Author Topic: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?  (Read 100272 times)  

Offline Tasha Black

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My biggest change with the new series is that this time I am going to make each installment longer.
I tried to be very clear about the length on my current one, but even at 89 pages almost all of my negative reviews are because it is too short.
This time I am going for three installments of 150+ pages. Hopefully, that is long enough to please the masses!  ;D It will also let me land promos on some of the bigger sites.

Another thing I am going to try is NOT going permafree with the first. I know it is a great way to get the first book of the series in front of tons of readers. I worry, though that we (series authors who do permafree) have spawned a culture of free-seekers that don't really place any value on our work.

My only bad review on my current book 2 is someone complaining that it should have been included in the first, FREE, installment. $0.99 was too much to pay for a total over 150 pages!  >:( That is not a reader I want to get my book in front of.

I am curious what I can do with KU and some countdown days in place of permafree. I'm pretty sure I won't see the results I do now, but I think I will retain more of my sanity!

I'll definitely report back on the differences once the next series is out.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 11:27:32 am by Tasha Black »

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    Joliedupre

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    I tried to write articles once and lasted ten hours. I couldn't do it, and it didn't help that I was only being paid $3 an article.

    LOL!  Yep, I hear ya!  I mainly write for private clients now. They pay me a decent amount.

    I want to give up article writing, but it's a great backup if there's a month when the fiction writing income is not as good. 

    Bottom line, I'm a full-time writer, whether it's article writing or fiction writing.  I'm confident I will remain one and never have to get on the train and go to work again like I did in my old life.  :) 

    Joliedupre

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    My biggest change with the new series is that this time I am going to make each installment longer.
    I tried to be very clear about the length on my current one, but even at 89 pages almost all of my negative reviews are because it is too short.
    This time I am going for three installments of 150+ pages. Hopefully, that is long enough to please the masses!  ;D It will also let me land promos on some of the bigger sites.

    The first book in my series is 161 pages.  I don't believe I received any complaints about length in all of the 49 reviews (not including Goodreads) that I've received for it.  However, with my second one - 72 pages - I've received a few complaints, not an inordinate amount, but a few.

    Bookbub won't accept one of my individual books due to length, but I wonder if they'll consider an omnibus?

    Quote
    Another thing I am going to try is NOT going permafree with the first. I know it is a great way to get the first book of the series in front of tons of readers. I worry, though that we (series authors who do permafree) have spawned a culture of free-seekers that don't really place any value on our work.

    My only bad review on my current book 2 is someone complaining that it should have been included in the first, FREE, installment. $0.99 was too much to pay for a total over 150 pages!  >:( That is not a reader I want to get my book in front of.

    I am curious what I can do with KU and some countdown days in place of permafree. I'm pretty sure I won't see the results I do now, but I think I will retain more of my sanity!

    I'll definitely report back on the differences once the next series is out.

    Interesting point, and I've heard other authors say that readers have complained that something wasn't free, or whatever.  I try not to go below $2.99, but I will do $0.99 as a temporary sale every now and then.  The Select free days still work.  So let us know how it goes! 


    Offline Alexis Adaire

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    Outline the entire series more thoroughly before starting to write the first book. I hate having great ideas when I'm five or six books in that I can't implement because I haven't properly set them up in the earlier books. Really  p*ss es me off! I'll be starting my fourth series in a couple of weeks and before I do, I'll have the entire thing nailed down.

    Offline Kessie Carroll

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    I'm working away on book 3 of my YA urban fantasy series, but I have a paranormal romance trilogy on the back burner.

    What I'd do different:

    Plan the Big Finale from the start. Like how Rowling had the showdown between Harry and Voldemort written when she wrote book 1. I have a vague idea of what will happen in book 5 of my urban fantasy, but I need to outline it very closely. That book will basically break the magic system, so all other books have to show the rigidity and limitations of force magic (time, space and gravity).

    Play up the romance. The romance really starts ramping up in books 3, 4 and 5, but I wish it were stronger in books 1 and 2. Romance sells fantasy, especially YA fantasy.

