I’ve written my entire life, in one form or another, but drafting anything over a page or two was something I shied from until my late 40’s. Honestly, life got in the way, as it tends to do, and so decades came and went while I worked a kaleidoscope of careers and raised my family. Now that I am older, I have more “me time” and I choose to spend it on what feeds my creative soul. While I wouldn’t trade the feeling of holding two years of my life in my hands (in a colorful bound version from Create Space), I am starting to wonder what was I thinking?
The idea came to me in a flash, on a girls weekend and at (what will continue to be) an undisclosed location. What I didn’t realize, when plotting my story all those years ago, was just how much time and passion it took to bring one book into the world. I also had no clue just how much creative energy I would need to parcel out between writing articles, marketing, social media, sales events and juggling new projects. We won’t even go into working full-time and spending time with family and friends, that goes without saying for now. Looking back, why I ever decided to write a series first is beyond me!
I am so close to launching book 2 that I can taste it (just ordered my proof today) and Winds of Change should be available June 2017 as intended. But I’ve had my fair share of learning curves along the way, most of which had to do with taking on a series in the first place. I would like to share some ideas for those who are considering planning and plotting more than one book as one of their first projects:
- Think of the project as a whole – It is only about the first book until you have two, and then it is about the series. Be sure that when you are working on the first book, you plot out the balance of the series. This in no way commits you to those outlines once you get into the writing, but it does allow you to have a bird’s eye view of the project, which is helpful later when you need to tie it all together.
- Work out back stories for your main characters – You don’t have to work them into your story, unless they serve a purpose, but it is helpful to know what happened to a character in the past so you understand what motivates them to act the way they do in the present. I spend a lot of time fleshing out even the most minor character, using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of characteristics and habits, so I can be sure to have them consistent over the span of the series. Back stories can also spin off into prequels or other series, so keep those notes!
- Think of the series when developing artwork – I feel that this is extremely important, since no one wants to have to redo a cover on book 1 during the release of book 3 in the series. While I will agree that tastes can change, and you can find an alternate cover that could work better once the series is established, I do feel that it is always better to have a consistent and matching marketing image presented at the start. I spent a lot of time thinking about the series as a whole, and have elements in the books that tie them together in an artistic way. The elemental symbols on the spine of my printed book is just one example.
- Spend time building your brand – What I mean by this is take some time to develop the image you want to present as an author. Spend a little money and get some professional headshots, trust me they will really come in handy! If you can’t afford a graphic designer, then do marketing images and slides yourself using a program like Pablo by Buffer, just be sure that the images you use are consistent with the theme you are shooting for. And lastly, get out on social media! Each one of the products attracts different demographics so knowing your target market is key. If you are just starting out like me, Facebook and Twitter are probably the first two you want to get comfortable with. I also recommend setting up your profile on Google + and popping on there at least weekly to stay active.
Planning a series is a daunting task but taking time to do some overall project planning will save you stress and heartache in the long run. Trust someone who knows, and who plans pretty much everything in her life! If you want to know what I am using or what is working best for me, please be sure to follow me either on this site or on any of my social media channels. I always share products that I have come across that I find helpful! Happy writing!