Thinking about crafting a series for young readers? You’re not alone. Serial fiction has been on the rise in the past decade (hello, Harry Potter and Divergent). And despite a slight slowdown in middle-grade series, the trend looks to continue.
Does this mean you should take the plunge? Before jumping into series fiction, mull over these benefits and see if it has what you’re looking for.
1. Honing Your Craft.
Bruce Coville once had to write three books of a middle-grade series in three months. I saw him afterwards, and he looked a bit frayed around the edges. He said, “It didn’t do a lot for my art, but it polished my craft. And you can’t master your art until you’ve mastered the craft.”
I learned the craft of writing a mystery by selling the Chet Gecko series and then having to write the books. Series teach you about plotting, character, motivation, maintaining consistency, and how to sit down and write when your Muse is on vacation and you’d rather be surfing.
2. Hooking Readers
You might call series “training wheel books.” The familiarity of the characters and world makes it easier for the reader to reenter your series each time they pick up a book. This builds literacy skills and creates new readers who want to devour whatever you come up with.
I once got an e-mail from a girl who wrote: “I always hated to read cuz it was boring. Now that I read your Chet Gecko book, I love to read.” Series readers are loyal readers.
3. Landing a Steadier Paycheck
Let’s face it: those of us who are serious about making our living as writers lack the steady paycheck of the nine-to-fiver. Selling and writing a series gives you a predictable advance — provided you keep up with your deadlines.
“Series today are more niche-oriented,” says Scholastic Editorial Director Craig Walker. “Today, we are doing more in more genres then ever before. Horse books, wizards and warriors for older kids, magic for younger ones.”
Good news for series writers. But make sure of one thing before you jump in with both feet: Do you actually like series books? If not, you’ll have a hard time selling and maintaining a series.
But if so, come on in, the water’s fine!
(Was this helpful? If you’re serious about writing series, you’ll find many more insider tips in my teleseminar, “Writing a Series That Sells,” including the two phrases you should never use in your query letter.)