How do you plan a series of books?

So my issue is kind of simple and kind of not at the same time. I am working on what is going to be a trilogy, and I know that on WP, there isn’t a single book series that kept its reads steady from the first installment to the last one. I imagine it’s like that for any kind of book, actually, not just on WP. I mean, people will start it, realize it’s not for them, or never know that there’s more that comes after, forget to read the sequels, die…

What I’d like to figure out, is how do I make the best of it? How do I make sure that the readers who are currently hooked will go and read the second book, and then the third one?

If we take examples of series that have been working pretty well, there is the Walking Dead, where basically nothing seems to have happened for the last three seasons, but still manages to get their viewers every week (don’t @ me about this, people, you know I’m kinda right).

So I figured cliffhangers might do the trick. I’ll quickly (time is relative) summarize the three books, to explain how they end, hoping it’ll help understand. I’ll note that I’m halfway through book one, so if things need to change, it’s still possible.

So, it’s a love story, which follows the point of view of a nerdy, Mexican-American, programmer, who’s not so confident about herself in the romance department, but still has some sass and doesn’t let people walk over her.

Book one

Andy starts a new job, meets new people. She’s got a “friend” crush on one of her coworkers, Oli, who’s smitten by her. She wants to try to make things work because he’s quite perfect for her. However, she has very strong and conflicting feelings about her new boss, Lex, which tarnishes her relationship with her colleague. The fact that she’s very good at her job doesn’t help, and she doesn’t want to ruin her career by becoming that chick who nailed the boss to succeed.

She ends up having an on and off thing with Lex, which she desperately tries to keep physical, refusing for feelings to get into the mix. Lex is pretty persuasive, though, and by the end of the book she ends up admitting that there is more going on there. But then, Lex messes up, and exposes on purpose their ongoing thing to sweet Oli, Andy’s enamored colleague she didn’t want to hurt.

It all ends pretty badly, with Andy breaking things up with Lex for his unacceptable attitude, Oli is shocked and hurt, Andy is devastated… Everyone is heartbroken. So. Much. Drama

Book two

We start off a bit after where we left, Andy is still pissed at Lex, Oli is still not over it, and things aren’t going well for anyone. Blah blah blah, time passes, Lex slowly manages to get Andy back, and even though Oli remains hurt, they attempt to get back to where they were.

This book is about the couple learning to know each other, to overcome their issues, like Andy who’s got to gain some confidence… There is some drama, some sweet moments, a trip to Korea, meeting family… the whole thing.

They are reaching a point where everything is going well, their thing works, despite their differences. They confess their love to each other and all, it’s cute, it’s hot, it’s love…

HOWEVER, Lex gets arrested, for misdeeds he’s done in in the past. The man turns out to be a famous hacker (which has been hinted throughout the two books). Andy’s devastated (once more), and upon understanding that he could spend years in jail, she decides that she can’t let the love of her life go away for so long.

Book three

This book is darker than the other two, as Andy tries to come up with a way to get Lex out of trouble. She reals in her friends and colleagues (who are a bunch of nerdy programmers) and they plan some sort of cyber heist.It gives her the occasion to become friends again with Oliver, who can now see her love for Lex is stronger than anything else cheeeeesy. Andy’s idea to save her boyfriend is to completely erase all traces of Lex’s alter ego that’s on the web, as well as what the prosecution might have.

It takes a while, but by a third of the book, Lex is freed. However, he comes back with demons, and Andy tries to soothe him the best she can. Lex’s crimes involved a few very powerful people, to which he’d stollen embezzled money to distribute around. Now that his real identity has been made public, he fears that his life is in danger, but more importantly Andy’s.

She won’t obey, tho, and she sticks by his side. She’s his ride or die. There is an attempt against Lex’s life, and after some recovery, they decide to strike back. Thanks to their combined skills, they manage to expose the man who tried to have Lex killed, by releasing sensitive information and the fact that he had the most illegal and forbidden sexual fantasies.

The man is arrested and is later found hanged in his cell. Although the cause of his death is never known, the problem is solved. The trilogy ends with our couple settling anonymously somewhere, free of worries. (I’m not there yet, but maybe some identity change and/or a new country.)

So, first off, I hope my cliffhangers work, I mean, I’d keep reading if I were hooked, but I’m biased, so my opinion isn’t worth a peanut. What I’d like to know is if there are some other ways to ensure a smooth passage from one book to another. I will, of course, announce the following book in the previous one, but I’m not sure it’s enough.

  • Should I post the sequels right after the previous ones? Should I wait a few months for the other books to pick up more? While it’s good to wait to have more readers, I’m afraid some might get bored of waiting.

  • Should I do all this in the same book? (Although the 200 chapters limit would become an issue.)

  • Should it be divided into only two books?

  • Should the cliffhangers be reworked?

