D. F. Krieger

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Series-ly!

Should you? Could you? Will you? How? What am I talking about? Writing a series. Seriously, keep up!

I have seen several instances where an author has submitted a book and, upon reading it, I've sent an acceptance letter asking if it will be the start of a series. Many authors have responded with surprise and jubilation. It seems that most authors don't write a book with the thought of starting a series. This, in turn, surprises me.

Of course, I'm one to talk. When I wrote Sail My Oceans I had no intention on there being any further books. It didn't occur to me that people would actually want more of Lucy Verr and the sexy double-trouble team of Devon and Julius. I will forever be grateful to my editor for suggesting that I change the ending of the original manuscript so that a future book would be possible. Thanks to that, Anchor My Stars is now in the works.

But should you write a series? How many books is too much? There seems to be an issue where writers get caught up in how well their books sell, so they keep writing more and more of that series. They write until there is no plot left. They write until the series is so miserable of a read, it's akin to scraping nails on chalkboard.

I have no idea what other people believe, or what the right answer is, but here's my theory. For any series I do, I intend to never write more than ten books total of that series. Yep, ten books. That's it. Anymore than that just feels like I'm writing for the sake of sales, and not for the sake of writing the story. Oh, I might write the occasional spin-off here and there (I do foresee writing the origin of how the dragons and humans came to be at war in the first place in a series I'm writing called Dragons and Damsels.) I'm uncertain how far the Emerald Solis books will go considering I will be writing about several people on several planets, so I don't consider that so much a series. But when it comes to an actual series, I'm capping it at ten. If I don't, I do beg that someone dig this post up and rub my nose in it while thumping my hindquarters with a firm hand and berating  me.

Now, how do you propose a series to a publisher? That's quite the question and I think it truly depends on the publisher. For me, I sent in the first book for my R&R series titled To Honor with a statement in my query letter explaining that if the publisher liked the idea, I would be happy to write an entire series of like-themed books. The publisher approved, and now I have a series to write. Sail My Oceans obviously wasn't subbed as a series, so when I send the next book in, I'll have to simply mention it is the sequel and ask the cover artist to place something indicated it is an Emerald Solis book on the cover.

The best thing to do is research the publisher, ask an author. Heck, if you've read books from a certain author who does a series with a publisher you like, send them an e-mail praising their work and asking their advice. We authors, we have big egos that constantly need feeding. It'll get you far.

Regardless what approach you take, sit back and look at your books. Ask yourself some questions. Is my book a good basis for a series? Am I just writing about sex, or am I writing about people? Is there an ongoing conflict or theme that allow my books to connect as a series should? Where do I see the conflict or theme ending at and how many books will it take?

Another idea is to map out your series. I have ten novels for the Dragons and Damsels series just waiting to be written. The character names, the main conflict, and where it takes place is already all written down and waiting to just be filled out until it blooms into a novel. But then again, I had to find an excuse to use one of my many journals before my husband became suspicious of my collection being just for show. ~ D. F. Krieger


Angelica Dawson said...

I remember when you read Blue Moon House and suggested it might be the first in a series, I was surprised too! Now that I'm about half-way through the next book, I'm a believer! heh. There will be eight books in my series, one for each vampire. That seems like PLENTY. The saving grace is the fact that they're novellas. I could almost see going to twelve when each is a quick and easy read.

Great post. Good to think about.

Angelina Rain said...

Great post. The one thing that annoys me about series is when the author keeps going because she/he can't say goodbye to the characters although the characters have nothing to say anymore.

When I subbed Rescued Love to you, I wanted to do a series, but I didn't think it was good enough for one. Had you not mentioned that you want a series, that book would have been a stand alone. Right now, I'm thinking about making it 2 or 3 books in that series. I'll see what you say after book 2 if there is a book 3.

I'm also writing 2 other series. One will be 4 books (no more, no less) and the other will be 7 books. The reason I picked those numbers is because there are only 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, and there are only 7 deadly sins, and both series feature the horsemen/sins.

I do have several other series planned out for when I'm a little more famous and can aim for traditional publishing, but I don't have a set number of books for any of those series.

Author Nikki Prince said...

Thanks so much for this. It truly has helped me. I just finished my work in progress Demon Mine and I can at least see one more book in the works.

Most excellent post.


Raven McAllan said...

I first wrote a series when my short 12k YA was liked by a publisher but he wanted it twice as long and a series. So, six books down and a chance to age them a year or so down the line.

I have an adult series , the first three of which are due out in print next week, and a further almost done and another one simmering. I love the idea of letting those other characters having their say, and enjoy reading series. so often you are taken with a minor character, and wonder 'what if'...

gayl said...

This post couldn't come at a better time. I have a WiP that I want to be the first of a series of 3 or 4. I had no idea (assuming the first is accepted) of how to broach the topic of a series, especially if I wanted a 'tag line' for the series. So this helps a lot. Now, when I sub the manuscript, I can add the idea to my query.

The other thing I wanted to mention is what I have heard about some series. The subsequent books don't always sell as well. Then what does the author do? Continue with the rest? Let it go?

D. F. Krieger said...

Thank you for your responses, everyone.

Gayl- In answer to your question, I have found that a series increases book sales, not decreases. People will often pick up your book and if they like it, they will go back and read the rest of the series. The only caution I have is if the books aren't capable of being a stand-alone, that you include enough information that a new reader isn't lost. This will increase the reader's comfort level and desire to go back and read the rest.

gayl said...

Very good point about the subsequent books being able to stand alone and I completely agree with that. It makes complete sense.

Mel Jolley said...

Well I've just finished the second book in a series of three. (It will be with yo soon D., promise!) And although I had started thinking of it as a series when I finished the first book, I then decided I was being a bit presumptuous (unpublished and the first story I'd EVER written), and used the beginning of Sarah's story for something else!
Then along came this AWESOME editor who said "have you thought of a series?" Why yes, yes I have. Little did I know what a bitch it would be to write and how many times life would get in the way! Anyway thank you D. for making me push my boundaries and comfort zone, one story left and this one will be MUCH quicker... I hope! X M