This is something I came across from another writer – Patty Jansen in her Indie Writer Unboxed Series that I thought was very smart. It’s something I intend to make use of in future planning for series writing.
The idea is really simple.
When starting a new series, have multiple drop-off points in your series at the 1/3/5/7/9/12 ranges so that if series is no longer selling well, you can ‘wrap’ a series and move on.
But I Liked That Series!
Well, yes. But, if the series isn’t making much money – or garnering interest, and there are better series (and yes, that assumes there are better series at the moment!) to write, why wouldn’t you?
So long as you can have a satisfying ‘end’ for a book / series, you aren’t disappointing your readers.
What if X Series finds an audience?
Then write it then. If there’s an audience clamouring for book 2 / 4 / etc. of a series because it’s found its audience months / years / decades later, then write it then. Nothing says a series has to ‘end’ forever. As a self-pub author, you have the control. But paying your bills now should be more important than a future unknown audience.
Why Odd Numbers?
Consumer training. We’re used to seeing 3 book boxsets, 5 book omnibuses, etc. Even numbers weird people out.
Yes, there are exceptions. But for best results, odd numbers. Except 12. I think 12 is fine because it’s 4 sets of 3. (Personal opinion).
What if my story needs 3 books but book 1 did horribly?
Write the 3 books. Eventually. But if book 1 sold 10 copies, you are only disappointing 10 people.
If you sold a thousand copies (which might still not cover the cost of production), then that becomes more interesting. That’d depend on what else you have going on.
Are you suggesting we write multiple series at once?
Maybe. I do it. But I write fast. I released 7 books last year. Not including the anthology.
If you’re a slow writer and release 1 book a year, that’s not viable. If you release 2 books a year, maybe still not viable. But if you can release, say 4 books a year? Maybe you can split up your writing to do 2 series at a time.
The advantage of 2 series being written and released when available (assuming 4 books a year) is that you have 2 releases 6 months apart. That’s not horrendous. And if one of those series is your bread and butter (your star or cash cow), then you can risk writing another new series that might / might not get off.
If you can rotate between series, with series having multiple ‘end points’, you can potentially have a rotation of cash cows and question mark series releasing, allowing you to always make rent (from new releases. Disregarding on-going sales from backlist that help pad the bottomline).
Again, depends on writing speed and your ability to ‘hit’ the audience. Writing is an artform, not a machine production. You can only do what you can to make it work for you.
What if I can’t write this way? What if my muse demands X story be written?
See above about art form. I do think that art needs to be balanced by business though, but if you have to write a story, perhaps you can do it in-between writing a more commercial work? Or finishing up series between series that works?
I don’t know. Your life circumstances, your brain chemistry is different from mine. This is advice or a brain worm. If it works for you, great!
If it doesn’t? Great.
Like anything, advice is only as good as you can implement it.
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