Author Topic: Series relaunch: advice needed!  (Read 896 times)  

Offline C. Rysalis

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Series relaunch: advice needed!
« on: March 12, 2018, 06:49:00 AM »
Dear Hive Mind,

Now that I'm nearly done with my next book and am aiming for a release in June, I'd like to do a relaunch of my series (2 books so far) to address some newbie mistakes from back then. Now, some of what I'm planning to do is a little unusual, which is why I'd like to hear some opinions on my relaunch plan, how to pull it off and if it's a good idea in the first place. Bullet points:

New covers: Back when I launched the first two books, I had no idea how important it is to convey your genre at thumbnail size. I'm planning to get more appropriate covers for the new release (a standalone connected to the same series) and the duology of books 1 & 2. Speaking of the duology...

Combining books 1 & 2 into a duology: My series is basically the edited, professional version of a web serial that ran for 3 years. The whole thing is around 750K words with initially separate POVs and a continuous plot without actual 'endings' for the individual books. Because a continuous web serial doesn't have endings in the middle.  :P For that reason, the first ebook unfortunately contains 100K words worth of build-up, the plot doesn't really kick off (and the POVs don't come together) until the second ebook. I realized that in order to get readers hooked, I probably need to merge the two first books into a duology and make this duology the entry point to the series. Now, the big question is... can I make the individual books 1 & 2 unavailable for sale without unpublishing them? I'd really like to keep the reviews...

Note: even though the duology will be around 260K words total, I'll price it at 4.99 or 5.99$ (ouch) so readers don't misunderstand the intention behind it. I don't want anyone to suspect I made the individual books unavailable for sale so I can get more money from their pockets. That isn't my intention at all, I just want them to read past the build-up so they get hooked. I'm really, really hoping for more KU reads than sales. Is there anything I can do to target KU readers in particular?

Launching the duology and standalone at the same time: I'd like to publish both the same week for (hopefully) more momentum. The standalone is intended as an alternate entry point into the series (same setting and timeline, some series characters are mentioned) and I think that readers who enjoyed it might also want to check out the duology and vice versa.

New series name: I finally figured out the importance of book and series titles - hey, better late than never. The series is Urban Fantasy with elements of superhero deconstruction, so... how about 'Powered Destinies' as a series title? Does this sound good to you guys?

For the duology, I'm considering 'Radiant Power' as a title. Usable or silly from a marketing perspective? English isn't my first language so I don't always know what sounds 'cool' to American ears.

The standalone will be titled 'Gift of Light'. Light based powers are a recurring theme  ;)

One more question: Looking at the timeline of worldwide events, the standalone comes right after the current book 2 (and somewhat overlaps with the future book 3). Should I add it to the series page as the new 'book 2' even though its main plot is separate from the series? And list the duology as 'book 1' even though it is technically two books? Man, this stuff is complicated...

Anyway, thanks in advance for any opinions and advice.

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Offline grimshawl

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 07:26:57 AM »
those are all good questions and many of them I don't have the experience to answer properly but I did want to chime in on one thing I noticed which was your idea/choice of names for renaming your books/series.

" New series name: I finally figured out the importance of book and series titles - hey, better late than never. The series is Urban Fantasy with elements of superhero deconstruction, so... how about 'Powered Destinies' as a series title? Does this sound good to you guys?"

 It sounds pretty close to another super hero series that is already out by Drew Hayes called Powereds  or Super Powereds  that you might want to consider. https://www.amazon.com/Drew-Hayes/e/B00C3NDBPS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1520864386&sr=1-1

 lastly not too sure about Radiant Power. It doesn't really thrill me personally. Anyway I wish you good luck on your book relaunch. hopefully you will receive some more feedback here to help you decide.
Marty Myers, Fantasy indie author of The Dungeon Con, One Foot in the Grave.


Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 07:33:28 AM »
It sounds pretty close to another super hero series that is already out by Drew Hayes called Powereds  or Super Powereds  that you might want to consider. https://www.amazon.com/Drew-Hayes/e/B00C3NDBPS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1520864386&sr=1-1

Yes, 'Powered' and 'Super' are very common title elements in the superhero genre. Which is hopefully a good thing because potential readers will know what to expect.  :)

Thanks for your feedback regarding the duology title. If anyone wants to suggest a cool sounding alternative that screams 'superhero / UF' and has a connection to the element of light, I'd appreciate it!

