Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing a Series: Book 1 Is Done, Now What?

I’ll admit it. I’m a slow writer. On average, it takes me about 2 years to write a book. Not 2 years straight. There’s a lot of down time, a lot of distractions (aka kids), and a lot of procrastination. One of the side effects of being an indie author who’s not under contract with a publisher or who doesn’t have an agent breathing down her neck asking, “When will the next book be done?” is you’re free to work at your own pace. Some authors’ paces are slower than others. *raises hand* Without the pressure of a deadline, we’re free to take our time and write when the muse is in the mood. Until…

A month ago I published my second indie book, Fire of the Dragon. I wrote it a while ago, but I’d been sitting on it since it’s the first book in a planned series and I wanted to have book #2 well under way (or better yet finished) before putting the first book out. I had visions of releasing books #1, #2, and #3 a month or two apart from each other, just like the traditional publishers do to increase series sales and reader anticipation. However, after my dad passed away last fall, I was finding it hard to write anything new. One of my critique partners urged me to go ahead and publish DRAGON since it was ready to go, so I did.

I did virtually no promo aside from announcing the release on Facebook and a few writers’ loops. I suck at self promo, plus I was sick with a sinus infection at the time so DRAGON was tossed out into the world with little to no fanfare.  Imagine my surprise when the book took off on its own a week later.  Somehow, readers found it and it climbed up the Kindle Time Travel Romance Bestseller list, hitting #2 at one point. I was freaking out. A month later, it’s still bouncing around on the Top 20 Time Travel Romance Bestseller list and the Hot New Releases list. I’m beyond thrilled.

But along with that success comes pressure. Readers know it’s the first book in a series, thanks to the little byline I put on the cover: Book One in the Bestiary Series. And I intentionally left a few threads hanging at the end of DRAGON to carry over into the next book. Now just about every review that’s been left for the book mentions that they can’t wait to read the next one. That’s a good thing, right?

Not if you’re a slow writer like me. Now I don’t have the luxury of taking 2 years to write the next book. I need to get it out there before readers forget about the first one. So what do you think? How long can an author go between books in a series? 6 months? 9 months? A year? How long is too long?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Lori! Like you, I'm a slow writer as well. I wait for my Muse to be inspired (although I try to be more diligent now that I'm three novels deep to my name). I can only give you advise at to what I've found in my situation.

    Fans will wait.

    I'm not saying to leave them hanging indefinitely. But, in my case, I found that the two year wait between my first paranormal mystery, A Touch of Darkness, and the second in the series, A Touch of Madness, only enticed my readers and whetted their appetites.

    As long as you maintain good communication with your readers, give them something inbetween the novels (say short stories in anthology collections like I did), they are usually understanding of a writer who takes the time to craft a story they'll love as much as the first instead of slopping out crap just for the sake of the almighty deadline.

    I mean, look at George R.R. Martin. His fans have waited years between books, and we are as devote as ever. :)

    All the best and BREAK A PEN!
    -BC Brown "Because Weird is Good."