Author Topic: Worried about writing a series  (Read 4505 times)  

Offline Quiss

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Worried about writing a series
« on: June 30, 2013, 05:58:48 AM »
I'm feeling a little not-so good about things right now.
Sales, in spite of a new release, have tanked but that seems to be happening pretty much across the board.

Now I worry a LOT about the way my books are perceived as a series.
As it is, although it's technically a series, each book is a stand-alone story and doesn't really have to be read in any particular order. It is helpful, of course, because there are ongoing themes and characters. I mention as much in some of my blurbs and the front matter.

However, does this structure negatively affect sales of a new release?  If a reader sees a book in the "new release" section and then sees that this is Book Four, would they not just give it a pass, figuring that they won't know what's going on with the story?
I know that series are popular with some readers, especially in sci-fi/fantasy, but I worry about shooting myself in the foot by continuing this as a series.

I am getting very good reviews but, like many, am not getting the sort of visibility I like. So, because of current sales, I'm wondering if there is any point in continuing the series or if I should try something else. My readers are asking for more stories, and I'd love to deliver those, but I can't just keep writing for the same 100 people.

I do regularly offer promos for the first two books (Bookbub, Select etc)

I could really use some advice.
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Offline Christopher Gray

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2013, 06:02:11 AM »
Since you have so many books within the same story universe, maybe you should branch out and see what happens. You could either stick to the same genre but use completely new characters in an unrelated storyline, or go further, and try a different genre. Maybe even non-fiction, if you have an interesting story to tell.


Offline Rusty Bigfoot

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2013, 06:07:20 AM »
"but I can't just keep writing for the same 100 people."

Why not? They will eventually spread the word and sales will increase. And if you somehow make it clear they're stand-alone books, I think you'd have the best of both worlds. Having a loyal fan base is worth a lot, no matter how small. And to me, 100 isn't all that small.

Offline AriaS

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2013, 06:24:35 AM »
Just 2 cents:
What if you made an omnibus with the first three books, or even with all four in the series? This way, if someone wants to read it but really wants to start at the beginning, they might get the omnibus.

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2013, 06:28:25 AM »
I guess it depends on your plan / vision for if you were to continue it as a series. It has to end at some point. If now isn't the time (meaning there is book 5 in your head), but you want to try writing something else, then you can try writing something else. And then come back to book 5 whenever you're ready.

Offline Shane Ward

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2013, 06:42:30 AM »
I guess some people could be waiting for the series to be completed before they commit themselfs to it, or they might get a good deal for the whole lot as in total at the end. Its annoying to start to read a series and discover the author can't be bothered to finish it. I get that  alot with TC shows that just stop.

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Offline DRMarvello

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2013, 06:51:16 AM »
I worry about the same kind of thing and would love to hear the advice you get. I'm about to release the second book of a swords & sorcery fantasy trilogy. Like your series, my stories can be read stand-alone, but the books are clearly marked as Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3.

Most of the advice I've seen here on the boards has been that series rule. I guess readers like the continuity and familiarity that a series offers. However, I could see how that sword would cut both ways. If the audience for your series is limited to begin with, continuing a series will keep you stuck in that limited market. It might be necessary to write something different to widen your exposure. In so doing, you might even bring new fans over to your series. That's my theory anyway. After I finish the trilogy, I'm going to take a break from that story world to write an urban fantasy that's been roiling around in my head.

FWIW, I read The Catalyst and enjoyed it. You can definitely spin a good yarn. I didn't see anything that would limit your success with that series, other than the fact that the SciFi market itself is limited compared to, say, Romance. I guess we can't all be Hugh Howey or George R.R. Martin.  :'(

Offline Anne Frasier

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2013, 07:07:30 AM »
:( unfortunately, that's the problem with writing a series. If it doesn't catch, then there you are.  Like Aria said, I think creating an omnibus is a good idea. And i might consider trying something else. maybe something shorter like a novella to see how that goes. 
   

Offline Caddy

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2013, 07:14:50 AM »
Many people wait until the series is complete. When you promote, 99% of the time you should be promoting book 1. Once the series is done, advertise book 1 but make sure you say "This series is now complete" and "Start with _____" etc. I only advertise the other 4 books in my series once in a great while. I never do paid advertising for them, only the first one. When I do guest blogs and interviews, I talk about the first book, show all the book covers, mention it is a 5 series that is now complete, etc.

