Are you one of the vast number of authors who follow the sage advice to write books in series?
Series are so much easier to market – promote the first one and, provided you’ve done a good enough job on writing that opening book, readers will carry on through to buy the next, and the next, and the next.
Oh, and BTW, until the weekend, the first in my Five Kingdoms series, THE PRINCE’S MAN, is on sale right now, at 99c/99p or the equivalent across the world!
(Sorry to all of you who already have this book – couldn’t resist putting the sale in here – it was one of the catalysts for this post)
You can find more info on the book and links to the sale HERE
To a smaller extent, some readers will buy any book by an author they’ve tried and liked, but there is no doubt that series have a greater pull. Once the reader has invested the time and emotional input into knowing and becoming attached to a set of characters and a scenario, books that carry on the story are less work, and potentially more enjoyment than having to start afresh.
So my next question is, having put all the blood, sweat and tears (and of course, edited out all clichés!) into writing an amazing first book, how did you feel when you began the second?
Or is that where you are now?
If you’re like me, you feel/felt paralysed – terrified your second won’t be as good as your first, and with no way to live up to the expectations of all those lovely people who left glowing reviews of the first book and speculated on what might come in the second.
At this point, some of your confidence – or lack, thereof – depends on whether you are a plotter or a pantser – the age old conundrum of how much planning you do before you sit down to begin typing.
The more authors I talk to, the more I find lots of people are like me – plantsers. A mix of the two.
I do appreciate that the really speedy authors are those who plot their stories in minute detail before launching into actually writing the book. I’m sure if I did that, I’d be faster.
But, you know, we all want something different out of the author experience. If I had to plot the whole book first, my enjoyment in writing it would vanish. I’m never going to be solely an author, even though I earn a fair chunk of my income from writing – I have too many other things I love to do with my life. So for me, enjoying my writing is a primary goal, and I think that comes out in my stories. Not to say that plotters don’t write fabulous stories, because I know they do. It just isn’t for me.
This situation does, however, give rise to the potential for much anxiety, especially when embarking on a series that needs to have ever increasing stakes.
I wrote about this once before, so long ago I can’t now find the post, but I recall admitting how the unexpected success of THE PRINCE’S MAN left me with writer’s block for 6 months, unable to believe I could replicate that success, so I found myself doing anything to avoid proving my own prediction.
Eventually, I got over myself, and now book #2, THE PRINCE’S SON, is doing really well too. Which means the pressure is on to produce the next!
A large reason for this post is to proclaim that I’ve now found my self-belief, and from that firmly grounded position, to encourage those of you who are either just setting off on your author journey, or maybe battling with sequel phobia as I did.
I can’t give you a magic bullet answer, but what I want to say to you is: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
Believe in your creativity, and give it space to unfold. If you’ve done that marvellous thing, and written a book, or even a short story, and finished it, I promise you WILL be able to do it again.
My main inspiration for this post came about during a long car journey I undertook recently, with mile after mile of straight and relatively empty motorway driving to endure. My mind loves these times (though my body does not!), and by the time this journey was over, I’d solved the final plot point of book #3. No stress, no pressure, just allowing my creative mind room to do the work.
I write books with complex characters and multiple interweaving plot strands – the current series will be 4 books long, and I’m now about half way through writing book #3. So you see, I’ve got this far into writing this volume without knowing the plot intimately before I began. I now trust my creativity to do the job for me, and once again, it hasn’t let me down.
In fact, I now have much of the climax and epilogue of the final book also jotted down in note form, and that’s definitely the right way for me to work – I know the beginning, I know the end. The adventure is getting from one to the other, and having now done that several times, I know I’ll be able to repeat.
Believe in yourself – the creative mind is an amazing thing, and if you have it, all you need to do is find a way to allow it to get to work. That might be driving, gardening, walking the dog, washing the dishes – any activity that doesn’t require you to put pressure on your muse. Or it might be that you can whip your creative side into action by sitting down and free writing, or putting notes on cards or some other technique. At the end of the day (cliché alert! – guess what I got pulled up on at my last writers’ group meeting?) it’s all about developing confidence in your own abilities and allowing that to overcome both internally and externally created doubts.
I’m curious – what gets your creative juices flowing?
Oh, and don’t forget the SALE...
I had no problem with Book 1 and 2 in my series. Book 3 though–suddenly it became difficult. I had to drill down to what was the theme of this series. What bound all the books together? Not sure I’m there yet.
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Interesting. Yes, I had to think a lot more about the overall story arc for the series, including the theme, before starting book #3, but I found that came a lot easier now I have 2 books already finished.
Just goes to show how different we all are!
I love how you get your inspiration Deb. Often when we’re in the car and I’m not driving, I enjoy that time in my head. Writers are always thinking. 🙂 So happy for your books doing so well. 🙂 x
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Thanks Debby 😀
I agree, it’s even better when someone else is driving – I once came up with the entire plot for one novel (Desprite Measures) on a journey from Inverness to Sussex – that’s a 12 hour haul and Brian got very used to me suddenly snatching up my notebook and scribbling furiously!
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Wow that’s amazing. Ya, my hub is kind of used to the ‘silent treatment’ from me when he’s driving, lol 🙂
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