Writing in a series helps you write faster, satisfy more readers and make more money as an author – whether you write fiction or non-fiction. In this video and article, I'll go into detail on why writing a series will make you more money as a writer.
I'll go through:
- Why our culture of ‘binge-watching‘ and binge reading means that readers welcome a series
- How you can make more money per customer with a back-list
- Why boxsets are incredible value for the customer and make you more money
- Why it's easier to market a series
- How to brand a series with consistent covers
- Optimizing a series with linking metadata
You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, or read on for the article in full.
First of all, from the readers' perspective, we are now living in a binge culture. So maybe, like me, you're excited about the next series of “Game of Thrones,” and when it arrives, you just binge watch the whole thing. You say, “I'm going to jump in and read everything, watch everything.”
The same can be true of a favorite author. You discover someone new and you go and read their whole backlist.
Or, for example, sometimes if I am really in need of a Stephen King book I can go and always find more of his backlist. Now, interestingly, he doesn't necessarily work in a series, but he writes in a genre, where I can expect a similar experience.
From my own example, I write the ARKANE thriller series, which currently has nine books. And I'm writing the 10th at the moment.
They are available individually, but they're also available in the mega-blockbuster box set editions which weigh a ton; the print versions are like a doorstop! You can get them in the e-book box sets as well.
The binge consumption culture means, if a reader discovers you, they are likely to go back and buy more.
And the same is true for non-fiction. In this case it's not a story series, but it can be a topic series. So for me, I have books for writers, and they're aimed at the same target market.
I've got eight books now in the series of books for writers, and you can actually link them together with series metadata. Metadata is the fields you fill in when you publish.
Make more money per customer
If we switch around from the reader point of view to the business point of view, you're going to make more money per customer. And that's really important if you want to run a business as an author.
Readers, instead of just buying one book, buy more than one book. That way you can make more money per customer.
You can also turn the books into box sets. When you have a box set with more than one book in, it becomes another product. Here's more on boxsets and bundling if you want to try it.
Readers can get the first three books in the ARKANE Series in e-book, print, and audiobook separately, and they can also get it in e-book, print, and audiobook as a box set. That gives me three more products that I can use when I'm writing a series.
I have books four to six, and seven to nine in other box sets as well. If you give value to the reader in a box set, you can use your series to create more products and more revenue per customer. And, of course, if you write fiction, you have more time to develop your characters.
Circling back to Game of Thrones, each of George RR Martin's books were as big as my box sets, but those characters are developed over a longer period. And it's more manageable that way.
Instead of writing one 400,000-word book, think about writing more of a series; five or six books that will go into that 400,000-word mega-story.
More Marketing Opportunities
It's also easier to market a series of books, because you can use the first book in the series, for example, as a permanently free or doing free promotions on that first one, over time. You can then get people into the series and then, hopefully, they will carry on.
That first book can become a loss leader or it can also just be a way for people to enter the series. You can keep promoting that book. Freebooksy offer a first in series promotion.
For my Sweet Romance books, for example, the first in the series is Love, Second Time Around, and this is the book that we do the most promotion on. Over time, that would mean you get more and more reviews on that first book, and the people who like it will go on through the rest of them.
It's also easier to get merchandising opportunities on sites like Kobo, iBooks, and even Nook, if you have a free first-in-series or a first-in-series that's on promotion, because these sites understand that if people go into a popular series, they are likely to buy more books.
So, if you have a series, you're going to have far more opportunities to do marketing.
Optimizing a Series
It's really important to consider a branded cover so that the books are very clearly a series. That is something I've taken very seriously for my own books.
I've done this for the ARKANE Books, and for the Penny Appleton series. They have exactly the same fonts. And with romance, I'm also using a bigger author name because people will forget the names of novels, but they will remember the name of the author over time. So that's a good reason to keep the author name so prominent.
Having branded covers are a really good way to link books together, and if you're using the same name. So those are actually three different author names for me. But if you're using the same name, you could actually use the covers, the different cover design, so it looks different.
My London Psychic books look different than my ARKANE books within each series, and each series has branded covers.
Whether you're using KDP, Kobo, iBooks, Draf2Digital, Smashwords, IngramSpark, Audible, or ACX all of these sites have a field for series name.
And little tip there, make sure you always spell it the same way!
For example, originally I had ARKANE Thriller Books or ARKANE Thriller Novels in the series field, and then I took off the word “Novels” later on, and then the series didn't link together properly. Make sure the spacing and the spelling of the series is always the same, and then they will link together on the store.
From the writer's perspective, it's easier and faster to write it a series because, if you're writing fiction, you have the world, you have the characters, you have an archetypal idea of what the book will be, and then you just need to come up with the new plot.
And, with non-fiction, you know your target market, you know what they want. You have a blueprint of what the book should be, and then you just deliver to the same promise.
Writing in a series will make it easier for you to write books. It will make the customers and readers happier, because they get great value, and they get lots of material, and they get to binge. You make more money. The merchandisers are happy. The bookstores are happy.
Everyone wins with writing a series. So what are you waiting for?
Are you planning to write in a series? Maybe you're currently writing a series. Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.