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Offline grimshawl

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 08:12:34 AM »
I am not sure if your series or character with the light powers also has great flight or speed or not but one possibility would be to use/play with the word superluminal. Being as it has Super built right into the word and describes an amazing potential power/ability it could really work for a super hero story. Even if your character wasn't that fast yet the name could imply they could eventually achieve such a speed under the right circumstances.


superluminal

adjective Physics
adjective: superluminal
denoting or having a speed greater than that of light.

maybe Superluminary?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 08:17:20 AM by grimshawl »
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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 02:52:03 PM »
I am not sure if your series or character with the light powers also has great flight or speed or not but one possibility would be to use/play with the word superluminal.

Hmmm, one of the three POV characters does indeed use speed of light travel. One of the other two runs really fast. I'll keep it in the mind, thanks for the suggestion!

Is anyone able to offer advice concerning my other questions? Pwetty pweez?  :)

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 06:00:08 AM »
No one has an idea?

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Offline CarolynVMurray

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 03:37:26 PM »
I don't know if having one oversized book will go over well with the readers - is it impossible to rewrite Book One to give it a satisfying resolution - even if still a cliffhanger. (I think you'd also make more money with 2 books, and readers would be more inclined to try a conventionally shorter book.) BUT if you do need to discourage people from buying your first two books, I have seen writers simply jack up the price -- $300 each. That will tip the readers off that there's a better way to buy the stories.

Title - you're right - Anathema does not work. I do like the first paragraph of Book One's blurb - it draws you right into the story. What about a very straightforward LightPowered (Lightpowered) (Light Powered) Series? I think a story tied to the plot will help readers to remember the series.
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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 05:44:07 PM »
I like both your proposed names.

As for the rest, I don't know if you're going to like what I have to say (sorry in advance!). I know you've put a lot of effort and money into this series already, but you're proposing putting a lot more in, and you want to be sure it's worth it before you do that. Overall I think doing a relaunch with new covers and titles is a good idea. But I'm not so sure that just combining your first two books is going to solve your problem. I suspect, as was said above, that you're going to need at least something of a rewrite. If the first 100k words really doesn't get into the plot, as you suggest, I suspect you're going to lose a lot of readers, especially in urban fantasy which I believe is generally pretty fast moving and action based (I admit I don't actually read it).

Is there any way you can rearrange the content so that you end up with three books of a similar length that each contain sufficient action and plot? Because having them in a series listing is definitely worth it if you can, but you might run into trouble if the books in the series are wildly different lengths. (And you would definitely want to market the renamed book 1 as a single book and not a duology since single books sell better.)

As for your existing listings, my advice would be to take screen shots of the reviews and then let them go. I can't see any advantage to having them still listed other than cluttering up your author profile and confusing readers. You won't be driving readers to them, so no one will be seeing the reviews anyway.

Sorry to be a downer, just trying to be helpful!
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 08:03:20 PM by MelanieCellier »

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 06:07:52 PM »
Thanks for the feedback! You're not being downers at all, I appreciate honest opinions.  :)

From what I gathered, the issue with book 1 isn't that there's no action - there is. It's just that the three POVs are initially separate and read like three novellas in the same setting, and while there is stuff happening to each character, all the world-altering and overarching events that bring the POVs together happen in book 2. The other issue is character development - a POV character who starts out as a fairly bland 'naive good girl' in book 1 does a 180 degree turn and completely overthrows people's expectations in book 2. I can't rewrite the story to make the character development happen sooner, it wouldn't feel natural that way. And the Game of Thrones style POVs are critical for the plot to work the way it does. People who read book 2, where everything comes together and makes sense, are loving it. Even those who three-starred the first one.

Also, a rewrite would mean I'd have to rewrite the sequel as well (because of the seamless, web serial-style continuous narrative), and I'm afraid that would be too much effort (and money for re-edits) without guaranteed success.

What about a very straightforward LightPowered (Lightpowered) (Light Powered) Series? I think a story tied to the plot will help readers to remember the series.

I love the sound of it, but only one of the main series' 3 POV characters has light-based powers. The MC in the standalone does as well, but that's a separate book.

Thank you, everyone, for your other thoughts and suggestions. I'll keep them in mind as I move forward.  :)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 06:10:36 PM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline CheriB

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 10:40:53 AM »
Hey there.

As someone preparing to relaunch her first two books with a re-edit and new covers, I get where you're coming from. It's a lot of work! I started as a hobbyist and wanted to raise my game when putting the full series out, which for me meant two re-edits and new covers.

