Continuing my series of posts here, I’m talking about top secret code words used by me as a writer. Some may be used by other writers, too, in which case I picked them up from elsewhere. Some are the terms I am using for my own creative process. And I figured, if they’re worth me churning in my brain, they might be worth sharing online with other indie writers as well.
Today’s top secret word is for a concept I’ve gotten elsewhere, but I don’t think they call it what I call it: SEQUENCING.
The idea is that you have better luck selling a series than a standalone book, and even better if that whole series—or at least a trilogy worth or two or three at a time—come out all at once. Or at least in short order, say, each a month apart.
Much like your favorite Netflix or on-demand series, readers these days are impatient. They want to get the whole thing NOW. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) So the idea is, if you have 3, 4, 5, 6, or more books all ready and out there RIGHT NOW, you could have a runaway hit on your hands! If they read the first and say, “Yup, I’m in,” you might have just sold a whole series all in one blow. Something like that builds speed quickly, too, spreading by algorithms and by word of mouth.
However, posting just one book and promising it’s the first of a long series, and then not getting that next book out for a few years (like I just did—or am doing, I guess, since Deus Ex Machina isn’t out quite yet) is generally not helpful to gaining a readership.
Therefore, SEQUENCING is a good idea. That is, launching books in a sequence, right?
The trouble with this is, if you’re a working stiff like me, who has to have at least one (if not two or more) day jobs in order to support the family, it’s hard to do that! Writing just one book takes time, much more time than we would like. So finishing that arduous journey and then just sitting on it until you can do it all again (which takes a long time again) requires a mighty portion of patience and will power.
And that leads to my next codeword: RAIN CHECK. The relativity of this word seems obvious, but it is also derived from the codewords STORMWATCH and WEATHERSTATION. These both refer to my scheduling and tracking spreadsheets. “Stormwatch” was an older version, “Weatherstation” is the newer one.
RAIN CHECK is scheduling a sequence of books or stories for the future. It has two parts:
(1) Having the will to schedule things in a sequence and fighting to urge to publish as soon as a book or story is ready to go.
(2) Staying focused enough on one series or universe to make that happen.
The word RAIN CHECK is a reminder to me to stay focused and follow through with the plan to SEQUENCE.
And these concepts have been proven by many an indie author more successful than myself. Writing and waiting is well worth it.
After all, if your first book gets everyone all excited, but there’s no more for those excited readers to move on to… They move on to someone else. And by the time your next book does come out, they may have forgotten all about you.
And that sucks.
For me, in my most immediate future , the plan for sequencing is to finish up everything on Deus Ex Machina (Identity Crisis series: Book 2, thus the sequel to Hungry Gods) and to pair it up with The Golden Age (Secret Origins series: Book 3). (Working title, still needs to be written!) Both of these series take place in my Identity Crisis Universe, a genre-bending realm of superheroes, sci-fi, humor, and gritty mystery.
As I posted recently, I have finished the first draft of Deus Ex Machina. So, step one complete!
Now I have to write The Golden Age—planning to keep that one to about 30,000 words or so, what I consider a short novel. Then go over both works again to make their 2nd drafts. Then send them to my copy editor for a once over to get my 3rd (final) drafts. Then I just need to cover them (both in progress now), format them, and get them out there!
Right now I’m shooting for November-ish as a publishing date, give or take. Still working out the details, and it depends on how long everything takes to get done. I want to allow some time to promote and offer deals on previous books in both series, thus building some awareness and excitement again for both series.
We’ll see what happens after that. Do these superhero books take off into the stratosphere? Or do they trip over their capes and fall flat on their faces? Those results would help determine my next sequence of books: more of the same, or hop to another genre.
Those considerations will also involve more codewords, like RAIN CHECK and DONUT HOLE. (Stay tuned for those posts in the near future…)