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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 06:20:22 am

Title: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 06:20:22 am
If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around? 


I'll start.

~~~

My goal is to release the books in my series every month instead of every two months.  For my short books, it's better for me to release closer together than farther apart. 
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: LJ on September 24, 2014, 06:29:14 am
I'm going to write my new series straight through and release them all at the same time. I've always wanted to try it...keep you posted!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 06:31:35 am
I would try to have the second one almost finished before releasing the first one.

I tend to wait to see if sales are going to take off before committing to doing a second or third book in a series. In two cases so far, the lack of great sales have made me sit back and hesitate on releasing a second book. So I get stymied, petrified with indecision. And as we know, more books help sell a series, but I just can't get over the idea that I'm wasting even more time "beating a dead horse."

I'm not saying I can actually make myself do more than one before releasing them, but it might help with my indecision about continuing a series. Especially now that I know more about that whole 30 days thing with Amazon.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: The 13th Doctor on September 24, 2014, 06:31:57 am
I'd have the first three finished and then publish them once a month. Or at least I'd strive for having two finished and published while working on the third.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: sarahdalton on September 24, 2014, 06:32:58 am
I would adjust my expectations. Most readers don't buy any of your books until the series is finished (for trilogies) or at least half way through (for long series). I would go back and stop worrying about people buying the first one when I didn't have anything else released.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 06:46:21 am
My situation is a bit different.  The series I'm currently working on won't be finished until sometime next year and I have spin-offs from there that will take at least another year or so to finish and release.  But I have this new series that I began developing last spring and hate to wait years before being able to release it.  Plus I still have the attention of my fan base with the current one.  So I'm going to release book one of the new series before releasing the last book of the old (not counting spin-offs).  Though the two will be different in many ways, they'll still target mostly the same paranormal audience.  Then I'll do an alternating schedule from there, going back and forth on releasing new books for each. 

Since I have a decent number of books out already, I'm hoping this will alleviate the problem of people not trying the new series since they can read all my other novels in the meantime.  No idea if it will work well, but it's the only way my muse will be happy.  It really wants to work on this new series and refuses to leave my head even six months after I conceived the idea. 
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 06:47:04 am
I would adjust my expectations. Most readers don't buy any of your books until the series is finished (for trilogies) or at least half way through (for long series). I would go back and stop worrying about people buying the first one when I didn't have anything else released.


I guess the readers always assume there will be a series, then.  I assumed that by having a handful of short stories set in the same town, with some of the same characters, would help sell my new mystery novella, but that's not been the case. A recent give away of one of the stories got 258 downloads (good for a short story) but lead to NO sales of the novella so far.

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Rachel Aukes on September 24, 2014, 06:48:08 am
I would do a better job at updating my notes on my character bios, storyboard, etc. I feel sorry every time my editor says something like, "You changed his eye color... again!"
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 06:56:05 am
I'm going to write my new series straight through and release them all at the same time. I've always wanted to try it...keep you posted!

Yes, after you do this, please post at Kboards to let us know about how it's going.  I've wondered about releasing all at the same time.  So I'm very curious about your results.  :)


I would adjust my expectations. Most readers don't buy any of your books until the series is finished (for trilogies) or at least half way through (for long series). I would go back and stop worrying about people buying the first one when I didn't have anything else released.


I hear this a lot.  People did buy my first and second one.  So I'm interested in seeing what the results will be with the third (final) book.

I would do a better job at updating my notes on my character bios, storyboard, etc. I feel sorry every time my editor says something like, "You changed his eye color... again!"

I want to improve in this area, as well.  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 06:59:26 am
I would do a better job at updating my notes on my character bios, storyboard, etc. I feel sorry every time my editor says something like, "You changed his eye color... again!"

I resorted to making a spreadsheet with all the important/semi-important characters on it.  There are columns for eye color, hair color, age (especially important when you have immortal characters), height, body type, and an other column for unique characteristics.  While working on my books I always have it open.  Another spreadsheet I have lists the characters in alphabetical order so that I can be sure not to overuse first letters of the alphabet or have names that look too similar.  It also has males and females highlighted in different colors as well as a note on which book the person entered the series, if they're still alive or which book they died, and who they are in relation to my main character.  Both spreadsheets are extremely useful when you have a large cast of characters and I'm careful to keep them updated.  Plus they keep things short and simple so I don't have to dig through pages of notes.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on September 24, 2014, 06:59:36 am
In 2015, I intend to release every month, work on only one series at a time, focus on the sub-genres that are selling well for me, set a pre-determined number of books in the series (3-6), only adding to the series if it's selling really well.
I made some costly mistakes with my series this year. I worked on two series simultaneously and released only bi-monthly. This meant readers had to wait up to four months for a release in a new series. I found that was too long for my readers. I intend to work on one series at a time from now on. In my case, one series was selling well, the other not so well. I shouldn't have committed to writing six books in each series until I figured out which was going to work.
If I had it to do again, I'd commit to three books, then determine if I wanted to add more based on sales. I love to write long series, because it allows me to create a world surrounding a large group of families and friends, but that strategy only works if the series is selling really well. From now on, I'll move on if numbers aren't where I'd like them to be after three books.   
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: JumpingShip on September 24, 2014, 07:00:24 am
These are some great suggestions. I'm starting a new series, but it hadn't occurred to me to hold back the first until the second was almost finished or completely finished. Great idea. I think I'll need to really pick up my writing speed though.

My new series is really a spinoff of my Mark Taylor series. The new main character is younger, just out of college, but the characters in the Mark Taylor series are in the book (at least the first one) as well. My problem is that I want people to be able to come to the spinoff without having read the MT series first, but I find that I'm referring to things that happened in the series, but can't seem to get around it. Maybe I should take the MT series characters out of the spinoff as much as I can? I need to create some new characters for the main character interact with also.

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: joncrocker on September 24, 2014, 07:03:29 am
I would definitely write shorter books!

I just finished a trilogy of 180k word tomes. I loved writing them, and wouldn't change a thing, but when I started it was purely for my own benefit - I hadn't even considered self-publishing back then.

For my new series I'm thinking more in the ballpark of 60-75k word books. Shorter, more frequently released, books seems to be the way to go to maximize sales.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 24, 2014, 07:06:18 am
While it's still more than a year away, I'll try to make my MC less invincible. I've received a number of reviews about how my MC is "too perfect". Perhaps it's because of the much lower percentage of military to civilian readers. I think the average person has no idea there are many people walking around out there that trained for twenty years, how to survive and kill and are very good at both, if the need arises.

As far as publishing? I'll slow down with the next series, perhaps only two books a year.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 07:06:57 am
In 2015, I intend to release every month, work on only one series at a time, focus on the sub-genres that are selling well for me, set a pre-determined number of books in the series (3-6), only adding to the series if it's selling really well.
I made some costly mistakes with my series this year. I worked on two series simultaneously and released only bi-monthly. This meant readers had to wait up to four months for a release in a new series. I found that was too long for my readers. I intend to work on one series at a time from now on. In my case, one series was selling well, the other not so well. I shouldn't have committed to writing six books in each series until I figured out which was going to work.
If I had it to do again, I'd commit to three books, then determine if I wanted to add more based on sales. I love to write long series, because it allows me to create a world surrounding a large group of families and friends, but that strategy only works if the series is selling really well. From now on, I'll move on if numbers aren't where I'd like them to be after three books.

You all make me feel like such a slow writer.  On average I have 4-5 months between releases, though I'm trying to get faster.  It hasn't cost me on readers since my retention rate is good, but it does take longer for them to figure out I've got a new book and pick it up.  This results in a long tail for my sales.  I don't hit as high as I could around release time, but my newest book will stay in the top 100 of its genre categories for at least a couple months.  It's a trade-off.  I just can't write 100k words or more in a month or two or I'd burn out.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 07:13:28 am

As far as publishing? I'll slow down with the next series, perhaps only two books a year.

Wayne, you're doing fabulously with the pace you're on now.  Do you think it's a good idea to slow it down?
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 10105 on September 24, 2014, 07:15:11 am
I'l still release in the order in which I finish each volume, but my goals are:

1. Spin off popular characters into their own series.
2. have each release include e-book, paperback, and audible book editions published concurrently
3. Combine the first three volumes in an omnibus edition after the third has been out there a while
4. Thread stories and characters through the series across volume boundaries. No cliff-hangers, though, and no making earlier volumes prerequisite reading for newer ones.

Lofty goals. I hope I live long enough.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 07:17:08 am
While it's still more than a year away, I'll try to make my MC less invincible. I've received a number of reviews about how my MC is "too perfect". Perhaps it's because of the much lower percentage of military to civilian readers. I think the average person has no idea there are many people walking around out there that trained for twenty years, how to survive and kill and are very good at both, if the need arises.