Personally, I think a 200K+ word duology is a tough sell. Assuming your interests are not only creative, but commercial, I'd consider one of the following alternatives:

1) Take all that fabulous content and re-write it as a 2 or 3 book series. You know the story, you've got the words, it may be a matter of re-editing and cleaning up the structure.  Then your stand-alone and next book are continuations.  If you keep your titles as-is, and stick with the same number of books, you can probably upload your revisions as new editions of the same title and keep your reviews.

2) Leave the books as-is, perhaps with a note at the start explaining the serial nature of the story. Then move forward with your new work.

I suppose I don't see how making your book a duology would make it more attractive to readers? As to your statement about how re-editing would be a lot of work, and how there isn't a guarantee of success, well, there's never a guarantee of success. But I think putting your work in a more reader-friendly format would give your book the best odds of success.

I think your proposed book name sounds great.  Good luck!

Cheri
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Online Dennis Chekalov

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 10:55:16 AM »
Quote
a continuous plot without actual 'endings' for the individual books

^^ This. People usually don't like it.

Quote
the first ebook unfortunately contains 100K words worth of build-up, the plot doesn't really kick off until the second ebook


^^ And this.

Quote
to merge the two first books into a duology and make this duology the entry point to the series

This will not help if you have 100k words of build-up.
80k is an average book today -- the whole story is 80k, and you have 100k of build-up.

I'd say you could re-write it or just drop it for now and write something new (and not-so-large).

Good luck!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 10:57:12 AM by Dennis Chekalov »
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Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2018, 11:27:30 AM »
I have to second both Melanie and Cheri; you're more than likely looking at a series re-write, especially being that it started off as a serial. Serials work great for blogs, newsletters, things like that, but it's hard to make them work within standalone or series format. I have a book that initially ran as a serial for a few years, then I split its seasons into a four-book series. That just confused people, so then I gathered it all into a standalone.

I also think it's going to be hard to convince readers to invest their time into such a long book right off the bat. The urban fantasy books I've read were nowhere near that long. Usually in a series, each book is a little longer (or sometimes a bit shorter) than the last.

Something you could do -- if your books thereafter follow the more traditional beginning-middle-end format -- is offer Book 1 as a reader magnet through Instafreebie/BookFunnel/MyBookCave, then give Book 2 to readers who join your email list. Or you could make Book 1 permafree on retailers, and price Book 2 low so that readers won't mind having to go on to solve the cliffhanger.

But you might want to take what you've learned about writing a series and re-write the whole thing so that it's marketable. Another option is leaving it as is and spending your time on new projects. I've been thinking about re-writing my rockstar romance series, so I understand the dilemma. I definitely wouldn't combine Books 1 and 2, though.

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2018, 12:11:26 PM »
A question for everyone: what makes you believe a duology or a long first book will be a tough sell? Don't readers usually appreciate more pages for the same price - I know I do? The first Game of Thrones book does something similar to what I do with the initially separate POVs and is 270K words. The length didn't seem to discourage readers from buying it.

I hear you about everything else, but this is a point I just don't understand yet.

I suppose I don't see how making your book a duology would make it more attractive to readers?

More pages for the same price, and because there would be no 'break' between the two books readers would reach the meat of the story around the 50% mark and get hooked. Literally everyone I talked into giving the second book a chance got hooked and can't wait for the series to continue. Including two people who three-starred the first book.

Quoting the book #2 review one of them left on Amazon:

"After my lukewarm reception of the first book, Transition, I didn't expect myself to like Escalation as much as I did, but Escalation surpassed my expectations. I actually loved the book. I find myself excited for when the third one comes out, and really can't wait for it. Unfortunately, I'll have to.

(...)

It was nice to see some serious character growth, and not just for Chris. Sarina/Dancer moved up from boring to somewhat interesting. Radiant/Andrey was still pretty meh for me, but he did actually did some interesting things.
One part that really drew me in was the serial killer subplot. I have a soft spot for that particular plot line, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. There is just something about serial killers that just draws people in, and the fact that this one is killing people with superpowers makes it even better. I really can't wait to see where that particular part is going.

There really wasn't much that I didn't enjoy about this novel. Things happened, people died, and it was overall a great time. I'm happy that I gave Escalation a shot and I can't wait until book 3 comes out.
This is also one of the very few times that I liked the second book more than the first."

This (and other reader feedback) gives me the belief that if I 'force' readers to continue on to book 2 by providing both books together, they'll get hooked.

I'd say you could re-write it or just drop it for now and write something new (and not-so-large).

