Writing a Book Series: Three Lessons I’ve Learned

Writing a Book Series - What You Need to Know

I want to talk to you about things I’ve learned from writing a book series. If you have been following me for a while, you’ll know that I will be releasing my first book, Wind Wielder, in January 2022. And as you know, Wind Wielder will act as Book I in the Elementals of Nordica Series and Book I in the Elementals Universe.

Yeah, it’s the first of many installments. So what goes into writing a book series, and what do I know now that I didn’t know when I started writing Elementals of Nordica back in June 2020?

I’ll tie together a few loose ends. So if you’re reading this post as an author, definitely feel free to take a few tidbits. A few unorthodox tidbits, to say the least, since I’m venturing a little off the beaten path here.

Are you ready to learn the three top things I’ve learned from writing a book series?

Keep reading.

The First Thing I Learned: Don’t Limit Yourself to One Book

Wind Master: Elementals of Nordica, Book II
I started my first draft of Wind Master shortly after I conducted a readthrough of Wind Wielder.

If there’s one thing I can tell you if you’re an aspiring author thinking about writing a book, you need to change your mentality. Writing one book a year doesn’t cut it in today’s binge-happy landscape. You need to release at least three books within a two-month frame for them to stand any chance on Amazon.

If you’re writing a trilogy, write the first book, give it a good readthrough, and edit, then write the first draft of Book II. Go back again and edit Book I, give Book II a good readthrough and edit, then write the first draft of Book III. Once you’re finished with your first draft of Book III, go back and repeat the process, again starting with Book I.

Why?

Because you will save yourself a lot of headaches and heartaches with plot inconsistencies. Many of us think it’s best to focus on and perfect one book at a time. Don’t even try it. If you’re looking to make sure that everything fits well, you need to be rotating between three books of the same series (or more).

Now, when we read others’ works, we catch errors galore. When we read our own, as often as we may edit and improve things, chances are we don’t catch everything. That said, get yourself a beta reader or two and let them read the work and see if they can spot anything. If you can afford one, hire a top-notch developmental editor. Don’t settle for a cheap one – I’ve found that many authors do this, and in all honesty, they’d be better off self-editing.

So write Book I, read through it, start on Book II, and repeat the process. You surprise yourself over just how much better your overall plot points fit, along with the overarching storyline.

Tips to Remember When Writing a Book Series

  • The days of publishing one book a year are over. Especially if you’re a new author. You need at least three books in a series for your work to stand a chance in online bookstores.
  • Rotate through your books. If you find inconsistencies, it’s okay. But by writing three books at once, preferably writing one and reading through another, will limit these inconsistencies.
  • An editor is nice, but if you can’t afford one or if you’d like to keep costs low or geared elsewhere, self-edit. But make sure you have at least one beta reader on hand.
  • Ideally, you need to publish each of your first three works within one month of one another. For example:
    • Wind Wielder – January 3rd, 2022
    • Wind Master – January 31st, 2022
    • Wind Keeper – February 28th, 2022

My publication dates shifted a little, landing on the final Monday of the month for books two and three. This ensures that I have published each work within 30 days of one another.

Related: How Ferocious Self-Editing Brought About an Action-Packed Novelette in Ten Days

 

The Second Thing I’ve Learned: Don’t Create Your Own Cover!

Wind Wielder: Elementals of Nordica, Book I
I only added text to Wind Wielder’s cover.

You can log onto Canva and create a cover at no charge. But if you’re serious about writing a book series, don’t do this.

Sure, Canva covers are great if you’re self-publishing a reader magnet or bonus that readers can download if they join your mailing list. But I’ll forewarn you that if you decide to place a magnet on Prolific Works, StoryOrigin, or Book Funnel, among other outlets, it’s best to buy a professionally designed cover.

Many group promotion organizers require professionally-designed covers. I do the same for my own promos unless the author is graphic-design savvy.

No, you don’t need to break the bank on a $500 cover. Self Pub Book Covers is an outstanding outlet to buy premade or customized covers. Prices on Self Pub Books range between $69 and $200, depending on what you’re looking for.

The only thing you will manually add is the cover text. Each of my covers come from Self Pub Book Covers, and they’re all outstanding graphic-design-wise. If you’re looking to brand your covers, you can also download a premade cover for Book I, then hire the designer to create similar covers for Book II and beyond.

I actually found a cover each for Wind Wielder AND Wind Master, which tells readers that yes, this is a fantasy series that heavily flirts with and bends into science fiction.

Don’t Be So Detail-Oriented With Book Covers

I’ve also learned not to be so anal with the cover’s models resembling my own to a T. For example; you can take the cover model on Wind Wielder to be my main character, Sion Zona. His cloak color of choice is often black or maroon. However, the cover model is wearing a gray hoodie on Wind Wielder’s cover, although I never mention Sion to have worn one.

Don’t put so much thought into hair or eye color, either. On my Chronicles of Rondure reader magnet cover, there’s a model we can take to be Tash Holmes. While the character resembles Tash, the model has green eyes as opposed to blue. Also, Chronicles of Rondure takes place in a dystopian society in another world – since the Elementals Universe comprises the Five Worlds. However, the city in the background clearly resembles Los Angeles, California.

Again, I’m not going to flip if the cover doesn’t quite match up to my characters. Odds are, readers won’t care. If the cover catches your eye, it will catch the reader’s eye.

 

The Best Thing I’ve Learned About Writing a Book Series: Self-Editing is Okay!

Chronicles of Rondure 2.0
I wrote, self-edited, and launched the 10k-word Chronicles of Rondure within ten days.

Some of us may cringe at the price for a (good) editor. However, there are numerous self-editing blogs out there that will help you out if you decide to self-edit your work.

Many book promotion companies will only accept works that have been professionally edited, but you can make any work look professionally edited if you’re willing to commit the time. It will take much more time and dedication than you think. And once you think you’ve edited the work well enough, take it through two more edits. So remember that if you self-edit.

Related: When You Think the Editing Process is Over

TC Marti’s Favorite Self-Editing Blog

If you’d like a few self-editing tips, check out Jerry Jenkins’ author blog as he routinely writes about writing and….self-editing! A traditionally published author, he’s not big on indie or self-publishing.

But who cares?

The guy is a master self-editor, and his blog will help you find at least 20 unique ways to self-edit your work. He also opens up a writers guild every so often for a few hundred dollars a year. If you’re interested in editing or just self-editing your book series or book, it’s an outstanding investment.

Granted, you will be able to focus more on writing if you outsource to a developmental and copyeditor, among other types of editors. If you’re more interested in saving your budget for marketing endeavors, self-editing may be worth the time and energy. It’s up to you. But if you self-edit as I do, there is one rule that you must follow: DON’T RUSH IT! Even if you need to push back your release date.

I’ve come across some outstanding works that have made me want to scream because the editing was so poor. Often, the developmental editing was great. But the copyediting was subpar.

 

Writing a Book Series is Challenging, But Rewarding

Writing a book series takes a lot of time and dedication. And there is no guarantee that your work will even be successful. However, if you follow lessons I’ve outlined above, chances are you will increase the odds of success. But writing a successful book series also comes down to marketing and allowing the right readers to find you; this is the stage I’m in for my own marketing. Something I’ve spent the last four years researching! Literally, since 2017.

Oh, and if you don’t know the first thing about marketing, check out my post: 7 Book Marketing Ideas That Actually Work.

If you’re an aspiring author and want to add something to this post, feel free to comment. If you’re a reader, feel free to give me your insight as well.