Is Series Writing for You? Part 1

       How big is your book idea? In fiction, it might cover generations as in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War and Plantagenet and Tudor Series, or growth of the main character which occurs in Nancy Drew mysteries. Have your pick of nonfiction topics that can blossom into a series from a single topic; series such as The Magic School Bus and the Body Works series; My Messy Body, My Noisy Body, etc.

        If you're like me you might start small, believing your idea will be covered in one standalone book. That's good, as we know your book needs to be submitted as a standalone. My desire to expand my book idea into a series (I am currently working on Book 2 while Book 1 continues to be primped and prodded) developed in ways I have since found to be common.

Why Turn a Perfectly Good Book into a Series?

        That's easy. You've got to:
  • Fall in love with your characters, especially the main ones, who have so much more life to live that you can't possibly stop now.
  • Write in a genre that lends itself to series, such as mystery, ghost stories, romance, westerns, historical novels, fantasy and sci fi.
  • Believe that series sell well and publishers like to buy multiple books because series attract readers.
  • Know that the groundwork in the first book will work again, and again, and again.

       Authors who write series promise readers that the fun doesn't have to end, that there's more excitement to come, more adventure and world's to explore, more of these lives to be lived.
                                        Karen S. Wiesner, Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas

  • Weisner quotes author Thomas Helm: Author and reader dread the end, which is the test of a good novel. Why not expand it into a series?
  • Love reading series, from childhood on. If like me you love reading series books, then you thrive on the familiar feelings series provoke.
  • Enjoy the setting of your story and look forward to expanding on it so your characters can explore worlds, far and wide.    
      The list is never-ending. If you're already writing a series or are contemplating writing one, then your heart of hearts already knows why you want to make your book into a series. For me, this desire developed. In the beginning, going from writing short stories to writing my book was more of an undertaking then I ever could have imagined. One of my biggest challenges was keeping track of the story! What was happening where and to whom! In a nutshell, structure is what saved me. For one way to build story structure, go to March 28, 2013 for a post on "The Tent Pole Structure":

What? Turn my Masterpiece into a Series? Not!

        Before delving into the mechanics of series writing, which will be discussed in future posts, let's take a look at some of the ways to avoid the pitfalls, for there are many. You will find a way to make the pieces fit together. A way that works for you.  
     It's a good idea to:

  • Make an overall outline that shows how each novel relates to the others.
  • Have an overall plot plan as well as a plan for each novel.
  • Be organized. Know where your series will end. Plot a timeline to keep track of events.
  • Choose a central conflict or premise for your series that "is the main tension or unknown that needs to be solved."

               In . . . Harry Potter, the central conflict is the protagonist's unfinished business with the villain, Lord Voldemort. In Tolkien's Lord of the rings Trilogy, the central conflict is between the world-dominion-seeing antagonist Sauron and the elves and hobbits who desire peace and freedom from tyranny."

  • Keep track of the details and connecting threads among the novels in order to maintain continuity.
  • Plan for the passage of time and how your characters will age.

        You might wonder What am I getting myself into? I have, many times. But to help me decide what to do, I did a simple Google and Amazon search and found terrific information from the wonderful authors who have shared what they've learned. Once I nail down my research, I will share the resources I have found in the next few months as I continue to explore this topic.

Next month: Tips on How to Write a Series

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 8-12 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Stake Your Claim

From time to time, we all need encouragement and recognition of our accomplishments. It gives us that extra boost to believe we are good writers and we have something to offer.

But, not all writers necessarily have that kind of support. We want people to be happy for us; our family or friends. You might not get the reactions you were hoping for.

Christina Katz, author of the best seller Writer Mama, says in her recently published e-book, Write For Regional Parenting Publications: 

"There is really one key person who should be happy about your writing career success and that person is you.”

There comes a time in your writing career when you have to come to terms with this truth so you don't slow down or give up. Decide to be happy with your successes even if no one else is.

Over the years, I have found times when I had to set a stake in the ground of something I knew to be true - never to waver again. And being personally happy about my success has been one of those stakes. 

This is going to look differently for each of us. But the one place where we all start, is believing you have something to offer. It means your passion should not be tampered with. Tweaked, yes. But if we find that fire being quenched because no one seems to encourage you or appreciate your successes, you will become discouraged and perhaps give up.

