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Is it a good idea to write a whole series before publishing? I am writing an epic fantasy, and I am concerned I may come up with an idea later in the series i want to use in a previous book. Should I finish the series before publishing for continuity’s sake?
 

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Writing the next books in my Martin Billings series.
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Is it a good idea to write a whole series before publishing? I am writing an epic fantasy, and I am concerned I may come up with an idea later in the series i want to use in a previous book. Should I finish the series before publishing for continuity’s sake?
Everyone is different. But remember you can always write a prequel later on. And it depends on the nature of your series. Is it chronological? Some aren't. Is it just different stories with the same characters? Then write them in any order.
 

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A series is easier to sell. The new books keep the old books in the reader's eye on Amazon. If you release a single book and it does horribly, you may give up on the series prematurely. On the other hand, if you release one book and it fails, you can save time and switch to a new project. It's easier to take a failed book than a failed series. (I've had both happen.)

I try to hold off on releasing the first book in a new series until I have a second or third book ready to go. There are people who are great at advertising who do well with a first book. It really depends on how much push you intend to put behind that first book or where you want to focus your efforts.
 

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Both trilogies I've published were first released as standalones. I like to put out an initial book and see how it fares. One book, my most successful, did very well. I didn't plan on making a sequel but I carried through due to market interest.

But when I decide to move forward with a series, I work on releasing the second and third book close to one another (a big decision because a book is a lot of work, as you well know, and now you're talking about three or more). Anyway, I release the last two together because characters and scenery are fresh in my mind and I can drum up more interest by releasing similar stories back to back.
 

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When doing a first launch of Book 1 in a series, it’s usually your best chance of bringing in the most money, so having 2 or more additional books ready is ideal. Since there are a limited number of good promo sites, there are diminishing returns using those same sites to promote the same series as time goes by. So I vote either finish the series or have Books 2 & 3 ready to go with Book 1.
 

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Don’t launch them all at the same time. If Amazon goes down or there’s a glitch, you won’t recover. This happened to me on an expected release w a huge fan base with the entire series releasing during 1 month. There was a site glitch with rank & search. If I’d released them a month apart, I wouldn’t have this issue.
Second thought is epic fantasy tends to be longer reads. Find the sweet spot (the time it takes for die hard readers to finish 1 book). Then place the next release a week later so there’s time for chatter. Stoke the chatter fire.
I don’t personally worry about writing myself into a corner. You’re creative. You got this. :)
 

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Not helpful answer, but I’m glad you asked this question. I do plan to write an urban fantasy trilogy (chronological) and I appreciate the answers. This thread will help me once I am finish with my first book draft
 

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Is it a good idea to write a whole series before publishing? I am writing an epic fantasy, and I am concerned I may come up with an idea later in the series i want to use in a previous book. Should I finish the series before publishing for continuity’s sake?
Hi Hope Wf,
I am in a very similar position to you. See my thread :- Making the first book in a series or a prequel a free...

One thing which may help is that you can set up as an author on Amazon, upload a book but not publish it. Then it stays invisible to the other users. You can request up to 5 proof copies of your unpublished book which will be printed and sent to you more or less at cost., You can then ask your friends to proofread a paper version for you.

My series is chronological, so there is not a huge amount of swapping around I can do, though later ideas do feed back into earlier writing sometimes.

Good luck with your books

Nick

PS I am always up for exchanging a couple of chapters and doing a quick comment on someone-else's work.
 

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A series is easier to sell. The new books keep the old books in the reader's eye on Amazon. If you release a single book and it does horribly, you may give up on the series prematurely. On the other hand, if you release one book and it fails, you can save time and switch to a new project. It's easier to take a failed book than a failed series. (I've had both happen.)

I try to hold off on releasing the first book in a new series until I have a second or third book ready to go. There are people who are great at advertising who do well with a first book. It really depends on how much push you intend to put behind that first book or where you want to focus your efforts.
I absolutely agree with you.
 

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Is it a good idea to write a whole series before publishing? I am writing an epic fantasy, and I am concerned I may come up with an idea later in the series i want to use in a previous book. Should I finish the series before publishing for continuity’s sake?
No this is not a good idea! First, publish the first book and check the response of readers! Then publish another now!
 

