Publishing series

Long series, foreshadowing and all those pesky details . . .

The subject came up, I think on facebook, about whether an Indie writer/publisher should publish each book as it was finished, or wait until the whole series was done, Then publish them on a fairly close schedule.

And I’m like . . . finished? What is this word doing in a discussion of series?

But on second thought, I guess what I have is actually a fictional Universe where stand-alones, pairs and short series happen. They lead from one to another, and impact each other, but they have discrete problems that get solved in each book or miniseries.

So probably my rather unorganized publishing habits fall into the “Write it all of the miniseries, then publish in monthly releases.” And sit back in satisfaction, only to get bitten by just one more book right after those . . .

Yeah, my method is named Chaos.

But because I’m a pantser, my fictional worlds tend to develop as I write and aren’t pre-planned. I *have* to wait until the third book is underway before I stop popping back to the first book to put in or change little details. Like what the overall boss of a bunch of government bureaus would be called, “Oh! Director of the Joint Bureaus sounds good! I’ll just go back to book one where I elided past any attempt to give such a person a title . . .”

Or, “What do you mean I’ve never mentioned holo recordings before? Damn, do I need to drop it, or drop in a casual mention of it in several places in earlier books?”

Or really mind-boggling  when you’re well into book three and realize your main character is a member of a secret society! I mean, if you’ve already pubbed Book One you are just SOL.

Yes. Really. Just happened in the current batch of things I’m writing. I keep thinking these characters show up fully formed, but Lord Perfect here is getting really irritating. He’s either very good at keeping secrets, or I’m just fooling myself about the “fully formed” bit.

Which is making me a little trigger shy about releasing the first book of the Fall of the Alliance.

Maybe next week. Or after I finish book three.

But my writing method, which I would only wish on my worst enemy, isn’t everyone’s. For a lot of writers publishing a series one book a year is an ingrained habit, or a reflection of the amount of research required. And they have the rent to pay, and kids to feed and it works for them.

It’s all a matter of finding out what works for you.

21 comments

  1. I think what you have is less of a series, and more of a serial (like a soap opera). And the protagonists seem to be over-powered and under-appreciated young men coming into their talents (and who may own planets).
    I think you can get away with the holos since you are entering an area of the multiverse that we’ve only had passing glimpses of until now.

    And I have a feeling there’s a reason your mind is going towards civil wars at the moment.

  2. After reading your series I have noticed a few commonalities and patterns The first book was pretty solid. Concept of genetic psionic children and how they are used. Your main character was very well developed and crafty
    The villain was known since it was basically our society and the pollical government power structure pretty well known.
    When you developed competing villains such as the Oner and Earth with Comet Fall as the transit route you ran into issues. Earth was still well developed character wise and you just had the Government as a World Government and corporations used various parallels worlds as resources/minerals to develop.

    The One world was new and you did not think out the government power structure at all. You had the social structure based on genetic talent with the Withione etc. Originally you had them a theocratical with the One as the sole power. Then you started developing the structure of The Directorate and the competing political structure . Then you developed sympathetic characters that did not fall in to the evil villain set up You did the corporate side of Earth well .That was rational and understandable. When you had the battle at the new gate near Crossroads the Oners were extremely strong magically. Compared that to the young teenager battle with the the Action Team was so different . There a 12 year did a wide affect suppression field and the Action Team were unbale to use their magics talents. Big disconnect on abilities. If a political entity was going to invade then infantry support armor. Not armor support infantry. That is basically a lack of knowledge on military tactics.

    Then you fell in love with your villains and made them sympathetic. The same pattern developed with the Alliance They were an evil society that chips people and cyborg them with a rigid status system. You had no concept how this Alliance works as as single power entity. Ruling by a committee of 300 powerful psis is not very workable. The differing ambitions and interests in power would have problems. Then the Bureaucracy is not very developed . Who controls what functions and how are they enforced? Your ruling class basically is dysfunctional with reducing intelligence and how they are used in workers. They infiltrate and conquer technological worlds. Yet they do not seem have basic technological capability in manufacturing and the employees that can produce those items.

    You are very good developing characters . I loved Eldon. His first interaction with the Alliance and the Roman world was using Broadcast power. The basic idea that electrical power can be broadcast like radio waves really bothers me because the science is just wrong.