As far as publishing? I'll slow down with the next series, perhaps only two books a year.

My MC is ex-military, but her enemies are werewolves, vamps, and other creatures.  Even with all her training, it gets annoying for her that shooting them in the head doesn't kill them, lol.  At one point she had to resort to RPGs and grenades, but that only works if she's in an area where she won't draw the attention of humans.  Having her face much more powerful creatures with far more time and experience on earth has helped reduce the problem you're having, Wayne.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on September 24, 2014, 07:18:32 am
Wayne, you're doing fabulously with the pace you're on now.  Do you think it's a good idea to slow it down?

This is a good question. After my first year of releasing monthly, I was feeling a bit burnt out. I thought I'd go from 12 releases a year to 6. Guess what? My income decreased proportionately. I learned something about myself from that experiment. Money motivates me to keep writing.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 24, 2014, 07:20:48 am
Wayne, you're doing fabulously with the pace you're on now.  Do you think it's a good idea to slow it down?

I'm talking about 2016 and on. For 2015, I plan four new releases in my current series. In 2016, I'll start a new series with two releases and perhaps one more in the current one.

While being home now is really great, I'm working upwards of 16 hours a day and get a bit snippy with the wife and daughter. They understand, though. I do want to slow down and start taking weekends off and all summer, so we can enjoy our lives together.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: sarahdalton on September 24, 2014, 07:30:44 am
I resorted to making a spreadsheet with all the important/semi-important characters on it.  There are columns for eye color, hair color, age (especially important when you have immortal characters), height, body type, and an other column for unique characteristics.  While working on my books I always have it open.  Another spreadsheet I have lists the characters in alphabetical order so that I can be sure not to overuse first letters of the alphabet or have names that look too similar.  It also has males and females highlighted in different colors as well as a note on which book the person entered the series, if they're still alive or which book they died, and who they are in relation to my main character.  Both spreadsheets are extremely useful when you have a large cast of characters and I'm careful to keep them updated.  Plus they keep things short and simple so I don't have to dig through pages of notes.

This is an excellent idea. I always find myself desperately checking things in old manuscripts.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ElHawk on September 24, 2014, 07:32:27 am
I'm releasing books 1 and 2 together for the new series (romance) and will have book 3 out within a month of that.

For my next HF series, I'll do one book at a time, since I already know my readers in that genre are okay with reading at a slower pace and don't seem to lose focus on an author if there's a longer delay between books. But for romance, two books out at once seems like a smarter strategy.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 07:32:38 am
I would definitely write shorter books!

I just finished a trilogy of 180k word tomes. I loved writing them, and wouldn't change a thing, but when I started it was purely for my own benefit - I hadn't even considered self-publishing back then.

For my new series I'm thinking more in the ballpark of 60-75k word books. Shorter, more frequently released, books seems to be the way to go to maximize sales.

Yes, that too! I love writing shorter fiction and that's why I focus on short stories. BUT I've realized that I do just as much marketing for the short ones as the longer ones, with lots less profit. Mystery readers, in general, like the longer books, (although the classics were shorter). 

So there's some sort of sweet spot where you can charge enough on a shorter book to make it worthwhile. Something else to think about.


Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: I'm a Little Teapot on September 24, 2014, 07:33:59 am
Compile a series bible as I go. Get at least two or three in the series finished before releasing the first, then set up preorders for the next book.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 07:38:39 am
This is an excellent idea. I always find myself desperately checking things in old manuscripts.

I highly recommend it.  So much easier to find what you need quickly, though sometimes I think I need to make one for locations, too.  I'm still having to go back to my older books and check to see how I described someone's home or business.  The only reason I don't is the spreadsheet would have to be rather long to fit all the details.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 07:39:10 am

2. have each release include e-book, paperback, and audible book editions published concurrently


I'm not sure if I'll ever accomplish this, but releasing the e-book, paperback, and audible together is an excellent strategy. 

I'm talking about 2016 and on. For 2015, I plan four new releases in my current series. In 2016, I'll start a new series with two releases and perhaps one more in the current one.

While being home now is really great, I'm working upwards of 16 hours a day and get a bit snippy with the wife and daughter. They understand, though. I do want to slow down and start taking weekends off and all summer, so we can enjoy our lives together.

Yep, I understand, Wayne. :)   My kids are in college.  So my hubby and I are empty nesters most of the time.  However, I make sure I carve out enough time for the hubby.  It's definitely a balancing act.  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 24, 2014, 07:44:52 am
I resorted to making a spreadsheet with all the important/semi-important characters on it.  There are columns for eye color, hair color, age (especially important when you have immortal characters), height, body type, and an other column for unique characteristics.  While working on my books I always have it open.  Another spreadsheet I have lists the characters in alphabetical order so that I can be sure not to overuse first letters of the alphabet or have names that look too similar.  It also has males and females highlighted in different colors as well as a note on which book the person entered the series, if they're still alive or which book they died, and who they are in relation to my main character.  Both spreadsheets are extremely useful when you have a large cast of characters and I'm careful to keep them updated.  Plus they keep things short and simple so I don't have to dig through pages of notes.

Why hadn't I thought of this? I've been using a .doc with character descriptions and full resumes for each book. I make up the character outline and resume as soon as I introduce a new character. Much of their information is never used, but it's there for the future.

Doing it on a spreadsheet is a great idea!

Being able to sort it by height, weight, hair color, name.....

Starting a new spreadsheet....
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 07:46:52 am
I resorted to making a spreadsheet with all the important/semi-important characters on it.  There are columns for eye color, hair color, age (especially important when you have immortal characters), height, body type, and an other column for unique characteristics.  While working on my books I always have it open.  Another spreadsheet I have lists the characters in alphabetical order so that I can be sure not to overuse first letters of the alphabet or have names that look too similar.  It also has males and females highlighted in different colors as well as a note on which book the person entered the series, if they're still alive or which book they died, and who they are in relation to my main character.  Both spreadsheets are extremely useful when you have a large cast of characters and I'm careful to keep them updated.  Plus they keep things short and simple so I don't have to dig through pages of notes.

Yep, I think this would work great on an Excel spreadsheet.  Thanks for the tip, Susan.   :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Brian Olsen on September 24, 2014, 07:57:32 am
I've got one more book left in my series of four, and then I'm switching genres. My current series is hard to define, genre-wise - it's a contemporary urban science-fiction thriller, but it's also got some soap-y elements and a lot of humor. In addition, the sci-fi elements aren't really apparent until a ways into the first book, so it seems like you're getting a more straight-forward action thriller. It's made it very hard to market, and choosing the categories on the vendor sites has been a battle.

Next up - urban fantasy. One POV character, instead of four. A bit shorter, so I can put out more than two books a year. "Simplify" is my strategy. I love my current series, and so do the few readers who manage to find it, but the business side of things has been frustrating. I've learned a lot, though, and I'm looking forward to applying what I've learned with my next series. (Which I'm incredibly excited to write, by the way - I'm not being completely mercenary in this decision.)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Lydniz on September 24, 2014, 08:03:49 am
I get round the need for a character spreadsheet by not describing any of my characters. ;D
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 24, 2014, 08:05:08 am
Yep, I understand, Wayne. :)   My kids are in college.  So my hubby and I are empty nesters most of the time.  However, I make sure I carve out enough time for the hubby.  It's definitely a balancing act.  :)

We almost made it. Our oldest kids were 20, 16, and 15 when our youngest was born. The first three (now 33, 29, and 27) live hundreds of miles away and the youngest just turned 13. The nest won't be empty until I'm in my sixties.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ShaneJeffery on September 24, 2014, 08:09:19 am
Only write 3 books.

There was huge hype around 5+ book series and plenty of people were doing well with them, but I never heard the wisdom that you should wrap things up in book 3 if Book 2 isn't selling until much later. People have put out this myth that at 3 books or 5 or 6 books is the true test for a series but I think it's 2 books. If you can't sell 2 books then you won't sell 4.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Steve Voelker on September 24, 2014, 08:10:44 am
I'm going to write my new series straight through and release them all at the same time. I've always wanted to try it...keep you posted!
The Self Publishing Podcast guys used to do this. They always released the boxed set at the same time, with the goal of driving readers toward the more expensive purchase.
This might work great with KU.
Put the individual parts in KU and leave the boxed set out. Non-KU readers can get the bargain by purchasing them all at once. KU can read the whole thing for free, one installment at a time.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 08:21:05 am
Put the individual parts in KU and leave the boxed set out. Non-KU readers can get the bargain by purchasing them all at once. KU can read the whole thing for free, one installment at a time.

This is an interesting idea. 
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Brian Olsen on September 24, 2014, 08:22:45 am
Put the individual parts in KU and leave the boxed set out. Non-KU readers can get the bargain by purchasing them all at once. KU can read the whole thing for free, one installment at a time.

