Our client Sarah Fisher decided to make the leap from reality into the realms of her vivid imagination as a way of escaping the stress and monotony of her job as an accountant. In 2005, Sarah completed the 50,000-word NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge and the following year she switched careers from accounting to primary school teaching.
Drawing on her long-held interest in fantasy fiction, her great love of music and also her experience working with children, Sarah created the remarkable Dragonscale series – an exciting world of adventure and escapism that follows the journey of Noah Chord, a hearing-impaired, fashion-enthusiast teenager who battles goblins and wizards to save the musical world of Talisker. Sarah has now completed and published three books in this YA series: The 13th Key, Firestone, and Redemption.
Publishing: Back to Reality
Being offered a publishing deal is a surreal and exciting moment for any author; however, Sarah’s experience turned out to present her with some unique challenges. A boutique publishing company in the UK offered Sarah a publishing contract for her first book, The 13th Key, promising to provide page layout/typesetting, cover design, marketing and promotion. Unfortunately, their promises turned out to be empty, and with an amateur cover design and no marketing or promotion, Sarah was left with a below-par published book. To make matters worse, she had also signed over her publication rights to her precious work.
Feeling disenchanted and apprehensive about the whole process, Sarah approached us for help with self-publishing the next two books in her YA series – Firestone and Redemption. Her journey with us has been a far more flexible and positive experience. Sarah has now re-established her rights to The 13th Key and has published all three books with our professional assistance. We revamped the cover design of her first book to ensure that it had a similar ‘look and feel’ to Books 2 and 3, so that all of the books in the Dragonscale series now match each other.
The Benefits of a Fiction Series for Both Author and Reader
Writing a fiction series can seem like an endless task; however, there are benefits for those authors who are willing to take on this challenge and to those dedicated readers who follow them. The fantasy genre lends itself particularly well to a series as these usually comprise a journey through elaborate settings with various characters who are best developed over a series of books.
Writing a series can benefit both reader and author by:
- allowing cross-marketing throughout the series
- tapping into an already-existing fan base
- taking advantage of the current ‘binge’ culture of today’s consumers
- allowing more time to develop complex characters and plot.
Writing a fiction series will generally offer greater scope for marketing than a stand-alone book. Nevertheless, as was the case with Sarah, it is still vital to carefully plan and design your series covers so they link together to identify the book as part of a greater series. This will strengthen your brand and will nurture the relationship you have built with existing fans.
After completing your first publication, cross-marketing any further books in the series will save you money, time and effort. The readership you acquired from marketing your first book will be an instant target audience for subsequent books in the series. Likewise, as you market the most recent book, you will be encouraging readers to buy your earlier books. Readers will be thrilled to know that other books in your series are easily accessible and will be even more pleased if you direct them to where they can purchase/download your books.
Existing Fan Bases
There is already a considerable demand for fiction series, particularly within the YA fantasy genre. With a strong fan base having already been established, this audience is hungry for more! These readers are usually on a bittersweet high after finishing a series they have enjoyed and are eagerly in search of other books to fill the void. As a new author, you can direct your marketing to fans of fiction series that are similar to yours to give your titles a boost in popularity and exposure.
The Trend Towards a ‘Binge’ Culture
Bingeing favourite TV shows feeds our fervent need to know ‘what happens next’. The same principle can be applied to a fiction novel series. People love losing themselves in a captivating plot with well-developed characters who take them on a journey from which they don’t want to leave. These die-hard series readers may also comprise part of the existing fan bases described above as they have completed reading one series and are currently on the look-out for another. Having several books available in a series pacifies your readers’ ‘binge’ desires and keeps them keen for more from you and their chosen genre.
Character and Plot Development
A fiction series allows you to explore all those avenues that you would usually struggle to fit into a standard 90,000 word novel. During a book series you can spend more time developing characters and creating elaborate plots, thus enchanting your audience even further. Take for example some well-known fiction series such as Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. These eight books cover several continents, have hundreds of characters and span two centuries. Of course we must also mention one of the most popular YA fiction series, Harry Potter, which demonstrates how characters develop as they learn, struggle and grow, allowing readers to form a relationship with them and become attached over the years, intertwining the stories into their own lives.
The Fantasy Realised
As Sarah discovered during her ‘rollercoaster ride’ with her Dragonscale books, publishing a fiction series can be quite challenging. However, engaging reputable and qualified professionals to help you through the self-publishing process, and to ensure you are marketing your series and your brand in the best possible way, can ensure a rewarding experience for you as the author and for your dedicated readership.