    Then you decided what societal collapse may look like when you started this last look at the “Villainous ” Alliance. Your hero is this secret agent / spy Yet who does he work for? How does the power structure work? Then you introduced the idea of several people that hold the secret codes that can change the entire Alliance. Our hero is mentally powerful yet reasonable and nice. You again fell in love with your villains The remains of the 300 are reasonable. WTF?

    Consistency is the hobgoblins of little minds,. Yet is is important Eldon runs into a Executioner group with a strong group of mentalists that can locate him in the Multiverse. That seemed impossible with the set up you created with in the current Alliance novels.

    i really enjoy your books , mainly because of the characters. I fell in love with Elden, Zen and Axel. The only criticism is you make them too powerful and can not get into trouble. Ice is a one of those characters that just got too strong menially. Rael was interesting, if annoying with constant giggle references. My main problem with her is what is she loyal to. A Priest group filled with competing power structures who secretly controls the entire mentalist power structure. That political structure is not stable and she has fallen in love with the enemy. Her government is known to betray its operatives yet she continues to be loyal to the point of willing to kill her lover?

    So my advice is that you need to think how a government works with the genetic society you created and have that pretty solid to make it work Think about your villains ad develop that society in your mind. Know how the economics works and how power is enforced. is it logical and practical Will it work? Your villains’ are often two dimensional. Why did Orlove do what he did? How could he do that? Who follows him? Can he mentally control that many military people and the units?
    Watch out for your throw away characters. They often come back as main characters.

    I do love you books and I apologize if this seems too critical.

    1. My main problem with developing workable governments is looking at the real world. I mean, would _you_ believe this stuff that’s going on right now?

      Or even in a broad perspective. The most powerful nation the world has ever seen does a complete flip flop ever four to twelve years, and casts aside allies, hands cash over to the last president’s enemies . . . and can’t even keep track of their pronouns.

      1. History provides us with many examples of how governments are instituted . From Florence’s republic run by guild members and control by the Medici to Papal States and feudal systems . Empire’s with check by a Senate. Not including the Marxist systems of Cuba . USSR and Venezuela. Weber used the British example: Royal with a House of Commons and House of Lords. The Enemy was a corrupt republic that devolved to socialisms with pollical minders. That government conquered star systems to fund their largess.

        Your primary writing style is how societies evolve. You did a good job on Kingdom of the West and the other governments on Comet Fall. The Village of Ash had a system. Answer control the witches in the Pyramid and the Gods who just watched and threw in curve balls when they thought the witches were not having children often enough. The mayor appointed .who was a dragon was a great touch.

        Our current system is a devolved republic or oligarchy. The white guilt started in the 60’s which the idiot woke people came from. Understand all Marxist , socialist systems have a goal of control of people. Make them dependent is one. Require them to spout obvious lies about biology is another. i have no idea how it will change with a population that have absorbed the idea we have an inherent right to revolt and the means to do that. Humanity itself does not change We are lazy , curious , greedy, need to feel we are right and superior and, fearful .

        The idea that Gods and magicians are scary to people that do not have those abilities. Yet the entire population has some magical talent. Though I expect the idea that women can have control of the offspring contradicts a society that requires heirs to get land grants. The magical society inheritance is magical talents. not land. Answer controls a lot of that with her control of whether a young witch wants to advance by with holding that teaching if they contradict her control like Rustle did.
        It was obvious that the Gods of War, Health and Travel helped created the Kingdom and Charter. The idea that the God of War would put himself under the control of the King was strange Thankfully the King refused that. Though that came up when Janic dressed down Xen of the idea he went out of the Chain of Command . The Gods are the original and they have long life. Their perspective are different. Of course Xen would do as his father told. Later it became apparent that Xen was going to be independent because only he could figure out what he could do or not.

        Though I have wondered what was the purpose that witches only have girl children? The Tellies were to be infertile. Yet the other children that got various genes like that bus full of girls and a few boys that were sent through the gate in the first book did not have infertilities programmed in

        1. The witches were the extrapolation of where I saw woman’s lib veering off to, back in the “80s-’90s. I was insufficiently twisted to foresee what really happened..