Would this violate the KU exclusivity?
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 08:26:00 am
Only write 3 books.

There was huge hype around 5+ book series and plenty of people were doing well with them, but I never heard the wisdom that you should wrap things up in book 3 if Book 2 isn't selling until much later. People have put out this myth that at 3 books or 5 or 6 books is the true test for a series but I think it's 2 books. If you can't sell 2 books then you won't sell 4.

I've been thinking about this a lot. Way back in the Dark Ages when I first started self-publishing (in the '80s), the wisdom was to release ONE book then wait a while (like a year) to see what happened with it before you made the decision to do another one in the series. This tracked along with what the trad publishers did, too.

I'm starting to believe that what you say about two books is true. One issue, though, is that a series *might* get better the more books out there because of the added experience of the author.

I'm annoyed that we can't just write a string of stand-alones and make money that way. Guess it depends on the genre--mysteries pretty much have to be series but thrillers can be stand-alones.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Incognita on September 24, 2014, 08:27:45 am
Would this violate the KU exclusivity?

Not if the boxed set is also only on Amazon.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Steve Voelker on September 24, 2014, 08:28:08 am
Would this violate the KU exclusivity?
Nope.
KU exclusivity says that anything you put in KU has to stay exclusive to Amazon. You couldn't release the boxed set anywhere else, obviously, but non-select Amazon in fine.

...release ONE book then wait a while (like a year) to see what happened with it before you made the decision to do another one in the series.

Nowadays, that sound like a terrible way to build reader confidence. If I noticed an author had a bunch of orphaned "part one"s lying around, I doubt I'd buy anything from them unless the whole series was out.
If you're talking about a part one that stands on its own, then you continue with a new story for those characters in book 2, that's different.
But I wouldn't call the first one "book one" until the second one was out!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: susan_illene on September 24, 2014, 08:35:37 am
Why hadn't I thought of this? I've been using a .doc with character descriptions and full resumes for each book. I make up the character outline and resume as soon as I introduce a new character. Much of their information is never used, but it's there for the future.

Doing it on a spreadsheet is a great idea!

Being able to sort it by height, weight, hair color, name.....

Starting a new spreadsheet....

To be fair, I didn't think of the description worksheet until I reached book 3 (though I had the other one from the start) and got tired of going back to the previous books or notes to check details.  I realized I was creating extra work for myself.  Good to hear this method can help other series writers!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ShaneJeffery on September 24, 2014, 08:36:50 am
I've been thinking about this a lot. Way back in the Dark Ages when I first started self-publishing (in the '80s), the wisdom was to release ONE book then wait a while (like a year) to see what happened with it before you made the decision to do another one in the series. This tracked along with what the trad publishers did, too.

I'm starting to believe that what you say about two books is true. One issue, though, is that a series *might* get better the more books out there because of the added experience of the author.

I'm annoyed that we can't just write a string of stand-alones and make money that way. Guess it depends on the genre--mysteries pretty much have to be series but thrillers can be stand-alones.


The ONLY reason I say 2 books and not 1 book is because you NEED the permafree book 1 to sell book 2. Obviously if you can sell book 1 outright, you're already doing really, really well, but there is still a chance to sell book 2 with book 1 permafree. It makes a HUGE difference in visibility. You want to follow book 2 with book 3, so that should be written as if it's all going to plan. It's a clear point to end a series and only continue / resurrect if it's a huge hit.

Main thing is though, if your book 2 isn't selling when book 1 is free, you can forget about book 4 and beyond. Time for a new series.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Charmaine on September 24, 2014, 08:37:09 am
Would this violate the KU exclusivity?
Not as long as the box set is ONLY on Amazon.
Many authors do it this way.
You get the full royalty on the box set and readers without access to KU borrows, save money by buying them together at a lower price.

P.S. LOL  People already answered......but I already typed this so....  ::)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Cherise on September 24, 2014, 08:48:19 am
Would this violate the KU exclusivity?

It would violate KU/Select exclusivity only if you posted the omnibus on other sites.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Elizabeth Barone on September 24, 2014, 08:50:48 am
I'm releasing the 6th and final novelette in one of my series at the end of this month, and then will be working on a spinoff of novel-length books to be released sometime next year. I've been tossing around ideas.

I think I'm going to write the entire series straight through (right now, I'm thinking 5). I know the audience from the other series will cross over to this one, so I'm okay with keeping them waiting. When I release the 1st book, I'm going to make it permafree right off the bat and strike a deal: when it hits X reviews, I'll drop book 2. Then I'll strike the same deal, rinse, and repeat.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 08:52:51 am

Main thing is though, if your book 2 isn't selling when book 1 is free, you can forget about book 4 and beyond. Time for a new series.

Yeah, you're right. I'm just being stubborn about the whole series novel thing. Something that being on these Boards has taught me that I need to GET OVER. LOL. Actually, I do have a series, but most of them are short stories, so that doesn't count.


Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 09:03:44 am
Kboards is capable of producing excellent discussions, and this is one of them.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.  I look forward to reading more of your opinions in this thread.   :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 24, 2014, 09:18:20 am
The ONLY reason I say 2 books and not 1 book is because you NEED the permafree book 1 to sell book 2. Obviously if you can sell book 1 outright, you're already doing really, really well, but there is still a chance to sell book 2 with book 1 permafree. It makes a HUGE difference in visibility. You want to follow book 2 with book 3, so that should be written as if it's all going to plan. It's a clear point to end a series and only continue / resurrect if it's a huge hit.

Main thing is though, if your book 2 isn't selling when book 1 is free, you can forget about book 4 and beyond. Time for a new series.

Book 1 is my best seller since the day after it was published as a prequel to the first ones. The first 38 days, it outsold any of the others by a two to one margin.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: jeffaaronmiller on September 24, 2014, 09:27:15 am
The last volume of my Young Adult series just got published. Although I am proud of having finished it, and I think it turned out really well, I also learned some things from the whole process. Specifically, the pacing of the series is inconsistent. The first book, Mary of the Aether, is a somewhat laid-back character-driven story that takes its time getting to know the small town setting. Books two and three are kind of relentless with danger and growing threat and barely pause to breathe. The fourth and final volume manages a healthy equilibrium, alternating between moments of intensity and quiet character moments, and I wish that tone had been struck throughout the series.

I am 70,000 words into the first volume of a brand new series, and I am applying everything that I learned about tone and consistency. I think the new series will benefit greatly from it.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ShaneJeffery on September 24, 2014, 09:32:37 am
Book 1 is my best seller since the day after it was published as a prequel to the first ones. The first 38 days, it outsold any of the others by a two to one margin.

Yep. You wrote a prequel to a series that was already selling and the prequel sold really well.

That's not disputing anything I've said.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Tim McGregor on September 24, 2014, 09:35:28 am
This place never fails to amaze me at the generosity of advice and wisdom that's shared. You guys are awesome.

The most important difference between the new series and the old? Plan ahead, dummy!

Me being the dummy here. I had no plan for a series after releasing my first novel. I was happy just to have finished a novel at all! After that, I went in ass-backwards. This time I've got a game plan but I gotta admit, outlining the main arc for four books is tough!

On the strategy side, book one (permafree) and book two will be released the same day. A lame attempt to catch some algorithmic fire on the 'Zon. Fingers crossed.

Cheers
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: LJ on September 24, 2014, 09:48:04 am
The Self Publishing Podcast guys used to do this. They always released the boxed set at the same time, with the goal of driving readers toward the more expensive purchase.
This might work great with KU.
Put the individual parts in KU and leave the boxed set out. Non-KU readers can get the bargain by purchasing them all at once. KU can read the whole thing for free, one installment at a time.

I woke up thinking I was going to do this very same thing this morning...funny!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 69959 on September 24, 2014, 10:09:36 am
I'm working on two new series, both in different genres.

The suspense series is a trilogy and I'm going to have all three finished before publishing. I'm going to do my best to publish them no more than a month apart. Readers are going to want to know the ending and I want them to have it as fast as possible without publishing them all at once. I'm planning on Select for the first book and then release all three wide after the 90 days are over.

The next series is contemporary romance. What's different about this series is that each book stands completely alone. Someone could read one and be perfectly happy. The other books will follow side characters. I'm considering ElHawk's suggestion of rotating the titles through Select since each is a standalone that will point readers to the rest of the series. We'll see how Select is doing when the time comes.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: C. Gockel on September 24, 2014, 10:17:35 am
It's nice to see there are a few other people out there who don't publish every other month.

I'm beginning a trilogy next year. In I Bring the Fire I think I tackled too many things: there is the idea that there is truth in all myths, even the modern ones--Loki turns blue--but not for the reason presented in Marvel. There is also the idea of the nature of Chaos being as neutral as the nature of Order (and another big idea I'm releasing in the last installment). It's also third person present tense. And the fantasy has a big dose of sci-fi generously mixed in.

