Types of Series: The Closed Series

Time to study the types of series and decide which one my new series of “Salmon Run” falls into. I need to figure this out before moving forward, as my decision will directly impact the rest of the planning.

This post is about Closed Series.

This is a series with a defined beginning, middle, and end, spaced out among several books. The first book will introduce the main characters including the protagonist and antagonist as well as the central premise of the entire series. The middle book/s will heighten the tension while developing the plot and characters. Then will come the big climax book where the big questions asked during the course of the series will be answered and all the loose ends tied up.

Usually there will be a big plot arc that will span the entire series, which will be concluded at the end of the last book. In the individual books smaller plot lines will help move the story, characters and situation closer and closer to the grand climax. Often there is an epilogue at the end of the last book which will include an update on where the major characters end up.

The Closed Series is a very popular form for trilogies.

Examples of Closed Series: The Tripod Series by John ChristopherTypes of Series: The Closed Series
, Harry Potter by J.K. RowlingTypes of Series: The Closed Series, Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)Types of Series: The Closed Series, The Mars series by Kim Stanley RobinsonTypes of Series: The Closed Series.

Pro:

For the writer, the ending is in sight right from the start. This gives the writer a goal while writing the individual books.

The readers know all the books are leading to something spectacular.

Better chance of each book dramatically moving forward the main plot-arc, as well as ensure the reader is going to see good active character/plot development.

The writer knows the end of the series will eventually come and they can then leave it to go write other books and series.

Cons:

Takes a lot of planning to do right, as one must know the end before starting the series so that all the books can aim toward the dramatic conclusion.

If not planned right, the ending can fizzle over reader expectations, which were built up through all the books.

For an impatient type of reader, they may not read your series until all of the individual books are finished, and then buy them all at once (if they remember the author at that point).

For the story to be told properly, the entire series must be finished. If traditionally published this can cause a huge problem if the author is caught in the 3-Book Death Spiral.

The author must be willing to invest the time and energy in the long-run before other big projects can be written (depends on how prolific they are).

If sales aren’t good and the series is dropped by either the author or publishing house then you are going to alienate what readers you do have for not finishing what you started.

If the series is too long there is the chance of losing interest, or even dying, before the series is complete (Wheel of TimeTypes of Series: The Closed Series).
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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

An Intro to Types of Series

Series can happen by chance. For instance, if a stand-alone book then later inspires a new novel in the same ‘world’ or ‘universe’ with perhaps a few of the same characters, or minor characters, or locations. A sequel may be requested by a publisher, and then the author descends into a madcap brainstorming session to come up with a follow-up for a story that hadn’t been designed as one. Perhaps the reader demand after the first book is so great the author decides to follow up so as to take advantage of the generated demand.

Or, series can happen by design, inspired during the idea or planning stage.

For Salmon Run, it was the latter.

Vampire Plot Bunny
Vampire Plot Bunny by Magicalbookworm

A plot bunny came up and nipped me on the ankle, ate half my lunch and then sat on a corner of my desk taunted me with ideas while I was trying to get through the business day.

On Forward Motion Writers chat (http://www.fmwriters.com ) we sometimes joke about attacking plot bunnies. Well, it’s only partial joking. The little things can be quite vicious.

I found inspiration for a new story. But then I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with ideas, all wanting to be included. It’s impossible to put everything AND the kitchen sink in a novel (and is a common mistake of new writers). On the other hand, there were just too many great ideas to ignore.

I quickly came to the realization that I was dealing with a series. I don’t mind this. Series have many benefits:

1. A series can be a great way to create an author brand. Many successful writers have several series going, each building up readers, each helping the popularity of the other. A series builds up its own ready-made audience, always anxious for the next installment.

2. Honing the craft. With a series the main worldbuilding has been done. At that point it’s all about the stories, characters and places. With a series an author can concentrate on the storytelling without having to start from scratch on the planning for each and every book.

3. Increased productivity. This is related to the above point. The author already knows the ‘world’ or ‘universe’. They can start writing as soon as they have a new story without having to stop for a long period to figure out the basis for the ‘world’ the characters inhabit. This can also result in…

4. A Better Paycheck. A series creates a ready-made audience just waiting for the next story to come out. This is great for a regular paycheck for the author. However, this can be contingent on the steady output of said series.

5. Fun! Only so much can go into one story, and the chance to write additional stories allows a writer to continue to explore the fascinating place their imagination created.

However, a series takes a lot planning to do right. What type of planning depends on the type of series. Yes, there are different types of series and each have pros and cons that need to be studied carefully.

The next few posts I’ll go over the main types and the pros and cons of each.
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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Borders Joins the Self-Publishing Fray… Kinda

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released new sales figures for the industry. An interesting figure in the announcement is that “E-books for the period comprise 9.03% of total consumer book sales, compared to 3.31 percent at the close of 2009.

Wow, e-book sales are spiking!

On the heels of this comes an announcement from Borders that they will be launching a self-publishing platform.

I was wondering when Borders would get on the Indie Author/Self-Publishing movement. With so many traditionally published authors now releasing their own backlist, adding to that movement, it only makes sense. But, considering the financial problems Borders has been having, why didn’t they do this before? They need all the help they can get.

Well, the announcement isn’t as great as it first sounds. Details are still sketchy, but here is what I’ve found out so far:

Borders Self-Publishing Platform Name: Borders – Get Published. Hey, at least it’s better than Pubit. :erk:

Launch Date: October 25. We’ll see if they can make that date, although the fact they are using BookBrewer to power the technology and platform might help them keep the deadline. Having more eBooks to offer for the holiday season would help Border’s bottom-line. Supposedly the books will appear in the eBook store within 48 hours.

