Posted on January 19, 2022 at 11:34 AM by Guest Author
Are you thinking about writing a series instead of a standalone novel? Learn about the benefits, discover helpful steps for planning a book series, and more.
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Maybe it’s been your lifelong dream to write a fantasy, YA, sci-fi, or mystery series. Or perhaps you just realized you could expand on your standalone novel.
Either way, you’re thinking about creating a sequence of books and want to be sure the project will serve you well in the long run.
After all, just planning a book series requires more time and effort than outlining a single story.
The good news is there are many advantages to developing a trilogy (3 books), tetralogy (4 books), pentalogy (5 books), or even longer series.
Here are just a few...
It makes character development and world building easier.
As mentioned above, planning a book series takes a lot of work. But once you map it out and write the first book, character development and world building become much easier.
That’s because the first book serves as the foundation. So, when you get to the second, you’ll already be familiar with who the characters are and where the story is set. You won’t need to start all over again.
It’s a great way to grow your fan base.
As an author, you want to expand your following and turn casual readers into loyal fans. Fortunately, that’s something that a book series can help you achieve.
When you have multiple books in a series, readers are more likely to get invested. So, they’ll follow you on social media and sign up for your newsletter to stay up to date, eagerly awaiting the release of the next installment.
It allows you to continue writing about the characters you love.
Writing a series can also be beneficial if you’re the type of writer who grows attached to the characters you create. Instead of leaving them behind and starting from scratch, you can revisit them in each book.
Moreover, you can take a deeper dive into their backstories, motivations, challenges, and more as the series goes on.
It enables you to make the most of your marketing budget.
Another advantage of creating a book series is that you can market it in a more cost-effective manner. Instead of allocating marketing dollars to multiple unrelated titles, you can promote the first book in the series.
If readers enjoy it, they’ll likely purchase the other titles without any additional marketing effort on your part.
It can help boost book sales.
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of creating a book series is that it can result in increased book sales. For starters, there’s the simple fact that more books means more opportunities for sales.
However, writing a series is especially effective for selling multiple books to one reader. As noted above, readers who like the first book are more likely to purchase the rest in the series — often in bulk.
Ultimately, selling books in a series is typically easier than selling multiple standalone titles.
When it comes to planning a book series, there are many approaches you can take. What’s important is that you do enough preparation that you don’t write yourself into a corner or give up halfway through.
To help you along the way, we put together five general steps for planning your series.
1) Make sure the overarching premise is sufficient.
No matter what type of series you choose to create (we’ll define them in the next section), it’s important that you start with a central idea or overarching premise that allows for multiple titles. This is probably the most crucial step in planning a book series.
If your idea isn’t sufficient, you’ll likely have trouble coming up with enough content for more than one book. So, make sure the central idea leaves room to explore different settings, conflicts, characters, and more.
2) Decide what kind of series you want to write.
Before you do anything else, it’s worth deciding what kind of series you want to write. That way, you can structure it accordingly.
There are essentially three main types of book series you can write:
Dynamic Series – Dubbed a “dynamic series” by author Kristen Kieffer, this type applies to most modern book series. In this series, readers follow along with a character or group as they embark on adventures and work to achieve a goal. As a result, there’s greater emphasis on character development over the series. Example: The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Static Series – This type of series also follows the same character or group, focusing on individual events rather than an overarching story. The characters don’t undergo any major transformation and instead remain static. Example: Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Anthology Series – Unlike the other two types, an anthology series doesn’t contain the same character or group in every title. Instead, the books in the series are connected by a theme or setting. As with those in a static series, the books in an anthology can usually be read in any order. Example: Goosebumps by R. L. Stine.
3) Settle on plot points for each book.
One of the most highly recommended strategies for planning a series is to create a general outline for your series, then a rough outline of what events will take place in each book.
Even if you want to write a dynamic series, with each title building on the previous one, every book should still function as a standalone novel. That is, it should have its own plot that’s resolved by the end.
Doing this will also give you a good idea of how many books you need to tell your story in its entirety.
4) Develop your characters and setting(s).
When planning a book series, it’s critical to flesh out your characters and setting(s). You should craft a robust profile for characters, including their personality, appearance, challenges, desires, etc.
Additionally, you should develop a character arc, especially if you plan to write a dynamic series. You want to have an idea of how they transform by the end of the series.
As for setting(s), the more work you put into crafting your fictional world, the greater the chances of readers getting absorbed in it. So, consider the atmosphere you want to create. Lay the groundwork by deciding on reality or fiction, and go from there.
5) Organize your notes.
Before you begin writing your series, make sure to organize all of your notes and ideas about the series. Store them in a folder and reference them when writing. This will ensure you don’t introduce any plot holes or inconsistencies.
Once you finish the first couple of books, you’ll want to promote your series to readers.
As mentioned previously, once they read the first book, they’ll be more likely to get the rest. So, in that sense, it’s not quite as difficult as marketing multiple unrelated titles.
That said, there are some things you can do to improve your efforts...
Ensure the covers have a consistent look and feel.
Creating book covers that have a consistent look and feel is a must. Otherwise, readers will have a hard time recognizing that each book belongs to the same series.
So, before you promote your series, make sure that every cover features similar colors, artwork, and fonts. Doing so will give your series a branded look.
Create a book marketing funnel.
With a book marketing funnel, you bring readers in with a “lead magnet” (i.e., a giveaway of value) and follow it up with a “tripwire” (i.e., a low-dollar offer).
A great way to do this with a series is to offer the first book for free and reduce the pricing of the second. This removes any hesitation readers may have about buying your series, as they’ll be getting an irresistible deal.
Then once they’ve read the first two books, they’ll be much more likely to purchase the rest.
Feature the series in the “From the Publisher” section on Amazon.
There are many ways to use the “From the Publisher” section on your book’s Amazon sales page — one of which is to feature an entire series.
When readers land on the sales page of one of your books, they’ll see there are other titles available that connect to the one they’re viewing.
This is valuable real estate, and using it to highlight your series can go a long way toward encouraging readers to check out the other titles.
There are a lot of benefits to creating a book series. So, if you have a great idea for one, feel it would suit your genre, and can make the necessary commitment, it’s well worth the effort.
If you need help planning a book series, simply refer to the steps above. And don’t forget to apply the tips provided when the time comes to promote it!
(Want to put your first two books in front of readers and encourage them to read the whole series? Offer a giveaway for the first book and promote it in our free ebook newsletter. Then promote the second at a reduced price in our bargain ebook newsletter. Create a book marketing funnel that delivers results!)
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