Series Type Decision To Be Made

It took a little bit of thinking to decide on the type of series to use for Salmon Run.

A different series I’m currently writing is a Closed Series consisting of an odd mix of the Stand-Alone and Serial Cliff-Hanger novels. It took a lot of pre-planning, a lot of attention to detail, and very tight plotting of the books themselves. All before the first book was ever written. The series is going to be great, but it’s definitely been a challenge and a lot of hard work.

With “Salmon Run” I have limited time for the planning. By going with an Open Series I can do the series planning efficiently, focusing on the main cast of characters, the main locations, the general themes, and then focus the detailed planning on the individual books. This means I can start writing the first book much faster.

That reason alone made me decide to go with an Open Series.

Now comes the question of what type of book to use to make up the Open Series. Fortunately the ideas themselves helped me with that decision.

From one brainstorming session alone I had 8 individual ideas written down. Each could be an idea for entire complete novella. While combining ideas to make one novel (or novella) can create a deeper and more complex novel, I had just too many to shove together. And the ideas kept coming. Which means even more books.

Creating a series that is highly accessible to readers is another goal. I want readers to feel comfortable starting on a particular book that has a description that entices them personally. If they like it, then they might look at the backlist to read more about the same town and characters.

Keeping those readers with high reader satisfaction is another goal. I want readers to keep coming back. That means each book being designed from the start with this goal.

For all the above reasons I’m veering away from the Serial Cliff-Hanger and instead moving towards Stand-Alone books to make up the series.

So, it’s official. For “Salmon Run” the decision is to go with Open Series Stand-Alone novellas.

Now the more complicated planning can begin.

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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Types of Books in a Series

We’ve gone over Closed, Open and Disjointed Series. For the most part, these describe a majority of the series out there. Note I didn’t say all. There are also some series that combine elements of the above. For our purposes, however, we’ll stick with the over-all definitions.

Within the main types of series listed above are the types of books that make up the series. Figuring out what type of book to use to create the series is just as important as figuring out the series type.

Stand-Alone

As it sounds. Within the series, each book stands alone with a defined beginning, middle, and end. The individual books will usually advance the characters or long plot arc forward in some small way even if the plot of the book might be tenuously tied to the longer and larger story arc.

While the end of the book will hint to the conflict to come in the next book, show a new development, or raise a new question, it does not end in a cliff-hanger.

Pros:

With a Stand-Alone book, the series is more accessible to readers, who can start at any point.

Accessibility will typically create a strong following quicker as the readers do not have to go back and find previous books in order for the current one to make sense.

Reader has the satisfaction of a good climax at the end of each book.

Pushes the author to create stories with defined beginnings, middles, and ends. (Why this push is a good thing could be a blog post all on its own)

Cons:

A reader can more easily jump ship at any book unless given a good reason to stick around.

Author runs the risk of having big story-arcs going on for too long, or ending too soon without a suitable equally important story arc taking its place to entice the reader to keep buying and reading.

Serial Cliff-Hanger

Each book ends with a cliff-hanger. The reader must wait until the next book to find the answers to the problem/questions left dangling at the end of the previous book. While there is usually some sort of climax to an event at the end of the book, it does not have to have a major climax. The object is to keep the readers coming back for more.

Pros:

Reader is enticed to wait for and buy the next book just to get an answer to the cliffhanger of the previous book.

The ends of books can be very dramatic with tension rising throughout the story.

Gives the next book a ready-made opening.

Cons:

For the beginning of the book to make sense the reader might have to read the previous book. This makes the entire series harder to start for the reader.

There are a lot of readers who don’t care for cliffhangers endings, as there is a greater chance of feeling ‘cheated’ that there is no end to the book. If readers feel alienated, they won’t come back.

It can feel like a sales gimmick.

If the writer is not careful to give some sort of ‘story satisfaction’, the reader can leave the entire series in disgust as nothing ever seems to be concluded.

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There are more pros and cons to each of the above, and some depend on the particular author and/or reader. A lot of the cons can be mitigated with good planning towards an eye of keeping the series and individual books vibrant, interesting, and addicting. If the author knows to be looking for the downfalls.

In the next post I will make the decision of which types would be best for Salmon Run.

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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Types of Series: Disjointed Series

Continuing the study of the different types of series so I can decide which one my new series falls into…

This post is about Disjointed Series.

Disjointed? Yep, but that doesn’t mean the book don’t make any sense. Instead, it refers to the lack of cohesion between each of the books of the series.

For instance, one book might take place on one side of the galaxy. The type of galaxy government might be the same, but the adventure, characters, and story taking place will be completely different from another adventure, characters, and story taking place on the other side of the galaxy.

In this type of series, there will usually be a few small things that tie the series together, that MAKE it a series. There will be some common ground, no matter how tenuous. This can be a specific world, continent, city, solar system, galaxy, universe, government, society, or whatever. But, after that, the stories usually don’t have a great deal to do with each other.

Each book stands by itself, telling a whole story. This is not a type of series that works well with cliff-hangers or multiple book storylines, unless combined with another series/book type.

Pros:

The beginning planning for the series is usually limited to worldbuilding the environment, but not including any big plot points. As each book is a stand-alone, the big plot points are saved for the specific book planning. This can save time in the pre-planning.

Spontaneous ideas work well in this type of series.