Next series there is only one big idea, and I'm presenting the big idea as a love story in three parts. That's it. It will be third person past tense (I'm almost certain--although I have noticed lately that readers are caring less and less.) It will be sci-fi.

I'm also planning on launching all three installments closer together. I know sci-fi is a smaller market so I don't want to get discouraged if it doesn't sell. I'm going to try and write the whole trilogy in six months. Then I have an idea for another novel based in the I Bring the Fire universe that I plan to write, just to relax.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Silly Writer on September 24, 2014, 10:26:12 am
I'm working on two new series, both in different genres.

The suspense series is a trilogy and I'm going to have all three finished before publishing. I'm going to do my best to publish them no more than a month apart. Readers are going to want to know the ending and I want them to have it as fast as possible without publishing them all at once. I'm planning on Select for the first book and then release all three wide after the 90 days are over.

The next series is contemporary romance. What's different about this series is that each book stands completely alone. Someone could read one and be perfectly happy. The other books will follow side characters. I'm considering ElHawk's suggestion of rotating the titles through Select since each is a standalone that will point readers to the rest of the series. We'll see how Select is doing when the time comes.

Stacy,
In changing genres, will you be changing your author name? I'm struggling with this as I've seen the pros and cons of both sides... In my new series, it's the same characters, but different genre. Very different. I'm not sure if I'll get pinged by my current readers who might expect the same genre. Obviously the covers wii depict different genre, and I'll make it clear in blurb, categories, etc. but still hesitant to use the same name (Facebook, website, etc...)

Not trying to derail thread, but this is related to 'new series.' So bottom line: if new series is different genre, should you use different version of your name?
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Carradee on September 24, 2014, 10:35:06 am
I have one book that I very much want to write, for which I want to do a duet: 1 from female perspective, 1 from male. I'd like them both written so I could release them a month apart. Covers are mocked up, and between them and the titles...this is my WiP that's closest to being a mainstream title, and I think it's the most likely one to take off.

I have two series of shorter works where I want 3--4 written before I start releasing. One of them is in the second book. I have cover designs prepared for both.

I have a planned trilogy of 7-part serials where I intend to have at least a full serial written before I start releasing. I ideally want to have all 3 drafted, though. I have covers mocked up.

I'm currently wrapping up the drafting of book 4 in my epic fantasy series, which should end with 6 books. Book 6 might end up a 2-parter, though. I have a short story to write to wrap up a space opera plotline, and a novelette to wrap up a YA sci-fi dystopia plotline--plus at least one more book in my urban fantasy series, but I foresee that one continuing for years. And I have a dark fantasy penname of fairy tale slaughterings that needs more novellas.

I'm attempting a schedule right now of releasing something every 2 weeks, which means I'll also be writing several further short stories. I have plans/ideas/etc. aplenty for them. I figure it'll help kick me into writing more regularly. We'll see if it works.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 11:01:47 am
Stacy,
In changing genres, will you be changing your author name? I'm struggling with this as I've seen the pros and cons of both sides... In my new series, it's the same characters, but different genre. Very different. I'm not sure if I'll get pinged by my current readers who might expect the same genre. Obviously the covers wii depict different genre, and I'll make it clear in blurb, categories, etc. but still hesitant to use the same name (Facebook, website, etc...)

Not trying to derail thread, but this is related to 'new series.' So bottom line: if new series is different genre, should you use different version of your name?

You're not derailing the thread, at all.  This is all excellent discussion for series authors.  :)

My first series is a zombie/new adult (young adult according to some readers) series.  My next one will be a sic-fi/romance series.

I'll always keep my author name, because my stories contain monsters, whether they be zombies, vampires, aliens, or whatever.  They all fit under the category of "monsters."

Now if I were to write a romance that didn't contain any paranormal/non-human creatures, that would be different.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 69959 on September 24, 2014, 11:26:31 am
Stacy,
In changing genres, will you be changing your author name? I'm struggling with this as I've seen the pros and cons of both sides... In my new series, it's the same characters, but different genre. Very different. I'm not sure if I'll get pinged by my current readers who might expect the same genre. Obviously the covers wii depict different genre, and I'll make it clear in blurb, categories, etc. but still hesitant to use the same name (Facebook, website, etc...)

Not trying to derail thread, but this is related to 'new series.' So bottom line: if new series is different genre, should you use different version of your name?

I went back and forth on this for quite some time! Eventually, I decided to stick with my name. This is why:

My current books are YA Paranormal Romantic Suspense. My two new series contain elements of both Suspense and Romance. The romance will have suspense and the suspense has a little romance. They're both clean as far as language and sex, so I wouldn't worry about my YA readers crossing over to the other stuff.

Another reason I decided to keep my name is because I don't have time to keep up with another set of social media accounts, a new email list, and whatnot. One thing I might do is separate my mailing list into groups so that those interested only in my paranormal books can sign up to only receive those updates. I'm not sure how I'll do that, but I'm sure I can figure it out.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Tasman on September 24, 2014, 11:35:37 am
Kboards is capable of producing excellent discussions, and this is one of them.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.  I look forward to reading more of your opinions in this thread.   :)

Agree 100%, especially as I am now in the process of writing a new series and working on various strategies. This discussion is mega-helpful.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Lady Vine on September 24, 2014, 12:43:44 pm
For erotic romance novelettes/novellas:

- Write all the books in the series before publishing, no matter how many books are planned. I've found that this keeps me focused only on the work, and not worrying about how Book 1 or 2 or whatever is performing. Also, if I lose interest, I can stop whenever I want without the commitment
- Stick to shorter word counts. 8-12K words is what I'll be aiming for
- Raunchy sex scenes as opposed to mild ones. (Don't ask!)
- Release weekly or every 10 days. As I plan to permafree the first in series for some of these shorts, I don't really care about the 30-day cliff on Amazon, so I'm not releasing to keep up with it
- Brevity in my prose. Cut back on some of the introspection. It makes for a more enjoyable writing and reading experience
- Don't bundle until the separate parts' sales are WAY down. That's an important one. If you bundle too early it will kill the sales on individual titles unnecessarily. 7 months in, one of my series is still going strong without the bundle. Perhaps when I release the new series I'll bundle the old one

For longer non-erotica novellas:

- Write longer (30-40K words)
- Have at least 2 books ready to go before publishing (as above)
- Release less frequently. Maybe every 6 weeks. (I want to work at a pace that I can sustain over a long period of time, and one that my readers will get used to. If I start off releasing too frequently and get burnout, I won't be able to slow down without it affecting my earnings.) Start as you mean to go on, I say

For novels:

- Write standalones that have the potential to be series. As above, I don't want to be committed to a series I fall out of love with
- Leave 4-6 months between releases. Again, set the pace and stick to it. This way I get time to write novelettes/novellas in between
- No permafree on novels, but will write short prequels that I'll make tempafree

If I ever try KU on a series, it's going to be a brand new novelette series with an established pen name. I'm not pulling my older series for this experiment.     
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: CASD57 on September 24, 2014, 01:24:06 pm
Quit worrying about sales-genre etc.., Write for myself, to tell the stories I want/would read, when success happens it will be my way :) and stories I like..
And that is what I did on my second series completely different then the first.
Changed Author name to my own..
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Maddie_K on September 24, 2014, 01:35:10 pm
Why hadn't I thought of this? I've been using a .doc with character descriptions and full resumes for each book. I make up the character outline and resume as soon as I introduce a new character. Much of their information is never used, but it's there for the future.

Doing it on a spreadsheet is a great idea!

Being able to sort it by height, weight, hair color, name.....

Starting a new spreadsheet....

This is brilliant! I use spreadsheets all day at work... so why didn't I think of that? I've been using paper 'character sheets' but it's meant flipping around in a huge binder while writing book 2 to make sure I don't get details wrong. Starting this tonight!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Raquel Lyon on September 24, 2014, 01:36:45 pm
I'm going to NOT put my first book out and waste thousands of select free downloads when I've nothing else for the readers to move on to. I kick myself everyday for doing that!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Robert Dahlen on September 24, 2014, 01:55:37 pm
Have enough cash set aside for a halfway decent marketing blitz off the bat. And have at least three books in that series as ready to go as I can at the start on purpose, not by accident as I did this time. :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on September 24, 2014, 02:14:42 pm
I'm releasing one a month -- and I'm not doing shorts. A lot of people loathe shorts. I'm doing full novels and hoping to key in to the romantic suspense crowd (which is insatiable). The first two are done -- and the first three are set to pre-order one month apart. I'll have the third one done in about a week, and then I'm immediately starting the fourth one. That gets me through January on releases. Then I'm finishing up my young adult series (two books) in late October/November. I will release one before the end of the year and then am holding on to the other for the spring. I just think it will be more streamlined to write them both together. Then, in December, I'm writing two more for my new series -- which will get me through March for releases. I'm working ahead. The good news is, I have eight books and a "treat" novella outlined in the new series. I created a pen name and already have 10 pre-orders for the first book (and I haven't done a thing to promote it). I have also included the link to the pre-order for the next book in the series at the back of each book -- and included a "Coming Soon" page so readers will know that books are actually plotted out and are coming. I actually bought the first six covers in the series already so I wouldn't be able to back out or slow down. I'm committed and focused -- and I'm excited for the launch of the first book in October and watching how things go.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Randall Wood on September 24, 2014, 02:28:28 pm
Compile a series bible as I go. Get at least two or three in the series finished before releasing the first, then set up preorders for the next book.