Now, the problems with this offering, and why Authors need to do research before jumping in:

First, the authors must go through BookBrewer, as this publishing service is not through Borders itself. The plus is that authors can use that service to sell books through other partner eBook retailers (including Amazon, which would be stupid to do considering the pricing and royalty scheme. Just go to Amazon directly!). The bad is the price, and the fact you are using a distributor.

And the price? Here is the OUCH part and not very smart of Borders. There is a fee to be published. For $89.99 (okay, JUST CALL IT $90 and get it over with!) BookBrewer will assign your book with an ISBN and make it available at prices set by the author (typical pricing limits are $2.99 – $9.99). Royalties will vary with each retailer.

The $200 ($199.99) package comes with a full version of the ePub file. Apparently you don’t get a copy of your file with the first tier, only the higher priced second tier. What other perks there are to paying so much more is not clear.

Oh, and on top of the fees listed above, they also take a 25% royalty. The royalty by itself wouldn’t be so bad, but I do object to the upfront fee on top of it.

By comparison, “Smashwords pays the author, or the author’s designated publisher, 85% of the net sales proceeds from the work.” That equals a 15% royalty of what they receive after the Retailer takes their cut and NO upfront fees.

Hmm, the price comparison isn’t good so far. Not unless BookBrewser has negotiated better royalties with the individual Retailers that no one else can get, and I have yet to see any evidence of that.

They claim “This is quite a deal compared to other services, which charge between $300 and $3,000 to do the same thing.” Yes, only if the author doesn’t do their research properly and gets caught by the sinking dragnet of Vanity Printing.

Yep, severe sarcasm in that last part. The more I look at this, the worse the deal looks. Yeah, nice job, Borders. Do you want to try again?

While BookBrewer has its own website with information, I do not know how much of it will apply to the Borders partnership deal.

Questions:

Can authors who already have a good, corrected and properly formatted ePub file upload it and have it published as-is? This is one draw-back to Smashwords. The fact the one release says “Authors can add content by typing in the platform, by copying and pasting it into an online form, or content can be fed from an existing website or blog. The content will be saved as an ePub file.” does not bode well.

Can authors use their own ISBN even at the lower tier if they already have it bought for their book? Heck, can they use their own on the pricier tier?

How fast is the reporting period turn-around? Does it beat the quarterly statements from Smashwords? NOTE: On their website they say reporting is Quarterly, but I don’t know if that will change with the new partnership. If it doesn’t, then just use Smashwords. There would be no incentive to go with this service over Smashwords on this particular item.

Is DRM automatically inserted into the files? Do the authors have the option of not having DRM on their books? This might also be dictated by the retailer, as some require it.

For the pricing and royalties, why use this service if you can do it for free through Smashwords? Yes Smashwords takes more time to propagate to the Retailer store, but yeash!

Overall, I am not impressed. Actually, on some parts I’m disgusted. Authors, do your research first! Know what you are getting into and research the alternatives. Think logically, not emotionally. Remember this is a business. If someone is charging more, they better offer more.

Borders, you aren’t a big enough market share for me to put up with this. You already had Smashwords, who has a good reputation in the Indie Publishing movement (despite some problems). You couldn’t have chosen a better partner?

Unless this deal considerably improves, I will be using Smashwords (also researching a few other venues) to get into the Borders, Kobo and other stores and platforms, NOT BookBrewer.

Other viewpoints who are also not impressed.

Google Editions Delayed… Again

Google Editions is slowly coming online, but there are still a lot of questions about it, and not many answers. While they have been busy signing up partners, details about the new-to-come service have been few and far between (other than it can take two months for a book to go live. Ouch). Now there is word that Google has delayed their launch a bit, saying they’ll launch it only when they feel it is really ready (perhaps up to 6 months while other sources say it will be later in 2010).

Google Editions is a cloud-based solution with limited or no downloading of the books, which means you ‘rent’ or ‘lease’ ebooks from them. Unless they come up with something really extraordinary to make readers give up flexibility and the lack of ownership, it doesn’t sound like a good bookstore from a reader’s viewpoint.

But, we’ll see. Once the fine details are announced. And with considering the delays already with Google Editions, who knows how long we’ll have to wait.

Pubit is Live – Another Sales Channel

Smashwords is a great service, and they have done a good job in making deals with various online stores so that their authors can get into them.. For one online retail store, however, that has just changed.

Pubit, (The name still makes me cringe) by Barnes and Nobles, is now active and open to submissions. Books are already appearing in the Barnes & Nobles catalog from Indie Authors. Now, if only they could tweak their search engine. Compared to Amazon’s, it’s severely deficient.

Pubit has two royalty structures (similar to Amazon):
40% – For titles priced at $2.98 or less, or $10.00 or more.
65% – $2.99-$9.99

This compares to Amazon:
35% – For titles priced at $2.98 or less, or $10.00 or more.
70% – $2.99-$9.99

Barnes and Nobles claims that newly submitted titles will appear in the store within 24-72 hours, and from what I’ve seen from Authors who have already started uploading, that time-frame is correct (the same authors are also already reporting sales).

Barnes & Nobles have been pushing their Nook and ebook store hard. They can expect to sell quite a few this holiday season.

And, as authors, it’s always good to have your eggs in more than one basket.