1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Publishing first novel as "Book One in the _________ Series"?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Catrin Lewis, Jun 6, 2017.

    Okay, I want opinions, thoughts, gut feelings.

    If you intend your first novel to be the first in a series, would you identify it that way on the cover when you self-publish?

    That's assuming that Book Two, Book Three, and so on are only drafted/outlined/sorta-started/thunk up. That is, they exist only in your mind.

    Pros:
    • It'd be a BIG incentive to get those follow-on novels done
    • It could build reader anticipation for the next books in the series
    • It'd make sure you designed the series tag into the cover from the word Go--- you wouldn't be messing up the composition crowding it in later
    • It'd save you the hassle of working with CreateSpace, etc., to switch out the cover on the first in the series, once Book Two was ready
    • It'd save you from having to waste one of your precious ISBNs on the altered cover of Book One
    Cons:
    • It's possible that the mere addition of a tag on the cover won't turn the book into a separate edition. So it wouldn't require its own ISBN
    • Calling a novel "Book One" implies that other books in the series exist. When they don't you'll frustrate readers who like your novel and can't find the other ones.
    • What if you never get the subsequent book(s) done? You'll look like an ass and really piss off your readers. You won't like that. Unless, of course, you didn't write them because you died, in which case you won't care.
    I notice this forum is tagged for the self-publishing of print books. But this question applies to e-pubbed books as well. What do you think?
     
  2. BogLady

    BogLady Active Member

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    I have not published yet, but have read over a thousand books in my life, so would offer up that you should NOT give your book the moniker of Book One.
    If and when book two becomes available, then call it Book Two of the whatever the title series the first book was.
    Take a look at others like Robin Hobbs's The Assassin's Apprentice; this book is number 1 in a trilogy, but you wouldn't know it unless you went looking for it.
    J.K Rowling did not initially identify her first book as number one.
    Subsequent publishing once all books are written could then include the moniker of 1st book.
     
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  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    My first novel epubbed doesn't say jack about being book one.
    I took the older approach like some of my fave authors who
    have written trilogies and never bothered to label them book#.
    But the ending of my first has a massive cliff hanger with a
    ton of unresolved stuff, so it would be glaringly obvious that
    there will be another installment.
    Laurel K Hamilton's Anita Blake Series is bloody chaos to know
    which order that massive longrunning series goes in.
    Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series is another one like LKH.

    So you are not required to spell out to your readers that book#
    such and such will be coming out at such and such date. Just
    put something on the second installment that it is part of a series,
    and that is all you need. And maybe a short listing of your books
    in order if you happen to want your readers to understand which
    book is next in line, so they don't get them mixed up.

    (I read the Timothy Zahn's Conquerors Trilogy End Beginning Middle,
    because I had no idea I was starting at the end) :)
     
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  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I see both sides really.

    Don't mark it as the first in the series:
    • People don't know to 'watch' for the sequel.
    • Most readers love series, so you're missing out on a bit of free marketing.
    • But people like me who DON'T like series are more likely to buy it.
    • Readers won't be afraid there'll be a cliffhanger ending and that they'll have to buy an, as yet unpublished, sequel.
    Mark it as the first in a series:
    • Readers might not buy it because they'll see the sequel/s aren't yet available.
    • People like me, who don't like series, are less likely to buy it.
    • Readers who do love series might be more likely to buy it.
    • Readers might be afraid there's a cliffhanger ending.
    • Readers can watch out for a sequel.
    My gut says the best overall strategy would be to write them all and release them as a series all at once. Because the big advantage of a series is you have a built-in audience for sequels, but if #2 isn't available when a reader finishes #1, the chances of them ever buying #2 go rapidly downhill.

    If you don't want to wait then I would publish it as a standalone and, when #2 is available, re-launch #1 as the first in a series.
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If i was self publishing, I'd put the first one out without mentioning the series... when number two went out i'd then re fdo the cover of number 1 to make ids #1 of the xyz series.

    If i was trad publishing it wouldn't be my call anyway
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    As someone who's written (and self-published) a series, I'd really recommend having all the books in the series written before you start publishing them. It give you the freedom to go back and make changes if something really exciting occurs to you later on, and you can make sure the whole series flows together properly and has the same tone, etc. throughout.

    That said, if this is your first book to be published, it's going to be pretty hard for you to hold off that long!