This is probably the best story I'll ever write in my life - the unedited web serial has accumulated over 350'000 views. It's also something that has never been done before (Wildbow's Worm web serial is the only thing that shares some similarities with it) and if I don't put it out there, I won't be able to rest in peace.  :P
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 12:31:55 PM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2018, 02:18:26 PM »
I'm not sure I understand "merge the two books into a duology". A duology is two books (as opposed to a trilogy, three books). It sounds like you mean turn a duology into a single large book. (If it's a single volume containing a duology, that's just a packaging thing, like putting a complete trilogy in a single volume.) If your first 100k is buildup, then you'd probably need to rewrite them entirely to cut out what's not interesting story content. If you're talking about just packaging the duology together as one book, just market it as an omnibus or 'complete duology' and you're fine. And if you're talking about turning a duology into a single book, with more sequels coming after that, I think that could work as long as subsequent books are also about 200k each. If you mean turning the duology into one long, standalone book, that could be daunting for a lot of readers, and you'll probably have trouble selling paperbacks because the printing cost would be so high, but I think it could work.

But it really sounds like the story doesn't get interesting until 100k in. As an author, you can't talk the reader into giving your book a chance. If it doesn't get interesting until then and you don't want to rewrite, then packaging it as one book is probably a good idea. There are readers who'll keep reading if they already own the second book and all they have to do is turn the page, but wouldn't shell out more money and go to the trouble of acquiring the second book if the first one didn't grab them. They have no reason to believe you when you say, "The second book is where it gets interesting," even if they hear you say it. They're more likely to assume the second book is as dull as the first and not buy it. But if you do it all as one book, readers will probably be more likely to press on with it to get to the interesting part.

You need to rethink this perspective, though:

This (and other reader feedback) gives me the belief that if I 'force' readers to continue on to book 2 by providing both books together, they'll get hooked.

You can't 'force' (quotes or no) readers to continue a book they're not enjoying. A lot of readers have a set number of pages/percentage of a book that they'll read before giving up on a book if it's not grabbing me. For me, it's 50 pages (unless it's particularly awful). If I'm still feeling "meh" about a book 50 pages in, I'm likely to drop it. For some people, it's 100 pages. For some, it's 10. If your genre is epic fantasy, the readers are probably more patient than average. They're also less likely to be intimidated by a 200k word story. Although I see you say this is UF/superhero, which doesn't run nearly that long in general.

If your plan is to eventually release the whole 750k word story as a series, then what I would do is go through the entire thing and find the most natural breaking points. I know this can be very difficult. I once wrote a very, very long fanfic which would have been very difficult to break into three satisfying novels (but since it was fanfic, I didn't have to). With what you've got, it's going to be a challenge. You may need to add in additional content to try to shape some natural sections that read more like novels with beginnings, middles, and ends. Maybe some new subplots, so you can at least have each book have one plot line that has a beginning, middle, and end? And do try to make them roughly the same size. (By roughly, I mean maybe 100-150k words, which gives you a whole lot of leeway. Though aim for more like 100-120.) Readers are used to books in a series being approximately the same length, and getting too wild with different sizes can annoy some people.

Based on what you've said about the book not coming together until the second book, I'd strongly advise you to go back in and add some material into the first book to make it seem less like a bunch of unnecessary buildup and more like an interesting story. And while you're at it, cut out whatever you can that isn't really necessary to cut down on the amount of unnecessary buildup. Make it an exciting, satisfying story (whatever chunk of your story the first book ends up being, if you do the reorganizing I mentioned above). Each book should have some sort of satisfying conclusion. Web serials are different than novels. Novels need endings. (Yes, some don't, but when they don't, people get annoyed and are less likely to pick up the next book.) And readers usually expect to be swept into a novel fairly quickly. Readers of free web serials are usually more forgiving in this regard. People who pay money for books want to get their money's worth. Do what you can to make the book more interesting because you absolutely cannot bank on people continuing to read if it's 100k words of boring.

Since your genre is UF, which tends to run around 80k - 120k (or maybe it averages even less; I'm estimating), I'd say try to break it up into 100-120k books, and make sure each of those books is interesting and satisfying in itself, by whatever rewriting/editing you have to do that. It probably won't take as much as it sounds like. If you can, get some beta readers who read the genre to go through and tell you where they're bored and where they're not and what they'd like to see expanded. If they really like a certain character, maybe see if you can build a subplot around them which could serve as your interesting single-book plot with a satisfying conclusion. You don't need to wrap up all the loose ends in every book, but it needs to have some kind of conclusion.

