I just got news from my agent that my publisher has passed on book five. They said the numbers just weren't there because each book was selling less than the one before.
Never mind that the first book has been out a year longer and continues to sell steadily, which means that the series itself has room for growth and sales of the second book could catch up.
Needless to say, I'm a wee bit upset and rather pissed-off. Chocolate may be needed.
However, the door isn't entirely closed. My agent is going to check with a few other publishers to see if anyone's interested in closing out the series (and getting the next phase of it), and there's always the possibility that my publisher could come crawling back to me, begging for book five, if the series suddenly takes off and they see a spike in sales.
So, I guess we're in the same situation we were, but more desperate (gee, I'm having flashbacks from December 2002 when Fox cancelled Firefly and we were all writing letters to other networks). If you want the chance of seeing book five, keep telling people about the books. If you checked them out of the library or borrowed the book from a friend, buy a copy (new!). If friends want to borrow your copies, make them buy their own. Keep on spreading the word. If sales do well, other publishers and my old publisher will be more likely to reconsider. Letters to the publisher do no good because all they care about is the number of copies sold, and they have a direct measurement of that. Buying a book or making sure a book gets bought is the only way to record a "vote" for it.
Book 4 is, as far as I know, still a go (since they've paid me for it), and even if we don't get book 5, it does have a good ending that could work as a series ending. However, they probably will support book 4 even less now, so it may be the "orphan" book that's really hard to find. Without book five, you just won't get to find out what Owen's story really is, or what's really been going on with Idris.
Now I'm going to work that much harder on the thing I started work on last night. And then come up with something even more brilliant that can now go to all publishers, and they will RUE THE DAY. Ahem.