It took me awhile to grasp believing in myself. It seemed like arrogance, but it's not. It's simply knowing what you can do well and doing it. Once that is established, you are tied to this truth and will be firmly established.

Stake your claim to you. There are no disqualifications! If you are writing, it's because you love to write. Inside of you there is something people want to read.  
Repost from March 27, 2013 
Photo credit:  cobaltfish / Foter / CC BY-SA

Kathy is a K - 12 substitute teacher and enjoys writing for magazines. Recently, her story, "One of a Kind", was published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances is the title of a well-loved television sitcom featuring that determined social climber Hyacinth Bucket--"pronounced Bouquet"--and her long-suffering family.

But keeping up appearances is something we must all learn to do as writers, too, no matter how annoying it is to spend time away from our first love--the writing.

When you dedicate yourself to the writing life, how often do you consider how much else is involved?  So much that it may well distract us from writing altogether.

There’s all the social media, the website, the blog, the building of reader goes on and on. So much so that it can erode the joy of your own writing creativity.
Thanks to Geralt at Pixabay

Sara Humphreys on Buzzfeed at the weekend posted a heartfelt article listing her reasons for giving up not writing but the whole writing business.

It’s hard keeping up with everything we need to do. And keeping up with the Joneses is often a step too far.

Is Your Website Ready for 2017?

Sadly with so many developments in software and design techniques, there’s nothing that dates as quickly as a website.

Do you remember when websites were gaudy and packed full of bells and whistles? The pages bounced about with fireworks and animated gifs (and yes, there are still some examples in the Buzzfeed article above--aargh). We loved avatars that spoke to us as soon as the site loaded or the ever-present muzak.

The latest must-haves are sliders showcasing bookcovers or photos--you get the picture. (Pun intended.)

Good news is that modern website appearance is now tending toward the simple.Black type on a white background is so much in favour that most websites seem the same. So how can you make yours stand out?

An effective website is a successful blend of content and design where the one complements the other.

Answer the Right Questions

To get your content right, ask yourself two questions. What is my website for? Who is my website for?

What is my content for? To sell my books? To publicize my books? To attract new readers? To publicize me? Brainstorm ten possible answers then choose the one that resonates with you.

Who is my content for? No, you can’t be all things to all people. Choose an age range (e.g.30-40), a lifestyle (perhaps a stay-at-home mom), an aspiration (could be looking to start her own business). Narrow it down until you can clearly see your reader.

If you have someone in mind when you write your books, he or she may also be the target of your website. But if you are trying to attract new readers, you may aim at a different demographic.

The New Look Website

Now think about taking a new look at your website. Focus. What is going to keep the interest of your readers. What’s in it for them?

Your home page must include a CTA, a call to action, an offer that will appeal to your readers. It’s no longer enough to say “Please sign up for my newsletter.” Invite website visitors to join your street team, to be the first to get news of your new books, to review your books on publication.

Offer writing tips, show how to get published. Free books and giveaways are all popular and will help grow your subscriber list. Remember, it’s all about them.
And of course, show off your books. Make sure that you optimize the size of your cover pix to load quickly on the web. I don’t wait long for a website to load. Too many other things I could be doing, too many other websites to check out. And I’m not alone in that.

Run your website through Google Tools speedchecker. Easy. You just type in your site's URL and hit the blue button marked analyze.

See how well it loads.

I work to simplify and speed up my website. My results when viewed on a desktop were dire. Just over 50% when summarized. And worse --under 50% on a mobile friendly result. Duh!

Seven or eight items needed fixing. Suggestions included enabling compression, reducing server response time, optimizing images. The last was a real blow. I thought I'd mastered that.

But for every failure, there was a link to help me fix the problem and improve my loading time.

I've downloaded the zip file of all the resources Google wants speeded up and thinking of it as an early Christmas present as I doubt if I shall manage to do my makeover much before then.

Website checklists

Many marketers are providing helpful checklists if you're looking to see how your pages and content match up.

A quick do-it-yourself website creation checklist hit my email box from Christina Hills this week. It is simplistic, and you will need to adapt it, but it will help your focus on essentials. Your products page will be your books page. Your services would be any other training you offer.

More Must-Do Tips

To ensure your site continues to appear in search engine results next year, follow Google's new guidelines.

Year on year, more and more readers use a mobile device to access the web. To check that your website is mobile friendly, it’s back to Google and do read the linked blog post.

