For the self-publishers who are writing a multi-book saga, reasons why you should write and prepare multiple books before you publish the first, despite your excitement to push your creation into the world.
As soon as I sat down to begin outlining TAW: WRP, I knew that this was only book one of a saga that will more than likely end somewhere between six and nine books to fully flesh out the world and guide the story in a meaningful direction with enough time to craft realistic relationships and impactful twists.
When I began researching how to self publish a series, I soon came across a piece of advice which said “We know you’re excited to publish your first book, wait until you have three for your series.”
What?!?! Wait until I have THREE finished?! ONE is already a feat, why wait until I have three???
Well, great things take time and a hell of a lot of work, and holding onto the first two or three of your series can give you lasting success well beyond initial publication. See the top three reasons below on why to hold on to your book babies just a little longer before sending them into the world.
Reason #1: Story Continuity
Don’t you just hate when you’re reading a great book in an immersive series and you come across a dreaded author mistake: a continuity error. Continuity errors are jarring in any storytelling medium, they are easy to spot in movies and shows, hair style changes, food on the plates at dinner, random knick-knack arrangements in the background move (good in horror movies, bad in romances). These errors pull the viewer out of the experience, gets them thinking about difficulties in editing, or how shitty the poor planning was. The same goes with books, if authors gets their characters’ names wrong, inexplicably change outfits, setting, or characters in the middle of a conversation (or anything else of the sort) it rips the reader out of the story and into a place of criticism, though arguably you deserve it for leaving these errors in your work.
Also, if a writer immediately publishes their books once written and edited, they’ve definitively set the parameters in stone for the story, and the standards NEED to be kept so the world stays believable to the reader (deviation from these set standards going forward in your story is the make or break of a good writer).
This rigidity in the story from early on can cause hiccups in long game story development if most of the story’s mechanics haven’t been hammered out in planning.
If an author chooses instead to give themselves the flexibility to take the story two or three books deep before publication, these issues can be straightened out prior to readers catching them and hating your work.
Reason 2: Quality
While continuity is a component of quality, overall quality itself is another beast entirely. This encompasses everything about your writing skills, plotting skills, and the overall concept of your story as a whole.
Once you publish your first book, an invisible clock begins ticking for your next book in the series, which can induce authors to run with the first few ideas that hit them for their subsequent stories. These ideas can be awesome or TERRIBLE, with not a lot of time for the author to differentiate between the two.
Holding off on immediate publication allows authors to brainstorm longer on large plot arcs and character developments, giving more of a guide for their creativity, instead of chasing every bad idea like a rabbit into a hole. (Which is why I HAVE to plot as an author, because I chase all the shitty ideas if I don’t plot and weed through them.) Giving yourself an adequate amount of time to get deep within your story allows you to hammer out any difficult plot points before they become a huge mess, and allows you to sew in bits of foreshadowing VERY EARLY in your story, which gives re-read value to your readers. Imagine foreshadowing something huge in the beginning stages of book one and paying it off at the end of book three, this gives your reader an entirely new way to see your book’s first two installments. You can also dedicate precious time to crafting b-plots that span over novels when you chose to hold onto the manuscripts: love stories, character arcs, plot pushers, twists and surprises, etc
Reason 3: Marketing
The bane of many self-published authors: Marketing.
Marketing is a HUGE component that you not only need to utilize but you have to excel at utilizing! Marketing is how to turn your book launch into an event, how you’ll hype your fans (and potential street team) for publications, how you’ll connect with readers through giveaways and reviews, and how you’ll tantalize readers, and even book stores, into purchasing your beautiful novels. This all sounds great, but what’s so daunting about marketing is that essentially it is preparation and swift execution.
Everything about marketing starts with planning and ends with execution of the plan: your publication dates and the length between your publications, what your websites look like (all of them, social media pages too), what your covers look like, what schedule you post blog posts or vlog videos, your newsletter schedule, basically everything about the look and timing of your business as an author.
By waiting to write multiple books in the series before publishing any of them you can make sure EVERYTHING about the marketing of these books is COHESIVE. Do the novel covers’ designs match? Do you have your graphics created to blast all over your platforms when you publish a new book/do giveaways/send your newsletters/etc? Do you have your summaries reviewed and edited? Take into consideration these questions and realize these are only a fraction of planning. Holding off from immediate publication gives you a chance to make a marketing strategy and map out your small steps to your big goals.
Remember to enjoy the process, writers! Self publication is an undertaking, but is less intimidating with proper strategy and time. I will be writing more articles on writing and marketing techniques in the weeks to come!