This. Branching off of my existing series.

I'm also planing a serial novel with KU in mind. 12 episodes at 25k words each. Comes to a nice round 300k words. I want to write all 12 and release them all at once. That plus two novels a year for my existing series(s) should keep me busy enough.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 24, 2014, 02:58:28 pm
Compile a series bible as I go. Get at least two or three in the series finished before releasing the first, then set up preorders for the next book.

What is a series bible?
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: I'm a Little Teapot on September 24, 2014, 03:02:31 pm
What is a series bible?

Like someone mentioned further back, it's basically a spreadsheet or wiki of names, places, people (and their descriptions) and plot arcs as they occur in each book. It's a huge timesaver when you don't have to go wading through your backlist doublechecking details because you've already got it in one place.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 03:03:30 pm
I'm going to NOT put my first book out and waste thousands of select free downloads when I've nothing else for the readers to move on to. I kick myself everyday for doing that!

I did that for one day with my first book before I had other books in the series.  I agree with what you're saying, but in my case it may have brought attention to book #2 once book #2 was published.  I don't know.  My sales were pretty good back then.  LOL!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 24, 2014, 03:05:39 pm
If I was starting a new series....

I would focus just on the series!

I'm bloody awful for jumping into new books when all my fans want is the next one in the series. In fact, that is exactly what I am doing right now. I'm currently writing three different books that I feel like writing (I always have more than one on the go) and not focussing on the next one in the series, which would be a much better seller than any of the stand-alones that I'm currently working on.

If I focussed just on one series I would be releasing on a much more profitable schedule, and not splitting myself between pen names, and making much more money. But instead, I stupidly release another in the series about once every four months and get completely distracted by other books.

I have no business sense clearly! Plus there is no one but me to crack the whip and keep me focussed.... sigh
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 03:07:08 pm
So many great points in this thread!  Thanks!  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: CJArcher on September 24, 2014, 03:12:23 pm
Concentrate on 1 series at a time to keep the releases closer together. I'll probably put book 1 up as pre-order for a few weeks, therefore delaying its release so that it will only be a month until book 2 is out. That's the plan anyway  ;)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 03:14:44 pm
Concentrate on 1 series at a time to keep the releases closer together. I'll probably put book 1 up as pre-order for a few weeks, therefore delaying its release so that it will only be a month until book 2 is out. That's the plan anyway  ;)

I'm still on the fence about preorder.  Does it take away from the bang of a release day?
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: CJArcher on September 24, 2014, 03:23:35 pm
I'm still on the fence about preorder.  Does it take away from the bang of a release day?

Yeah, I won't see a big release day spike in ranking on Amazon, but with a book 1 I don't expect it anyway. Also, Apple works differently to the Zon and I sell just as many there. I might keep the price low during the pre-order phase and let my subscribers know this, but I haven't put too much thought into this yet, so I might change what I do before then. Might be a good idea to write the book first :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on September 24, 2014, 03:30:55 pm
Concentrate on 1 series at a time to keep the releases closer together. I'll probably put book 1 up as pre-order for a few weeks, therefore delaying its release so that it will only be a month until book 2 is out. That's the plan anyway  ;)
I actually disagree with this. I believe in multiple series going at once. If you only have one series and you only focus on one series, then when you've overdone it and there's nothing new to write a lot of readers won't follow some authors to a new series. I just saw it twice in the past two months or so with established indie authors with only one series. Both are now going back to the first series (which is just tired and beat to death) because they don't want to miss out on the money.  I believe in spreading the love around and not putting all your eggs in one basket. That's just me, though. Everyone has to do what feels best for them.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on September 24, 2014, 03:35:27 pm
I'm still on the fence about preorder.  Does it take away from the bang of a release day?
I was on the fence, too. I do not think I will be doing preorder for future installments of the series I write under my main name. I am doing it for the romantic suspense series, though, because the minute people are done I want them to click on the link so they can preorder the next one. I have decided to wait until I have three out, though, before running a big advertising blitz (which will be just in time for Christmas -- imagine that!). I planned and wrote this series with KU in mind, so I'm mildly interested to see how things go.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: jamielakenovels on September 24, 2014, 03:38:08 pm
I'd write all the books in the series before releasing any of them. Make the first book or a prequel book perma-free but the rest Kindle Unlimited. Make sure that they are properly edited and error-free, beta-rest the hell out of it until people were saying it was the best it could be, then I'd have excerpts and links in the back of each book and a mailing list sign up on the very first and last page.  Then, I'd create a list of people who like similar books and after we've gotten to know each other give them the first book in the series. Wash, rinse, repeat.  Eventually, when I had enough reviews, I'd do a series of small advertisements like BKnights and ENT and then follow that with a Bookbub advertisement. I'd find some kind of ethical gift for anyone who finished reading the first book to motivate the hoarders to actually read the book.

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Andrew Broderick on September 24, 2014, 03:45:44 pm
I've got one more book left in my series of four, and then I'm switching genres. My current series is hard to define, genre-wise - it's a contemporary urban science-fiction thriller, but it's also got some soap-y elements and a lot of humor. In addition, the sci-fi elements aren't really apparent until a ways into the first book, so it seems like you're getting a more straight-forward action thriller.

This looks like my kind of book. It's in my reading queue!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Patty Jansen on September 24, 2014, 03:58:00 pm
I agree with Yoda about the series. I have several series going at the time. I'm in a genre where people don't expect new releases every month, and there is some cross-pollination between series as well. Having several series going can stop series burnout and also helps test the water for where you should focus your efforts.

As for series I've started but have put on the backburner... I've got those under a pen name at the moment. If one of them happens to take off, that will force me to put more emphasis on that series.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Chinese Writer on September 24, 2014, 03:59:35 pm
Yeah, you're right. I'm just being stubborn about the whole series novel thing. Something that being on these Boards has taught me that I need to GET OVER. LOL. Actually, I do have a series, but most of them are short stories, so that doesn't count.

I have the exact opposite problem. Every book idea ends up wanting to be the start of a series. The only problem, I don't have time to start these books in other genres. I want to focus on mystery until I get several books out. I'm also trying to learn to write short stories and novellas. After I finish up my WIP, I want to have a small novelette that I can use as a freebie to lead into my full length novels.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Chinese Writer on September 24, 2014, 04:15:42 pm
Stacy,
In changing genres, will you be changing your author name? I'm struggling with this as I've seen the pros and cons of both sides... In my new series, it's the same characters, but different genre. Very different. I'm not sure if I'll get pinged by my current readers who might expect the same genre. Obviously the covers wii depict different genre, and I'll make it clear in blurb, categories, etc. but still hesitant to use the same name (Facebook, website, etc...)

Not trying to derail thread, but this is related to 'new series.' So bottom line: if new series is different genre, should you use different version of your name?

While I'm finishing up my second mystery, I'm outlining an urban fantasy series that I plan to work on in 2015. I'm going to use the same author name for both of the series since there is a mystery element in the new series (hoping there might be reader cross over). For the debut novel, I'm also using one of my reader's favorite characters, my little old Chinese lady, in the the urban fantasy to kick off the story. It's a different side of her because the urban fantasy starts after her husband's death a few years ago, so I'm not sure how my audience would take it. Also, my urban fantasy will feature another Chinese female protag so I think it's okay to keep them under the same brand. 

However, I do want to get into sweet and Regency romances at some point. And for that, I'm thinking of using a more American sounding pen name (as in Tanner vs Tan). I think there is still reader basis when it comes to the author name on the books.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 69959 on September 24, 2014, 04:17:46 pm
I actually disagree with this. I believe in multiple series going at once. If you only have one series and you only focus on one series, then when you've overdone it and there's nothing new to write a lot of readers won't follow some authors to a new series. I just saw it twice in the past two months or so with established indie authors with only one series. Both are now going back to the first series (which is just tired and beat to death) because they don't want to miss out on the money.  I believe in spreading the love around and not putting all your eggs in one basket. That's just me, though. Everyone has to do what feels best for them.

