I’ve been to a lot of conventions and conferences in the last three years and I thought I would dig through my notes for my next Inkpunks blog topic. As I expected, I found a wealth of knowledge, if only I could read my scribbles and remember what they meant!
I did find some coherent notes on a workshop at the Surrey Writers’ Conference in 2009 called Serious Serials, presented by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Fantasy Author, Richelle Mead. Richelle is the author of two adult series and one YA series. Her Georgina Kincaid series has six books thus far, and Dark Swan series has four books, while her YA Vampire Academy has six books and has spun off into a new YA series. Her YA has been translated into thirty languages.
Richelle definitely has the experience and knowledge about writing successful series. I will try to pass on some of the wisdom Richelle bestowed upon us that day.
Why Should You Write A Series?
Richelle advises that if you’re invested enough in the world and characters you’ve created and you want to tell a really big story, you probably would do well to make it into a series. It will also depend on whether the publisher and readers like your world and characters enough to read more. Young adult readers, Richelle tells us, fall in love with characters and want to read more, sometimes as much as they can get their hands on. It’s your job to make them fall in love with your characters.
Should You Plan It Out or Not?
You need to know your characters and world intimately in order to write a continuing series. The world you create also has to be one that you can get multiple stories out of that setting. These things would have to be planned ahead of time.
While there should be a big story that spans across each book, there also needs to be a self contained plot within each book in the series. That plot should wrap up, but the book should leave the readers wanting more. Each following book should also continue to include character development of your main characters.
Richelle recommends knowing an ending to your series and about how many books it will take to get there. Each book should progress your overall series plot. She recommends within your planning, leaving enough room in your plan for sparks that come up while you’re writing, but have enough structure to keep the plan in line.
Should You Pitch a Series?
No editor, agent or publisher wants to hear about a five to ten book series. They do like to hear that your single book is part of a proposed series, and you could have a brief outlined plan of future books, but the first book must stand alone.
Other Tips From Richelle
Richelle told us that her multiple series came about while she was waiting on the publishing industry. While her first book was going through the process from the original sale to being published, she started in on another series. While that one was then going through the process, she started a third series. Now she juggles all three (with a fourth coming soon). She recommends not waiting for that agent to get back to you, or for your book to hit the shelves. Start on something new!
Richelle also says to go ahead and write the second book in a series while shopping the first if you want to. It’s only going to give you more practice writing, and if that first book gets accepted, you’ll have another one in the making.
I hope these notes from Richelle’s workshop helped any of you thinking about making your book into a series. Whatever happens, don’t stop writing!