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Discussion Starter #1
I spotted a thread a while back about series, but couldn't find it (link? :)

To the people that have a series, how do you go about it? i.e. word length, storyline, pricing, do series actually sell, etc.


 

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Depends on what series!

The Lacuna series are sci-fi novels. I tend to put them out at a rate of about one every six months, but I'm hoping to increase that in 2013 to three or four a year. Each novel is about 65-80k in length, and their structure is usually quite rigid. That is:

Three acts, a prologue and an epilogue. There are four chapters per act (except for Demons which used a three chapter x four act structure, which on reflection I didn't like). Each chapter is approximately 6k words.

The prologue is action filled and is designed to hook in the reader immediately (Demon's prologue is literally titled In Medias Res). Act I ends with a "call to action", there's a big twist at the end of Act II, climatic finish in Act III. Epilogue sets up the next book.

I price each one, including the first one, at $4.99. Since there's swearing and violence in them, I also put out a PG-13 edition, where the swears go down one level and, very occasionally, scenes get tweaked.

The Rakshasa series is actually a serial, so it's basically the above on steroids. Each episode is almost exactly 10k words, with 5-7 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. Each chapter is much smaller, usually only 1k-3k words. They're pushed out much faster, usually fortnightly, but with moving house this month Shadowfall had to be pushed back by two weeks.

I play a lot more fast-and-loose with the structure of Rakshasa. How many chapters they have, their length, etc is essentially "whatever I feel like". I tend to write scenes out of order, usually starting with the end and working backwards, although sometimes I write linearly too. Essentially it's my book, I do what I want!

For the Lacuna series I find about 25% of people who buy the first book buy the next book, but sales on Book 2 and Book 3 tend to be equal. For Rakshasa, though, the subsequent sell-throughs are only about 50% per part (for example: 100 for Rakshasa, 25 for Aurora, 13 for Tigerheart, 7 for Shadowfall, etc). Could be just a wobble in the statistical average but this is really the first month I've had enough sales to be able to genuinely find a trend, so... yeah.

The Lacuna series has many spin-off short stories, but they don't sell much at all really. They do, however, have their own set of free days, which helps bring in new readers. So in that regard they're pretty useful. Faith is also perma-free, which helps, slowly working away in the background and generally passively bringing in new readers every month.

So yeah. That's my two series. Hope it was helpful!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
David Adams said:
Depends on what series!

The Lacuna series are sci-fi novels. I tend to put them out at a rate of about one every six months, but I'm hoping to increase that in 2013 to three or four a year. Each novel is about 65-80k in length, and their structure is usually quite rigid. That is:

Three acts, a prologue and an epilogue. There are four chapters per act (except for Demons which used a three chapter x four act structure, which on reflection I didn't like). Each chapter is approximately 6k words.

The prologue is action filled and is designed to hook in the reader immediately (Demon's prologue is literally titled In Medias Res). Act I ends with a "call to action", there's a big twist at the end of Act II, climatic finish in Act III. Epilogue sets up the next book.

I price each one, including the first one, at $4.99. Since there's swearing and violence in them, I also put out a PG-13 edition, where the swears go down one level and, very occasionally, scenes get tweaked.

The Rakshasa series is actually a serial, so it's basically the above on steroids. Each episode is almost exactly 10k words, with 5-7 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. Each chapter is much smaller, usually only 1k-3k words. They're pushed out much faster, usually fortnightly, but with moving house this month Shadowfall had to be pushed back by two weeks.

I play a lot more fast-and-loose with the structure of Rakshasa. How many chapters they have, their length, etc is essentially "whatever I feel like". I tend to write scenes out of order, usually starting with the end and working backwards, although sometimes I write linearly too. Essentially it's my book, I do what I want!

