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
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.
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
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From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive