Writers In The Storm welcomes Eve Paludan. I first met Eve at a Desert Rose RWA meeting in Phoenix, AZ. First impression? A bubbly person who lugs around a very warm heart. She now lives in Los Angeles, CA, where she writes fiction and edits for other bestselling authors. She enjoys reading mysteries, science fiction, and romances, especially paranormal romances, walking on the beach and learning scenic photography.
Be sure to comment! Eve is giving away one of her e-books to one lucky commenter.
By Eve Paludan
1. SERIES NAME
The series name is important for authors to establish from the very first book. Give your series a name that conveys to prospective readers a clear idea of the genre. Here are some examples: Brotherhood of the Blade, Witch Detectives, Ranch Lovers Romance, Angel Detectives, and Ghost Files (J.R. Rain, Scott Nicholson, et al.). Brotherhood of the Blade is about vampire hunters, and these other series names likewise shout out to the prospective readers, “This is what I am!” Or, establish your brand identity with a series name that incorporates the protagonist’s name or identity to tell readers, “This is who I am!” A few examples are: The Judas Chronicles (Aiden James), Julia Stone (Scott Nicholson) and The Kaitlyn Chronicles (Elaine Babich).
If you want to avoid confusion and further distinguish your series from other similar series in the same genre, you can add the who of your protagonist’s name to the what of the series name, like this: Samantha Moon, Vampire for Hire (J.R. Rain). Seldom discussed, but very important, is a rhythm, a catchiness or an alliteration that makes the series name stick in readers’ minds. Do you notice how the words “vampire” and “hire” rhyme? What about an acronym for a series that spells a familiar word, such as HASH (Human Alien Species Hybrid) (April M. Reign). With “hash” tags being used or discussed millions of times per day, “HASH” is pretty clever for a series name.
2. SERIES DESCRIPTION
Be able to describe what your entire series is about in a single sentence.
Here is one well-crafted example that might well be the Holy Grail of series descriptions–notice that every single word in the sentence does an important job: “Forced to walk the earth as a cursed immortal, William/Judas is on a quest to reclaim the thirty silver shekels paid to him in exchange for Jesus Christ.” – The Judas Chronicles (Aiden James) Notice that the series description tells the reader who the protagonist is, what he wants, and the major obstacle between him and his heart’s desire. What a triple-play on this series description!
3. BOOK TITLES
The book titles in each series should have a similar pattern or feel to them, so that the readers know they go together.
Examples are: Witchy Business, Witch and Famous and Witch Way Out. Or how about Cody Greer, Looking Good, Cody Greer, and A Very Cody Christmas (H.T. Night). I recommend shorter titles when possible. Two or three-word titles that contain a keyword that stays the same (or almost the same) for each book in the same series can be helpful to readers and also aid authors in building their brand identity.
4. BOOK DESCRIPTIONS
Be able to describe each book in the series in a single sentence, so readers can see how it relates to the next book in the series and, if possible, reveal a progression of the story arcs:
Taking Back Tara (Ranch Lovers Romance #1) – After their divorce, Tara and Zane risk a second chance at love.
Tara Takes Christmas (Ranch Lovers Romance #2) – As Christmas approaches, Tara and Zane learn that they may lose the ranch.
Tara’s Little Wedding (Ranch Lovers Romance #3) – Tara and Zane plan a small second wedding, but it keeps getting bigger! (This book has not yet been released.)
5. BOOK ONE ELEMENTS
Your first book launches the series and sets a precedent for the main story arcs, protagonists, sidekicks and/or love interest, villain(s) and major conflicts for the entire series.
Make that first book become your series Bible or think of it as a tree from which all of the other books branch.
- Keep it a goal that plot and character threads from the first book should run throughout the series. If you are establishing rules for a paranormal world, or for procedures for solving a crime, obey those rules in the next book if possible, so that there is continuity between the books.
- Keep in mind that the first book has to create a sustainable world/foundation for your characters and plotlines across many books. So, do give the first book a lot of depth of character, and allow plenty of room for later plot expansion into subplots. In each book, authors should want subplots and goals for the protagonist to build a growing, comfortable familiarity with readers, even down to recognizable personality traits and repeated settings, such as where the character lives and works.
6. TITLES AND PLOT PLANNING
Plot-wise, and title-wise, know where you are going with the series, from the first book, to the last, if at all possible, or at least, the third book. When writing books two and beyond, try to remember what happened in book one, and keep a brief list handy of story arcs in progress. However, don’t re-use a plot over and over, unless you are putting new spins on old storylines to progress to the conclusion of each book and eventually, the completion of the series. Variations on the main theme are critical. It’s a delicate balance to craft continuity, and yet, freshness and originality for each book.
A reader recently told me that my books were refreshing because I didn’t have the heroine kidnapped and tortured in every book and then, have the hero save her. Do listen to what your loyal readers want when you get reviews and fan letters. Oh, and cliffhangers… It’s up to authors to decide if they want to use a cliffhanger at the end of each book, in order to keep readers interested in what happens in the next book. I have been both slammed and applauded for my cliffhangers, which have become somewhat discussed among regular readers of my series. Some cliffhangers are more exciting than others. I just love it when the readers want more of the series…I do my best to keep the characters and plots engaging and compelling.