    2. I think that scavenging energy from radio waves is a thing. I’ve seen the marketing claim that low power nodes on a network can use this method to get enough power to wakeup occasionally and transmit their data. I’ve never tried it in my work so I don’t know how well it works. The problem is getting enough power to do anything useful. But in a sufficiently advanced society, who knows? I haven’t read the book so I don’t know how power transmission and reception is handled in them. Just saying it might not be too unrealistic, but then I design electronic boards not RF or power so I could be completely incorrect.

  3. I started by writing two 4-book series (w/associated shorts) and publishing them one at a time. The read-thru for book 1 to 2, book 2 to 3, etc., was identical for each. I do believe (as a reader) in the power of a long-running series, and my original plan was next to start creating a long-running series structure and write books 1-3 and start on book 4 before releasing with a splash of book preorders for the first three books at monthly intervals, as a way to build demand. (I’m not too far from that point now.)

    Problem is, this is based on a theory of readers being eager to read the next book “right away” for the preorders. BUT when I look at my stats for new readers to my published series, I don’t really see any difference in percentage read-thru for those who bought before the series were complete vs those that didn’t buy until afterward, which kinda shoots holes in that concept. Hmm…

    At this point, I’m close enough to finishing book 3 to want to go ahead with the original theory anyway, as an experiment, to see what happens. What the hell — what’s the point in being indie if you can’t experiment?

    I do sympathize with the OP — in book 3 I realized that my vague references to room locations/functions in my key complicated “Guild Hall” setting needed to be grounded by actual layout drawings for 7 floors that contained sub-basements, labs, servants’ quarters, shut-up rooms, multiple stairways, window-wells for sub-level lighting, multiple courtyards, etc.. [JK Rowling may be able to get away with vague descriptions in Hogwarts and magic buildings, but that’s not an option for me.] Going back to the first two (thankfully not-yet-released) books and cleaning up every one of the casual references to direction, place, function, etc. as characters moved around the buildings and opened up dead wings for emergencies and repurposed uses was a significant time sink. On the other hand, It took me three books to realize what I needed the building to really be and how it should be arranged, so it’s hard to see how it could have been avoided.

    I find it easier (as a pantser) to fix hole in character backstories or plot issues by references backward where necessary (“What ever happened to so-and-so?”) than to fix my described “physical reality” and it’s a lesson-learned about being less casual about that next time. 🙂

  4. I’ve got two books waiting for me to finish clean up. I’m very glad I didn’t rush to publish the first title because they tie together so closely. I’m still going back into #1 to fix something that I discover was alluded to in the second book. Continuity errors, names, meetings, all kinds of little bits.

    1. Yep. But at some point, you’ve got to grit your teeth and publish. I’m up to cover and blurbs. The formatting’s done and the Grammar Nazi’s have done their best.

  5. I wrote a book. I did not expect it to be the first in a series, I expected it to be a standalone.
    Then one of the characters turned up in what I thought was going to be a short story, unitl it kept going…
    And then, before I could get that published, due to a great many things going on in our lives, I started trying to tie an old project into this world.
    Except for teasing about shopping. And blowing up malls. And then I dumped the old project, and started writing a third book in the world. Which delayed the final edits on the second.
    Now I have two to publish, and while it was nice to go back and do a very little smoothing for continuity as the world develops, I’m now working on getting at least one of them out the door as the other’s off to beta readers.
    Except that due to Life Reasons not discussed on the internet for privacy, it’s getting delayed. Which means I’m in danger of writing another book…

    I may end up writing the series before I publish it. Good G-d, I hope not. I want these out the door, off my plate, and not have to deal with them again.

  6. I’ve given up not writing series. I write a one-off and it grows. A cute little urban fantasy story turns into a now nineteen-book Romance. A single book about a Hansa merchant is now five and a half, with number seven bouncing impatiently off to the side. Arrrrrrrrghhhhhhh!

    1. Your steampunky novella has stayed confined, so far – but watch out, it might attack when you’re not looking!

      1. That one, and I already have some ideas for the next two Elect stories . . . Time, my Prescioussss, time . . . Other people keep stealing my prescioussss time . . .

  7. I’m outlining a short story cycle before I do any more than the first.

    The last one is proving to be the sticking point. Also the one for which I am most glad that I have the ability to revise the earlier ones.

  8. Snerk… I know the feeling, did a ‘trilogy’ that turned into a six book series, with three novellas… Write however it works for you. Pay no attention to us!

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