As a publishing author, I have many hats that I wear in this business. Each of those requires different things of me, and all of them play into which books I work on next.
I am going to start this out with the list of ongoing series that are currently underway and have books released, then show you a list of the series that are waiting for their chance to shine. Then, I'll explain how I pick amongst them to determine which books go out first. THIS IS IMPORTANT, as it involves you - the reader - to an extent!
CURRENT OPEN SERIES
(in order of original publication):
The Awakening Series - Paranormal Fantasy/Lite Romance (books 1-3 were previously published with a 4th/spinoff book expected. I have pulled them from publication to undergo a makeover, as this was my first series ever released).
The Voodoo Follies - YA Paranormal Fantasy - 1 book of 3
The Falling Star Series - Upper YA/NA Fantasy-scifi - 1 book of 3 (This is being redone as 1 full book that will come in at about 600 pages.)
The Ancients Series - Paranormal (shifter) Romance - 4 books of 4.5 released. The original novella that was set to accompany this one is being turned into a full-length novel (Ashley and Evan). There were also three spinoff series associated with this world that have not been released yet: The Daniels Clan, The Sister Witch Saga, and the Brothers of Blood Series. I still would like to get to all of those, because I LOVE this world. It is one of my favorites. It falls under moderate priority for publication, though, and I will explain that soon.
The Death Viewers Series - Paranormal Fantasy/Suspense/Lite Romance - 1 book of 3 released.
Letters to... Series - New Adult/Contemporary/College/Small town Romance - 1 book of an expected 3.
Vukodlak Brew Series - Paranormal (shifter) Romance - 2 books of an expected 6.
T.I.E. Series - Rock Star/Contemporary Romance - 2 books of 5 released.
Aces High MC - Dakotas Series - MC (motorcycle club) Romance/Contemporary Romance - 3 books of an expected 6
S.H.E. MC - MC Romance/Contemporary - 2 books of an expected 6
Aces High MC - Cedar Falls - MC Romance/Contemporary - 3 books (+ one box set) released of an expected 8 books.
Aces High MC - Tallahassee - MC Romance/Contemporary - 1 book of an expected 6.
Valhalla Rising - Rock star / Contemporary Romance - 1 book of 5.
SERIES THAT ARE WAITING TO LAUNCH:
Each of these series has at least two books that have complete outlines, and some books have been partially/mostly written.
Aces High MC - Sierra High - MC Romance/Contemporary - anticipated 6-8 books. This will be the last of the Aces High MC Series/Books.
Earthbound Souls MC - Paranormal Suspense/romance/MC Romance - Planned 3 books, possibly more. This is a spinoff from the Aces High MC - Charleston Series (based on the 7th book in that series).
Stoneridge Raiders MC - MC Romance/Contemporary - anticipated 6 books.
Chasing Cars Series - Rock Star Romance/Contemporary/New Adult
Fourth Down Series & Dusty Rose Series - Both are Rock Star Romance in the same world as T.I.E, Valhalla Rising, and Chasing Cars. These have gone on a very low priority list and may not see the light of day. It will depend on demand later on down the road.
Minutes to Midnight (standalone) Paranormal Suspense
Welcome to Hunter High (standalone) Upper YA - Paranormal Suspense/Romance
Soulbound Series - Paranormal Romance/Suspense - 3 books expected
Dead of Night Series - Paranormal Romance/Suspense - 3 books expected
The Seven Series - Romantic Comedy/Contemporary/Adult - 7 books expected
The Fortunate Ones Series - Contemporary Romance - 4 books expected (all standalone within the series).
Wrecked and Ruined Series - Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy - 4 books expected (all standalone within the series).
Necro Academy Series - Upper YA/NA Paranormal Suspense/Romance - 4 books expected.
There are MANY more, but they are just a quick synopsis of stories I want to tell later, and I won't bother to post them here because sometimes I reshuffle them and combine those ideas with other books. ;)
As you can see, I have a lot of work to keep me busy. Now, how I determine which books and series are released first...
My brain - Creative based occupations don't always have the luxury of rolling out inventory assembly line style. We don't get to just sit down and crank out the perfect words for each book at a moment's notice. Sometimes, we have to set aside a book we would really like to work on because it's just not there in our minds. Added to that, I have attention issues (sometimes severe & debilitating) and work on multiple books and series, but sometimes I end up super focused on specific ones until they're done. When that happens, whatever book or series that I focused on takes priority over everything else because it would be detrimental for me to stop and try to force something else. That is how the entire 7-book Aces High MC - Charleston Series ended up released within a year and a half. Sometimes, it just happens that way. I wish I could crank every series out in that manner, but I do what I can while working around my issues.
Sales - Despite my work being a labor of love, it is foremost a business. I think many people forget that. I am a single mom and this is my only job. That means, I have to make business decisions that will keep the lights on, the bills paid, my kids fed, and the next books coming out rather than me having to hold down another job too (which seriously slows the publication process). Here is the formula I use to determine if a specific series will be back-shelved or not:
1 - did the book pay for itself in the first month? If not, then the next book in the series might be put off for a series that will do better financially. (Paying for itself = the initial investment I put into the book, cover cost, editing costs, formatting, advertising, physical book copies, etc.). Each book has a price tag to be published and we don't make any money off them until after sales have met that initial cost. Most books in my backlist started off with a $500-3,000 cost EACH. If a book doesn't pay for itself, that is a hefty loss to incur, and it makes further books in that series a much greater risk on investment for the author. They make the same decisions in traditional publishing.
