Fiction Author? Avoid This Hidden Pitfall In Publishing

Last week I coached two self-publishing authors who had been publishing consistently, and then took a break. This meant that they needed to kickstart sales again with advertising… and advertising is expensive.

They were in despair, fearing that they were wasting their time writing fiction.

What struck me was that both authors had made rebooting their self-publishing efforts needlessly challenging. Rather than writing in series (or even better, serials), their novels were standalones.

One author had published eight novels; the other eleven. It’s very, very difficult to build an audience which recognizes your books and is eagerly waiting for your next book — in other words, build a platform — when you write standalone novels.

Self-publishing: get visible — you’ll build your audience one reader at a time

A few years ago I read a study which stated that authors who headed bestseller lists year after year had published at least 47 books… and many of those books were in series.

Writing in series made the authors more visible.

You could write 47 books, couldn’t you? And write in series too?

Here’s the point of series publishing and self-publishing: readers. If readers like your novels, they want more than one to read. Voracious readers (like me) will read every book in a series.

“But what if I get bored with the series?” one author asked.

“Write something else. You can write standalones, of course. But aim for series. Tie as many of your novels and novellas together as you can,” I suggested.

Currently I’m reading the latest book in Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. The series is up to Book 15 and I’ve read them all. Perhaps you’re this kind of reader as well: you adore finding a new series in which you can lose yourself.

Let’s look at three reasons to write series fiction.

1. You’ll win more loyal readers and fans

Publishers love authors who write in series, so if you’re offered a book contract by a traditional publisher of romances for example, it might be for a trilogy.

Traditional publishers know that each novel sells the others in a series. It’s inexpensive marketing and it’s powerful.

2. In many ways, writing a series (or serial) is easier than writing a standalone novel

Preparing to write a novel takes time. You’re busy choosing characters, deciding on locations, developing the story world, and planning scenes, rather than writing. Although you’ll be tempted to skimp on preparation, if you’ve been writing fiction for a while you know that diligent preparation makes writing your novel easier.

When you’re writing a series, after the first novel you’ve already done a lot of the preparation for the entire series. You’ve almost certainly introduced the main character of Book 2 in Book 1.

Writing additional books in a series is less stressful too, for many reasons. For one thing, you have fewer doubts. Book 1 is published and selling (if you’re a self-publishing author) so you know you have readers who are eagerly waiting for Book 2.

3. Marketing your fiction becomes more powerful (and simpler)

Writing your fiction in series makes promotion simpler. You get free promotion too: you can offer a preview to another book in the series in the backmatter of each book.

Rather than paying to advertise each of your standalones, you can focus on promoting Books 1 in all your series. (Yes, aim to write several series.) This seems like a minor benefit if you’ve written a trilogy, but it’s a BIG benefit as your series grows.

In addition, your blog will promote each book in your series 24×7 to every reader who follows a link to your website in the backmatter of each book in the series.

One of my students had published eight novels — that’s eight novels to promote, because each novel is a separate entity. The other author had eleven novels to promote. Not only does promoting eleven standalone novels take money, it takes time as well.

Make things easier on yourself: write in series.

Writing your fiction in series make self-publishing easier

You need help to build your platform. Writing in series helps you, so do try writing a series if you haven’t done so.

Have fun. 🙂

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