  • What strategies did successful series use? Like 50 shades, Twilight, The Hunger Games… (I know I have a terrible book culture, sorry)

  • Should I stop asking questions yet?

There, I think I’ve covered my issue :thinking:

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I’m going to answer this question in-depth when I get on my computer, but I’ll say one thing:

It is not possible to keep the reads steady because Wattpad readers can be lazy about reading announcements. A lot of them won’t even know it’s a series and will stop at whatever book they wandered into first.

My readers pushing other readers to read the whole series in the comment section has done more for me than anything.

I’ll come to answer the other question soon. Cheers.

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I feel like it’s mainly about consistently. People probably won’t wait around for a sequel if it’s going to take a year before updates start coming. By that time, the book has been long forgotten.

There’s nothing wrong with waiting a few months. I actually think that would help hype people up. But if you’re reaching six months, then you’ll probably have lost those readers because that’s a long time. I would have forgotten by then unless people archive it. An update would effectively remind them.

In my personal opinion, I find that to be messy and no point. Why make a sequel if it’ll be posted in the same book? Then it’s not really a sequel but one book that may have a large time skip. I’ve seen books like that and while I continue, I don’t really see why it’s called a sequel when it’s just one book. If that makes sense.

That depends on what they are. If you read it and don’t find that it grabs you or that it doesn’t seem like a cliffhanger, then maybe they should be reworked.

But at the end of the day, do what you think is right. This is your story and if you have a specific way you want it to be told, don’t think about the reads so much. Exposure can be important, but not if it’s sucking the creativity and fun out of writing.

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Thank you!

I get that readers will be readers, and that no matter what I do it won’t be as good as what I would want.

I’m not expecting to have an equivalent read count on all three books, but I’d like to know what can be the best strategy to make the most of a complicated situation.

Hello, I’m Saint, and this is my current series. I’ve been working on it for the past 3-4 years, and they have done well (at least I hope) on wattpad.

I’m going to share what I’ve learned serializing on wattpad and other sites, and what strategies have helped me keep readers even after 3 years.

I’ll split what I’m saying in bits so that I don’t bore you all, lol.

HELLO

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I was thinking more of 2-4 months. I know some of my readers are already planning to reread the whole thing when it’s done, so maybe at the end of book one, if I give a precise timeline, it could help?

Me too. And all three books are thought to have independent themes, while still being with the same characters, so I’d very much prefer keeping it in 3 books.

I have summarized all three books up there, to give a good idea of what the cliffhangers were. I’d say it’s going to be gut wrenching on the readers. I’ll pull out all the emotions and the drama.

That sounds like some solid advice that I’ll definitely try to keep in mind!

Thanks! :heart:

Bring on all that teachin’, Saint. Lay it all on me. I’m ready.

The one story I’m reading that follows a life of a young lady and her circle of friends, is posted in the same entry, but divided into three books. A lot of the readers stay for the whole ride & her read count growth is steady. She only needs to promote one book too, which is great if you don’t have much time

I split out my sequel, because at some point I hoped that having a different main character/stand-alone entry was going to be its selling point, and only the fact that Wattpad doesn’t allow me to merge books stops me from tacking it at the end of book 1 nowadays after it had failed.

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Make It Have Stand Alone Potential

Why?

Wattpad currently has no way of pushing readers towards a series. Lots of readers add your book to their library because they liked the cover and never engage with you personally. Their eyes skip A/N and they’re quick to jump any book part that is not a chapter. We could get upset at that, or we can just take it for what it is. Sigh.

If your books have standalone potential, readers can come in from other books. They won’t be immediately confused, and it’s more friendly for them overall. I’ve had a lot of readers start the series from books 2, 3, 4 and 5 who then started reading backward. Also being able to tell readers ‘you can read what book interests you first’ help people who are skeptical about starting and continuing series.

Also, we might not want to admit it, but we’re never sure if our series will take off. If your books are self-contained you can stop the series wherever you want.

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I hink so too, as long as you stick to it XD. Many times authors say they’ll have something out then don’t. Me, as an example.

That’s definitely a good idea, especially if the directions change!

I feel like you’re pretty solid on how to continue with your story. It also sounds like you’ve got some really loyal readers who are in it for the long run. I think your sequels will make it and flourish :slight_smile:

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Would you say that this means it’s more of a spin-off? Or for your books, does it still keep the same main characters and whatnot?

I’m not usually a big fan of spin-offs, I’m not 100% sure why. So, sometimes when authors say they have a sequel, it turns up being a spin-off instead either A. not mentioning the character(s) from the last book or B. it’s basically the same story but it’s their kids now.

Does my question make sense? I feel like it doesn’t…

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It made sense to me!

