Series is the new black. It seems like everyone is writing them these days. Having a published series of books is a great way to keep readers interest for long enough to have them remember your name, actively seek you out, sign up for your newsletter, or ask to be advised by Amazon when you publish a new book. I’ll be publishing the second and third books in my series at the same time either late December or early January. In retrospect I think that publishing the first book on its own was a mistake, which is why I haven’t tried to sell it so far. The time for readers to buy books in a series is directly after reading one of them, so it’s better to publish three at the same time to begin with. My book one will really only get properly launched with two and three, so most of the readers who read it before will probably have been lost. It’s so exciting to publish your first book, but for me from now on three books at the same time will be the procedure for series. After that I think you can safely add one at a time. Possibly you already have the material for a series in a book you’ve already published though, and maybe even whole plotlines for future stories in the outtakes.
Writing a series is really worth considering as an Indie. Readers love revisiting characters they love, so while they might not be tempted to buy a totally different novel written by you, if they’ve fallen in love with a certain story they will almost certainly be willing to buy some more of it. I know that I for one get quite sad when I finish a book wanting more of those lovely folk between its covers, but knowing that I’ll never meet them again. Why not turn your standalone novel into a series of standalone books? Same people and places, but not having to be read in sequence. Not all books would be suitable, but quite a few novels that I’ve read would definitely make for fabulous future tales. Writing more in a world that already exists would be a nice way to revive old titles in your backlist and a lot of fun because you already know all the characters, so you’re playing with old friends. All you need is a new plotline. This isn’t the same as intentionally setting out to write a series, and announcing it as such, but rather a pleasant surprise for future and current readers.
Self-publishing is a learning journey. These days there’s so much more help to be found for newbies starting out, but quite a lot of us didn’t have a clue when we first set out, so maybe some of our first books are languishing. That doesn’t mean that your only way forward is to write and promote new books. There’s no reason not to revamp your first novel, write another to follow it, and give it a relaunch at the same time. Consider giving it a brand new cover to go with its new companion, and treat it as a brand new book. That’s the great thing about being Indie. Your books don’t get moved further and further away from new releases, finally to end up in boxes in back rooms somewhere. Your backlist is always as current as you choose to make it. So dust that poor forgotten novel off, and either write more of it, or give it a makeover and a do-over launch party. Another possibility for your NaNoWriMo book this year too – have a go at a sequel.