For the Lacuna series I find about 25% of people who buy the first book buy the next book, but sales on Book 2 and Book 3 tend to be equal. For Rakshasa, though, the subsequent sell-throughs are only about 50% per part (for example: 100 for Rakshasa, 25 for Aurora, 13 for Tigerheart, 7 for Shadowfall, etc). Could be just a wobble in the statistical average but this is really the first month I've had enough sales to be able to genuinely find a trend, so... yeah.

The Lacuna series has many spin-off short stories, but they don't sell much at all really. They do, however, have their own set of free days, which helps bring in new readers. So in that regard they're pretty useful. Faith is also perma-free, which helps, slowly working away in the background and generally passively bringing in new readers every month.

So yeah. That's my two series. Hope it was helpful!
Yes, episodes would be more to the point of what I'd like to do.

I was thinking 30k a book and going from there. I've started book one and it's crying out to be a series and not a whole novel. Plus I'd like to break away from writing into the 100k's for a while. I'm half way through a second draft of my coming of age type book and I'm DYING for a change. 25-30K seems like it would be easier to chew.
 

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Instarted my series in may. I meticulously planned out the first one, to incorporate as many cliched, overdone thins as possible- it was a screenplay. I still ended up withbsomething I liked and novelized it. For #2 and on,  I come up with a premise, then my act 2 confrontation & defeat, then the act 3 confrontation, defeat/all is lost moment/then the resolution. Then I do a detailed outline that reads like a movie treatment. It's then been a cinch writing it out, and even adding in things I'll resolve in future episodes.

My word length is between 45,000 and 60,000- I try to keep then moving fast like the old pulps. I priced #1 at $.99 and can't get Amazon to change it. #2 and #3 are $3.99

Now, if I could find a good readership...

Thus far I've sold only one or two sequels, and #1 about 15 times. I'm patient and will do two more then put it aisde for awhile and wait to see if anyone shows up.
 

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I just finished book 4 in my series.  Each is 80K words+.  The latest I just finished is (pre-editing) slightly over 100K.  However, it's generally a case of the story being as long as it takes.  Not really aiming at a length with each book, just letting it resolve in the most natural way possible.  I don't do the "first one is cheaper than the others" model.  All of them are priced the same. 

I kind of model the structure after, say, your typical James Bond or Indiana Jones movie. i.e. we start out with a little mini plot / action scene before moving on to the main plot.  Usually everything leads up to the "final battle", which in the case of a horror/comedy series is usually an actual battle.  I like to sprinkle hints of things to come throughout for people who are paying attention.  I then always wrap things up with an epilogue which will usually lead into the next book.

As for sales, yes.  I found that once book 1 started moving, it drove sales for books 2 and 3. 
 

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I released the first book in my series in March of this year. I've released eight books in that series and three books and one novella in the spin-off series. Several of them were finished before I released the first one, so I was able to release the first three or four back to back. Each one is in the 60-65K range and I release one per month. I plan to wrap this series up in May and release the first book in my next series in June. This model has worked well for me. It's allowed me to earn a living doing what I love and I can't ask for more than that.  :)
 

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Cheryl Douglas said:
I released the first book in my series in March of this year. I've released eight books in that series and three books and one novella in the spin-off series. Several of them were finished before I released the first one, so I was able to release the first three or four back to back. Each one is in the 60-65K range and I release one per month. I plan to wrap this series up in May and release the first book in my next series in June.
11 books in less than a year- 60,000 words each?! Holy crap! That is impressive!
 

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I have a series. It'd for young ones. The first is a little over 10,000 words. It is a novel and it for those aged four. That's a lot of words for a four year old listener or reader. I have pictures with it.
The other books when the MCs are getting older are longer. the length depends on what's going on.
 

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"I write series because I can't let go of the characters when I get to the end of the first book Smiley I don't plan my stories, I just start writing and keep going."

