Triple Your Sales with a Series! (part 1)

The task of conceptualizing, plotting and writing one book is daunting. Why torture yourself with the overwhelming task of creating three or four of them for a series?

Because readers, agents and editors love them!

Harry Potter booksWriting a series is the best way to build readership. When readers become invested in characters they’ve come to love and the world you’ve created, they want more. It’s only smart business for you to give it to them.

Look at the list of  bestselling books on Amazon. Nine out of ten times, the top selling books are part of a series.

Types of series—

There are three basic ways to format a series. Types 1 and 2 listed below are the most common, but type 3 is a good option, too, especially if you’ve never written a series before.

To create a series, you can:

  1. Use the same recurring main characters like Charlaine Harris did in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, and like I’m doing in my new series, Dangerous Magic.
  2. Turn secondary characters from one book into the main characters of another like Sabrina Jeffries did in Hellions of Halstead Hall.
  3. Create a similar theme throughout several books like in my Cinderella Heiresses romance series.

Make each book stand alone—Cinderella Heiresses series

No matter what method you choose, it’s vital that each book stand alone. A reader should be able to pick up any of the books in your series and have a full, enjoyable read without having to know anything about the other stories.

This is easiest to accomplish with the third type, in which characters and events are more loosely connected. But not impossible to manage for the other two types.

Treat the events of earlier books as backstory—

So, how do you bring a reader up to speed if they pick up a book in the middle of the series?

Easy! Treat events from earlier books as backstory (which they are!). Use the moments when characters refer to past events or past experiences to weave in background information. This allows the reader to catch up on the over-arching story line without compromising the focus of the novel they’re currently enjoying.

In addition, many times six months to two years have passed since the last book in the series was published. Your followers have read many novels during that time, and a refresher of the storyline helps them dive back into the world and lives of characters they’ve come to love. It can also help fans keep up with the order of books in your series.

Southern vampsA couple of years ago, I picked up a Charlaine Harris novel, thinking it was the next in her series featuring Sookie Stackhouse. As I long-time fan, when I encountered some backstory, I kept thinking, “I don’t remember that happening. What’s going on?” Turned out, I’d inadvertently missed the release of the book before. I immediately purchased it, caught up on the series and happily continued with the newest book.

What are some of your favorite series? (books, shows, or movies count!)

Next week –

How to structure a series, keep continuity, and avoid dead ends

 

What do you think?