One of the things new writers are told is that to get more sales it helps if you write a series. Publishers are keen to know if there are plans for more books, and if a reader likes a book they enjoy knowing there are more to follow.
When I started writing Roses I had no intention of writing a sequel, let alone a series. The first time I thought about it was when I finished Roses and experienced grief at having to let go of the characters I loved. Before I realised it I’d started writing Retribution, and the White Rose series was born.
Since I wrote Retribution I’ve learned a few things about writing a book series.
The biggest thing is nailing continuity. Characters and places reappear regularly and they need to remain consistent.
Keeping track of events
I have a timeline I use to keep track of birthdays – and therefore ages – anniversaries, seasons, and what happened when in previous books.
Impact of events on each other
By this I mean things happening in a logical sequence. I had written most of Retribution before I released Roses, and because of this I was able to change some things in Roses so it suited Retribution more. Things can be set up in one book so they make sense in the next. It happened by accident, but now I do it deliberately – finish the first draft of the sequel so I can ensure things make sense.
The current cover for Roses is not the original cover. When it became apparent that there would be a series, I came up with a cover design that I could carry through the series so the books would look similar, easily identifiable, and connected. The print book size and formatting is the same for each title, and the titles are all single word titles.
Name of the series
Apparently it’s not enough to have a series—the series has to have it’s own name. Surveys of readers have shown they prefer it when the books can be referred to using the series name. I call my series the White Rose series in reference to the main character, Beth. While it could be argued she is not the only main character, hers in the character that started the story for me, so she’s it!
Length of series
Believe it or not, it is recommended that a series has an odd number of books. How many will mine have? At least five at this point in time, but I’m not going to let this the odd number thing be the final determining factor.
Last, but not least
I’ve decided to make a rule of ending ever book so it is open to at least a sequel, if not a series. As with Roses, I grieve the conclusion of each story and leaving it open to being continued gives me comfort. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) it becomes a temptation and the invitation to keep going becomes irresistible.
That might be why I have just finished writing the first draft of the sequel to Seeing Red. No writers block here…
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