Some things I learned from…
Marie Force was literally a force of nature at our 2014 conference :) It was something she said that gave me my light-bulb moment — that “AHA!” moment that resonates so deeply, you know it’ll forever stick in your mind and change the way you look at everything. I can’t share it here as it’s a very personal revelation, but I do feel comfortable revealing that what she said allowed me to let go of an awful lot of unhealthy anger around certain things to do with my small press published books. And that, my friends, is priceless; I will never be able to thank Marie enough for the gift of those words.
But enough about my “AHA” moment. Here are some things I learned from Marie during her workshop about managing a series:
Managing a Series
By Marie Force
When it comes to writing series, characters are the most important element. Your main characters have to have staying power.
An “anchor couple” can be useful:
- often the first couple featuring in the series
- appear in every subsequent book and “anchor” the series
- integrate their story arc seamlessly into subsequent books so they’re not being dumped into main characters’ story
Readers respond to the pattern of recurring characters. Many have their favorites, and want to be brought up to date with the anchor couple.
- becomes like a character, too
- becomes very important to readers
- gives the opportunity to challenge your characters and propel action
Make up your setting from an amalgamation of various real places; gives you more flexibility i.e. can create your own world within a real-life world.
- should be robust
- if they are are key recurring secondary characters, they can have an ongoing arc across multiple books
- put them in situations that keep readers coming back for more
Sequel fodder needs to lay groundwork for subsequent books but also be subtle.
Brand your series with logo, title, cover-look, same fonts etc.
When the series has numerous books, make the series number less obvious on the cover — it’s often too off-putting to new readers (i.e. they might be reluctant to pick up a book that’s number 8 in a series, even if it’s a standalone book.)
And some words of wisdom from Marie’s “Navigating the Wild West of Publishing” workshop:
- Write a great book!
- The book is King; it’s all that matters.
- Be content with wherever you are in your career.