    So I'd recommend not mentioning that it's part of a series. If I KNOW a book is part of a series I won't read it unless I know the later books in the series are available - I prefer to blitz-read and don't have the attention-span to come back to a series months after I've read the first one. There are exceptions, times I've enjoyed a series enough to stick with it even with the gaps, but it's pretty rare.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Bayview on this one. I don't think publishing a series (or a serial story) is a detriment to people buying it, because many people do love ongoing stories. (Why they may love a series but hate a long book is subject for another thread...?)

    However, promising a series and not delivering it can be a huge problem for a writer.

    George RR Martin is a good example of an author whose written series has stalled. The filmed series has actually lapped the author, and he's really going to struggle now. He'll either be writing his books to match the TV series—which will be soul-destroying for him—or he'll write his own version of the story as he would have done anyway, and piss off the people who think the TV series is the definitive version. Or he may decide not to finish the series at all, which will more or less kill any backsales of the Song of Ice and Fire books.

    If I were writing a series, I would probably do as Bayview suggests, and have all the books completed (at least to first draft stage) before publishing the first one. That way I would know my series does work, and I could release the subsequent books more quickly. I suppose if you're the kind of author who writes at a predictible pace, like JK Rowling, and who doesn't experience writer's block at all, you can start a series KNOWING you'll be able to finish it in good time. But if you only have a great idea for a long series ...I don't know. I think I'd be inclined to write them all before trying to publish any of them.

    Of course there is a difference between a series that is simply a number of books containing the same characters (such as Sansom's Shardlake 'series,' where each plot stands alone) and a series with an unresolved plot that takes more than one volume to complete. (Lord of the Rings.) Readers often delight in reading subsequent stories containing their favourite characters, without the angst of wondering IF the damn series is ever going to conclude. A series of linked stories can stop at any time, without upsetting readers. An ongoing saga can't. A saga has got to be completed within a reasonable time frame, or the readers get pissed off and give up.

    I know when I first read LOTR I knew the series was completed, and actually bought all three books at the same time. That made it a 'long book' rather than a series, really. It was comforting to know I wouldn't have to wait for subsequent books to be published, and I could just belt through all three at my own pace.

    I stopped buying Song of Ice and Fire after book 4, when I realised there were several more to come and that the series was not only not finished, but the author had stalled. In fact, I don't think I actually finished Book 4. I know I gave them all away soon afterwards. I thought ...nope. I'm not investing in this saga any further. Maybe if it's finally completed to rave reviews I'll pick it up again. But I'm not holding my breath.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  8. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    ^^^
    This. Same characters caught up in new situations, but each book will be complete in itself.

    I'm thinking I'll let the first one go out on its lonesome. I've got some buzz going among my face-to-face and online contacts that I don't want to waste. Besides, leaving off the "Book One" tag will save me having to think up a clever title for the series. I'll worry about that once the other book(s) are written.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    In that case, you might as well let the first one get published. Nobody will necessarily be expecting another one, or needing another one to complete the story arc. So why not?
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If you think of Lee child, his publishers didnt start adding "a jack reacher book" to his covers until he'd published about 6. Likewise with Robert Crais it wasnt till LA requiem which was book 6 or 7 that they started numbering them as Elvis Cole # x (a rebrand of the book covers also happened about then) , of course more recently they've been rebranded again to reflect him making Joe Pike his MMC in some of them and they are now Cole and Pike # x
     
  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Since I'm not really "there" yet, and my WIP is still living under its working title, I can only offer my opinion as part of the purchasing public:

    I am put off by a cover that doesn't seem to know what the title of the novel is. I'm not saying that this is where you're going with your initial question, but there's a part of me that intuits that these things are cumulative, not happening all at once.


    The Broken Promise
    A Jackie Lee Harper Murder Mystery
    Part of the Bangor Maine Kerfuffle Selection

    Book 1: Promises Made, Promises Broken


    I'm like, stop. Please stop. :confuzled:

    I'm being silly, but I'm also being serious. :whistle: :-D I made all that up, but I have defo seen covers like that, and... I'm swiping to the left.

    Like this one, this one, and this one. I genuinely cannot, at a glance, tell what the titles are and I'm pretty sure it's an important thing.

    Again, you haven't said that's where you're going, and I acknowledge this, but... you know. Simplicity speaks volumes to me as a buyer.
     
  12. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    :supergrin::supergrin::supergrin: :supershock::supershock::supershock:

    Oh, gosh, so true. Godawful beyond belief.