Another thing to do while you’re using the Webmaster Tools is find and correct broken links. These are anathema to Google and can not only drop your pages down the listings but can cause them to stop showing in the search engine at all.

The need to have a mobile friendly website also means streamlining your design. Three column—even two column websites—look squashed on a hand-held device. Single columns show up well, hence the growing number of simple text sites with the images inserted into the one column.

The new look for now and into 2017 is for doodled images—see the cutting edge designs at and yes, there are three bs.

The Better Novel Project  is fun and a great learning site that deconstructs best-selling novels scene by scene, one doodle at a time. Well worth looking at. Good for ideas and plot development. Tackles everything from Star Wars to JK Rowling. And yes, there is also a free book on offer.

If you want to do further research, another useful and helpful article on the changing face of web design can be found here .

What’s on the way?

Over half the world’s population will supposedly be online by 2017, and the enormous influx of new users will mean an incredible amount of digital newbies, including more and more elderly.,

By 2017, think of building more age-specific help  into the latest websites.
Designers are aiming to create Navigation Menus that will expand and contract depending on the ability of users; those with difficulty will see simple interfaces to make it easier for them.

As in e-readers, font-sizes and spacing will be able to increase to accommodate the eyesight of the elderly. Color schemes will change; more saturated colors for the young, more muted hues for those of us who are older.

 If you like doodling, incorporate your designs into your articles.  White space, my favourite, continues to play a big role in the future.  A simple site with clear and consistent color choices ages much better than a shouty, busy one.

And when it comes to clutter, ditch the pop-ups and all the social media buttons that irritate by hiding your content. Google hates them too. Choose maybe two social media sites for sharing. Too many buttons and readers click off your site instead of sharing anywhere.

To keep yourself up to date, simplify. Less is more. Enjoy your website and have fun.

Bit of a long article this time. But what are you doing to manage all the extras in your writing life? Any plans for updating blogs and websites? Let me know in the comments below. :-)

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears monthly in The Working Writer's Club .

You Need a Mixture of Marketing Efforts

By W. Terry Whalin

How is your writing selling? It's an old sales adage: If your books (or any writing) isn't selling, you need to be touching more people (asking for the sale) or creating new writing.  Your audience doesn't increase or your books don't sell without continued effort from you as the author. 

Whether you work with a traditional publisher who sells your book into the bookstores or you self-publish and are on your own, you still need to be reaching more people with your work. As an acquisitions editor, I tell every author that it is 80% up to them to sell more books. Yes we can sell the books into the bookstore but unless the author is building buzz and telling others about the book, those books in the bookstore will be returned to the publisher.

I wish I could tell you there is one path or one formula to sell books and become a bestseller. If such a formula existed, then every book would be a bestseller—and that is just not the case. Some books that are poorly written hit the bestseller list while other well-crafted titles sell a modest number of copies. The average self-published book sells about 200 copies during the lifetime of the book. The average traditional book sells around 1,000 copies. Now each of us want to beat these averages so how do we do it? It's through a mixture of different marketing efforts.

One of the most knowledgeable people that I know in this area is Rick Frishman. For over ten years, Rick has been our publisher at Morgan James Publishing. For almost 30 years, Rick led one of the largest public relations firms in the U.S. called Planned Television Arts (now called Media Connect). He has a huge list of bestselling authors that he has worked with like Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Stephen King and Mitch Albom. Rick is the creator of Author 101 University which will be next month in Los Angeles. I've interviewed Rick a number of times and did so again earlier this month. You can catch the 45-minute interview for FREE at:

In this in-depth interview, Rick compares book promotion to the four legs of a stool: Internet, print, radio, television, then he gives insights about each of these legs and how authors should be working in each of these four areas. See the balance that goes into this type of approach? It is a mixture of various marketing efforts for your books.

One of the most successful series of books in the English language is called Chicken Soup for the Soul. Jack Canfield tells us about following The Rule of Five to market their books. This short video (less than two minutes) gives you the details about how to achieve your goals.

Are you mixing your marketing efforts to sell your books? Tell us the details in the comments below.


Are you mixing your marketing efforts? Get ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for more than 50 magazines and published over 60 books with traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Book Proposals That $ell. He loves to help writers and has a large twitter following. Evan Carmichael ranks the top 100 marketers to follow on Twitter and Terry has been consistently on this list (#56 in September). He lives in Colorado.

