Monday, May 8, 2023

Tips for Writing and Promoting Series

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Writing a series can be a very rewarding endeavor. Often, it’s easier to write about established settings with developed characters. A series can be just as rewarding for readers, too. Readers get the opportunity to take a deep dive in our story world with characters that grow over the course of the series.


Here are a few tips for writing series:

Decide what type of series you’ll be writing. Some series are a collection of books with no continuing story arc (the storyline is wrapped up at the end of each book). Some series have a continuing storyline that’s wrapped up at the end of the series.

Consider series pacing. If you’re working on a continuing storyline, you’ll want to make sure the story doesn’t fizzle out in the middle of the series. The whole point is to keep readers reading from book one to the end.

Keep a series bible. If you track minutiae about your characters, settings, and plot points in a separate document, you’ll be able to keep your story world and characters consistent.

Explore outlining. It’s important to know where your series is going with a continuing storyline. Even a few sentences with a plan for each book will help you with pacing the plot and character development.

Be careful with cliffhangers. One thing most readers will agree on is that books ending with cliffhangers can be frustrating. It’s better to wrap up at least something at the end of a book, even a subplot, just to provide a sense of fulfillment. If you’re rapid-releasing the series, this won’t be as much of a consideration.

Once you’ve got a few books in your series, it’s time to do some promo. Here are tips for promoting a series:

Focus on book one. The first book in your series is the one to advertise, promote, and hook readers with. You’ll want to make sure it’s the best representative of the series in terms of cover design, plot, and character development.

Consider using book one as a reader magnet for newsletter signups. By using a service like BookFunnel or Prolific Works, you can exchange a free book for a subscriber to your newsletter. Then send a newsletter whenever you have a new release in your series.

Look into book promotion sites for book one. These are sites that will promote your book to their email list for a fee. Author David Gaughran rates the best book promo sites each year.

Consider Facebook or Amazon ads for book one in the series. Ads can be expensive, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you explore advertising. Reedsy offers free courses for both Facebook advertising for writers and Amazon ads.

With a little planning and promo, you’ll have a successful series for readers to enjoy. Do you write in series? What tips can you add?


Elizabeth is a bestselling cozy mystery author of four series.  Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers: http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/ .  She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two. Book #22 in her Myrtle Clover series, Murder at a Yard Sale, releases May 16.

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never liked books that end on a cliffhanger.
Thanks for sharing today, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks so much for hosting me on the IWSG today!

Alex--Cliffhangers are the worst!

Margot Kinberg said...

These are all such great ideas, Elizabeth! I especially like the planning element. I think it's helpful to have in mind what sort of series you'll have and how that series will work. The rest is a matter of following through with that plan.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips, Elizabeth. I bookmarked this so I can read it later if I ever sell a book, which would be a series for sure.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Thank you for the useful tips. I've followed you for a long time and you still keep your articles current as well as informative. Love learning new things.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great tips! I learned about series bibles from you a few years back and having one for each series has saved my hours and hours of work!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I couldn't have said it better!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm glad you said that about cliffhangers. I also hate them and don't use them.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Margot--Planning can make all the difference!

Natalie--Series are great to write!

Teresa--Thanks for the kind words and for coming by!

Jemi--A series bible is so valuable! Otherwise, we have to read through our old books with a highlighter.

Diane--Thanks, ha!

Elizabeth--They're just so frustrating for readers. Otherwise, we're really tempting fate with bad reviews.

Rajani Rehana said...

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J. R. Tomlin said...

"Keep a series bible. If you track minutiae about your characters, settings, and plot points in a separate document, you’ll be able to keep your story world and characters consistent." Excellent advice that I have never managed to take. After *counts on fingers* five series, I still have never managed to do a series bible which means I waste time going back to check what I did in the last novel. Do as I say, not as I do. ๐Ÿ˜œ

Cliffhangers are tricky. I have never felt I did them, but since by necessity, since my series are always part of a long story arc, there are a lot of loose ends, sometimes more ends are loose than tied up. I try to end on something that ties *something* up or is at least a major turning point in the plot. But it is the nature of the beast that there is be elements of a cliffhanger unless your series is made up of totally separate stories. It is rare that I get complaints from readers, but it does happen.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

J.R.,

I think it's easy, when we're writing books, to not want to stop and record those little bits of minutiae. :)

You're smart to give the readers a plot line that *is* tying up at the end of a book. As long as some progress is made, I think it helps.