Mine have not gone crazy with sales either, but I'm convinced that for most of us it is a slow build.
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Offline Quiss

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2013, 07:19:40 AM »
FWIW, I read The Catalyst and enjoyed it. You can definitely spin a good yarn. I didn't see anything that would limit your success with that series, other than the fact that the SciFi market itself is limited compared to, say, Romance. I guess we can't all be Hugh Howey or George R.R. Martin.  :'(

Thanks! That just made my day :)

I just had a long shower and a cup of coffee, which also helps. The omnibus idea is good. Technically, the series is done in a chronological way. But there is plenty of room to make use of this universe for "side stories". The characters are well-liked and some of them can go off on their own adventures. Frankly I am not ready to leave that universe.

I'm working on the main characters's back story and now I'm thinking that I could release that as a perma-freebie to introduce the series, and also make it available as an omnibus at that time. It'll make a mess of "Volume 1" but I could manage. I think Caddy had some wording or sub-title for an introductory volume, if I remember correctly.
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Offline draconian

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2013, 07:33:57 AM »
Now I worry a LOT about the way my books are perceived as a series.
As it is, although it's technically a series... this is Book Four

Perhaps just completely avoid using the word "series", or numbering the books.
Just give them all a cover that looks very similar to each other (Edit - I see you've got that already), with similar titles, and put something about "set in the nnnnn universe" in the blurb.

I've just finished reading a set of books by "Adam Hall", and a huge number of them have similar titles like "Quiller Balalaika" and "Quiller KGB" and "Quiller Solitaire".  So, something like that.


« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 07:35:38 AM by draconian »

Offline RoseInTheTardis

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2013, 07:39:49 AM »
Perhaps just completely avoid using the word "series", or numbering the books.
Just give them all a cover that looks very similar to each other (Edit - I see you've got that already), with similar titles, and put something about "set in the nnnnn universe" in the blurb.

The problem is if it's not easy to find the order and people think it's a series, they might give up when they can't figure out which is book one and go look for something else. I have done that when shopping for stuff to read on my Kindle or phone, because the apps make nagivation a PIA and I get frustrated if it's not clear which book is Book 1. So that's a risk, too.


Offline Clark Magnan

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2013, 07:44:09 AM »
However, does this structure negatively affect sales of a new release?  If a reader sees a book in the "new release" section and then sees that this is Book Four, would they not just give it a pass, figuring that they won't know what's going on with the story?

As a reader: if book 4 interested me, my next step would be to look at book 1. I would never give up on a book because it was part of a series, but I would go back and start at the beginning. An omnibus would tempt me.

I've seen authors keep the order of their series vague (as some have suggested) arguing that they can be read in any order. I'm sure that's true, but I'm compulsive enough to want to read them in order and it is when I can't figure out the real chronology that I wash my hands of the books. I say keep it clear.

Sounds to me like you should take a small break and work on something else but don't quit on your series. People like it and more and more people will get into them with time. New books outside the series will continue to be chances to promote your name in front of new readers.

Offline Zelah Meyer

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2013, 07:46:22 AM »
All I can suggest is that you make it very clear in the blurb that the books can be read either as a series or as stand-alones.

I'm going to be facing the same thing with my Dimension Jumpers universe.  Only, I've decided to complicate it by having a linked two-parter in there!  (And writing prequels - I obviously like to make life difficult for myself!)

As a reader, I tend to avoid getting into a series that isn't finished - but if the blurb assured me that it was a stand alone, then I'd be more likely to jump into an unfinished series.

Offline Caddy

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2013, 07:47:41 AM »
I agree with others who have said:

1. It is important to let people know books are part of the series and which number each is
2. That each book can be read stand-alone.
3. That if people find book 4 interesting they will check out book 1.
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Offline Ruth Ann Nordin

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2013, 07:49:01 AM »
Can you work on two books at once?  If so, I'd work on one in the series and another new book outside the series.  Or, if you can't write more than one book at a time, try writing the series book and then write the new book.  I have a friend who dragged her feet on writing a book that was not part of a series, but when she finally published it, it sold way better than any of her books in the series.  You just never know what book will take off.  I prefer to diversify when possible.

However, if this series is all you want to write, then I'd stick with just writing for the series.  There's no sense in forcing yourself to write something your heart isn't into.  :)

Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2013, 08:00:05 AM »
I think you should write something else in between books in a series. It makes life interesting, though I can see getting caught up in your world. It sounds like you need to take a break for yourself, also, so that's something to consider.

I'm going to be in a similar situation with titling/numbering books in a series, as my books could be read by themselves, but they carry a long arc that's going to be resolved in the last book. I had planned on doing something like Jim Butcher does with his Harry Dresden books, but I'm rethinking that. Not sure what I'll decide, but I do know as a reader I like to read books in order.
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Offline Wansit

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2013, 08:04:55 AM »
I'd do 1-2 omnibuses and maybe consider making bk 1 permafree so it could rise in the SciFi charts. Up to you of course. It'd also be good if you could indicate the order of reading in the title or on the covers.

