skip to Main Content
Writing A Series – And How To Grow A Series From A Standalone Book

Writing A Series – And How to Grow A Series from a Standalone Book

Headshot of Kate Frost

Novelist Kate Frost describes how her standalone novel turned into a series

Writing a series of books rather than a number of standalone books makes great marketing sense, and it's easy to assume that most authors of series are doing so for commercial reasons. But a recent informal survey on the ALLi Facebook forum (a closed group that is benefit for paid members of ALLi – find out how to join here) revealed that many series grew organically from what was originally intended to be a standalone novel.

British novelist Kate Frost describes how this happened in her case, why she's glad it did, and what those much-touted marketing benefits might be. Whether you're wondering whether to try your hand at writing a series or already hooked on the habit, Kate's experience will encourage you further.

The Standalone that Turned into a Series

Cover of The Butterfly Storm

Kate Frost's debut novel surprised her by turning into a series

I only ever intended my debut novel, The Butterfly Storm, to be a standalone.

I’d written it for my MA in Creative Writing with the intention of going down the traditional publishing route, however I ended up self-publishing it in 2013, and as sales and reviews rolled in, a theme began to emerge – readers wanted more.

Ideas began brewing over the next couple of years as I worked out how I could continue my main character Sophie’s story. Bit by bit a sequel emerged (along with a prequel which is free to members of my Readers’ Club).

The Birdsong Promise was published in September 2018, and what a difference it’s already made having a second book in the series. It’s been my most successful book launch yet and things are ticking along nicely post-launch.

The Joy of Revisiting Characters

It seems to be a win-win situation, not to mention a good move financially.

Readers wanted more, and I loved revisiting familiar characters and creating new ones.

cover of The Birdsong Promise

The unexpected sequel – with more to come

In fact, I loved the process so much that I’m planning more books in The Butterfly Storm series:

  • The next one will be a novel following one of my favourite characters from the book, Sophie’s bolshie, opinionated and colourful mum, Leila (again this was inspired by a couple of reviewers actually asking for a book dedicated to her).
  • I’ve also got a spin-off series planned which will follow completely new characters (along with familiar ones) staying at Birdsong Villas on Cephalonia, the main setting in The Birdsong Promise.

The Benefits of Writing a Series

  • You already have an eager readership waiting to devour the next book in the series.
  • You know your characters well making it in many ways an easier creative process.
  • Any research needed can potentially cover a whole series rather than only one book.
  • Once the cover for the first book is designed, subsequent covers have a blueprint to follow.
  • It’s an effective way of creating an author brand.
  • There’s the potential for follow-on sales, particularly when using promotional tools such as a mailing lists, KDP free and countdown deals, Facebook and AMS ads etc.

We'll be sharing more of ALLi authors' experiences of writing series in a future post.

OVER TO YOU Have you had a similar experience to Kate's? Or indeed has the opposite happened – where a planned series turned into a bumper standalone? We've love to hear about it!

The standalone #novel that turned into a series - #indieauthor Kate Frost describes her experience, and why she's glad it did - with @Kactus77 #writing #ww Click To Tweet

From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive

Author: Kate Frost

Kate Frost is the author of women’s fiction novels The Butterfly Storm, Beneath the Apple Blossom and The Baobab Beach Retreat, as well as the first in a time travel adventure trilogy for children called Time Shifters: Into the Past. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University where she also taught lifewriting to Creative Writing undergraduates. When she’s not writing and publishing books, she’s kept busy running around after her energetic and cheeky pre-schooler. To find out more about Kate and her writing life visit her at www.kate-frost.co.uk.


This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. I am in the process of writing a second book based on my debut novel. I’m struggling with how much background I need to include in the second book, and am using much of that in the form of reminiscence. I need to find the right mix of background without being redundant. Did you find this as well?

  2. Interesting! Thanks for your thoughts. I have reached a point where I am now thinking about bundling together a series of my trilogy about a fictional undercover cop.
    I have also given some thought as to including an abridged version of my true crime undercover cop memoir ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.’ Perhaps as a non-fiction prequel.
    A case of fact fuelling fiction. There are obviously some issues there, including how to choose categories, seeing there is a cross-over between non-fiction and fiction.
    Any thoughts?

    1. I think that’s a great idea to do a version of your memoir as a non-fiction prequel – could be a novel way of crossing over readers from your non-fiction and introducing them to your fiction (or vice versa). I guess you’d need to chose categories that fit each book, but you can always flag up that there’s a prequel or the subsequent fiction trilogy in the blurb. As for bundling together your trilogy that’s a smart move too – a boxset for The Butterfly Storm series is my next thing to do. Good luck with it all!

      1. Thanks Kate! The idea is growing stronger by the minute. I also think of some review comments on the memoir such as “reads like fiction but it’s true.”
        Thanks for your encouraging words. Good luck to you too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest advice, news, ratings, tools and trends.

Back To Top
×Close search