I agree with this. I've even had readers say they can't keep up with my production schedule. If you publish a lot (pretty sure I haven't missed a month this year) your readers might not be able to keep up. In that case, having a couple series works best.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: djv1120 on September 24, 2014, 04:26:21 pm
I am a new author (less than a year) and would do several things differently.  The main thing is that I would do everything right the first time.  I tried to cut corners and self-edit then wound up spending money to edit it after it was already published.  I tied to get a cheap cover then wound up spending the money to pay for the custom cover that I wanted all along.  I would pay for some advertising instead of just hoping it would work on its own.  In short, I would do what everybody on this site recommends you do.  Of course, I didn't find this site until after I wrote the book and published.

As far as the actual writing, I would plan things out more.  I have found that I can write 1000 to 1500 words a minute if I know what I am going to write before I start.  If I figure it out as I go, it is probably closer to 400 to 500 at best.  In short, 15 minutes of planning can save hours of writing time.  On top of that, when I plan things out, I get myself in the mood to write which makes things go even faster when I start pounding on the keyboard.

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 24, 2014, 04:36:25 pm
I have found that I can write 1000 to 1500 words a minute if I know what I am going to write before I start.  If I figure it out as I go, it is probably closer to 400 to 500 at best.

Wow, that is seriously fast  ;)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 24, 2014, 04:53:32 pm
I have the exact opposite problem. Every book idea ends up wanting to be the start of a series. The only problem, I don't have time to start these books in other genres. I want to focus on mystery until I get several books out. I'm also trying to learn to write short stories and novellas. After I finish up my WIP, I want to have a small novelette that I can use as a freebie to lead into my full length novels.

Yes, I've discovered that although the advice on KBoards is excellent, most of it applies to other genres (fantasy, romance, etc.) and not to mysteries. My recent novella will probably be a perma-free book when I finish the next one in the series. Although, I still haven't decided whether permafree works with mysteries like it does for the other genres.

As for the short stories, at some point I'll put them together into a collection.


Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: anniejocoby on September 24, 2014, 04:58:33 pm
How timely! I'll listen to my gut. My gut didn't like my latest covers, but I went with them anyhow. I think that they limited my new series, because nobody could tell what the books were about. Even my sister said she had no idea what my books were about, LOL. I changed that, though, and I just got my new covers back today, and I'm SO EXCITED!

I'm also going to do some more intense studying in my genre. I'm picking the bestsellers in my genre and reading them, and I'm going to try to figure out the elements that made them popular. I'm going to get out of the mindset that I should try to be wildly different, and write to market. I might sound like a sell-out, but that's okay, because I'll be selling out all the way to the bank, LOL.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Dolphin on September 24, 2014, 05:30:52 pm
I would do a better job at updating my notes on my character bios, storyboard, etc. I feel sorry every time my editor says something like, "You changed his eye color... again!"

Your character is a shapeshifter IMO. Go with it.

I resorted to making a spreadsheet with all the important/semi-important characters on it.

An excellent idea! Could be handy for tracking any number of things, like nagging injuries, vocal mannerisms, &c. I very much like the idea of doing locations too.

Scrivener's notes and metadata might be helpful for this as well.

While it's still more than a year away, I'll try to make my MC less invincible. I've received a number of reviews about how my MC is "too perfect". Perhaps it's because of the much lower percentage of military to civilian readers. I think the average person has no idea there are many people walking around out there that trained for twenty years, how to survive and kill and are very good at both, if the need arises.

The SEALs of Operation Red Wings were death walking terrors, but they still suffered terrible losses when they were ambushed by one to two platoon-sized elements. I'm sympathetic to your desire to not water your heroes down. Pit them against strong antagonists, tilt the table, raise the stakes, and see if you can have your Marty Stew and your Die Hard too.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 24, 2014, 07:08:31 pm
How timely! I'll listen to my gut. My gut didn't like my latest covers, but I went with them anyhow. I think that they limited my new series, because nobody could tell what the books were about. Even my sister said she had no idea what my books were about, LOL. I changed that, though, and I just got my new covers back today, and I'm SO EXCITED!

I'm also going to do some more intense studying in my genre. I'm picking the bestsellers in my genre and reading them, and I'm going to try to figure out the elements that made them popular. I'm going to get out of the mindset that I should try to be wildly different, and write to market. I might sound like a sell-out, but that's okay, because I'll be selling out all the way to the bank, LOL.

There's nothing wrong with that, Annie.  I won't write something for publication that will be a hard sell.  It may not be the most popular thing.  I mean, there's some stuff out there that sells really, really well that I'm just not interested in.  But there's other stuff I can write.  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: M.G. Russell on September 24, 2014, 08:10:16 pm
Thanks for this thread. I'm just starting a new series and this has been really helpful.

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Silly Writer on September 24, 2014, 08:49:49 pm
I have found that I can write 1000 to 1500 words a minute if I know what I am going to write before I start.  If I figure it out as I go, it is probably closer to 400 to 500 at best. 

If you can type that fast, you've beat all previous World Records...EVAH!   :o

Even the fastest ever recorded is 212 words per minute - Barbara Blackburn is the fastest English typist in the world, according the Guinness Book of World Records. She managed to type at 150 words a minute for 50 minutes, and peaked at 212 words a minute. She even showed offer her talents on 'The David Letterman Show.'

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Dolphin on September 24, 2014, 08:57:37 pm
If you can type that fast, you've beat all previous World Records...EVAH!   :o

Ha, yeah, I was kind of interpreting that as hourly instead of minutely. Hi, wrote a full-length novel in an hour, AMA.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Crime fighters on September 24, 2014, 10:35:08 pm
How timely! I'll listen to my gut. My gut didn't like my latest covers, but I went with them anyhow. I think that they limited my new series, because nobody could tell what the books were about. Even my sister said she had no idea what my books were about, LOL. I changed that, though, and I just got my new covers back today, and I'm SO EXCITED!

I'm also going to do some more intense studying in my genre. I'm picking the bestsellers in my genre and reading them, and I'm going to try to figure out the elements that made them popular. I'm going to get out of the mindset that I should try to be wildly different, and write to market. I might sound like a sell-out, but that's okay, because I'll be selling out all the way to the bank, LOL.

This so hard.

I'm head-over-heels in love with Carnival, but I knew from the beginning that it wasn't exactly 'market friendly'. I wanted a book that felt real and honest when it came to drug use, without any author-preaching-bias. I wrote about [expletive]ed up characters who didn't fix their issues, but rather ran from them. I wrote the book exactly the way I wanted, and everytime I see it on my shelf, I'm immensely proud of it. Now I'm faced with getting two sequels out this year, of a book that will never make it big. But that's okay, because I have a small, but very enthusiastic fanbase with this book. Still, if I could go back and do it again... I'd do it the same way.  I'm stubborn like that. But with my next series, because I need to do this for a living, I'm moving a little closer to the center...

Which means I'm going to write books with popular tropes. I'm going to write about alpha males, and I'm going to write second chance romances, which I truly enjoy. But if my current plotting sessions are any indication, I'm going to steer away from the center the second the pen hits the paper. But I'll be happy... and broke.

Business wise, I plan on trying out a few strategies with the next few series. On the docket for 2015 is 12 releases. Beginning with a serial with each part going on sale/preorder the same day. Then releasing the packaged novel a few months later when I have no scheduled releases to keep up visibility.

That will be the start of my second series, followed by two full length novels later in the year. I'm also planning on releasing a duo-novella on the same day, one featuring the Hero's POV and the other featuring the Heroin's. So that's nine releases.

Then I'm going to use whichever strategy worked best with the previous three series with the third series, which unlike the rest of the books, will feature a tried and tested story.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Austin_Briggs on September 24, 2014, 10:59:35 pm
I would definitely write shorter books!

I just finished a trilogy of 180k word tomes. I loved writing them, and wouldn't change a thing, but when I started it was purely for my own benefit - I hadn't even considered self-publishing back then.

For my new series I'm thinking more in the ballpark of 60-75k word books. Shorter, more frequently released, books seems to be the way to go to maximize sales.

That's what I'm trying to do, too. Adult titles from 140K to 80K, Young Adult titles from 95K to 60K, or 40K for younger readers. It's actually possible to tell a good story in a shorter book, as I'm learning :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: kathrynoh on September 25, 2014, 12:05:22 am
If I do another "series", it will be more interconnected stories.  That way I won't be locked into an overriding story arc spreading over a few books. I'm working on a standalone at the moment but trying to make sure there are enough interesting side characters with stories for further books. I'm quite interested in the idea of having one character out and out mean in the first book but then later developing her story, because no one is that black and white in real life.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Kirkee on September 25, 2014, 12:08:22 am
What would I do differently? Let it write itself. Come to think of it, it did write itself. The "Tinsel"
one did.
