Thoughts on sequels, had an article on sequels in sci-fi and horror.

In the last nine years there's been a big increase in what percentage of the science fiction and fantasy lit market are sequels – and the spike started in the late 90's and then leveled off – but did not decrease.  If you think I'm going to state it and not do an analysis, you really don't know me that well.

Why do I think this is? And what does it mean for progeeks in writing and lit?

First, I think why it is is multifold:

  • Sequels are guaranteed business.  We've seen all media companies for the last decades realize that works (ask the people behind Friday the 13th).  If you have buy in in one book, people are more likely to buy the next.
  • Sequels can free authors – that may sound strange, but honestly, I think there's a benefit.  An author can write that giant epic and sell it in parts.  An author is also free to keep writing – and keep getting paid – if there's a market for sequels, which is very comforting.
  • Sequels can be inspiring.  Authors get to spend more time with their creations.
  • People like it.  I don't like things to drag on forever, but I do like to get deep into a story, characters, and worlds.  Sure, it can be dragged on too far, but I think a lot of us enjoy getting deeper into things.
  • Social engagement.  Reading a book and discussing it is one thing.  Reading a series and speculating what's next, waiting for the next book, writing fanfic, etc. is even more engaging.  The Harry Potter phenomena may be hard (or impossible) to repeat, but there was a lot of social bonding there.

I do not see the above trend reversing – and I can see a slight increase – but mostly I think it's here to stay for the above reasons.  I suspect it may make it harder on some authors, but also is good once you "break in."  Keep that news – and the above theories – in mind when planning your publishing career.

– Steven Savage