Frequently I’m asked, “How do you write a novel series?” and I’m left to flounder for words. You see, I know what they really want. They don’t want to know just how to write a series. Any fool can do that, and a lot of them try. There is no sense in writing a series that fails. If your sales don’t stay even or grow, your publisher will most likely terminate your contract. No, what the writer really wants to know is “How do you write a bestselling series, one that grows and garners fans and helps the author launch a career?”
That’s a tricky question. There are so many pitfalls and loopholes, so much to know about writing and about the industry as a whole that I can’t just explain it all in a short single writing tip. So I’m going to have to explain my own journey.
Let me start by explaining a couple of things. I’m currently finishing up the ninth, and last, book in my New York Times bestselling fantasy series, The Runelords. I’m hoping that the final book will be a big success, as do all authors, and so I’ve been thinking deeply about how to end this series with the grace and finesse that it deserves. Now, the Runelords series has been a pretty decent success by any standard. The first book in the series has sold more than a million copies. It has been published in the US, UK, Japan, China, Taiwan, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, and a few places that I forget. It has been optioned for film several times, and we nearly got a movie made some fifteen years ago. So it has been a long climb, a long adventure.
But this isn’t the only successful series that I’ve been involved with. Most of you know that I’ve trained a number of authors who went on to become #1 New York Times Bestsellers—people like James Dashner (Mazerunner), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). I can’t take any credit for their hard work, but in each of these cases I did talk to the author about how to write a bestselling series.
Beyond these, over the years I’ve worked on my own bestselling Golden Queen series, written for Star Wars, and the Mummy, and even played a minor role in helping to discover launch J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series in the United States.
So I’m going to talk about how to write a series, how to launch it, and how to promote it—at length. I’ve never seen a bestselling writer talk about some of the things that I’m going to tell you. I’m going to get very personal and talk about my own experiences in a way that I haven’t ever done before. If you’re a writer and hope to learn the ropes, pay attention! With each of these coming essays, I’m going to italicize the key points that I want you to learn, but if you read closely enough, you’ll find treasures of knowledge strewn here and there that will help you personally.
Also, our online workshops are back up! You can sign up for any of them here.
And finally, my writing tip book, NaNoWriMo Inspirations will be up free tomorrow (4/20) through Sunday (4/24), for anyone who wants to get ready for Camp NaNoWriMo or just wants some extra writing tips. You can get it right on my Amazon author page.