The author has a lot of flexibility in the type of books they write, including style, characters, theme and general plots.

Stories are not tied down to strict ‘world rules’.

It would be easier for other authors to play in your ‘playground’, if the time comes. They can write stories without impacting anything you have done as long as they follow a few base ground-rules from the Series Bible.

Easy for new readers to jump into the series.

Since the plots are insular to the individual books, it is easy to stop and start the series at any time.

Cons:

If the readers become attached to characters, well, that’s too bad. Typically the characters aren’t going to show up again. The next story will be completely new.

It can be harder to build an audience since the reader can’t be sure they will like the next book as it will likely be different from the one they read and liked.

The author runs the risk of not creating a strong enough tie between the stories to find, gain and maintain a constant readership. This can be mitigated by good planning.

The books run the risk of not feeling like a series to the readers, which means many of the perks of writing a series are lost.

Branding such a series can present difficulties because of the lack of cohesion in the stories told within it.

_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Types of Series: Open Series

Continuing the study of the different types of series so I can decide which one my new series falls into…

This post is about Open Series.

Open Series are defined as a type of series that can go on forever. Characters, location and/or long plot arcs will tie some, but not all, books together. For instance, Main Plot 1 might run through books 1-3. Main Plot 2 might appear in book 2 and run through book 6.

Each book in an Open Series will tend to be a stand-alone, complete within itself. Most questions raised during the course of the book will be solved. But, not necessarily all of the questions, for instance the main plots that run through multiple books before they are answered.

While there may be a common theme, characters, society, or locations that run through the series, helping to tie it together, there usually isn’t a main plot problem running through all of the books at equal strength. The Open Series allows an author to explore individual stories under a common idea umbrella.

Examples: Stephanie Plum by Janet EvanovichTypes of Series: Open Series, Nancy DrewTypes of Series: Open Series, The Hardy BoysTypes of Series: Open Series, Cat Who Series by Lilian Jackson BraunTypes of Series: Open Series, Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy AthertonTypes of Series: Open Series, Dragonriders of Pern Series by Anne MacCaffreyTypes of Series: Open Series.

Pros:

The series is more accessible to readers, who can jump in at any time.

The series can continue as long as the author wishes, and can usually be discontinued at any point.

Less initial planning for the series is usually required, as the books do not build to one last big climax.

Readers who like the series know they can come back time and again for more books with the same characters, which feel like ‘coming home.’

With each book, which are essentially stand-alones, the reader has a better chance of leaving the story feeling satisfied.

If the series hits really bit, the author can have guest or ghost writers help write the series with the help of a series bible. (think Star Trek or Star Wars)

Cons:

A reader can more easily jump ship at any book. This puts the pressure on the author to have each book standing bright and glorious on its own.

The character development usually advance much more slowly, but for some this might be a pro.

The series takes the chance of becoming old and stale before the author or publisher finally ends it.

Because the initial over-all planning is not as critical for an Open Series, organizing the series bible is a priority, or the author takes the chance of forgetting the simple things that tie the books together. This can mean subplots lost and left dangling or forgotten, or character/location descriptions and placements lost.
_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Types of Series: The Closed Series

Time to study the types of series and decide which one my new series of “Salmon Run” falls into. I need to figure this out before moving forward, as my decision will directly impact the rest of the planning.

This post is about Closed Series.

This is a series with a defined beginning, middle, and end, spaced out among several books. The first book will introduce the main characters including the protagonist and antagonist as well as the central premise of the entire series. The middle book/s will heighten the tension while developing the plot and characters. Then will come the big climax book where the big questions asked during the course of the series will be answered and all the loose ends tied up.

Usually there will be a big plot arc that will span the entire series, which will be concluded at the end of the last book. In the individual books smaller plot lines will help move the story, characters and situation closer and closer to the grand climax. Often there is an epilogue at the end of the last book which will include an update on where the major characters end up.

The Closed Series is a very popular form for trilogies.

Examples of Closed Series: The Tripod Series by John ChristopherTypes of Series: The Closed Series
, Harry Potter by J.K. RowlingTypes of Series: The Closed Series, Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)Types of Series: The Closed Series, The Mars series by Kim Stanley RobinsonTypes of Series: The Closed Series.

Pro:

For the writer, the ending is in sight right from the start. This gives the writer a goal while writing the individual books.

The readers know all the books are leading to something spectacular.

Better chance of each book dramatically moving forward the main plot-arc, as well as ensure the reader is going to see good active character/plot development.

The writer knows the end of the series will eventually come and they can then leave it to go write other books and series.

Cons:

Takes a lot of planning to do right, as one must know the end before starting the series so that all the books can aim toward the dramatic conclusion.

If not planned right, the ending can fizzle over reader expectations, which were built up through all the books.

For an impatient type of reader, they may not read your series until all of the individual books are finished, and then buy them all at once (if they remember the author at that point).

For the story to be told properly, the entire series must be finished. If traditionally published this can cause a huge problem if the author is caught in the 3-Book Death Spiral.

The author must be willing to invest the time and energy in the long-run before other big projects can be written (depends on how prolific they are).

If sales aren’t good and the series is dropped by either the author or publishing house then you are going to alienate what readers you do have for not finishing what you started.

If the series is too long there is the chance of losing interest, or even dying, before the series is complete (Wheel of TimeTypes of Series: The Closed Series).
_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.