7. BOOK COVERS
Your book covers should have a similar “look and feel” for each book in the series to tie them together with a recognition factor that helps readers remember what your covers look like. Not just the book title and author’s name, but your series name should be on the book covers, too.
Make sure to number the books, if they are to be read in a certain order. It is helpful to hire a professional book cover designer who can give you the same font on each book in the series, and a similar layout, like the covers of the Lost Valley series by J.T. Cross, the King’s Blood series by P.J. Day and the Glorious Companions series by Summer Lee.
It helps to have the first three covers in the series created at the same time and maybe even think about commissioning a “boxed set” graphic for future marketing. Have your book cover designer save the Photoshop file with layers for the titles and fonts saved, so that subsequent books can be easily designed by using the first book cover in the series as a template. (A flattened file, usually a .jpg or .tiff, is necessary for upload to Amazon Kindle or other publishing venue.) If your book cover designer can additionally create a graphic logo, that is another powerful marketing tool for your series.
Even professional editors hire editors to edit their books. It is worth it to pay for a second set of eyes. Your mom, your best friend or your significant other may not be the right person for the job. Someone who doesn’t know you or love you and has tons of experience in editing books in your genre is your best bet.
You should not explain what your book is about in detail. Let your manuscript go to your editor without a big synopsis that reveals everything. The book must speak for itself without detailed introduction. My preference is to have my editor use the tracking changes feature of MS Word to show suggested changes that I can, as the author, either accept or decline.
An extra tip here is that the books in a series should have the same point of view throughout the series and also, hopefully, use the same verb tense. For example, don’t write one book in first person, present tense and another in third person, past tense. Just my personal opinion. Rules are made to be broken, right?
9. WORD COUNTS
Try not to write behemoth books of 100,000 words or more when you are creating a series. Okay, unless your initials start with J.K. and end with Rowling, then I guess, go for it. More power to you to have that much confidence and enthusiasm. But seriously, keep things simple and perhaps give yourself an upper word limit that makes you feel comfortable with your goals. Is 55,000 words plenty for each book in a series? I think so, but that’s just me and that length is going to be my personal top-out norm in 2014.
If you write a 130,000-word tome and you have 7 books in your series, you will be kicking yourself later when you try to pick up the story arcs from the previous books and resolve each plot and subplot. You are also making so much more work for yourself when you have a series with more than 20 characters per book. I should know… On the other hand, if you are the next J.R.R. Tolkien, ignore this word count and character count advice.
Write as fast as you can, for as soon as one book comes out, your readers may be asking when the next one will be released! I try to have several series going at once and try to finish one book a month, or even every two months. But then, I don’t have a television. I rarely do anything else but write or edit, eat or sleep. I go grocery shopping a couple of times a week and sometimes go to the beach. A tank of gas in my car usually lasts me a month or more, if that gives you an idea of how many hours I spend sitting at the computer. You probably have a lot more balance in your life than this…
Have fun with your book series creation! And good luck!
Please check out all of Eve’s series books on Amazon, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Eve Paludan has a couple of web sites, but they aren’t as exciting as she would like. She’s been a little busy and hasn’t updated them for a while.
Witch Detectives is an ongoing bestselling series about a witch who uses her emotions to work magic. With three books so far, Witch Bones (Witch Detectives #4) is scheduled to be released in early 2014. The first three books were co-authored with Stuart Sharp, and published by J.R. Rain Press. Eve Paludan will be solo-writing books 4 and beyond for publication by J.R. Rain Press.
Brotherhood of the Blade is a completed bestselling trilogy about a vampire hunter named Rand Sebastian who is on a quest for his missing daughter. The series is a spin-off of J.R. Rain’s Samantha Moon, Vampire for Hire series. J.R. Rain Press is the publisher.
Ranch Lovers Romance is Eve Paludan’s contemporary Western romance series about second-chance love for a couple named Tara and Zane. So far, two self-published titles have been released (Taking Back Tara and Tara Takes Christmas) and the series will be completed with a total of five books. Tara’s Little Wedding (#3) is in progress.
The Ghost Files is a bestselling series created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain. Each book has a different author and the cases of the married paranormal investigation team of Monty and Ellen is the constant hero and heroine that drives the series. Ghost Fire (#3) is by Eve Paludan.
Angel Detectives is an ongoing paranormal series with one book released so far and one in progress, The Man Who Rose from the Sea. The first in the self-published series, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, is a complex paranormal mystery romance of 105,000 words and dozens of characters that was three years in the making.
Werewolf Detectives is Eve Paludan’s newest self-published series. Book 1, Werewolf Interrupted, was co-authored with Suzanne Wilson and is a brand new release. A trilogy is planned. The self-published titles will be: Werewolf Interrupted, Werewolf Rising and Werewolf Unleashed. Werewolf Interrupted is Eve Paludan’s ninth book published this year, in 2013.