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Sit Butt in Chair!

Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,

After years of thinking about writing and, every once in a while, actually writing, I decided to take a college course called, "Write your Novel." At the time I thought writing might be a great hobby. Something to do in my spare time after working a full time job and taking care of four children all still in school. (I know, what spare time, right?) I remember the advice from my my then college professor well. 'To write, sit butt in chair." That was it. 

Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Before that I would often 'write' stories in my head. I 'wrote' whenever bored - doing dishes, making beds, weeding, driving. I found lots of time to create stories, but actually writing them down seemed to be difficult. Then I took this class and I was encouraged to just 'sit butt in chair.' I found that the process meant I could write a novel length manuscript and still have a job and children.  All I had to do was find the time to: 
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Surprisingly, there are many opportunities to sit butt in chair.

A couple of years went by and I attended a writer's conference. There I heard someone else give this great piece of advice, "sit butt in chair.' Simple but effective they said, and I knew it was true. I have found to write all I need to do is 'sit butt in chair.' And when writing isn't happening, I know its because I have not come to the desk and sat down, nothing else is at fault. So make a habit of sitting your butt in chair and see what you can accomplish.  

What was the best piece of writing advice you've received? 
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.

Grow Your Readership with e-Newsletters

A monthly e-Newsletter is an emailed publication containing news of interest for your community and is another way to deliver useful content to your readers.  A Newsletter can be referred to as a Digest to recap significant posts at month-end.

The advantages of sending a Newsletter by email include:
• Publish on a regular schedule,
• Readers expect its arrival vs a SPAM hit,
• Use your brand as the header and title,
• Showcase a main article,
• Highlight important posts from the current month and those archived via links,
• Notifications for future events, workshops, and conferences,
• Tips of interest you want to promote,
• Images to support your message.

The disadvantages include:
• Commitment to publish on a regular basis,
• The format can be time consuming to prepare,  simplify it by using a vertical layout without sidebars,
• Readers may stash it away to “read later” when more convenient.

Before you send out your first edition, be sure you are able to commit to a regular monthly schedule.  Include a tool for automatic delivery registration.

Blogging is an important part of book marketing.  A Blog Newsletter is an excellent way to promote your work and the work of others you recommend. 

Always use; tags for each post, your motto, and illustrations to engage your readership. Many sites such as Pinterest are photograph driven.

I appreciate your feedback.  Please add it to the comment section below.  Thank you much! deborah

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, editor and artist.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors. 
She has independently published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  The series was also published as articles for an online news network and on her website: DeborahLyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Deborah is published in magazines.  She is a blogger who has managed several group sites including ones she founded.
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Raise Your Standards

I was watching a video of Tony Robbins on youtube the other day and he said something that really stuck with me.

He said, "If you are unhappy with anything in your life, simply raise your standards in that area."

So what did he mean by that?

Well, according to Robbins, we all have standards that we have set for ourselves in all areas of our life.

These standards are the way we see ourselves and the way we think we are supposed to live.

We have health and fitness standards, relationship standards, and wealth standards, for example.

We probably set these standards for ourselves long ago based on something we were told or taught.

But, the thing is, many times these standards no longer apply to the life we want to be living now.

For example, long ago someone might have told you that you were overweight and it was a genetic thing.

You were just destined to be overweight and there wasn't much you could do about it.

So guess what?

You either accepted that and used it to create low health and fitness standards for yourself or you failed to believe it and raised your standards in this area.

If you raised your health and fitness standards, you started eating right and exercising regularly and eventually you were no longer overweight.

It might not have been easy.

But it wasn't impossible once you raised your standards.

We Set Writing Standards for Ourselves, Too

If you're a writer, you've set standards for this aspect of your life, too.

But have you set your writing standards too low?

If so, you probably aren't getting published regularly and you aren't making much money from your writing.

Examine the way you have set and accepted low standards for yourself as a writer.

Next, decide to raise your standards as a writer.

Write down your new standards so you're really clear about how you want to see yourself as a writer and how you want to live the writer's life according to these new standards.

Try it!

Build a career writing about what you know and love. Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach, can show you how.

Learn more about her 10-week e-course and mentoring program, Fearless Freelance Writing.

What Is More Valuable Than Fame

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) Many writers believe writing a book will make them famous. They believe getting their book into the market wi...