**n!”. Once I’ve polished off what’s available, what do I chew on? Even though you do write incredibly fast, I find myself looking for something else to travel to and I forget about the next book. Or, two months later I’ve forgotten the events leading up to the next book. Don’t feel alone, I gave up on George R.R. Marten after the fourth book. I do look forward to your next stand alone novels; you make the weird and unusual seem probable!

  13. Sad news, indeed. I discovered you with Project Nemesis and was blown away. Since then I’ve read the majority of your other books and enjoyed the majority of them. But my biggest disappointment is to learn that the Jane Harper series will likely never get a conclusion, as it was my favorite after Nemesis.

  14. Having a degree in economics, I fully understand and respect your decisions. 😉
    I have mixed feelings: love Jack Sigler, Refuge and the Hunger books, but I already got tired of the kaiju novels (still have to read the last two). Didn’t care for and couldn’t finish Xom-B and Apocalypse Machine, but loved The Distance and Infinite really blew me away! (I will post a review on Amazon right after this). Bottom line: I don’t like everything that you write, but so far it’s been so interesting that I’ll give everything a try. So, go wherever you want to go with your writing and I will follow.

  15. Jeremy, when you wrap up the Chess team- please please don’t kill them off. allow me some little hope for mini stories in the anthologies.

  16. Jeremy, I love every book I read by any of your pseudonyms. I started with and got hooked on Nemesis. I think Antarctos is my favorite so far. I am very disappointed that the Flood series isn’t going to get an ending. I was so thrilled with part of being set in the Keys, living there and all :’) I understand your reasoning and can’t even wrap my mind around what you produce and how fast. I will be looking forward to all future novels and I won’t miss any. Keep up the good work!

  17. I have to say I’m really sad to read this. Standalone novels have their place and some are amazing! But to me, an epic series is the real gem and a really great series can be hard to find. In a series you can get to know the characters and watch them evolve, change, and become even more as each book progresses. I have loved reading the Chess Team series for just this reason. You took unique characters with vastly different backgrounds and paths (thank you for those!) and blended them into a complex and cohesive, yet still intense, team. I have greatly enjoyed your mix of history, sci-fi, and monsters. I have eagerly awaited each book and I am very bummed to have that come to an end. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. So thank you for the stories. Thank you for taking me away from the chaos of my every day, even for just a while. I look forward to reading your standalone titles but I will definitely miss the Chess Team.

  18. I loved Jenna Flood and will be sorry for that book series, same with the Chess team, loved the series, read them all and left reviews. Especially the time travelling stories they were great but guess not everybody felt the same way. I never cared for the Kajji novels, just not my thing even when the first Island story was one of my favorites. Loved the first Hunger book as well, but can not get through book 2.

    After all you gave me many excellent books to read and I am looking forward to the upcoming non Kaiju novels . Thanks for taking us with you in the difficult process of deciding which books will come and which ones will go.

  19. Kristin Lundgren

    June 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I’ve been reading your books since the beginning. Back when I could still afford to buy them. But they started coming out so fast, that I couldn’t keep up, nor could I keep all the new series straight (memory issues). I think series books work best when they come out once or twice a year. I always knew that fall would bring me a new Dick Francis. But I know that unless your books are everywhere, at CostCo, and B&N, it’s hard to make a living on that. I love your books, and am excited to see what you do with standalones. But I will miss the series, esp. the Chess Team. Onward and upward!

  20. Like the guy above said, you write em and we will read em. Personally, I like stand alone novels. I’m waiting to read the third books of two trilogies (by other authors) since the second books came out four years ago! I don’t even remember what happened in those books now. This is not a problem with your series (obviously). Anyway, you have to do whatever works for you and keeps you in business. We the fans will still be rabid for your next novel.

  21. I am sad that you are finishing up many of your series. I started reading you with the Chess Team and will be sorry to see that series end. I was always hoping Hercles would come back. I like Refuge and the Continum Series and would have liked to see more of them. I’m sorry to tell you that the book you wrote with your wife was not one of my favorites of yours. Keep writing and I will be sure to keep reading. I just picked up your last book INFINITE but haven’t read it yet. At the present I am reading FLOOD RISING. Glad your health issues have been cleared up. Having Health issues is not fun as I know dealing with a bad heart.. Thank you for many hours of reading entertainment.

  22. Hi Jeremy. Think the only book I would be excited about with a squeal is SecondWorld after I Am Cowboy. That’s the only book I like to see a squeal to. Refuge would be nice as well, but SecondWorld squeal is on my list if you make one. But do keep up the great work. Take you time. Anyway, right now I’m reading the Distance, and I have to say, it’s better then a Stephen King Novel. But that’s my opinion. Anyway, take you time. I know your next novels will be great. Thanks. Tom.

  23. I didn’t find my love for reading until a little later in life, around 26yo. Over the past 20 years I’ve followed a lot of authors, but Jeremy Robinson was one of the first. I’ve always loved good series and few people have done it better than JR. For me, his novels rank up there with James Rollins, Jonathon Maberry, Steve Berry, Daniel Silva and Mathew Reilly. It’s sad for me to see the Chess Team come to an end, but I’d much rather it come with closure than to have it just stop like I’ve seen with other series by other authors. Are the increasing number of self published books partly to blame? The market seems more saturated than ever and unfortunately, I believe it’s hurting legitimate, talented authors. As long as you continue to write, stand alone or series, you’ll always have a dedicated reader from this end. Finally, I’d just like to say that I’ve read every stand alone and they’ve all been amazing. While I love following old characters through story lines that sometimes take years to fully develop, I equally love the opportunity to meet new characters and explore completely new environments. Could you maybe put a call in to James Rollins and suggest he throw in a few stand alones once in awhile to?

  24. Steve Schmekel

    June 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Man, You are killing me I found all of your books after reading a Kronos paperback and have to say You are one of my favorite authors of all time now. I have read all of your series one after another (Island 731 was like reading Michael Crichton for the first time) and jumped into the stand alone novels. The characters are all bad asses and who cares if stuff seems far fetched like others have said, Sometimes the world just needs a hero. And You have given us those heroes and situations that call for them in spades. I was really psyched up to see where the chess team was going to go next but, as long as they get the send off they deserve it will be awesome.

  25. I read my first Jeremy Robinson book Pulse as a last minute buy when Borders bookstore was closing. I have been a fan ever since. I love all of the books, even those that I thought I wouldn’t like. I never would have read a Kaiju book if you hadn’t written it. My mother who is in her 60’s and was never a science fiction fan (Scotland Yard mysteries only) happened to read one of your books when I gave her my old kindle. She is now just as much of a fan as I am. We have animated discussions about Chess team. She will be heartbroken when I tell her that Chess Team is coming to an end, but we will continue to read all of your books.

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