If you do some major reworking as I advise above, then when it comes to publishing and unpublishing, I'd say unpublish the old versions at the same time you publish the new version, with very visible comments on both pages about what you've done so readers aren't confused. Selling a considerably updated version as a new edition is not a new thing, so I don't think people would complain too much. And if you do make changes to give the first 100k more punch, then I think readers who bought the first version might still buy this version also (I know I'd be likely to, if a book I enjoyed did this) because you'd have enough new content to make it worthwhile.

Now, if this was me, I'd probably rework the entire 750k into its final form (6 or 7 books, sounds like) and release it all at once, at the same time as I unpublish the previous version. But that's me. A lot of people here would probably say that's a terrible idea. I've just found that, for me, waiting to release until I've got it all sorted out means less going back and fiddling later. And in the mean time, while I'm reworking/editing it, publish the standalone with the new cover style/branding, with a note and/or preview to build anticipation for the newly reworked full series. (Maybe even get it set up for preorder so that people can preorder the series right after they read the standalone.)

I think the titles you've suggested are all fine. Keep brainstorming, because I think you can do better, but I think those would do. I would not include your standalone in the series, as that would confuse readers. I'd mention it's related, but I wouldn't tie it to the series.

I agree with Melanie about not worrying about trying to carry over the reviews.

Actually, I'd try to make sure the standalone worked as a good entry-point. A single book (what's the length on that?) is less daunting to a potential reader. If I saw a book that was a complete story in itself, but where, if I liked it, there was a whole series related to it, that would be appealing to me. So (assuming it works well this way), sell it as a standalone, but make sure the marketing highlights it as a good entry point to the world of your series.

You've mentioned that rewriting it would be a lot of work. Well, yes. It would be some work, but possibly not as much as it sounds like, if you're clever about it. But you've also said this is the best thing you've ever written, so the question is: are you proud enough of this work and want people to read it enough to put the work in to make it the absolute best novel series (not web serial) it can be? If the answer's yes, then put the work in and make it amazing. If the answer's no, then just get the rest of the series out as quickly as you can and move on to your next project.

Also, I'm looking at your 'look inside' and based on the table of contents, it looks like you're three POVs are done in chunks, one after the other. A more usual way to do it is to alternate POVs and spread them through the whole book. One suggestion to tie them together might be to introduce some sort of character (or entity?) that can appear in all three and figure out a way to work it in. Separate POVs that don't come together for a while can try a reader's patience. There's a trilogy that I really, really love, but the first book is my least favorite because it takes half the book for the two MCs to meet. Given the plot, it was necessary, but even though I understand that, I still don't enjoy those parts as much as when the MCs are in the same plot, interacting with each other. In UF especially (as opposed to epic), this might be a problem. So maybe having some sort of common element tying them together would help. (Of course, if you did introduce such a character/entity, you'd have to continue it on through the series, since that's the one the reader would be most connecting with and killing it off/getting rid of it at the end of book 1 would annoy the pants off of readers. Which, again, all involves a bit of a rewrite.)

Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2018, 03:16:33 PM »
If it doesn't get interesting until then and you don't want to rewrite, then packaging it as one book is probably a good idea. There are readers who'll keep reading if they already own the second book and all they have to do is turn the page, but wouldn't shell out more money and go to the trouble of acquiring the second book if the first one didn't grab them. They have no reason to believe you when you say, "The second book is where it gets interesting," even if they hear you say it. They're more likely to assume the second book is as dull as the first and not buy it. But if you do it all as one book, readers will probably be more likely to press on with it to get to the interesting part.

That was my thinking, too. I don't think the first 100K words are dull, though - it's just that they're like three separate POV novellas before everything comes together. None of it is unnecessary filler, and none of the reviews mentioned that it was boring or filler. The Bibliosanctum blog, which selected the book as a semifinalist for the SPFBO 2016, criticized that the story structure didn't work for them and they didn't like all POVs equally. Hell, the very first chapter is pretty damn traumatizing for the poor character! It's just that book 1 sets up the character development and world-changing events that happen afterward.  :)

If your plan is to eventually release the whole 750k word story as a series, then what I would do is go through the entire thing and find the most natural breaking points. I know this can be very difficult.

Yep, I seem to at least have succeeded in finding a breaking point for book 2. For future installments in the series, I think I can do some minor rewrites to insert breaking points if there are none.
 