    Series Bible. :-)
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    Offline nellgoddin

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    Great thread idea, thanks!

    I just started a new series today. This time I'm writing about stuff I care about. Bye bye vampires, it was fun while it lasted.

    Offline Jill James

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    This time around I will write all four books of the series before I publish #1. And I will build a series bible.
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    Offline AJStewart

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    I'd plan. Then plan a bit more. A publication schedule. One I let my wife see. Then I'd stick to it, instead wandering around in the dark bumping into stuff, which is what I did for a year, after my first book. Now I know that I can write a 70k novel in 2 weeks (1st draft at least), and I wonder what I was doing before? So I'd plan a series out to at least 3 books, write all 3, then release with a small gap between (I think).

    And I would hire an editor from the get go. Saying you are professional and being professional are not the same things :(

    And I'd test more, especially the covers.

    And on character bibles - I use the character sketch sheets in Scrivener. I love them, because as new things happen to the characters I can update them right there and then, and when I start a new book, and therefore a new file, I just dragged the previous character sketches across for the characters that will be in the next book. It means the current WIP always has the most recent info, and it isn't in some other software somewhere, it's always right where I am writing.

    audreyclaire

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    I will not end this series on cliffhangers. I got raked over the coals for that. I wish I could go back and make a change because I think the reviews revealing it discourage readers. I have to learn how to end each book separately while also maintaining an overarching plot. Maybe.  :-X

    Offline ChrisWard

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    I'm actually trying to make my new series shorter than the first series I wrote. My Tube Riders books were 165k, 143k, and 132k (so I guess they were heading in the right direction!). My new Tales of Crow series will be around the 90k mark. Part 1 is 95k and Part 2 is 90k. Part three is only about 1/3 done. It difficult for me to dictate the length of a book, but anything shorter than 80k (I have two published under that so far) feel a little light, and anything over 150k a little heavy. Still, the books tend to write themselves, not really giving me a choice...

    Offline Redacted1111

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    I'm finishing the second three part serial in a three part serial series. My biggest problem is that I get distracted by bright shiny new ideas all the time. So, I've decided to go ahead and write a novel or two from another series I've been dying to write. I hope it will keep me from trolling the erotica section doing "market research," (i.e. wasting time), imagining myself dominating the market with stories of werecorgi cowboys.  In the year I've been self publishing, I've had the hardest time keeping still and focusing on one thing. At least if I let myself write different series within the same genre with the same pen name, I might cure my bright shiny idea syndrome and wasting time trolling erotica best seller lists. Who knew age play was a thing. Eh, gross. :P

    I also (fingers crossed) want to plan, outline, and keep track of character details far more. I recently read about the snowflake method, which might help me.

    I'm experimenting with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which pretty much requires knowing where you are going with a story. I haven't gotten Dragon to transcribe faster than I type yet, but I have high hopes. I finally got a decent mic for it today and it works so much better. I've got it transcribing faster than I can talk with huge accuracy. The bigger problem is that I can't think and talk as fast as I can think and write yet.  But it gives me a different way to work other than typing, that alone can get me over some hurdles I have working at home with the kid. I need all the help I can get and talking to my fancy AI is less tiring than pounding keys.
    « Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 07:18:17 pm by Kalypsō »

    Joliedupre

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    I'm truly enjoying this thread.  Thank you!  :)

    Offline Kellie Sheridan

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    Publishing the first of a new series in November. What I'm doing differently this time...
    - planning for a longer series to give myself momentum, 4.5 books with potential for more instead of a duology
    - starting a street team. 12 signups so far, and I'm super nervous about this!
    - dedicated website for the series
    - writing in a more popular genre (YA contemporary instead of YA zombies)
    - publishing the books in quick succession, I'll have book two out to beta readers before book one comes out. I'd love to publish even faster, but I'm too impatient. I also want to give the series a chance to gain momentum through reviews to hopefully get a decent release push through the later books.
    - crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Although I guess I did that last time too.