Offline Ryan Sullivan

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2013, 08:23:32 AM »
Even though my books are part of a series, I opted out of the "this book is part of a series" checkbox so I didn't have to write "Book 1". Instead I put "Aundes Aura (The Vlkia Chronicles)" as the actual title, and each book would follow suit. I wrote in my Author Notes that "The Vlkia Chronicles" is a series of non-chronological standalone books, based on different characters and events in the history of Vlkia.

Should I have a suggested reading order? If so, should it be in the order I write/wrote them, or the chronological order at the time of writing?
 
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Offline Al Dente

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2013, 08:45:08 AM »
My suggestion is to take a short break from what you're doing now and try something new. I'm about to write a standalone book in a new fantasy universe I've been creating for years. If it actually takes off, I will probably start an actual series in that world. If it doesn't, I can continue to write standalone books that take place there to satisfy my own creative needs. Maybe do something like that. Write something that's completely standalone, and if people respond to it, take your readers' favorite character and give him an actual series.

Offline glc3

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2013, 08:47:29 AM »
I think the big thing is do YOU want to continue the series.  If you still like the universe you have created then continue to write that series.


I wrote a series and have put the first three books into an omnibus. I also have book one at the 99 cents price with a link at the end to the entire trilogy.

I understand your frustration about writing a book for just a 100 people but hey a fanbase is a fanbase and it has to start somewhere. I have about a 100 people i know will by the next book in a series. The trick is to get them to review and talk about your book. All it takes is that one right person to fall in love with your books and sing their praises.

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Offline Christine Kersey

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2013, 08:58:24 AM »
I have two series and the books in those series need to be read in order. Actually, series may not be the best word as they're both trilogies. But what I've found to be extremely successful is to make book 1 of each series perma-free. That's lead to thousands of follow-on sales. Especially when I advertise the free book on Bookbub. As a reader, I would quickly download book 1 of a series if it's free. And if I like it, I'll go on to buy the next book.

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Offline MaryMcDonald

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2013, 09:10:04 AM »
I'm feeling a little not-so good about things right now.
Sales, in spite of a new release, have tanked but that seems to be happening pretty much across the board.

Now I worry a LOT about the way my books are perceived as a series.
As it is, although it's technically a series, each book is a stand-alone story and doesn't really have to be read in any particular order. It is helpful, of course, because there are ongoing themes and characters. I mention as much in some of my blurbs and the front matter.

However, does this structure negatively affect sales of a new release?  If a reader sees a book in the "new release" section and then sees that this is Book Four, would they not just give it a pass, figuring that they won't know what's going on with the story?
I know that series are popular with some readers, especially in sci-fi/fantasy, but I worry about shooting myself in the foot by continuing this as a series.

I am getting very good reviews but, like many, am not getting the sort of visibility I like. So, because of current sales, I'm wondering if there is any point in continuing the series or if I should try something else. My readers are asking for more stories, and I'd love to deliver those, but I can't just keep writing for the same 100 people.

I do regularly offer promos for the first two books (Bookbub, Select etc)

I could really use some advice.


I could have almost written your post. I have some awesome fans, but many of them seem to be older--at least from the emails I've received, and maybe they aren't as vocal about telling everyone about the latest, greatest thing.  ;) So, it occurred to me that one of my main characters has a son who was in college in the last book. I'm going to bring him into my current WIP as a side character and I'm hoping to do a spin-off with him. Not only will it hopefully attract some younger readers, I hope it will get current fans to read it, and it will give me another 'first' book to use a promotional tool.

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Offline DRMarvello

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2013, 09:23:29 AM »
I've seen authors keep the order of their series vague (as some have suggested) arguing that they can be read in any order. I'm sure that's true, but I'm compulsive enough to want to read them in order and it is when I can't figure out the real chronology that I wash my hands of the books. I say keep it clear.

I'm the same way. If I know a book is part of a series, I want to start with the first one. I won't pick up book 2 or 3 at the library if book 1 is missing/checked out. I'm like this even with series that consist of supposedly stand-alone stories. I struggled to determine the order of the Spenser books, the Travis McGee books, and the Alex Cross books. Even though the stories stand alone, they include plenty of background events in the main character's life. Reading later books before earlier books ends up spoiling those events, however trivial.

Offline Avis Black

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Re: Worried about writing a series
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2013, 09:28:01 AM »
I'd put the series aside and write other projects.  Wait and see if the series gradually starts to gain a readership.  If it does, you can continue it.  Meanwhile, you may find out it's your other projects that catch the readers' interest.