By Ron Glick
Ron Glick is the author of numerous novels and three different ongoing epic series. In this post he outlines what it takes to write a successful continuous book series.
I have always been told that there are three cornerstones that must be built as an Indie author if you ever wish to establish your brand—a library, consistency, and legacy. Basically, this means you must have more than one book for your readers to enjoy, have a reliable schedule for release of materials, and books that share common characters and storylines. Though I might speak more on the first two at another time, it is for the purpose of the latter that I am writing this article today.
Specifically, I would like to discuss the concept and unique challenges presented by writing books in an epic series, a series that is a continuous, ongoing storyline. Though not all books with a common history are part of a specific series (look to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon stories, as an example), it is largely an accepted fact that readers generally enjoy following the ongoing stories they fall in love with. And if you have done your job as a writer, this will be exactly what you have achieved: a bond between the reader and the characters you have created.
Another thing I was once told is that all good stories have a sad ending—because they end. If your reader is not sad that the story is over, if they do not feel a yearning to know what happens next, then you likely have not engaged your reader enough to have them read anything more you have written. Readers almost always put down one book and pick up another, and you always want to get your readers to put down that book and look for another one of yours.
This is a vitally important function as a writer—to get your reader to willingly suspend disbelief (something else I have touched on in other articles that I will likely one day write about in more depth at a later time), which is to say have them become so invested emotionally and mentally in your story that they are willing to set aside the knowledge that what they are reading is not a true story and believe what is being presented. If you achieve this, they will want to know what will come next in the story, and they will go looking to see if you have written anything else that continues the story.
This is where series come into play. True, books like Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code are great stand-alone stories, and it helps that they share a common protagonist, but unless you do some work on browsing through all of Dan Brown’s work, you really do not know this. One advantage of writing an actual series is that the reader can tell at a glance what the next book in the story is.
For example, if a reader were to read my book, The Wizard In Wonderland, he or she can see on the front page, “Book 1 of the Oz-Wonderland Series”. This ready-made label tells the reader that there are either more books available in the series or more are forthcoming. So if the reader enjoys the book, he or she will likely look for Book 2, and so on. True, a reader might like my work enough to just look for my name to see what else I write, but it is a sure bet that if he or she liked the book they just read, they will be more drawn to its sequel. Continue reading