Back in May 2019, I published my first novel, and the first in a series, just to say I could. I had no strategy behind it because I didn’t know what the future of self-publishing would be for me. Now, after releasing my third book in the series, I wish I had done a lot of things differently. Still, I learned a lot, and now that I am writing and publishing books consistently, I can make my next series better.
As an indie author, you can gain quicker traction
Publishing a one-off book isn’t a recipe for disaster, but as an indie author, it’s a lot harder to get attention with a single book. If you don’t have an audience that is eagerly waiting your first release, it’s important to have a backlog. A series is a great way to have some consistent books in your history and show readers that you can put out work to keep them interested. Readers are more likely to invest in a new author who has a series rather than a single book.
If I had seen self-publishing as the business it is, I would have also used the opportunity to at least put the preorder up for the second book, even if it was happening months down the road. Showing that you have something in the works is helpful, especially if you only have one book available.
It also helps you establish a niche. As a new author, it was critical for me to show my place in the genre, even if it was watered down. Once I had my first two books out in the series, I was able to publish a standalone book to success.
You get to stay with your characters longer
I fell in love with my characters in the first book, Soul Forgotten. So much so that I couldn’t imagine just leaving their story complete after the first book. What happened after? I didn’t want to leave that to the reader’s imagination because I wanted to know too!
The benefit of a series is that after the first book, you really don’t have to worry about the long process of character creation. It’s no joke that writers can spend hours or days coming up with the perfect name for their characters. I mean, we have to write it a million times in our books so we better like it!
Writing more books with the same characters isn’t easy
I thought that having the characters already set would make my process easier. I mean, I had the characters, all I needed was a plot, a bad guy, and to develop my characters even more.
Luckily, I wrote my second book, Soul Remembered, during NaNo so I was forced to keep writing to reach a word count. I didn’t have a plot so my characters kind of did normal stuff for a while until I stumbled upon the plot and where it was going. That taught me how important it was to have an outline, or at least a vague idea of where to go next.
To avoid the sophomore slump, you have to work harder than before
It’s not just about coming up with new ideas, it’s about making those new ideas better than the first so people want to keep reading. My first book was full of so much and I fell victim to imposter syndrome. I was terrified during the first week of NaNo because I felt like everything was falling flat. But once I got in a groove, I started to find my way. It turned into one of the most emotional and thrilling ideas.
Still, when it came time to write the third, I became an obsessive nightmare. I needed the book to be even better than the last and I was already applying so much to show how my characters had grown over the years. I wanted to wrap up the story but still make it pack a punch. I took my time making sure everything I needed to include was put in the book. It required close attention, but in the end it was worth it.
Read through will always drop off, but there will still be readers
There are going to be some readers who just don’t continue reading your series. Or, they have a million other things in their lives and can’t devote time to the rest of your books. Still, there will be read through that carries into the next book.
I started to panic slightly after releasing my second book in the series to a smaller audience. I had a better idea of marketing at the time and an email list, of which I didn’t have the first time around (yes, I know… mistake), and not having a strong opening was a little frustrating. Was it even worth writing the last book?
But something changed. Back in early August, I release the third book, Soul Obscured, to about the same audience as my second book (plus a few extra followers). However, I saw a huge increase in book one sales after the release of the third book. The awesome part about releasing the third book was that I could promote the series instead of just book one or book two. Now I could package them as a complete series and get people started back at book one.
Build a brand
Much like I was able to use my series to help make my standalone successful, having a catalog of consistent stories helped establish my writer brand. Even though I write in a genre that has tons of incredibly popular and best selling authors, I knew what I wanted to write. People know what they are going to get when they pick up one of my books. Now, I have an audience that is familiar with my work and it increases my chances of success when I release new books under my name.
Laura Winter is a self-published author dedicated to helping your authorpreneur journey. She has launched her books on little to no budget to prove you don’t have to invest an exorbitant amount of money to be successful. Find her work on Amazon, Patreon, and join her tribe to get more articles like this.
This post was originally published on Medium.