Based on what you've said about the book not coming together until the second book, I'd strongly advise you to go back in and add some material into the first book to make it seem less like a bunch of unnecessary buildup and more like an interesting story.

I invested about half a year in developmental edits (with one of the best editors there is) in this book. All of the build-up that is still there is necessary for character development and to set larger events in motion. Later developments wouldn't make sense without it. The reason it's 100K and not 30K is the three POVs, all of whom start their stories in different parts of the world.

Since your genre is UF, which tends to run around 80k - 120k (or maybe it averages even less; I'm estimating), I'd say try to break it up into 100-120k books, and make sure each of those books is interesting and satisfying in itself, by whatever rewriting/editing you have to do that. It probably won't take as much as it sounds like. If you can, get some beta readers who read the genre to go through and tell you where they're bored and where they're not and what they'd like to see expanded.

I don't use beta readers anymore, but I work with developmental editors for each novel I publish. I'm fairly positive there are no boring sections in later installments, or if there are, absolutely no one mentioned them. For the first book, one of the three POV arcs bored some readers because it drags a bit and that character starts out as the complete opposite of who she turns into after her big plot twist. I could maybe do some rewrites for that one character arc.

If you do some major reworking as I advise above, then when it comes to publishing and unpublishing, I'd say unpublish the old versions at the same time you publish the new version, with very visible comments on both pages about what you've done so readers aren't confused. Selling a considerably updated version as a new edition is not a new thing, so I don't think people would complain too much.

This is probably something I need to do even without major rewrites, right? Wouldn't want readers to buy the book a second time and get annoyed because they didn't know... unpublishing the individual novels is going to hurt, but if there is no way around it, I guess I have to.  :'(

Now, if this was me, I'd probably rework the entire 750k into its final form (6 or 7 books, sounds like) and release it all at once, at the same time as I unpublish the previous version.

I'd love to do this if I wasn't such a slow writer! Each book takes me around 8-10 months with developmental and copy edits.  :(

I think the titles you've suggested are all fine. Keep brainstorming, because I think you can do better, but I think those would do. I would not include your standalone in the series, as that would confuse readers. I'd mention it's related, but I wouldn't tie it to the series.

Will do, thanks!

Actually, I'd try to make sure the standalone worked as a good entry-point. A single book (what's the length on that?) is less daunting to a potential reader. If I saw a book that was a complete story in itself, but where, if I liked it, there was a whole series related to it, that would be appealing to me. So (assuming it works well this way), sell it as a standalone, but make sure the marketing highlights it as a good entry point to the world of your series.

That's the plan - I even start each standalone chapter with a quote of some sort, some by characters featured in the main series. Plus, series characters are mentioned or make brief appearances, with some hints about the world-changing events of book #2 sprinkled in. I'm afraid I might include too many spoilers by accident.

are you proud enough of this work and want people to read it enough to put the work in to make it the absolute best novel series (not web serial) it can be? If the answer's yes, then put the work in and make it amazing. If the answer's no, then just get the rest of the series out as quickly as you can and move on to your next project.

Definitely - I invested close to a year and more than 5K$ in edits for book 1 alone and learned so, so much from the process. Those two books transformed a fledgeling, clueless web serial newbie into a real author.

Also, I'm looking at your 'look inside' and based on the table of contents, it looks like you're three POVs are done in chunks, one after the other. A more usual way to do it is to alternate POVs and spread them through the whole book.

Nothing about this story is usual... to the best of my knowledge, nothing comparable has been done before (not just the story structure, but the setting, the power system and certain plot twists). I still believe it works in its current form if people read beyond the first 100K words. And if not, at least I've done something unique.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 03:23:34 PM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2018, 03:27:26 PM »
Oh, and thanks to whoever was interested enough to read a bunch of KU pages! I haven't done marketing in forever so these are my first reads in a long time...  :D

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Offline CheriB

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2018, 03:31:01 PM »
A question for everyone: what makes you believe a duology or a long first book will be a tough sell? Don't readers usually appreciate more pages for the same price - I know I do? The first Game of Thrones book does something similar to what I do with the initially separate POVs and is 270K words. The length didn't seem to discourage readers from buying it.

I hear you about everything else, but this is a point I just don't understand yet.

Perhaps I'm overlaying my personal preferences? :) As a reader, I prefer stories that are less puffy. I have a ton of books I want to read in my life, so any author using 150K words to tell a story that can reasonably be told in 80K words is going to frustrate me. Also, I don't value a book in the same way I value buying bulk flour at the supermarket. More pages per dollar isn't a perk. Above a certain level, too many pages reads like a warning sign that the author isn't going to get to the point.