That's always best.

Annie: Pretty sharp (the studying part.) So long as you're okay with it.  Actually you wouldn't be "selling out,"
it's more like "buying in."   :o
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Chinese Writer on September 25, 2014, 12:11:29 am
Yes, I've discovered that although the advice on KBoards is excellent, most of it applies to other genres (fantasy, romance, etc.) and not to mysteries. My recent novella will probably be a perma-free book when I finish the next one in the series. Although, I still haven't decided whether permafree works with mysteries like it does for the other genres.

As for the short stories, at some point I'll put them together into a collection.

From my personal reading and by looking at friends who read the genre, free doesn't work as well. $2.99 is my lost leader price and I will go up after this with the occasional sale. If I'm willing to pay $5-$10 for a good mystery eBook, then I know my targeted demographics is as well since I'm writing for women like me. I have several friends that will pay full trad pub prices on preorders for their fav authors. So it's all about building a fan base and putting quality work.

If you check out some of the authors in the humorous mystery sub genre, some price as high as $4.99 and they still have a strong following. One thing I've noticed is that once these authors have about 4-5 books out they move the price for all of them to $4.99 without any impact to their ranking. And their covers look just like trad pub covers.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Kirkee on September 25, 2014, 12:15:41 am
What would I do differently? Let it write itself. Come to think of it, it did write itself. The "Tinsel"
one did.
That's always best.

Annie: Pretty sharp (the studying part.) So long as you're okay with it.  Actually you wouldn't be "selling out,"
it's more like "buying in."   :o
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 25, 2014, 06:47:33 am

Which means I'm going to write books with popular tropes. I'm going to write about alpha males, and I'm going to write second chance romances, which I truly enjoy. But if my current plotting sessions are any indication, I'm going to steer away from the center the second the pen hits the paper. But I'll be happy... and broke.


I'm a ghost writer.  Therefore, I write whatever my clients want me to write - whether I'm interested in the topic or not.  (I'll never forget the time I wrote 50 different articles on garages and garage door openers.  So much fun.  Not.)

So when it comes to my fiction, I have to enjoy and be interested in the topic.  I refuse to write something that is of no genuine interest to me just because it sells.  For example, BBW stuff sells really well, but it's of no interest to me.

However, I also won't write something that has very little chance of gaining traction.  So for me it's a balance.   
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Brian Olsen on September 25, 2014, 06:56:03 am
This looks like my kind of book. It's in my reading queue!

Groovy! I hope you like it. Maybe I'll stop trying to condense the genre in my blurbs and just write it all out...

I thought I read about this in this thread, but maybe not - I downloaded Aeon Timeline last night and started playing with it. I can't wait to go back and enter all my timeline info from my current series into it to help with plotting the final book, and I suspect I'll be using it from day one with my next series.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 69959 on September 25, 2014, 07:52:44 am
How timely! I'll listen to my gut. My gut didn't like my latest covers, but I went with them anyhow. I think that they limited my new series, because nobody could tell what the books were about. Even my sister said she had no idea what my books were about, LOL. I changed that, though, and I just got my new covers back today, and I'm SO EXCITED!

I'm also going to do some more intense studying in my genre. I'm picking the bestsellers in my genre and reading them, and I'm going to try to figure out the elements that made them popular. I'm going to get out of the mindset that I should try to be wildly different, and write to market. I might sound like a sell-out, but that's okay, because I'll be selling out all the way to the bank, LOL.

I'm paying a lot more attention to the market myself. I've been studying covers and trends. I don't think it's being a sell out, although I felt that way for a long time too. My goal is to go full time and make a living with writing. I can't do that if I don't write what sells. Luckily I like romance! :)

Your new covers are great, by the way. They do convey a lot more than the old ones. Great choice! I recently changed five of my covers and my sales have improved. I've even had people buy my books based solely on the new covers. Don't underestimate the power of covers.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: heidi_g on September 25, 2014, 10:15:45 am
I'm tempted to say NOTHING! But that's not really true, lol.

ARCs
ARCs
ARCs

That's about it :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Crime fighters on September 25, 2014, 10:39:49 am
I'm a ghost writer.  Therefore, I write whatever my clients want me to write - whether I'm interested in the topic or not.  (I'll never forget the time I wrote 50 different articles on garages and garage door openers.  So much fun.  Not.)

So when it comes to my fiction, I have to enjoy and be interested in the topic.  I refuse to write something that is of no genuine interest to me just because it sells.  For example, BBW stuff sells really well, but it's of no interest to me.

However, I also won't write something that has very little chance of gaining traction.  So for me it's a balance.   

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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Tasha Black on September 25, 2014, 11:25:51 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 25, 2014, 11:41:07 am
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.  :) 
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 25, 2014, 11:50:59 am
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! 

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Alexis Adaire on September 25, 2014, 11:54:11 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Kessie Carroll on September 25, 2014, 12:55:34 pm
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. :-)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: nellgoddin on September 25, 2014, 01:01:58 pm
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Jill James on September 25, 2014, 03:34:42 pm
This time around I will write all four books of the series before I publish #1. And I will build a series bible.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: AJStewart on September 25, 2014, 04:19:34 pm
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: audreyclaire on September 25, 2014, 05:51:23 pm
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
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ChrisWard on September 25, 2014, 06:05:38 pm
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...
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Redacted1111 on September 25, 2014, 06:33:39 pm
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 25, 2014, 06:52:16 pm
I'm truly enjoying this thread.  Thank you!  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Kellie Sheridan on September 25, 2014, 09:30:04 pm
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: ThomasDiehl on September 26, 2014, 02:40:50 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 26, 2014, 06:18:31 am
- 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.  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: 69959 on September 26, 2014, 07:04:55 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: sarahdalton on September 26, 2014, 07:37:40 am
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!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: DRMarvello on September 26, 2014, 07:41:04 am
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*)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: geekgrrl on September 26, 2014, 09:20:04 am
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 (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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: John Ellsworth on September 26, 2014, 09:54:18 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 26, 2014, 09:57:13 am

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 (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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: MGalloway on September 26, 2014, 10:50:19 am
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.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Daniel Kenney on September 26, 2014, 11:00:41 am
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
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Lyndawrites on September 26, 2014, 11:35:57 am
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.  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Cherise on September 26, 2014, 04:27:06 pm
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
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 26, 2014, 04:34:53 pm
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.

I'm happy you've found the thread helpful, John.  So have I!  :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Chinese Writer on September 26, 2014, 05:24:44 pm
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.  :)

The Lucy Stone series have Lucy married and later with kids. It can work. Instead of romantic tension there is balancing family needs with sleuthing, kind of like all us working moms.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on September 26, 2014, 05:32:51 pm
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.  :)

Actually, I find fans prefer the romance angle in cozy mysteries. You don't have to marry them off right away -- but you can put them in a relationship. Heck, the first three or four books can be flirting and agreeing to that relationship. I know all my fans love relationships in a cozy mystery.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: jaxspenser on September 27, 2014, 09:03:01 am
Cover art... I would take way more time planning out the entire series' cover art. It's best to make decisions about cover art while in a state of "I have plenty of time" rather than "uh oh, I have to get this our really soon!" I think the coordination of the artwork between books is super important and serves not only as a marketing tool but a guide for the reader who is dedicated to your series. Admittedly, I'm still in the middle of the release of my first series so more observations to come... :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 27, 2014, 11:04:59 am

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.

This is an excellent one! I've often thought this but never reminded myself of it at the important moment! I'll be starting writing a brand new long lasting series in December and it absolutely has to have a first book that is at least 'eligible' for Bookbub.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 27, 2014, 11:19:00 am
This is an excellent one! I've often thought this but never reminded myself of it at the important moment! I'll be starting writing a brand new long lasting series in December and it absolutely has to have a first book that is at least 'eligible' for Bookbub.

I begin writing my next series in November after I spend October researching.  I may bite the bullet and go for 50,000 words for each book.  We'll see.  I prefer a shorter length, but we'll see.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Maia Sepp Ross on September 27, 2014, 11:25:52 am


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.


Oh god, that's brilliant. Thank you. This is an awesome thread.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: EthanRussellErway on September 27, 2014, 12:52:22 pm
I always need to remind myself that patience is a virtue.  I'm working on slowing down, working on one series at a time, letting my work breathe a little.  I think writing is like anything else, if you take the time to go slowly, you'll end up faster in the end.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Victoria J on September 27, 2014, 01:52:02 pm
With the new series I'm writing I'm keeping the book length under 80,000. No more 150,000+ books for me for a long while. That way, if a series needs adjustments or if I feel I need to give it up altogether I won't feel that I've wasted too much time with a huge book. Also, They don't take nearly as long and I can write more books per year.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: wtvr on September 27, 2014, 02:09:25 pm
I'm just reiterating what people are saying here, but maybe if I write it down it will happen:

- All three books written before #1 goes live. I'm too easily distracted by shiny objects. (Ooh look! A new idea!)
