There are many benefits to having more than one book. In addition to having the possibility of making more than just a couple of dollars for each reader you find, you also create many entry points for people to find you. One way to create lots of books is to write a series of books. Here are some tips from author Peter Mulraney on writing a series of books.
Most of us start out in the writing game with the intention of writing and publishing a book, and making a million dollars. That’s a worthy goal but, usually, it’s not enough to get you noticed – let alone make that fortune you’re dreaming about.
As Indie writers, one of the major challenges we all face is gaining traction in the market place or being discovered by readers.
Part of the secret to being discovered is building a body of work – writing lots of books. In fact, bestselling author and indie author sensation Hugh Howey, didn’t become successful until his 8th book.
One way of building your body of work is to write several connected books – a series.
This works for writers of fiction as well as for writers of non-fiction.
Writing a Fiction Series
If you need some convincing, consider the catalogue of books written by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache) or Peter James (Roy Grace). Okay, I know they’re both crime writers but don’t think successful series are restricted to crime or murder mysteries.
I first came across series in fantasy, where the trilogy or three book series is a common format, and then there are all those romance novels. And, don’t forget that phenomenon known as Harry Potter – it was published as a series of seven books.
So how do you go about creating a series as part of a strategy to increase your visibility?
If you have a massive tale to tell, one that will take you hundreds of thousands of words, simply divide it up into smaller chunks. This is apparently the approach taken in Harry Potter – one story told in seven installments. You can do that. The method is not copyrighted.
Another approach used in many crime series, which I’m employing in my Inspector West series, is to create a small team of investigators and tell their stories, over several books. I’ve elected to explore the relationships of my crew as they attempt to solve a string of unrelated crimes. I’m aiming to give readers a group of characters to get to know and love, as they witness what happens to those characters as they grapple with the world of crime, so that they’ll want to buy each book in the series.
The whole point of writing a series is to market the work by getting your readers hooked on your characters.
The good part about publishing online is that each book in the series will be available as readers discover the series – so they can order them all no matter which one they discover first. Plus, you can sell them all together in a bundle or boxed set for even more ways for people to find you.
Writing a Non-fiction Series
The arrival of the e-book, coupled with shortened attention spans, has revolutionized the way you can present information to readers. Today’s readers want instant access to information, and they want to be able to read all that important information you have to offer on their commute to work. This change in reader behavior has led to the birth of the Kindle series.
The basic approach to writing a non-fiction series is the same as for writing a fiction series. Instead of writing a 60,000-word reference book, break the content up into five 12,000-word titles and release them as a kindle series. When you have all the information written and published as kindle books, collate it all into a single book and sell it as the boxed set – at a discount to the price of buying all titles in the series.
This is the approach I used for the Living Alone series.
Branding a Series
Branding is a way of highlighting the connection between the books in a series.
In my Inspector West series, for example, all the books have the same style of cover, while all the books in the Living Alone series have the same cover with the Living Alone logo. Another example of branding worth checking out is the Author’s Quick Guide series by Kristen Eckstein.
When you publish a series of connected books you can promote the other works in the series within each book and not only in the end pages. And, if the opportunity arises, you can promote your other works as well.
If you’re planning on increasing the size of your body of work, writing a series is one way to go.
Peter Mulraney is based in Adelaide, Australia, where he works as a public servant. He is the author of 7 books including the Inspector West series of crime/romance novels, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men who find themselves living alone, and Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic. You can find out more about Peter and his books at www.petermulraney.com and follow him on Twitter @PeterMulraney1