    Offline ThomasDiehl

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    Setting up a work schedule for my series. The one series I have I originally planned with monthly installments - and up until #3 ended up with annual ones instead, because it took that long to finally get into making writing a habit instead of writing in short bursts every few weeks and having myriad put into notes in between.
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    Joliedupre

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    - starting a street team. 12 signups so far, and I'm super nervous about this!

    Eventually, I'd like to do this.  I think I'll start a thread about this.  :)

    Setting up a work schedule for my series. The one series I have I originally planned with monthly installments - and up until #3 ended up with annual ones instead, because it took that long to finally get into making writing a habit instead of writing in short bursts every few weeks and having myriad put into notes in between.

    I try to follow a work schedule.  I rarely follow it exactly as planned, but I try to come close.  :)

    Offline 69959

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    I'm tempted to say NOTHING! But that's not really true, lol.

    ARCs
    ARCs
    ARCs

    That's about it :)

    I forgot about ARCs. I'm doing that too with my new suspense series. I'm still taking sign-ups. (Did I just say that out loud? Oops.) Hopefully it'll get me more Amazon reviews than the reviews-only book tour I tried last month.

    Offline sarahdalton

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    Publishing the first of a new series in November. What I'm doing differently this time...
    - planning for a longer series to give myself momentum, 4.5 books with potential for more instead of a duology
    - starting a street team. 12 signups so far, and I'm super nervous about this!
    - dedicated website for the series
    - writing in a more popular genre (YA contemporary instead of YA zombies)
    - publishing the books in quick succession, I'll have book two out to beta readers before book one comes out. I'd love to publish even faster, but I'm too impatient. I also want to give the series a chance to gain momentum through reviews to hopefully get a decent release push through the later books.
    - crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Although I guess I did that last time too.

    Kellie, how is the street team thing going? I would like to set something like that up, but I haven't got a clue how to begin.

    Never mind -- just spotted Jolie's other thread!
    « Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 07:41:08 am by sarahdalton »

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    Offline DRMarvello

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    Wow. Awesome thread. Thanks to everyone for your tips and to Jolie for starting it.

    I'm starting a character spreadsheet ASAP. I use spreadsheets for progress tracking and have used them for beat sheets but never thought of using them for characters. Doh!

    I'm about to release the third book of my trilogy and have been thinking a lot about what I'll do differently in the future. My plan for the coming year is to write volume one of multiple new series (2 or 3 of them) before writing any more vaetra books. Like Jolie, my experience has been contrary to the theory that you need to have all of the books in a series available before people will buy them. My new volume one stories will stand alone (I don't write cliff-hangers), so if I get hit by a car and nothing follows, readers won't be disappointed.

    The other thing I'm doing differently is that I always have a first draft of something going. I shoot for 1,000 first draft words every weekday and also work on the planning/revision/production of a second book. This schedule should let me comfortably produce three 80K books a year. For me, sixteen hour days would take all the fun out of it, no matter how much I was earning. I'll probably never see Wayne's level of success either, but I accept that.

    The other thing I'm doing differently is taking a risk with shorter books (80K versus 100K+). I should be fine with my contemporary paranormal fantasy series and my westernpunk series, but the shorter length will probably disappoint high fantasy readers who seem to expect fast turnaround and yet epic story lengths. (*shrug*)

    Offline geekgrrl

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    For those interested in creating a series bible - Lynn Viehl has this great PDF to get you started called The Novel Notebook. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzylBQC3SyqoM2JjMDkwZDEtNDI2NS00ZDMxLTg5MzctMThjODBkYmZkNTRh/edit

    As for what I will do differently the next time around:
    I'll make my first book at least 50,000 words so I can take advantage of BookBub. In my current series the first book is 25,000 words and doesn't qualify.

    I'd like to keep each installment 50,000 as well. Right now I have 25,000 and then 40,000 for the other books. 40,000 is a good length but I can easily hit 50,000 in each book, and I think readers will appreciate that.

