Friday, 1 March 2013


Perhaps I’d better explain before any SWAT teams or FBI agents break down my door. This is not an incitement to violence of any kind. No, I’ve not been watching too many gory horror movies but if you are a struggling writer who wants to become successful there is one thing you should very seriously consider doing. Create your own series of books.

Let’s be honest writers write because they love writing but that’s not the sole motivation for everyone. Shakespeare and Dickens wrote to make a living and did it very successfully! The majority of us dream of being as successful as J.K.Rowling or Amanda Hocking whatever we might say to the contrary. One thing these writers had in common was they were all pretty good at story telling and they weren’t bad wordsmiths either! I don’t know how you compare but I do know that creating a series and building a brand is almost essential for ongoing success.

When I was a boy the Just William books by Richmal Crompton were my favourites. On every cover there was a picture of a scruffy boy with a striped hat. He was instantly recognisable. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series were hugely successful. They were constructed around:

  • Distinctive and engaging characters who appeared in each book.
  • Story lines within the same genre.
  • Story lines that were often progressive or developed a recurring  theme.
  • Easily identifiable cover images.
Fast forward and we see these same elements within series like Harry Potter and Lemony Snickett. In both cases the authors have built an easily recognisable and memorable brand. Readers who enjoyed these books would immediately want to read more and this affords authors another opportunity. It is now possible to create links within your eBooks directly back to your authors website where you can create an interest in the next book or refer readers to the complete series. Alternatively why not include a chapter from your next book at the end.

“Hold on!” you cry, “I haven’t finished my first book yet!”

Not a problem. Having decided to embark upon writing a series of books your brain will subconsciously begin to identify:
·        Possible future story lines.

·        Characters and their potential for development.

Rather than a hindrance the decision to write a series can provide creative motivation.
I have to mention the possible downside of course.

The authors already referred to happen to be very good authors. The danger is if your first book sucks then the concept of a series becomes counter productive. But isn’t that the risk we all take when we put our work out there? I don’t know if anyone will consider ‘Billy and The Pit ofShadows’ worth reading but it won’t stop me writing it. Even if it doesn’t sell one copy I will have enjoyed the experience tremendously and feel a great sense of satisfaction at having completed it.

The other thing that might be considered a downside is the cost of creating a cover for your book. It is absolutely vital you have a compelling and striking cover. Many people purchase a book because they are attracted by the cover alone. It is also important you find someone right for your book. This is a process I am currently engaged in. Elance provides a list of artists and graphic designers who display a showcase of their work. It is worth taking a good look until you find someone you feel can create the image that reflects your work. A Google search will also throw up a list of graphic designers and artists.

I hope I have encouraged you to get cracking on your killer series.
* * *
We were hoping to launch ETO our new fiction anthology for Welsh writers today on St David’s Day, March 1st. Unfortunately we underestimated the amount of work involved and will now launch in mid March.
The good news is it should be well worth waiting for.


  1. Early in my writing career, I was advised strongly by agents and publishers not to write a series and to avoid writing in a lyrical fashion. I'm so glad that I chose to disregard the advice.

  2. And look where you are now Eiry.

  3. Full agreement here. Turning my first book into a series has made that book better, and the cover artist I found did an amazing job.

  4. My choice of illustrator for both books and apps is a true collaborator also, Brian. We discuss everything in detail which results in a full understanding of how the characters and images are depicted.