- Plot the whole damn thing to save time
- Great covers and blurbs
- #1 long enough to get ENT and then Bookbub
- Start saving money for that bookbub ad now!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: bobbic on September 27, 2014, 03:11:41 pm
This is an excellent one! I've often thought this but never reminded myself of it at the important moment! I'll be starting writing a brand new long lasting series in December and it absolutely has to have a first book that is at least 'eligible' for Bookbub.

Yes! I didn't even know that was an issue until I read it here. I'd also brand my covers so they don't look so disjointed.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: MajesticMonkey on September 29, 2014, 07:25:03 pm
- Don't bundle until the separate parts' sales are WAY down. That's an important one. If you bundle too early it will kill the sales on individual titles unnecessarily. 7 months in, one of my series is still going strong without the bundle. Perhaps when I release the new series I'll bundle the old one.

I would hope I would have come up with this one myself once I published the entire series. Guess I don't have to find out anymore. It's always better being prepared in situations like these. Thanks! Great Tip! :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: WilliamEsmont on September 29, 2014, 08:22:29 pm
Finish the first series before starting a second. Or a third. (note: I'm a fast writer but I take FOREVER in revision)

The third installment in my espionage thriller series is slated to land around the end of this year - three years after book #2. In between, I wrote a four part horror series (3 novels + 1 novelette) plus a SciFi novella plus a few other projects that languish on my hard drive in various states of completion. The horror series was supposed to be a standalone, to scratch an itch, but it sold pretty well, and I was still feeling fatigue from the first two books in the espionage series, so I kept on going.




Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 29, 2014, 08:38:03 pm
This thread is one of my favorites!  Thanks! :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: JeanetteRaleigh on September 29, 2014, 08:50:34 pm
I would choose more carefully and not get sidetracked by 'great' ideas for standalones.  (This is an ongoing dilemma for me.  I currently have two series that I'm focused on, but those neat ideas keep poking up and drawing my curiousity.  I have at least 5 ideas that I've squelched so I don't go back down the sale-less path of standalones)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 30, 2014, 02:22:25 am
I would choose more carefully and not get sidetracked by 'great' ideas for standalones.  (This is an ongoing dilemma for me.  I currently have two series that I'm focused on, but those neat ideas keep poking up and drawing my curiousity.  I have at least 5 ideas that I've squelched so I don't go back down the sale-less path of standalones)

Weirdly I released my first stand alone at the end of August and right now it is outselling the titles in my series. So sometimes people like a stand alone. Or maybe they are people who enjoyed the series and want more from the same author? Anyway, I don't think there is any harm in writing one from time to time, they may even bring in new fans who were unsure about trying and committing to your whole series, but then they like the stand alone and think they will give the series a go. Win win
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Indecisive on September 30, 2014, 04:31:16 am
Cover art... I would take way more time planning out the entire series' cover art. It's best to make decisions about cover art while in a state of "I have plenty of time" rather than "uh oh, I have to get this our really soon!" I think the coordination of the artwork between books is super important and serves not only as a marketing tool but a guide for the reader who is dedicated to your series. Admittedly, I'm still in the middle of the release of my first series so more observations to come... :)

I did/am doing this for my current series. I spent a lot of time thinking about concept and style and looking at other fantasy novels' cover art. I found a series of stock art images which fit the concept and grabbed them up. I designed the whole 5-book series at once. I'll tweak the designs a bit more before it goes live, but I'm pretty happy with my basic layout.

I am also keeping a multi-tab spreadsheet to keep track of things and note ideas for plot revisions in whatever book I'm not working on at the moment.

I have no idea how it will work out sales-wise. Ask me next year, or check my kindle store rankings!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 30, 2014, 08:11:10 am
Weirdly I released my first stand alone at the end of August and right now it is outselling the titles in my series. So sometimes people like a stand alone. Or maybe they are people who enjoyed the series and want more from the same author? Anyway, I don't think there is any harm in writing one from time to time, they may even bring in new fans who were unsure about trying and committing to your whole series, but then they like the stand alone and think they will give the series a go. Win win

Next month (October) I'm doing research for my next series.  I'll start writing it in November, but it won't be released until January.  I've got releases of my current stuff for October and November, but I don't have anything for December.  Therefore, I'm planning a stand alone for December.  As you've said, there's no harm in writing one from time to time, and it gives me something to release for December, because my goal, beginning with October, is to have a release every month.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: wtvr on September 30, 2014, 08:37:08 am
OK, I lied. I wrote and released book 1. So shoot me. Book 2 is almost done.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Evenstar on September 30, 2014, 09:18:49 am
OK, I lied. I wrote and released book 1. So shoot me. Book 2 is almost done.

LOL Congratulations!

And Jolie, I agree that the idea of keeping momentum going with the occasional stand alone rather than releasing nothing at all is actually pretty genius
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: katrina46 on September 30, 2014, 09:52:58 am
I'd have the second up before I start promoting.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Joliedupre on September 30, 2014, 10:46:22 am

And Jolie, I agree that the idea of keeping momentum going with the occasional stand alone rather than releasing nothing at all is actually pretty genius

Thanks! :)
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Frank D. Lawrence on September 30, 2014, 10:56:47 am
I don't know. Series often seem to discourage me as a potential reader. I know in advance that I have to buy the next book and then the next book... That is why I have not even thought about creating a series yet...

I'd probably would write a stand-alone sequel first and not even hint at that it is one...

Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Lydniz on September 30, 2014, 10:57:47 am
I don't know. Series often seem to discourage me as a potential reader. I know in advance that I have to buy the next book and then the next book... That is why I have not even thought about creating a series yet...

But are you referring to a series or a serial? They're two different things.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Frank D. Lawrence on September 30, 2014, 10:58:43 am
Both.

I have the uncanny OCD that makes me want to own every part of a series as soon as I own one book/cd/movie whatever...

But I guess most people are not like that  :D
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: wtvr on September 30, 2014, 11:27:05 am
I'd have the second up before I start promoting.

Word! I just pushed publish on #2, and I have 2 promos for a free select day on Friday for #1. That gives enough time to go back to #1 and make the backmatter links. I hope the 1+2 strategy works!
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on October 02, 2014, 02:54:25 am
Word! I just pushed publish on #2, and I have 2 promos for a free select day on Friday for #1. That gives enough time to go back to #1 and make the backmatter links. I hope the 1+2 strategy works!
I'm launching my new romantic suspense series next week, and I put the preorder for the next book up before I submitted the final copy. I'm hoping it works. I already have 20 preorders on a pen name I created out of nothing and have done absolutely nothing to promote. It's a huge market, so I hope I gain traction by putting the link for the preorder to the next book on the first page of the back matter. On the second page of the back matter, I include a list of upcoming books (six, to make sure readers know it will keep going). I then put my Author's Note on the final page with my Facebook, Twitter, and new mailing list links outlined. I wish I had approached my original name this way, but it is what is. You learn by doing.
It's an experiment. I'll start a thread on the first day and keep people updated with how it works. I'm waiting until the third book hits -- which is December -- before running any ads or any free days on the first book. I'm hoping that the 30-day cycle keeps books in the Hot New Releases category for the foreseeable future. I already have a bevy of outstanding covers. I'm pretty excited about the experiment.
Title: Re: If you're starting a new series, what will you do differently this time around?
Post by: wtvr on October 02, 2014, 05:52:58 am
I'm launching my new romantic suspense series next week, and I put the preorder for the next book up before I submitted the final copy. I'm hoping it works. I already have 20 preorders on a pen name I created out of nothing and have done absolutely nothing to promote. It's a huge market, so I hope I gain traction by putting the link for the preorder to the next book on the first page of the back matter. On the second page of the back matter, I include a list of upcoming books (six, to make sure readers know it will keep going). I then put my Author's Note on the final page with my Facebook, Twitter, and new mailing list links outlined. I wish I had approached my original name this way, but it is what is. You learn by doing.
It's an experiment. I'll start a thread on the first day and keep people updated with how it works. I'm waiting until the third book hits -- which is December -- before running any ads or any free days on the first book. I'm hoping that the 30-day cycle keeps books in the Hot New Releases category for the foreseeable future. I already have a bevy of outstanding covers. I'm pretty excited about the experiment.

That's fantastic! I can't wait to hear how it goes for you.

I'm doing something similar - started a new pen name out of nothing, trying to break into romantic suspense. But I'll go the opposite route: free days right away on a short serial. Then build up a mailing list for the long trilogy that drops in December. They're on the HNRs for Women's Fic today, so, fingers crossed!