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No this is not a good idea! First, publish the first book and check the response of readers! Then publish another now!
Hi Herbert,
Are you able to expand on why the alternative of having several books in a series ready to publish within say a month of one another is a bad idea ?

Cheers -- Nick
 

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Don’t launch them all at the same time. If Amazon goes down or there’s a glitch, you won’t recover. This happened to me on an expected release w a huge fan base with the entire series releasing during 1 month. There was a site glitch with rank & search. If I’d released them a month apart, I wouldn’t have this issue.
Second thought is epic fantasy tends to be longer reads. Find the sweet spot (the time it takes for die hard readers to finish 1 book). Then place the next release a week later so there’s time for chatter. Stoke the chatter fire.
I don’t personally worry about writing myself into a corner. You’re creative. You got this. :)

I'm in the position of having 3 books finished soon and didn't know this. Thanks. But why 1 month specifically? For example why not 2-3 weeks apart?
 

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Hi Herbert,
Are you able to expand on why the alternative of having several books in a series ready to publish within say a month of one another is a bad idea ?

Cheers -- Nick
What Herbert means is that if you take however long it takes you to write, say, three books and wait until you're done to publish them, and the books fail, then you'll have wasted that much time. If you publish the first right away, then you can stop if it fails and spend the rest of that time working on another project that might do better.

I don't agree with this, though. I mean, OK, if it takes you years to write one book, it might make sense. But if you can pull it off in a few months, then definitely do rapid release. And here's why.

Books take time to find their audience. Assuming a book has failed just because you're not selling hundreds of copies within a month is not a healthy mindframe. If you go by that, you could end up writing book after book after book and always feel like you're failing.

Other things to consider:

  • Each new book feeds your backlist. Even if it doesn't sell now, it likely will later, once you find that one book that launches your career.
  • Fans of a book that is obviously the first in a series will want the sequel and be disappointed if it doesn't come. They might also not buy your next first in series because you'll come off as someone who starts series but doesn't finish them. You really don't want that sort of reputation, definitely not if you're an indie author.

So I'd definitely recommend writing the whole series and rapid releasing it. Then just move on to the next series, whether the first fails or not.

Rinse and repeat until something happens.

EDIT: Just want to add that you're NEVER wasting time when you're writing. For one, it adds to your experience, as you're constantly perfecting your writing skills. But, as stated above, it also adds to your backlist, and that's always a good thing. Always remember the backlist! Also, hopefully, you're enjoying yourself LOL.
 

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What Herbert means is that if you take however long it takes you to write, say, three books and wait until you're done to publish them, and the books fail, then you'll have wasted that much time. If you publish the first right away, then you can stop if it fails and spend the rest of that time working on another project that might do better.

I don't agree with this, though. I mean, OK, if it takes you years to write one book, it might make sense. But if you can pull it off in a few months, then definitely do rapid release. And here's why.

Books take time to find their audience. Assuming a book has failed just because you're not selling hundreds of copies within a month is not a healthy mindframe. If you go by that, you could end up writing book after book after book and always feel like you're failing.

Other things to consider:

  • Each new book feeds your backlist. Even if it doesn't sell now, it likely will later, once you find that one book that launches your career.
  • Fans of a book that is obviously the first in a series will want the sequel and be disappointed if it doesn't come. They might also not buy your next first in series because you'll come off as someone who starts series but doesn't finish them. You really don't want that sort of reputation, definitely not if you're an indie author.

So I'd definitely recommend writing the whole series and rapid releasing it. Then just move on to the next series, whether the first fails or not.

Rinse and repeat until something happens.

EDIT: Just want to add that you're NEVER wasting time when you're writing. For one, it adds to your experience, as you're constantly perfecting your writing skills. But, as stated above, it also adds to your backlist, and that's always a good thing. Always remember the backlist! Also, hopefully, you're enjoying yourself LOL.
Thanks for that ASG - you summed up the general feel of what I had picked up from others.

It seems like marketing and readership both point towards releasing a series of books as nearly simultaneously as possible. Whether an author wants and/or is able to do write several books before publishing the first is down to them.

All the best - Nick
 

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@NickD. I've sent you a PM.
-----------------------------------------.

I always understood that in submitting to agents (and this still applies), they don't want series pitching to them, only one book that must be a standalone, Then if that book sells to expectations and only then would they consider the second book as part of an ongoing series, and so on.

