Writing a good book takes a lot of effort, between the outlining and plotting, researching, drafting, editing, proofing, and then publishing. But writing a series takes at least a bit more planning from the beginning.
I’ve been thinking about this more, since I started working on my first series, Dinosaur Wars. And, as usual, I’ve found some helpful articles that give advice on the several aspects of writing and publishing a book series.
Also, if you’re debating whether to write one book or a series of books, you should check out Indies Unlimited’s “What Readers Want – Series vs. Standalone Books,” which discusses the pros and cons. This includes less author risk and commitment for standalone books, but more reader commitment for series.
Picking a Genre
The first thing you should probably do for a book series is choose a genre for the series. Anne R. Allen provides some tips about the different genres. This includes insights into romance, romantic suspense, erotica, women’s fiction, chick lit, literary fiction, paranormal romance, dystopian, mystery, cozy mystery, thriller, police procedural, Christian fiction, horror, western, and sci-fi/fantasy.
When you start actually writing, it’s also important to make sure you are writing in your chosen genre from the get-go. Read Live. Write. Thrive’s “Nailing Your Novel’s Genre in Your Opening Scene” for tips on how to research and revise your opening scene so that it resonates with readers of your target audience.
Building a Series
The next thing to consider is world building, and this is especially important for fantasy series. Erindor Press has some great articles on this, such as “World Building: Magic Systems” and “World Building Primer.” Tips include figuring out the rules of the world and its limitations, never violating the rules of magic in your book or series, and having a map so you know the cities, religions, cultures, etc.
There are many, many helpful articles out there about writing and how to make your writing better (which I plan to get to in future posts), but for now I want to share just two more articles that apply to both standalone and series books.
Kevin’s blog has an article titled “How Long Should Your Novel Be? The Definitive Post!“, which goes over the benefits of writing both short (around 55,000 words) and long (100,000+ words) books. He also includes a list of the number of words needed for different types of books (novels v. novellas), as well as industry standards for different genres (sci-fi/fantasy is around 100,000 words while romance is 80,000). However, with the rise of ebooks, the length tends to matter less.
Lastly, G. C. Andrew has a post called “How To Choose What to Write Next“, which gives an exercise to help writers pare down their ideas and figure out what they actually would like to work on.