They truly are the best, I swear, they are making all those hours of hair pulling worth it x)

I think I’ve figured a way to make the transition somewhat smooth. As I’ll reach the end of the first book, I’ll put reminders that we are reaching the end, but that there’s a book 2 that’ll come. I’ll do it maybe for the 3-5 last chapters. I will also make that book two, with a single chapter that’ll state that the updates will start on [insert date].

I’ll remind the readers to add that second book to their library, so that they get notified when it’s on. I think when I eventually update it, I will also make one extra chapter in the 1st book, to notify everyone who still has it on their reading list that the sequel is available.

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On Marketing

  • Similarly.

The similarity across your book series will tell readers that it is a series. There are many ways to do this, but the most common are:

1.) Covers: It is important to keep a similar aesthetic across covers. I didn’t do this until I started writing book three. I immediately notice that the ‘is this a series’ questions reduced, and I’ve made sure to keep their covers consistent since then.

2.) Titles: The titles have to be similar if you want to serialize on wattpad. Off wattpad, it doesn’t matter too much, but that’s a sign for readers here.

For instance, I have a new series (Lycanthrope) and the books are Siberian Wolf, Urban Wolf, Coyote Wolf. I don’t think I’ll have to tell readers that is this a series.

  • What To Do After One Book Finishes? Wait, Don’t Wait?

Ans: None of the above.

What do you mean by this?

It’s simple. You SHOULD post the book close to/after the book before it is finished BUT it doesn’t have to be an actual chapter. I post a teaser and a cover and use that week, month (or however long you wish to wait) beofre to encourage people to add the book to their libraries. This way even if they forget that book one exists months down the line—your book is in their library.

It is good to have a hype period so don’t post the book right away either. Market that shit on social media, grab library adds, do a cover and title reveal if you want etc.

  • Having a center for your books.

Am I telling you to get a website? Err… Yes, and no.

You don’t have to have this just yet. If your series (or other books) blew up (good for you!) it is in your best intrest to have a central for it them. It could be a very neat facebook page, instagram page, or twitter account. It could also be a website.

I opted for a website for mutliple reasons. My books became well read on not just wattpad, but on other sites, and I needed a pooling center were all my readers could grab the info they needed.

I got my webiste ( https://saintcaliendo.com/books/ ) in October, and it has close to 800 views now. That tells me people are using it as intended. I’m glad.

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Something like that. What links why characters is the timeline and the kind of zone from character to character and their personal stories. Book 2 doesn’t have book 1 characters as the MCs, but book 1 characters still exist in the world and show up sometimes etc.

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Yes! A good idea.

The number of people who don’t READ anything that is not the story is frustrating though. :joy: You won’t grab everyone, but close enough.

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I’ll answer all of your great input at random, when I get the time.

I have all my covers ready! Haha. They are from the same photo séries, so they absolutely match! :joy:

I have my titles ready too haha
Book 1 Between the Lines
Book 2 Below the Lines
Book 3 Beyond the Lines

The whole thing being the Lines series.

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I’ve written a few connected short stories. Each story is one part and they have an open ending to leave room for sequel. There’s even a two parter!

I feel like this is true for series that are stand alones. I mean, by the end of my book, people will either know there has to be a sequel, or they will most definitely demand one. For a series where you use the same universe or circle, to explore several different stories it might, indeed, not be that obvious.

So you did go with a stand alone series, but are having a hard time getting readers on the other books? What kind of methods did you use to try to get the readers to jump to one book to another?

I do get the point and have seen some series that did work with that idea, where readers can start at any given book, even the books being written in random order, instead of chronological. My story, however, doesn’t have that. The trilogy is its entire story. I have thought of making stand alone novellas, focussing on other characters from the trilogy. It’ll depend on my motivation, and how the whole thing is received. I think those could bring new readers to the main trilogy.

This sounds like an awesome marketing idea. I’ll have to wait a little more to see if the book become a hit, as I don’t want to set all this up if it never picks up, it would be way too presumptuous in my opinion x’)

So, it is all in the same book on WP, right?

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I would suggest posting the sequels as soon as they are written because even avid readers forget to come back to a story line that they love as they find other things.
I would also suggest breaking it into multiple books. Super long stories seem like a daunting time investment to me, especially if the story loses its way 1/2 through but I’m already invested to see how it ends. It is OK to leave threads from your series to pull readers into the next one, but each book must have a story arc that answers its main question or a reader will feel ripped off.
Series writing takes a lot of planning. Good luck and have fun.

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That’s one of my issues. When I’m done with this one, It’ll be around 180k long. I’ll need a break to gather my thoughts and recharge. I want to post the sequel as soon as possible, but I would also like to have a bunch of chapters ready to go, to be sure to have steady updates, regardless of what life may throw at me. That’s why I was thinking of having 2-4 months in between.

That’s what I have planned, so this reassures me. Each book will have their own arcs, but at the very end they will trigger the next book’s course.