This makes sense from a business POV, but only for trad-publishers, as self-publishers have no such constraints in what is a lucrative market without books having to be bestsellers.

I took what literary agents had to say on the subject to heart and so have around 10 standalone books, some of them that would lend themselves to series. None of them have ever had bestseller status on their own that would in trad-publishers eyes warrant publishing any of them as series books. So despite me having the intention for some of them to be 1st books in a series, they remain as standalones.

If I want any of those standalones of mine to sell, then they would have to be marketed individually at considerable cost.

From a self-publishing prospective I personally feel that there is no difference in writing say 3 standalone books and 3 books in a series if none of them go on to be bestsellers. They all take the same time to author. However, there is always the chance that you will lose heart with a second or third book in a series if that 1st book doesn't sell to expectations. With standalones, there is always that expectations that the next book will be the best thing since sliced bread and it will launch your status as an author if you are extremely lucky.

So lets look at the differences.

Standalones: same genre - different MCs - possible different POVs - Different world settings - individual marketing.

Series/trilogies etc. same genre - usually same MC - same POVs - Possible same world setting - only market 1st book.

All have the same associated cost in getting them to publication and all take the same time to author. All risk not becoming bestsellers.

The big difference is once published. With a catalogue of standalones, readers don't have to worry about if the author is going to leave them hanging on a cliffhanger when they get to the end. The reader might like an MC and your story and so move onto another of your catalogue and then not be enamored with the new MC, voice of narration, or the story - end of.

With a series or trilogy, if say 3 are published at the same time, the reader doesn't have to be worried if the reader is going to abandon the story after the first or second book.' If a reader, becomes invested in an MC, they are more likely to want to follow them on further adventures without delay and move on to book 2 and book 3 in quick succession. I see this happen daily with my trilogy, some even buying all 3 on the same day. (I published all 3 on the same day.) The alternative with only 1 book published is the chance of them moving on to series that are already published, of which there are many, and forgetting all about your effort. The longer the gap between publication the more apparent this becomes, unless that 1st book becomes one of the top 1% as a bestseller or you have amassed a massive mailing list.

My problem with rapid publication, is that it wastes marketing dollars even with only a 1 month gap.

When set against 3 standalones which would have an individual marketing budget and continued marketing costs associated to all 3, with a series of 3 books, all published at the same time, then you only have to market the 1st book and you can treble the marketing budget for that one book, thereby improving your chances of it succeeding. You can even market that first book at a loss to be turned into a profit with sales of the rest of the series. Imagine losing money with say sponsored ad costs on all your standalones? It just wouldn't be feasible.

It's all down to the author and if they are prepared to wait the time it takes to write at least three books before publishing, but in my opinion they would be better to wait and publish them all on the same day.

I have the book that I finished just before Christmas that is the 1st in another trilogy. I expect to have the other two finished by March/April this year and I will publish them all on the same day as before.

Each to their own as they say.
 
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I wouldn't suggest holding off completion for the sole reason you might stumble on a better idea later. That can put you into the habit of constantly second-guessing yourself. Therein lies madness.
There will always be new ideas that you wish you would have used. It's unavoidable.
Personally, I broadly know the series outline from the onset and write them one at a time, detailing each installment before I begin. Some writers, Michael J. Sullivan comes to mind, write an entire series from beginning to end prior to publishing Book One. You don't see this very much at the pro level. Not because it wouldn't be great to do it that way. But the time between releases is enormous. Whether indie or traditional, too much time absent from the reader's mind hurts sales. When you rely on sales for your income it alters your priorities and methods. Also, publishers are not known for their patience. Neither are readers for that matter.
 

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Personally, I broadly know the series outline from the onset and write them one at a time, detailing each installment before I begin. Some writers, Michael J. Sullivan comes to mind, write an entire series from beginning to end prior to publishing Book One.
I'm the same as you, except rather than broadly, I outlined in detail my trilogy in full before I started, with each book to the three act structure, but having an overall arc to the entire trilogy. The research, brainstorming, and outlines probably took a month, but with the outlines I was able to write 3 x 90k books in three months. There again, I can write full time if the inclination takes me. With outlines, I don't end up pondering where to take it next which is quite liberating.

I'm doing the same with my new trilogy, with one book completed. I've deleted it now, but I wrote the 1st book on Wattpad to get feedback.
 
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