This. Exactly. :)
 

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Revolution said:
I spotted a thread a while back about series, but couldn't find it (link? :)

To the people that have a series, how do you go about it? i.e. word length, storyline, pricing, do series actually sell, tc.
Series are great so long as you are in love with the world you have made. That way you won't mind
Having to spend so long in it. My books are about 75k or so. I would advise you to write two while you work your butt off to promo book 1. Also you should have an amazing cliffhanger. Then try an get it perma free to get new readers. Good luck:)
 

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I started a sci-fi series last December. I put the first episode out in Dec 2011, the second in Feb 2012, and the third in late March of 2012. Then I went to 3 month intervals. Originally, I was aiming for 60k-80k for each episode, but I found people complaining that they were too short, so with the fourth episode I changed my word count target to 80-120k. For 2013, I'm going to a 4 month production cycle in order to provide more time for editing and proofreading, and I'm aiming for right around 100k per episode.

I didn't set out to do anything terribly original, instead choosing to use the same sci-fi themes that people are comfortable with but attempting to spin them in a different way. So far, it's going well.

Each episode is 10 chapters, with between 6k-14k words per chapter. I don't use cliff-hangars per se, as I think people get a little ticked-off by them if over used. My episodes all string together like one really long book. (There are 15 episodes in part one.) I have multiple story and character arcs, some of which traverse all 15 episodes, but I try to conclude the episode's story arc within the episode so that it doesn't feel too much like a cliff-hangar.

I firmly believe that if you want to make a living self-publishing, a series is the best way to do so.
 

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Imogen Rose said:
I write series because I can't let go of the characters when I get to the end of the first book :) I don't plan my stories, I just start writing and keep going.
That's my method too. ;D I put out a prequel in October which is about 46k, but the other three books are between 87,000-92,000 words. I price between $2.99-$4.29.
 

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Like many of you, I ended up doing a series because there were several story threads I wanted to pursue, but couldn't really do them through the course of just one book. I had one complex character in particular who needed to work through his story in the "background" of several other tales, hence the Archer family series.

It's fun and I love the little world I ended up creating. Somehow, I just can't let it go...I keep wanting to create more stories set in that little, early 19th century microcosm.
 

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You guys are probably a lot more talented than I am. I'm so bad at developing good characters that once I have some, I can't easily come up with new ones so I just have to keep writing them.
 

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I have once turned a planned standalone into a series per readers request - they wanted more of the story, and I saw that there was indeed more I could do with it. I now have two more standalones in the same situation: people are asking for a sequel. Not a bad problem to have; I only wish I had more time to get it done.

 

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When I wrote Gastien, it was going to be one book. It was over 275,000 words and there was a natural place to divide it and have each able to stand of their own so it became two. Then, I realized that one of the characters was demanded a book about him, so it turned into a family saga. As I wrote the third, I knew the fourth and fifth would follow. That will complete the circle.

Each is over 100,000 words, several over 120,000.
 

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Cookie was always planned to be a series - I specifically set up the worldbuilding so I could branch out and basically write whatever kind of story I want without having to leave the 'verse. I like being able to reuse the same mythos and meta characters (ie, the way death works, Death herself, Life, Time, etc). It's basically the series I want to be writing my whole life. ^_^

Each novel will likely be 80-120k, but there's also shorter pieces and novellas I want to do (all the novels are released in serial format - 20k an episode). And I'll be splitting it into multiple sub-series, just so I don't cook reader brains trying to keep everything straight (sort of like the Witch, Watch, Wizard books in Discworld).

 

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When I started my magical fantasy adventure series, I decided to do something completely original: a trilogy.  ;)

I published the first book about a year ago and the second is in beta right now. The price on the first novel started at 99 cents, but I moved it up to $2.99 after a few months. Sales are better at $2.99 than they were at 99 cents, but price was not the only thing I changed. I'll price book 2 at $2.99 as well, and may move it to $4.99 later.

Word count on the first book was 75K. The second is at about 92K, and increasing as I revise. I won't be surprised if it reaches 100K. In both cases, I was shooting for 80K, but the story is driving the word count.
 
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