There are exceptions. I love Brandon Sanderson's epic fantasy for example, but I enjoy his books despite their length, not because of it.

I guess a question is: are most readers like me, or am I an anomaly in preferring standard-length books?

C
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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2018, 03:34:29 PM »
I guess a question is: are most readers like me, or am I an anomaly in preferring standard-length books?

C

Question: if you enjoyed a 80K word standalone with a complete story that shared the setting and some characters with a series and a much longer book, would you give it a try despite the intimidating amount of pages?

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2018, 04:44:35 PM »
Two further thoughts: up above someone mentioned the POVs are in three separate chunks. Thats definitely not the norm and may well be contributing to the feeling of it being three novellas squished together. I would definitely be changing that to cycle through them throughout the story (just a matter of rearranging chapters). If you could alternate between them all and then even finish with the scene where they all meet (even if its a cliffhanger) this may make a big difference to readers perceptions. (I assume from what youve said they meet early in current book 2? Im thinking just move that to the end of current book 1.)
Second, maybe this wouldnt work at all, but could you make the stand-alone you have ready to publish book 1? You said it introduces the characters and hints at the big conflict from current book 2, so it might work to get people hooked and keep them going/more interested through your current book 1 (which would become book 2). Then the current book 2 would become book 3. Having three books ready to publish now of a similar length would be a big plus.

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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2018, 04:49:58 PM »
Far be it from me to tell you what to do, or how you want to do this, but...

Without knowing anything about the books or the story, it's gonna be a really hard sell to get people to read 100k words of buildup in one book JUST to have to buy book two for some sort of release. People are going to get to the end and be p*ssed. They're going to feel like they're getting scammed out of traditional plot structure.

Readers an amazon are already sensitive and frustrated by series' that are violently cliff-hanging to try and get them to buy book two.

My opinion, and i understand if you aren't psyched about it, is that you need to do a ton of editing. It's okay if the books lead into each other, but you need some sort of release to the buildup WITHIN each novel or people are going to be furious. You'll get some scathing reviews.

People go into books expecting certain structures, because it works, and because all movies, books, games, stories across the sands of time follow it. That's a loooot of expectation to fight against.

If you want to do it not that way and try to break the mold you can, but it's going to be a very, VERY tough battle.

If I sound critical, know that' I'm just trying to help. I had to cut and re-write 3/4 of my first novel before I published it because I had a somewhat similar problem.

It's a whole different animal if you released these piecemeal on your website than if you're releasing them as a novel. Novels have expectations to follow the three-act-structure. Novels that don't tend not to do well.

It's hard work now, and that sucks, but do yourself a favor and do it. I sold 10k books of my first novel my first year, and that NEVER would have happened if I didn't hack apart the story and re-write it into a massively better version.

Hope you don't mind, but I figure you were asking for advice  ;D
Evan

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2018, 04:52:53 PM »
Second, maybe this wouldnt work at all, but could you make the stand-alone you have ready to publish book 1? You said it introduces the characters and hints at the big conflict from current book 2, so it might work to get people hooked and keep them going/more interested through your current book 1 (which would become book 2). Then the current book 2 would become book 3. Having three books ready to publish now of a similar length would be a big plus.

Do you think I should add the standalone to the series listing? Someone said I probably shouldn't... now I'm undecided.

Chronologically, the standalone comes after book 2 and partially overlaps (in terms of worldwide events that affect everyone, even the standalone characters) with book 3. It doesn't introduce all of the main series' characters, though - 2 of the POVs aren't mentioned at all because the standalone MC doesn't know they exist. One of the two main villains appears, though, as do some of the more famous and well-known secondary characters. Basically, the heroes everyone knows about.

Fun fact: the standalone MC was mentioned in book 2 even before I decided to dedicate a book to her.  8)

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2018, 04:59:55 PM »
Without knowing anything about the books or the story, it's gonna be a really hard sell to get people to read 100k words of buildup in one book JUST to have to buy book two for some sort of release. People are going to get to the end and be p*ssed. They're going to feel like they're getting scammed out of traditional plot structure.

