You’re a new author, and you’re writing a novel. It occurs to you that the novel might be more successful as a series. The benefit of a series is that each book sells the next.
Writing a novel? Begin a series, rather than a standalone
Start planning for your series now, before you finish the book. You can lay the groundwork for the next novels in your series while you’re writing.
- Which characters will be ongoing characters;
- Plot lines for future novels;
- What makes a bestselling series? Read other authors’ series.
Already published? Try creating a series from a character in one of your published novels
You’ve written a novel. You can’t stop thinking about one of the characters. Or perhaps readers tell you that they want to know more about a character.
You feel that the character has potential, and you’re wondering whether you should create a series featuring this character.
Vital: Ask yourself whether you enjoy the character.
A popular author once told me that she hated the main character of one of her series so much that she returned her advance to the publisher, rather than write the next novel. “I couldn’t face it. Every time I thought about him I felt physically ill.”
Let’s look at the tips.
1. Create a frame for your series
In mystery novels, a series usually centers on the sleuth. This tradition includes hugely popular characters like: Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Poirot…
If you’re writing a romance however, centering a series on a character is more challenging. Romance readers require a HEA — a happily ever after ending. Instead, when writing romance look towards creating a series from a family (sisters, or brothers), or a location.
2. Keep track of your characters and the timeline in your series
It’s challenging to keep up with the minor characters in the same book, let alone over three or more novels. Authors usually create a series “Bible”, so that they can speedily access the information about characters, events, and locations.
Consider creating a timeline too, because the same thing applies. You may be able to keep the timeline in one novel straight, but after two novels, there’s a likelihood that you’ll make characters older or younger than they should be.
Yes, readers notice. An author in our writing group complained bitterly about a reader who’d pointed out the problem with a couple of her characters’ ages in a review. Ouch…
If you’re writing a novel, always look for a book’s series’ potential
Unless your novel is a huge bestseller, chances are that you’ll sell more when you think in terms of writing series novels, rather than writing standalones.
Series have been hugely popular for decades; it’s unlikely that their popularity will vanish.