2 - If it paid for itself in the first month, how well did it do in the next three months? Obviously, sometimes, I already have the next book in the series ready and can determine by sales of the first two if they get priority. Sometimes, they do, others, they don't. If I have other series out that are doing better, then those books will take publication priority.
Reviews - Sometimes, sales are decent between two series and the way I judge which will come out next is by using reviews. I check number of reviews/ratings and weigh them against one another, and then I check through some actual reviews to see which books people seem more excited about. This is one of the few times I check through reviews (unless someone points them out to me for a specific reason).
Genre Over-Saturation - This is probably not what you're thinking. It involves a few points (for my decision making).
An over-saturated market - sometimes, I will swap genres I am writing in because the market in those areas is over-saturated, and it's hard for books to get noticed. Coming back to that same genre/sub-genre at a later date may help with that.
An over-saturated brain - Other times, it is my brain that is just done with a genre and needs a break. As a reader, I genre hop regularly so that I don't end up reading the same stuff on repeat or getting reader's hangover that won't allow me to find another book to read. As an author, the same applies. I get tired of magic worlds and swap to something different. I get burned out on MC worlds and swap to something else. I come back to each thing, eventually, but sometimes my brain requires a break so that you get the best stories possible. If I'm bored or burned out, you won't get that.
Weird sub-genre stigmas - Sometimes, I take a break because a specific genre/sub-genre has gone through a weird flux where all the books are suddenly the same story being re-told with alternative names and places. For instance, the insta-love/fated mates scenario in paranormal shifter romance. There were a few years there, where if you did not write SPECIFICALLY those styles of books within the genre, you got bashed heavily in reviews because that was the glut of what readers wanted. I ABHOR being a cookie-cutter writer. If I see trends like that, I just take a step back and roll in another direction, then circle back when I'm able. The Vukodlak Brew Series was one that got put on hold more for that reason than any other. People couldn't fathom "fated mates" having problems and not insta-loving their way to a happy ending. I could write those stories in 5-pages or fewer. I didn't want to. There is nothing wrong with those stories, they're just not what I want to write, and I don't like being pigeon-holed by what other authors are throwing out into the world. This is one reason that I always preach: NOT EVERY BOOK IS RIGHT FOR EVERY READER, NO MATTER THEIR LOVE FOR THE GENRE! So, those books waited until that trend calmed a bit and I moved onto something else in the meantime.
My Health - Another determining factor is my health (or that of my kids). If I am not well, productivity slows, and I have to be pickier/choosier about the projects I work on. This is the case right now. My health is suffering at the moment, and it has certainly slowed my productivity. It has also bolstered my need to move back to some older projects that need to be completed. For the past two years, I've worked seven days a week, and most of those days were 12-16 hour stints. It is EXHAUSTING, and you can only keep up with that for so long before your body and brain require a break. That also means a break from other work related things - like social media. Social media was taking a huge chunk of time away from my writing, but was also becoming a bit unsettling with the odd demands I received.
I had a few people become very snarky with me about the fact that THIS book or THAT book hadn't released yet, and how they were angry with me and wouldn't read any of my future books. Those same people, and anyone else who needs to hear this, need to understand that I am a creative writer. I go with my creative flow, and I am NOT A ROBOT! I just hit my 40th published book in January 2021. I published most of those 40 books in the past TWO YEARS! I can't possibly publish at any faster pace than I am currently without ending up in a hospital. So, that leads me to my final thought. I took a break from social media beginning at the end of December 2020. I don't have time for everything, and certainly not messages that tell me I'm not doing my job fast enough for them. My health has hit a major decline, and I won't see it drop further. Am I still working? Yes, but at a greatly modified pace.
Next up in releases for me will be: The seven-year anniversary, re-release of The Ancients Series. The new, 2nd edition, versions of books one and two are already available, while books three and four will be ready soon - complete with paperback editions that were not available previously. You can see on www.moonlitdreams.org that the new covers are now being popped up on the home page and the book list page. On the heels of the re-release of the original four, readers will also finally get Evan and Ashley/Ashley and Evan... lol Their stories are coming too. The spinoffs that were mentioned earlier in this post are still in the works as well, because that is one of my all-time favorite worlds to hang out in! One more quick note about these books - while they had an overhaul done for edits, they all have a good deal of new material too. If you previously purchased (ebook) copies, you will simply be able to update them. If you haven't purchased or read them yet, I suggest doing so. I will have a post available about this series in specific as soon as all four books are completely revamped and ready to go.
Other releases coming in the next couple months will be Keys (S.H.E. Book 3), Devoted (Valhalla Rising Book 2), and Evermore (Aces High MC - Cedar Falls Book 4). I hope to have beta and ARC availability for all three books. If you are not signed up for the newsletter, do so, because that is where you will learn about those opportunities.
I hope this has been helpful for those of you who were wondering why certain books haven't seen the light of day yet. Remember, reviews matter, so if you loved a book and want to see more of that series - LEAVE A REVIEW!
If you have questions, I am always willing to answer. Leave them below!
Christine Michelle/Christine M. Butler