First it was the Twilight saga. Next, The Hunger Games. This year, it’s all about Divergent and Game of Thrones. In recent years, not a summer goes by without the appearance of a gripping fantasy series to dominate newspaper headlines, conversations and poolside deckchairs. From Vampires to Werewolves, from Dementors to Basilisks - the market is going zombie crazy for fantasy. Social media and the rise of self-publishing has allowed niche fiction to go to viral - turning ordinary folk into superstar authors and royalties into megabucks.
There’s clearly a taste for fantasy. These success stories have created opportunities for mid-range fantasy series: particularly those aimed at adult readers. In their March 2014 ‘Books and Consumers’ report, Nielsen reported that sales of adult fantasy fiction increased in 2013. Self-published fantasy series, in particular, are gaining sales traction. Speaking at the Literary Consultancy Conference in June, Steve Bohme commented that thrillers and fantasy titles were the fastest-growing genres in self-publishing in 2013.
Every writer and publisher is keen to get a piece of this potentially lucrative pie. So how do you make your well-written escapist fantasy series stand out? Here at Vearsa, we’re excited that we are now distributing bestselling series, The Vampire Journals by Morgan Rice. Crucially, The Vampire Journals has a loyal fan base of readers who keep coming back for more. How do you gain this kind of attention for your fantasy series?
Start by giving away the first title for free. This is one of the (many) secrets to the success of The Vampire Journals. Noah Lukeman is the President of Lukeman Literary Agency, representing Morgan Rice. He has blogged: “Make your first book free. Not 2.99, not .99. But free. And keep it that way, permanently. A free book is the key that will unlock the doors to a number of promotional opportunities and strategies that are simply unavailable otherwise.” Similarly, fantasy eBook author Lindsay Buroker notes that when she offered one eBook for free, sales improved on all her novels.
Now that you’ve got your reader, you need to buy their loyalty to the story. Ensure that there are recurring characters and storylines that readers can really connect with. Fantasy readers want to be immersed in an engaging world with likable and relatable characters. Fantasy writer L.B. Gale recommends leaving intriguing ‘breadcrumbs’ of information in the first few chapters of the book; perhaps hints at an unsolved mystery or intriguing character backstory.
Now, it’s vital to ignite a conversation. As has always been the case, the main route to success is through word-of-mouth. We reckon this has been a driving force in the success of recent book series. It’s important to get to know the readers you want to draw into your series. Engage with the target audience and through online forums, blogs and social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter.
It’s a competitive fantasy world out there – some would say, almost dystopian – but your series might just have a fighting chance.
You'll hear from us!