Tag Archives: series

Status Update – Why Series End

Mar 01, 2017

In my writing career so far, I have written eight different series (and a few odds and ends). Of those series, I only have two “active” right now (The Brides of Paradise Ranch and Nerds of Paradise). Four of those series are definitely done (The Noble Hearts, Montana Romance, Hot on the Trail, and Culpepper Cowboys). And the other two (Second Chances and Grace’s Moon)? Ugh, that’s where my heart and my head get into serious debates.

But first things first….

Why does an author choose to end a series? If you’re a reader, it might be heartbreaking to say goodbye to your favorite characters and a world you’ve fallen in love with. The same is true for the author too, but sometimes things have to end. Like with my Noble Hearts series. That decision was easy, because I realized Medieval Romance wasn’t the way I wanted to go. Or with Montana Romance, I felt like I’d told all the stories I needed to tell in that world and wanted to move on to other things. Hot on the Trail was a slightly different story, because I just got burnt out of writing about the Oregon Trail. I mean, there are only so many stories you can tell about people headed west in wagons. But you’ll notice, I sort of just rolled that world into Paradise Ranch, so it doesn’t really end, it just shifts.

Incidentally, I’m thinking that later this year, I might spin-off Paradise Ranch into a 3-5 novella series about the girls that Bonnie has rescued, educated, and helped to find a new life. And thanks to Elspeth and Gunn, those lives are as servants in British households…which would be a great transition from my historical westerns to the British Victorian stories I really want to start writing. It’s all organic, and everything fits together!

But I digress. For me, the Culpepper Cowboys books ended because the well went completely dry for those books. I got to the point where I was just blank. I had no new ideas for the length, tone, and atmosphere of that world. But that sort of rolled into Nerds of Paradise, which are longer, deeper, more complex, and deal with more serious issues. So if that’s the case for those books, what about Second Chances, my contemporary series set in Maine?

This is where I start to cringe on an emotional level. Because I LOVE those Maine books. I love Maine! And I’m very proud of what is now a trilogy. I have people asking me if I’m going to write more in that series all the time. And I hate to say it, but the farther away I get from the last one of those that I published, the less likely I am to continue the series. Because the thing about writers is that their writing brains are not static. I am constantly coming up with new ideas, new worlds, and new characters. Which is a wonderful thing! But the consequence is that other things can be left behind because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Also, when other series and types of books start to pick up in sales, it’s really hard to forego that income to write something that will need a bigger marketing push. We gotta eat!

And finally… Grace’s Moon. *epic sigh* So, so few people have read my Sci-Fi books or even know they exist. The thing is, I love that genre. I love the books that I’ve already published in that series, and I love the ones that are still floating around in my head. And I keep saying that someday I AM going to come back to that series and write more. Unlike Second Chances, I’m unwilling to say, willingly or grudgingly, that I’m done with Grace. Because I have generation after generation of those characters already planned out. In my mind, that world is epic! Someday I’ll get back to it. Someday!

The Secret Power of Series

May 08, 2014
© Grigorenko | Dreamstime.com

© Grigorenko | Dreamstime.com

Okay, writers. I’m going to tell you something you already know. Ready?

Nothing sells books like more books. Series are totally the way to go.

Heard that before? We all have, especially those of us who are indie authors. But you know, it’s really true. I mean, really, REALLY true. I’ve seen authors skyrocket in sales and popularity when they find a series that touches people and run with it.

Here’s the thing, though. In my humble opinion, not all series are created equal. Or rather, different kinds of series accomplish different things. I have two series out right now, one medieval romance and one historical western romance. They are structured entirely differently than each other, and as a result they’ve performed differently. Here’s how….

The first series I published was The Noble Hearts. The three novels in this series, The Loyal Heart, The Faithful Heart, and The Courageous Heart, are dependent upon each other. You can read them out of order, but there is an overarching plot to all three books. They are designed to be read in order. You won’t completely get The Courageous Heart unless you’ve read the first two (which is a shame, because in my opinion, The Courageous Heart is the best of the three by far).