    I also plan to stay one book ahead at all times, so that I can release monthly, no exceptions. So I'll write book 1 and 2 first before releasing the first book.

    OH! Also I'll establish multiple points of view from the beginning. Or write in close third. My current series is first person, and that's been a bit tricky. Also the most requested thing from my readers has been that they want to hear from the male love interest, not just the female. My first three books are all first person, female lead only. I'm going to flip back and forth between the two MCs in Book 4 and the rest of the series, and hope it's not to jarring. But, as a lead in to the change, I'm going back to Book 1, rewriting it from the male's perspective, and making it a freebie available to newsletter signups.

    Offline John Ellsworth

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    This thread is worth its weight in gold. You can't get this stuff in any university class. Thanks to everyone for posting--I've really learned a lot.

    Joliedupre

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    The other thing I'm doing differently is that I always have a first draft of something going. I shoot for 1,000 first draft words every weekday and also work on the planning/revision/production of a second book. This schedule should let me comfortably produce three 80K books a year.

    This is an excellent approach!  :)

    For those interested in creating a series bible - Lynn Viehl has this great PDF to get you started called The Novel Notebook. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzylBQC3SyqoM2JjMDkwZDEtNDI2NS00ZDMxLTg5MzctMThjODBkYmZkNTRh/edit

    THANK YOU!!

    Quote

    I also plan to stay one book ahead at all times, so that I can release monthly, no exceptions. So I'll write book 1 and 2 first before releasing the first book.

    I may need to think about this for my next series.  Excellent approach. :)

    Quote
     

    OH! Also I'll establish multiple points of view from the beginning. Or write in close third. My current series is first person, and that's been a bit tricky. Also the most requested thing from my readers has been that they want to hear from the male love interest, not just the female. My first three books are all first person, female lead only. I'm going to flip back and forth between the two MCs in Book 4 and the rest of the series, and hope it's not to jarring. But, as a lead in to the change, I'm going back to Book 1, rewriting it from the male's perspective, and making it a freebie available to newsletter signups.


    My current series is in first person, and it's been fun, but I'm returning to third person for my next series.

    Offline MGalloway

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    Very informative thread. Lots to think about.

    I took a risk by making the first book in a series a short story collection instead of a novel (the other two books are novels). I didn't necessarily plan it that way, but the stories started as an experiment and everything just kept evolving. I'm still not sure whether that was a successful idea or not, even through all the short stories are interconnected and the structure fits in with the larger theme of the series.

    I've also learned that giving away a middle book by itself is probably confusing, especially if the reader hasn't read the first book beforehand. I don't think I will give away the third book by itself, but rather bundle all three.

    Offline Daniel Kenney

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    Learning a ton from this thread. Thanks to all who contributed. I thought about writing all three books in my series first, but there are two problems with that. One, I've got no patience. Two, starting out...I just need a little mental momentum. Not in the way of sales mind you. I'm not expecting much in my category and with a first book. But from a mental, confidence stand point. Getting beyond the inertia and having actually gotten the damn thing published? Big step for me. So at this point, although Book One is out in the wild, I plan on finishing books two and three concurrently and the release them within a month of each other. We shall see. Again, thanks to all on this thread.  Dan

    Offline Lyndawrites

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    In my latest series of cozy mysteries, I'm trying to make sure there isn't a timeline.

    In the 4th book of my first series, I eventually married my female amateur sleuth off to her policeman boyfriend and thought that was the end of it. Until fans started clamouring for more. But female amateur sleuths are always single, right? Or widowed, or divorced.  Like Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher.

    So the new series will have no timeline, no heavy romance, and will just be a record  of cases. I hope.  :)

    Offline Cherise

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    This thread is worth its weight in gold. You can't get this stuff in any university class. Thanks to everyone for posting--I've really learned a lot.


    Yep. I've frequently said that reading every thread in the KBoards Writers' Cafe for two years is the equivalent of a masters' degree in self publishing. Maybe we should make that a doctorate?  :D

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