Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Successful Series: 5 Lessons Learned

If you follow my blog, you know I recently attended a major writing conference. Writing conferences are powerful for writers. At a conference you not only make connections with other writers, editors, and agents, but the venue includes classes and workshops to help you improve your writing skills.

Today I want to share some of the information I learned in one of those classes: The Successful Series. The class was taught by Janice Thompson and Cynthia Hickey, both successful writers of a variety of books, each series linked together by common threads. (Click on their names to see their Amazon Author Pages)

Here are a few of their tips.
1. All genres lend themselves to becoming a series. Find the common link. For example, a cozy mystery may be solved by the same sleuth, historical romance may take place in the same time period while a contemporary romance series make take place in the same local town. I think you get the idea.

2. A successful book series should mirror a successful television or movie series in some ways. Each episode should be fully plotted and able to stand alone. The author needs to approach each book as “the best in the series.”

3. Stick to your brand throughout the series. Your readers should recognize your style and voice in each book in the series. You have a brand. When readers see that in a new book, they feel comfortable.

4. Make sure your book titles and book covers go together. If a customer walks into a bookstore, you want them to readily recognize the book they are holding is part of a series.

5.  And this tip is from me: Listen to your readers. If they’re asking you, “What happened to Beverly?” or “I wish you’d have told more about Laney,” you may have seeds for a series. Your readers will tell you if there is a possible series or follow-up book there.

I have always been a firm believer in giving each book your best. Write each book as if it is your personal best seller. I’ve talked with new writers who tell me they’re holding back bits and pieces of their first book in hopes they will write a series and reveal those elements in book two or three. As it turns out, the trend for publishers buying series is waning. If your publisher likes your first book and requests a second or third, trust me, you’ll be able to deliver. Get that first book published and then see if a series is in order.

What do you think? Do you enjoy reading books written as a series?
What do you like? What do you not like?


  1. Rebecca, I always get excited about the next novel in a series when I fall in love with the characters in Novel One.

    1. I agree. I think one of the benefits of a series is the opportunity to get to know the characters on a deeper level. We get to the third book and another character does something strange…and we as readers know exactly how the main character is going to respond! LOL


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