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How Did Your Series Get Started?

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In the adult business, acquiring editors are always asking what comes next? What do you have planned for book 2 and 3 and 4? It's funny really because most often, they don't care about anything but that first book. If it's not written to specifications, then they're not interested in anything else in the same series you might have planned. Yet if it's something they love, they want more of it. Because they know readers will too. And it's a way to brand an author.

So what if you wrote book 1, and 2, and 3, and didn't sell book 1? You have 3 books you can't sell. But if you sell the first, you've got a good chance at selling all 3!

The "what if" is the catcher.

I tend to write a story as a stand alone. Put my heart and soul into it. Try to sell it and while I'm trying, I'll begin work on the next book. But I'll make it a stand alone also. Why? Because if I don't sell the first book, I can't the second.

When I sold Heart of the Wolf, the adult werewolf book, I had no idea it would become a series. Yet here I am writing book 11 of the so far contracted 13 book series, and just finished book 1 of the new jaguar series, 2 more contracted. While I had shopped The Heart of the Wolf, I had started Destiny of the Wolf, thinking if the first one didn't go over, I'd have another one written that I could try out on editors and agents.

With my YA, I wrote The Dark Fae, sent off to a couple of agents, didn't get any kind of a response, so finally after several years thought I'd self publish. It was a one-book deal, although I did write another, stand alone also, though lost it in a computer crash, but I had no idea The Dark Fae would sell as well as it did. But it took off! The highest number of sales I made in one day was 134 on B&N!!! After making $7,000 that month and getting fan requests for more, I wrote The Deadly Fae and The Winged Fae. And have started on The Ancient Fae. Sales aren't anything like that one month, but they continue to be good!

For me, I start out with a stand alone title, and while I'm shopping it, I might write another or start another. Or I might work on something else to see if "that" book will be the one that catches the readers' hearts.

If you write series, or have thought about it, how would you/do you go about the process?

#1 - September 17, 2011, 05:28 AM


My writing naturally tends towards series. My stories have a story arc, but they also have an overarching arc that grows and develops with each new book in the series.

I've heard a lot of people advising against writing any more of the books until you see if you can sell the first one, and for some people that works. But it doesn't work for me. I write the whole series so I can see the whole story arc stretching across the series which helps a lot during the revisions in making the stories feel more cohesive. I'm able to add foreshadowing and weave things together I wouldn't be able to if I only wrote the first book, got that published, and then started working on the sequels. (Just to clarify, I'm not knocking how anyone's process works. Just saying what works for me and why.)

I don't mind writing stories that aren't picked up by commercial publishers, because actively writing a book means I'm learning more, deepening the skills I already do have, and acquiring more. So to me, those books, even if a commercial publisher doesn't pick them up, are necessary.

That said, I have a five-year writing plan, and I write specific series for specific venues. One series (a trilogy with companion novels) is something I've written for a commercial audience. Another series I've written specifically to self-publish. And a different series, I'm aiming at a different type of venue.

#2 - September 17, 2011, 12:24 PM

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I've sold several series and each time it began with a proposal and the first book.  In my proposal I had one page with a paragraph for each additional book. If your goal is to sell with a traditional publisher, then write a first book that is solid and if a editor likes it you can discuss additional books.

Things have changed because of ebooks offering more opportunities for resourceful authors. Sounds like that's working great for you. Congrats.
#3 - September 28, 2011, 01:55 PM

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Personally... I can?t see writing for anyone else other than yourself, so toss out the idea of ?not selling? a book. If you love your characters and they deserve a Part 2 or a Part 10, just write it. Createspace or Self Publishing is obviously an option if no publisher/agent goes for it. Sure, the internet is saturated with a lot of crap ... but that?s crap! What you?re creating isn?t. Write it, put it out there, and then move on to the next story. You honestly never know when someone with any sense (and cents) will stumble on your book and demand more. How awesome would it be to HAVE more when they ask? Heck, I just put my kids books online for anyone to read, and I?m working on downloadable versions. Sure, I?d love to make money off of all this, but that can?t be the reason you (or anyone on this website) writes.

So back to your question: If you didn?t know it was a series when you started, you?ll know it is supposed to be a series when your character?s adventures/story is not done. I don?t believe in THE END. Closure sure ... but not an end.

Tip: If you realize it IS a series and have not finished yet: outline the next part(s). That way you know what is coming and can make tiny adjustments and hint towards the future. I have about 3 pages in one of my books talking about ?the wacky mythologies and monsters of the old world? (like Greek Mythology, but original monsters and such). The main character shrugs it off and continues with the plot ... but those mythological creatures may not be so mythological in later books.
#4 - September 16, 2014, 03:47 PM


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