None of the 25+ (if I include Goodreads and serial reviews on WFG) book 1 reviewers were annoyed by the cut-off, though. They thought the story up until that point was okay (and that the world-building and characters were exceptional), they just weren't hooked enough to want to buy book 2 right away or anytime soon. I'm fairly sure if they were given the chance to read beyond the point where the 'okay' story plot twists into a thrilling one (without having to buy another book), most would. The reviewers who were annoyed hated a particular POV character or decisions made by characters. Never the same ones, though, so this appears to be a matter of taste.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 05:03:51 PM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2018, 05:02:35 PM »
Do you think I should add the standalone to the series listing? Someone said I probably shouldn't... now I'm undecided.

Chronologically, the standalone comes after book 2 and partially overlaps (in terms of worldwide events that affect everyone, even the standalone characters) with book 3. It doesn't introduce all of the main series' characters, though - 2 of the POVs aren't mentioned at all because the standalone MC doesn't know they exist. One of the two main villains appears, though, as do some of the more famous and well-known secondary characters. Basically, the heroes everyone knows about.

Fun fact: the standalone MC was mentioned in book 2 even before I decided to dedicate a book to her.  8)

Personally, I would definitely have it in the series listing somewhere. From what Ive experienced and seen others say, it makes a big difference to sales. It sounds like youve really built a world thats immersive and epic in scope, and the key thing is finding the right place to introduce people to it so that they become hooked. Its not completely uncommon to have a series go back to give character backstory at a later point, so maybe its a case of starting with your current book 2 as book 1 (with maybe a little explanation added to the beginning), making the standalone new book 2 and releasing current book 1 as three novellas, one focused on the backstory of each of the main characters? (Although they may need to be left out of the series listing, possibly.) That would give you five new releases while you work on what would become book 3.

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Offline C. Rysalis

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2018, 05:10:25 PM »
Its not completely uncommon to have a series go back to give character backstory at a later point, so maybe its a case of starting with your current book 2 as book 1 (with maybe a little explanation added to the beginning), making the standalone new book 2 and releasing current book 1 as three novellas, one focused on the backstory of each of the main characters? (Although they may need to be left out of the series listing, possibly.) That would give you five new releases while you work on what would become book 3.

The three novellas sound like an interesting idea... and I think they could maybe work, though I'd have to label and advertise them as required reads as the continuation of the plot wouldn't make sense without them. Because they influence so very, very much of the character development and the plot twists. Without them, I'd have to insert pages upon pages of telling when I'd rather show how things happened, and why, and how a seemingly harmless decision from book 1 turned out to be the butterfly that caused a storm.

Still, something to keep in mind, thanks!  8)

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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Series relaunch: advice needed!
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2018, 05:31:16 PM »
The three novellas sound like an interesting idea... and I think they could maybe work, though I'd have to label and advertise them as required reads as the continuation of the plot wouldn't make sense without them. Because they influence so very, very much of the character development and the plot twists. Without them, I'd have to insert pages upon pages of telling when I'd rather show how things happened, and why, and how a seemingly harmless decision from book 1 turned out to be the butterfly that caused a storm.

Still, something to keep in mind, thanks!  8)

I think the novellas idea is worth considering. Make them prequels, then make book 2 your book 1. But saying "you have to read the prequel novellas first" isn't going to fly. People want to be able to pick up book 1 and not get confused. There are ways to do this. You shouldn't necessarily need to have all the backstory to understand what's going on, and you should be able to stick in the most necessary points naturally and unobtrusively, without doing pages-long infodumps. This is part of the craft. Maybe you're not at a point where you know how to do it, but it can be done. It might take more rewriting than you want to do, which it sounds like is really the issue.

Your basic problem is that you've written a story that's not structured as a series of novels, and yet you want to sell it as a series of novels without doing the necessary rewriting/editing to get them to be a series of novels. Yes, I understand you've already done a lot, but if you're not there yet, you're not there yet. And you do not have to pay editors to do this. As the author, you should be able to figure a lot of this out for yourself before you get to the point of paying an editor. (At least, I always think that editing is a part of writing, so it's a necessary skill for an author to have, and hiring an editor on top of that is just to get secondary input.) There is no shortcut here. You can either put the investment of whatever time/work it takes to get them to be a series of novels, or you can break them up and publish them as-is with the understanding that they probably won't appeal to as many readers as they could otherwise.

Or--and here's a wild thought--put it out as one single 750k-word novel. I know, that's crazy. You'd never be able to do a paperback because it would be too long to print. But you could sell an e-book that way. And sometimes a story has to be whatever length it has to be, regardless of whether it's practical. If you really don't want to do the editing to make them proper shorter novels, well, this would let you not do that.