    Yeah. Hits me that I can a) brand them all by the general cover design, and b) list all books of the same type under one heading in the "Other Books By" section in the front matter. And let the front cover alone.
     
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  13. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    You don't know what you're missing with Lewd Paladin, bruh. Pious repository of justice by day, pornographic cam maven by night.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    To some extent, I think that the genre would affect the question. For murder mysteries, something like, "Inspector Smith's first case!" wouldn't be a big deal, because the conventions of murder mysteries demand that each story be self-contained. But for other genres, a series can mean that the first story is not satisfyingly finished.

    But I feel that this is a question of how much damage the series assertion would do; I don't see a corresponding value, so I wouldn't do it in any genre.
     
  15. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm in the secondary story arc with Björn Von Chainmail there on the cover. His quest to vanquish Wreybies the Defiler ends in a night he won't soon forget. (The book has the word lewd twice on the cover, so I figure it's a go.) :whistle: :-D
     
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  16. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    This also happens with perfume. I quote from my own perfume review of years ago:

    ...and Jessica Simpson Taste Delicious Dessert Deliciously Kissable Fragrance Somethingorother. The card has me confused; I'm just calling it Taste, because that's the word with the biggest print.
    For no valid reason whatsoever, I off-topicishly quote another bit:

    Plastic vanilla, coconut, no appreciable white musk (thank goodness), a little bit of powder, and a little bit of New Barbie Doll. In fact, it's what I can imagine Barbie wearing when she goes out to the arboretum with Ken on Valentine's day.

    This pointless quoting suggests that I miss writing perfume reviews.

     
  17. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    Gaah. I am definitely NOT likely to buy a book with "Book 1 of the Chronicles of the Annals of the Tales of the Legends of the Files of Argothmor'ethornp" on the cover. It makes me think the writer has invented a novel-writing machine and has set it to the "waste reader's time" setting. Tom Clancy started out as a writer, but eventually books began appearing with things like "Tom Clancy's Epsilon Force: The Skittles Affair, by Joe Ghostwriter" on the cover. I've never bought one. If Clancy can't be bothered writing his own novel, I can't be bothered reading it.

    Actually, it seems like God missed a huge marketing opportunity. He should have published "Genesis: Book One of the Bible" first, and by the time he got to the gospels of Matthew, etc., he'd be pulling a Clancy. "God's Gospel: The Story of Jesus, by Matthew." He'd be outsourcing his own stuff, but using himself as a brand.

    When I see a stand-alone novel, it makes me think the writer actually has something to say, and has created characters and a setting, etc. with which to say it. In other words, the writer is not wasting my time; he's doing his damn best to give me a little enlightenment. When a see "Book 1 of The Saga of Nothing You Care About," it makes me think the writer is just trying to grab a couple of bucks from my wallet.
     
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  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    I have to agree with your observation. Granted I am not one of series larger that trilogies.
    Longer sereis that are book# or a character name novel, I avoid like the bloody plague.
    Ever spent time looking at reviews of series?
    The later into the series you go, the more likely you find
    there are some saying it is all starting to be the same as
    the last installment. Which in my opinion is a sign of a
    lazy author who has a reader base, and then doesn't have
    the decency to pretend to progress the story beyond the
    title of the same thing.

    Never read Clacny, but now I think I won't bother with it.
    Thanks for sharing that bit of insight. :)
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    You do realise he's dead, right ? Other writers are continuing his various series because he no longer has the mortal ability to do so
     
  20. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    Of course I know he's dead. He was selling other writers' work as his own long before he died, though. Sometimes he just gave them a mention in his forewords, like "I'd like to thank so-and-so for his contribution to this manuscript." By "contribution to this manuscript" he meant, you know, writing the whole thing and stuff.
     
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  21. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I would like to confess to being someone who totally believed that Tom Clancy was still alive based on his current prolific output of novels. :-D
     
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  22. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Ah, but the Bible's the one book where the Ghost writer insists on getting all the credit. :supercheeky:
     
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  23. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Just curious: Does anyone know which title was the last that really was all his?
     
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    To be fair I think all the Ryan novels up to Threat Vector are his work.... its the add ons like op centre and politica which are written by other people

    In short anything that's described as Tom Clancy's .... on the cover rather than just saying Tom Clancy is written by someone else
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  25. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Is that the Holy Ghost writer?

    The Ten Commandments was one helluva Print on Demand run...
     
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