Most authors, both fiction and nonfiction, have considered publishing a series. What can be easier than writing with the same characters or ideas? Not only that, but many of the most lucrative writers have created series of vast popularity. Would JK Rowling have made so much without publishing seven Harry Potter books? What about Twilight and Fifty Shades? A series gives you the opportunity to stick with the same ideas, capture readers and make sale after sale with your audience.
However, writing a series can also be unsuccessful if you don’t go about it in the right way. Most Kindle series are either successful or flops, with little middle ground. We’ll explore the pros and cons, and also some tips for giving your series the best possible chance of success.
Series Writing Pros
Why would any money-conscious writer make a series? For the opportunity to make more from their books, of course. . Instead of getting your readers to buy one book, you can get them to buy three or more by just continuing the same story or ideas.
Many writers also consider it easier. If it’s good, then you already have lucrative ideas there that people love, you’re just expanding on those ideas to stretch out the plot. Fiction writers can just keep adding to their story, and non-fiction writers can go further and further into their subject (like making a series for beginners, advanced students and professionals).
Series Writing Cons
Now the obvious downfalls. What happens when you stretch ideas? You typically get thin points that can be boring. Maybe people don’t like your characters, so you’re wasting your time by using them. Or, maybe your non-fiction book wasn’t a hit, so why bother beating a dead horse? Readers would prefer one strong book as opposed to three OK ones, and you have to remember your readers when crafting a book.
It can also be difficult if you’re trying to split up an existing manuscript into several parts. You’ll need to stretch out parts, find good areas to stop and start and ensure that everything runs smoothly as a series.
Building a non-fiction series can be much easier in some regards because it’s easy to create a loose series. For example, let’s say you make a book about traveling to China. You can then create another book about traveling to India or Russia. These books have the same main idea (talking about travel), but they aren’t directly related.
Another great idea is creating books for various experience levels. There are tons of books for beginners to advanced learners, and you can make a series that takes people from humble beginnings to adept students.
If you are going to make a fiction series, it’s often best to make that decision before writing or releasing the book. Making a series from a standalone novel can be difficult, and it might even backfire. With that in mind, let’s continue with the other tips.
Characters are incredibly important in modern novels, and a series allows readers to have continued exposure to characters they love. If people have expressed great interest in your characters, then you can write novels pitting them against new enemies and obstacles to keep your readers happy.
Romance is often series-based, it’s almost part of the territory. That’s because these stories are easy to expand and reader eat them up. People get very attached to the characters in romance novels, typically seeing themselves and their own fantasies through these characters. When someone finds a character they can attach to, they want to read every book involving that character, which is perfect for the author because it helps you make sales.
Romance novels are all about falling in love, marrying and experiencing problems both fantastic (from a dramatic perspective) and realistic. We all have relationship problems, but romance books give you a way to explore those with your characters and resolve them in about 200 or so pages. Perhaps there’s someone else trying to court the protagonist, maybe the other lead is having family or financial problems or can’t commit, or maybe one character has a secret fetish and won’t feel fulfilled until the other character enjoys the same fetish. Each book can encapsulate one problem, so making a series with romance is incredibly easy when compared to other genres. Fifty Shades is currently one of the more popular series, but you also have Fleeing Faith (http://www.amazon.com/ROMANCE-Fleeing-Rumspringa-Romance-Sisters-ebook/dp/B012UGGBT0/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438622628&sr=1-2&keywords=romance+book+2), Alpha Vampire series (http://www.amazon.com/Romance-Paranormal-Vampire-Mystery-Adults-ebook/dp/B0137IKOKC/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438622628&sr=1-4&keywords=romance+book+2) and In Love With a Billionaire (http://www.amazon.com/Romance-Love-Billionaire-Contemporary-Book-ebook/dp/B00WW5LRP8/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1438622628&sr=1-9&keywords=romance+book+2).
