The Little Boy Lost series is really, at its heart, one big book. There is one comprehensive storyline, the same cast of characters, and each successive novel picks up where the prior one left off. That’s a lot of facts, people, places, and events to keep straight. The series totals nearly 400,000 words, that’s a serious testament to two verbose teenage boys. Once they started telling me their story, however, I just couldn’t stop until they’d finished.
What I Learned
1. Organization is key, keep a lexicon with all of your information like:
Biographies and pictures for your characters
Relationships between characters
Pictures, maps, and descriptions of your settings
A calendar with your timeline
Motivations and events significant to your story
Research that you’ve done, including links to refer back to
I use Microsoft OneNote 2010 to keep my database of information, not only for series, but for individual stories so that I can keep everything straight. I’m usually working on two or three projects at once – not for speed, but because when I get stuck on one story, I can use another to resolve that block. It keeps me writing.
2. Finish the series before you publish it
For a series of sequels or spin-offs, publishing them one at a time and working on the next one works, but for a continuous series where you need to finish the story–it doesn’t. With each successive novel, you receive feedback in the form of tweets, facebook posts, and reviews. Most of this feedback isn’t even directed at you, but Google Alerts makes it very easy to deliver right to your doorstep, so to speak. Suggestions, complaints, and expectations will all be presented with a big red bow for your inspection and that may find its way into your work. The question is – should it? I don’t think so. You have a story to tell, a vision to convey–it is your vision, not that of your readers. That said, the readers are the ones buying the books. You should make them happy right? Hence, the dilemma that would have been solved if the books had been finished before publication started.
3. Find cover models you can use for the entire series
If you’re using stock photography as most publishers in the genre do, you’ll want to make sure you have enough distinct images to keep your characters consistent for the entire series.
4. Sales figures
When you look at your sales, remember that some people won’t commit to reading an extended series until the series has completed.
Because some people won’t read a series until it’s been completed, make sure they know when it is. One of the reasons that I made the Little Boy Lost blog tour 30 days was so that I could hit as many different sites with their unique readerships as possible. If someone wants to know that the series has concluded, I wanted to make sure that they knew.
Writing a continuous series requires more attention to detail and commitment to your characters than a series of sequels or spin-offs in that a continuous series need to be able to finish the story before the series ends. Usually sequels or spin-offs are self-contained and can be read as individual novels (not always, but generally). In the case of the Little Boy Lost series–in order to really understand their journey, a reader needs to start at the beginning and read the entire body of novels. Reading it requires a commitment by the reader, and I truly appreciate that.
The Little Boy Lost blog tour continues June 25th – July 24th . Make sure to comment at each stop for more chances to win some really great prizes such as an entire series autographed to you by J. P. Barnaby. For additional entries – tweet about the tour including @JPBarnaby and #LittleBoyLost.
Tour Schedule: http://www.jpbarnaby.com/?p=637