Building a series...

I’ve been working with some authors who are building their worlds and developing new series, and it can be an exciting thing!

One thing I do want to caution authors about, though, is that if you’re doing a fantasy or science-fiction world, or even a more traditional story with an involved arc, it can be best to write the first book, draft the second book and lightly plot the third book before publishing the first book.

There are so many times that an enthusiastic and proud author has published the first book in the series, wanting feedback and direction—and hopefully some money to support the second book!—only to discover that the rules of the world, the motivations of the characters, the background of the protagonists or the direction of the story in the first book limits what she wants to do in the second one.

Exploring the world in more detail, understanding where you are going on the journey and then going back and tweaking the first book before publication is crucial.

Sure, if you’re seeking an agent or a publisher, it’s fine to submit the first book (if it’s as strong as can be!) to agents and publishers while you’re developing the rest of the series. You might get additional feedback or direction, and that will help you on a final revision of the first book in the series.

And yes, it’s true that you can also take down/update/revise the first book after publication. But I do think many readers grow wary of authors whose books have been frequently updated. They’ve read one version—should they read another? What has changed—grammar and typos, or characterization and motivation? Does it make a difference to their memory of the book? Do they have to reread it before the second book comes out? Should they bother with the second book if something changed that they liked?

For those authors who are often tinkering and updating, I have a reluctance to buy a book that might need to be revised a couple of times. I believe that a story can be posted and developed on a site and get feedback for improvement, and I’ve worked with authors who are tweaking and revising often—though you do have to give up the search for perfection at some point!

But it is a bit that you have one chance to make a good first impression. And putting something out that needs more tweaking might mean you have an even better book for any new readers, it also can cause more doubt in your original readers.

It’s a fine line to balance and one you’re going to have to play with as an author.

But still, I think it’s worth not hitting publish until you’re really sure you’re ready for the next stage!

What do you think? Do you trust authors who are always revising once they’ve published? Once for a cleanup of errors I can see, but three or more times? Let me know!