Lastly, consider episodic writing, or making various short stories or novellas that you release one at a time. This type of series requires a lot of action and a strong cliffhanger to force people to read the next part. While this popularity of this writing has waned with traditional publishers, it’s actually quite strong on Kindle. One of the most common ways to release a series is to have a box set. Many are from various others, but you can make a box set of your own short stories/novellas and sell them for a reduced price. Some of the most popular examples are Red Hot Candy (http://www.amazon.com/All-New-Delicious-Romance-Best-Selling-Billionaires-ebook/dp/B010II27V8/ref=zg_bs_10300_1), Killer Tails (http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Tails-Pawsome-Mysteries-Bestselling-ebook/dp/B011LYKJPE/ref=zg_bs_10300_7), and Wicked After Dark (http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-After-Dark-Paranormal-Werewolves-ebook/dp/B011576CZS/ref=zg_bs_10300_18). In general, if you want this to work, you need to really focus on your hook, action and cliffhanger. Get them in, string them along and leave them begging for more. Keep the writing condensed so that it’s a real page turner, and focus on character building early so that people get the gist of the characters nice and quick.
Writing a series can be a major gamble. You’ll either waste your time and alienate your audience, or you’ll win over a lot of readers and make a sustainable income. It’s hard to say which way it will go, but if you do build a series, make sure to do it right. Pay attention to what your readers are saying, make sure that the series is cohesive and keep it tight to avoid thin, boring areas.
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Amazon has an exciting new distribution option that allows you to setup a pre-order page for your book so that you can get orders before your book goes live. Businesses and large publishers love pre-orders because it can generate new sales and get things rolling, but indie authors might not see the intrinsic value of this option. This can be one of the best ways to get your book exposure while keeping your readers happy.
How it Works
Amazon now allows you to set a pre-order page for up to 90 days before the book is actually released. Normally you have to have the final manuscript finished and submitted before you get a product page, but this gives you the opportunity to get a product page long before the book is ready. You’ll need to upload the final manuscript 10 days before the book goes live though, so keep that in mind.
Making the pre-order is easy. Create a new title (this can only be done with new and original books) and go through the normal steps until you reach the section about book release options. Choose to make the book available for pre-order and then enter your final release date. That’s all there is to it. You’ll have to submit a manuscript so that it can be reviewed for content, but you can use this time to polish it up and make changes. Be sure that this manuscript is close to finished because the pre-order page will show the number of words in the manuscript. If it’s small and far from finished, then people might think you’re selling a really short book.
Exposure is everything when it comes to selling books, and this gives you a great way to gain more of it. First of all, you have your own product page now. You can send people there, readers can find it while searching and they can start buying the item. This will improve its rank, and it gives you a landing page for marketing.
Also, Amazon has a page of pre-order books that will be coming out soon. This puts your book in another section that’s fairly small and easy to skim through, so people looking for pre-orders can quickly find your book. Being listed in as many places as possible greatly improves your odds of success, so this is a major boon to authors.
Before the pre-order, you could launch indirect pre-order marketing, but it would be choppy at best. You could direct people to your blog where you talked about the book, but you couldn’t get them to buy until the book was finally released. This new option allows you to bring people directly to the product page where they can buy the book. They won’t get it now, and you won’t get the money until the final release, but you can start racking in the sales with some clever marketing.
You should also reach out to your mailing list if you have one. Don’t bombard them (most readers still prefer to buy the book when it’s finally released, so don’t use all your marketing muscle yet), but tell them that they can reserve their book and have it delivered the moment it’s released.
Anyone who buys your pre-order should be appreciated, don’t you agree? The reason for this, especially in a digital setting where scarcity doesn’t apply, is to build buzz and make your fans feel special. You can lower the price on your pre-order to entice some impulse buyers. For example, if you plan on selling the book for $3.99, then make the pre-order price $2.99 for a short time. You’ll give your readers something to cheer about, and they’ll gladly fork over their money before the book is even released.
Amazon’s new pre-order option gives you the ability to build buzz, exposure and money before the final product is available for download. While you’ll surely make the most of your sales after the pre-order, this gives you some great marketing opportunities that you shouldn’t pass up. Now’s time for a small push to get readers excited.