My other series, Montana Romance, currently consists of four novels and three novellas. Each book in that series stands completely alone. You could read them in any order and the others would still be complete stories that makes sense from beginning to end. The only thing you’d miss out on by reading them out of order is maybe spoilers about who ended up with who. But let’s face it, this is romance. We all know who is going to end up with who from reading the back cover blurb.

© Farsh | Dreamstime.com

© Farsh | Dreamstime.com

I’ve had several reviewers and commenters say that they read In Your Arms or Fool For Love, and now even Somebody to Love, without having read any of the other books in the series and that they’ve enjoyed them thoroughly. I haven’t had the same sort of comments about The Noble Hearts. Guess which series sells better? By, like, a factor of ten?

Yes, they say that series are where the money is, but I would like to throw a little caveat in there and say that connected books that take place within the same world but can be read on their own really make the money. Does this mean that you shouldn’t write a continuous series? I hope not, because my Sci-Fi series, Grace’s Moon, which I will start publishing in July, is a continuous series.

My current working theory with continuous series is that it’s all about how you promote that first book. I think you have to continuously, diligently promote the living daylights out of that first book, and probably offer it at a discount or free too! (Side note: offering the first book of a series for free only works—and works WELL—if there are several other books in the series) We’ll see. I plan to kick some butt with Grace’s Moon.

But what if I don’t? I remember hearing something that I think Hugh Howey said about series. If the first couple of books don’t sell well, abandon the series and write something else. Hmm. On the surface that sounds appealing. Is it in our best interest to continue writing something that isn’t selling? It depends.

I recently read another article that complained deeply about the volume of series that authors (particularly indie authors) have started then abandoned. The author of that article expressed a level of betrayal from the readers and a reluctance for them to read anything more by the authors who had previously left them hanging. Now that rings true to me!

So what’s the answer? As far as Grace’s Moon (or any other series I plan to write in the future) goes, I have my initial game plan and I have ideas to extend it. The books that I know I am going to write are the kind that just have to be written. They’re inside me, struggling to get out. I’m not going to turn them away because their predecessors haven’t done well. I plan to publish four Grace books by the end of the year.

What about after that? Well, we’ll see. I have generations-worth of ideas for that series, but I also have—no joke—about ten other series begging to be written. The fourth book in the series will come to a satisfactory conclusion, but more will be possible.

In the end, I think that’s the best way to go with series. Write what you have to write and don’t cut it short, but leave the door open for more. I only intended to write four books in the Montana Romance series. Then the novellas popped to mind. Then a whole second series about the children of the main characters of the first season and their interactions with WWI. Then an interim book that takes place in 1908. I left the door open, and I think it will ultimately serve me well.

Yep, series are where the magic is.

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How NOT To Write A Series

May 07, 2013

More often than not these days, it seems as though every story is told as a series. Whether it’s books, movies, or TV shows, series are the format of choice. And why not? Once you get hooked on a world, on the characters and storylines that inhabit it, you want to see more and more and more of it. And while some stories I’ve known drag on and on, the really good stories have you – oh, I don’t know – standing in line for hours and purchasing the seventh and final book of a certain series at 1:30am, then rushing home and reading it in one sitting so that no one spoils it for you.

BramwellBut I have also known cases where a series has been absolutely, completely destroyed by its writers. There are few things in this world that have made me angrier. Case in point: Bramwell.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it, but Bramwell was a fantastic, brilliant British TV series from the late 1990s about a woman doctor in London of the late 1890s. Let me tell you, this is one of my favorite series ever. It was complex and meaningful, full of interesting characters and insightful reflections on a world that was as rich and swiftly-changing as our own is today. If you haven’t seen this show you need to zip over to Netflix or Amazon and watch it.

BUT…. Continue reading