Being in the middle of writing and publishing a series, I feel confident in saying that it adds a layer of complexity compared with writing a standalone book.
But what do I mean by a series?
My series is essentially one story split into six parts, where reading book four would make no sense without reading the earlier books. Similar series would include Lord of the Rings or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or books two and three at least). The same tips would also be relevant where two or more books have either the same protagonist or cast of characters, even though each is a standalone story (e.g., The Jack Reacher Series).
So, when writing a series, things to consider:
1) Have Foresight
This is just another way to say ‘do your planning’. I know planning is important when you are writing a single book, but when you’re dealing with a series, it is doubly important to get it right.
To start with, do you know where you are going with the series? It’s important to understand the storyline and subplots that you intend to deal with so that you can start off with the right characters and setting.
For example, is your character fit for purpose? Will they be interesting enough to last the course? Do they have the right build and attitude? When you get to book three, and they need certain knowledge or power to deal with a situation, can you realistically call upon this information from the story line in the earlier books?
If you understand what you need upfront, it will help further down the line when your character(s) is facing new challenges.
2) Consistency and Continuity
I accidentally slipped into this but think it is vital. If you’re writing a series, write it as a series, and not as one book after the other. I would also suggest that you don’t publish one book before the next book in the series is at an advanced stage.
At the outset, because I thought I was writing a single book, I just wrote … and wrote. Before long, I realised I would need to turn it into a series, but that didn’t matter, I just kept writing. I ended up (at the time) with a trilogy.
Once I came to editing, I was so glad I hadn’t stopped at the end of Book 1. I constantly needed to align the text of Book 1 and Book 2, tweaking the storyline, making sure the foreshadowing was consistent with what came next, making sure the backstory supported where I wanted to go, adding in scenes to make sure the books worked well together.
If I’d published Book 1 before I’d written Book 2, it would have seriously impacted the storyline for later books. Although it is possible to change a book once it’s published, I would suggest it is less than ideal both to yourself as a writer, but also to your readers.
3) Don’t keep your Readers Waiting
Another benefit of writing several books at once is that you should be able to publish them much more quickly than if you write/publish, write/publish. Nowadays, readers want things instantly, and if you have a series, they don’t want to wait too long for the next book.
If you have a gap of one to two years between books, the chances are your readers will have moved on and you’ll lose any momentum you may have built up with your first launch. Sadly, we’re not all JK Rowling or the like, with readers eagerly anticipating our next instalment.
My series is now in five parts, with a short story prequel. The prequel and Part 1 of the series were published in November 2016 and March 2017, respectively. Part 2 should be ready for July 2017.
Although Parts 3 and 4 are written, they still need thorough editing. I know the overall story won’t change, but I still want to go through another round of edits to Part 3 before Part 2 is published, to make sure everything flows. I then need to start writing book 5!
It does mean you don’t get much time to take a break, as you always seem to be writing or editing, but hopefully, at the end of the day, you’ll end up with a piece of work you’re proud of.
The Ambition & Destiny Series is a compelling family saga of love, loss and betrayal, set in Victorian Era England.
Falling in Love Shouldn’t To Start Again, Mary must
be a Crime… Leave the Past Behind…
Part 2: Less Than Equals, will be available for pre-order on Amazon in June 2017.