To Series or Not to Series

I recently had an online conversation about whether a book being part of a series helps or hurts its sales. Almost everything I’ve read suggests that most readers like series. What they don’t like is not knowing where a book falls in the sequence, or being left hanging until the next book comes out.

When I started writing my first novel, DANGEROUS TALENTS, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just writing a story I wanted to tell. I certainly wasn’t trying to start a series at that point.

Then my critique group said, “Tell us Ragni’s story!” So I wrote FORBIDDEN TALENTS.

By this time I’d decided that writing a third book in a series that wasn’t selling yet was a bad idea, so I wrote two more stand-alone books, VEILED MIRROR and LIGHTBRINGER. Except some of the characters inΒ LIGHTBRINGERΒ  told me that their stories needed to be told too, so it turned out to be the first of another series. And then I decided I had to tell a story that turned out to be connected to the Celestial Affairs universe, but not actually about the Celestials. I started writing SEDUCED BY TRUST. Then I stopped because the hero’s mom needed her story told first. That’s how BETRAYED BY TRUST came to be written.

The problem with writing multiple series is that you have to keep it all straight. That’s too much for my little brain to remember, so I haveΒ  haphazzard story “bibles” that help me keep track of eye colors and name spellings. I’m also creating a series arc for the Celestial Affairs and Trust books.

Some writers just can’t stand to outline because it robs them of the joy of discovery. Fortunately, I’m not one of them. I start with a general idea for a book, some characters, a place and a goal. I’ll write a chapter or three to learn about them, but it doesn’t take long before I have to know where I’m going, so I draw myself a little map which gets more and more detailed as I go along. Usually that’s enough for a singleton, but with three more books in the Celestial Affairs series and the two Trust books to link in, I can’t wing it. I have to know.

So I’m drawing myself a big map that covers all six books. Each of the next two Celestial Affairs books, GUARDIAN and APOSTATE, will stand alone but will build to a big finale in the last book, SERAPHIM. At least, that’s the plan.

So here I am with three series begun, and readers asking for more in each of them. It might not have been the smartest way to go, especially since I’m not the fastest writer, but I’m thrilled my readers are so enthusiastic. (And when it comes out, I promise to tell you where a book fits in each series.)

In the meantime, the next book to be released is the 2nd Vinlanders’ Saga book, FORBIDDEN TALENTS. You won’t have to wait long–it comes out in early October.

Thanks for reading!

 

11 Comments

Filed under Publishing, writing

11 responses to “To Series or Not to Series

  1. What a great post! I’m always intrigued by how authors approach their craft. I can’t imagine the complications involved in having several series going at once. Amazing. I have to confess, I haven’t read any of your work before, but I plan to rectify that soon, with my trusty KIndle. It’s never far away, and this is the perfect situation for making the best use of it. I’ll be downloading the first of your books very shortly. Thanks again for an informative and fascinating post.

    • Thanks, Marcia! I hope you enjoy whatever you choose. Leave a review when you finish, and let me know how you liked it. πŸ™‚

      • I chose Veiled Mirror to start with, and I will definitely leave a review on my blog, plus I’ll check in here, too. I’m in the middle of another book right now, so it won’t be immediately, but I WILL read it. Looking forward to it!

  2. I’m right there with the people you mention that can’t outline or it robs me of the story. Does it every time. Locks my brain up like you wouldn’t believe. πŸ™‚ As for series, I only write so many books in a series (usually stop at a trilogy) because after that I feel like the stories start to get too similar. πŸ™‚

    • I sympathize, Denise. The extensive outline does diminish the fun a little for me, but it also saves me a tremendous amount of frustration from going down blind alleys. One thing that’s true: there’s no one right way to get the job done, even for the same writer.

  3. Cheryl Boyland

    I just read LIGHTBRINGER — loved everything about the book. I read it on my Kindle Fire, and as soon as I completed it I checked to see if it was part of a series.
    I could imagine a book about almost every character — especially Linda, Cam, and Gideon. They were described so well, yet their stories feel unfinished. Hopefully the series you described includes wrapping up their stories.
    I guess it’s a good thing to leave your audience wanting more.

    • Thanks so much, Cheryl! I’m glad I left you wanting more. πŸ˜‰ You’ll see all of those characters again. Gideon will have his own book, but in the meantime I’m finishing up BETRAYED BY TRUST where he makes a cameo appearance.

      Thanks for reading! If you have a moment, it would be great if you could leave a review on Amazon, too. All the best–Frankie

  4. I can’t seem to help myself. πŸ™‚ I think in series. Okay, book one’s done. now what other trouble can I get them into? I think it’s because I’m so used to reading them. Good luck with FT, Frankie!

  5. Pingback: Where Have All The Single Titles Gone? | Amie Louellen

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