Hi all! Welcome to June's IWSG! Here we support and encourage each other. Share our experiences. This month I've asked 'real-life' blogger buddy, Lynda Young, to spell out some of her secrets to writing series. This fits in well with the June question: What are one or two of your secrets, something readers would never know from your work.
I hope you're encouraged by her words, especially if you write series. I asked her for this post as it's something I want to learn more about before I unleash my series onto the unsuspecting public.
Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre! Be sure to visit!
Take it away, Lynda!
Guest: Elle Cardy on Writing a Series
Thanks for having me, Denise.
Writing the series:
When I wrote book 1, Wielder’s Prize, I didn’t plan a series. I wrote a standalone with the potential for a series. This was when I wanted to get an agent and publish traditionally. I didn’t think it was worth the time to write a full series if I couldn’t sell the first book to an agent.
When I took control of my writing career, I realized indie publishing suited me better. I liked having the power to choose my own titles, to design and create my own covers, to be responsible for every aspect of the book, with my own timing.
Why a series?
I needed a full series to get the most out of indie publishing. If a reader loved book 1 then I wanted them to buy the next one and the next. And I didn’t want them to wait too long either. That meant writing Wielder’s Curse and Wielder’s Fire before hitting ‘publish’ on book one. But, of course, I didn’t wait until they were completely finished. I have a terrible habit of misjudging the time it takes to edit and market. And then there was that wretched learning curve that needed straightening.
Amazon loves new books. For ninety days, Amazon will help you promote your new book. Once you slip out of that window, unless you’ve got a strong following or a large backlist, that book is set aside for the next shiny new book. This is another good reason to write a series. Each new book in the series promotes all other books in the series.
Because of the pandemic distractions, I let my final book slip outside my 90 day period between books. Wow, did I notice a difference in sales for books 1 and 2. Now that book 3 is out, sales have picked up again for the whole series. Phew!
So, important advice before you publish for the first time: WAIT!
When just starting out, make sure all your ducks are in that proverbial row before you send them out, quacking into the world. When everything is new, give yourself time to breathe, because it can quickly get overwhelming. Remember to enjoy yourself. Remember to celebrate. And remember that ninety day window.
How to create a series:
There are so many schools of thought on how best to write a book and create a series. First person, third? Three acts or Four? How long? How many books? Plot it or just write by the seat of your pants?
To answer these questions, research your chosen genre and listen to your story.
Fantasies are often serials, also known as dynamic series. Think Harry Potter, Game of Thrones. Lots of character development. Each book with a distinct story or theme of its own but with a larger storyline running across the series. This is my Wielder’s Storm trilogy.
Crimes tend to be episodic series, also known as static. Think Sherlock Holmes. Same main characters, different adventures. Not a lot of character development.
And then you have anthology series where the books are bound by an element other than a set of the same characters eg. a world, a location, a theme. Many romances are like this.
Did I plan the rest of the series?
Nope. I love stories with twists, and I get the best twists when I don’t plan. I had a vague inkling how book 2 would end and an even vaguer inkling how book 3 would end. After an ah-ha moment, I finished the first draft of 3 before I finished the first draft of 2. I don’t recommend that, but book 3 insisted.
Helpful tip for writing a series:
Write a document with your character names, character descriptions, place names and other little details you may need to reference throughout the series. That way you keep everything consistent.
What’s more important: The writing or the story?
The story. Every time.
If you have interesting characters in an engaging story with a good pace, then you probably have a winner. It’s that simple.
Yes, you need to learn the craft of writing. You need to read widely within your genre and outside it too. You need to understand your market. And then you need to let your baby go so others can enjoy it too.
What would I do differently?
· I would’ve gone independent sooner. It’s truly awesome and empowering.
· I probably would’ve waited before releasing my series. Just for the sanity and breathing space to concentrate more on the marketing. But then again, there is no faster way to learn than to get on with it.
· I would’ve built up my newsletter earlier.
· After getting my first fan letter, I would’ve made Wielder’s Storm a longer series. I still can, actually. Hmmm…. ;)
· Know your market.
· Finish your story.
· Get it professionally edited.
· Don’t skimp on the cover. And make sure it fits your genre and your series.
· Get your book description right. It’s so very important. And it’s different to a synopsis.
· Reviews are super important and not so easy to get. You’ll need to send out more advanced copies than you’d think.
· Don’t keep tweaking multiple details of your published book at the same time. If you change anything, make it only one thing, then wait for the data to come in.
· Remember this is a long game. Don’t expect overnight success.
· Keep reading and keep writing.
Wielder’s Fire is the thrilling conclusion to the sweeping Wielder’s Storm trilogy.
Marooned on an island, stripped of her magic, Jasmine must find a way to mend her heart and defeat the oncoming storm.
Her secrets have been laid bare. The one who was supposed to love her, stripped her of her magic. Now she’s shipwrecked on a forsaken island with nothing but her anger and determination to keep her warm at night. Alone and defenseless against a powerful enemy, she must find a way to survive.
She will get her magic back.
She will escape the island.
She will face the enemy and defeat it once and for all.
But how can she when her heart is blistered to a crisp? One fierce step at a time.
For fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, who love exciting tales with dark secrets and unexpected twists.
Lose yourself in this epic fantasy adventure set on the high seas by clicking here: Wielder’s Fire. Or start with Wielder’s Prize, then Wielder’s Curse. They are also free to read via Kindle Unlimited.
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Today we post our WEP June 1 - put-your-thinking-caps on post for the challenge, URBAN NIGHTMARE. Go HERE to get ideas on how to approach this prompt. Or just go with your gut.
Thanks for coming by today. I hope you enjoyed Lynda's guest post.
I hope you'll consider writing for WEP - either again, or for the first time.