Hello there, fellow authors!
Dan Padavona here, your friendly neighborhood bestseller, weaving tales of suspense and thrills, one sequel at a time. Now, we’ve all been there. Staring at the blinking cursor, wrestling with the tantalizing prospect of extending our beloved book into a series. Can we pull off writing a sequel just as captivating, if not more so, than the first book?
Well, that’s what I’m here for—to shed light on the intricate and rewarding art of sequel planning.
My journey as a thriller author has taken me through new sequels, series planning, and the occasional late-night pizza binge. (I swear, the last one is crucial to the process). You may know me from my line of popular sequels and series, the tales that have left readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the next installment. I’ve seen both sides of the coin, the daunting blank page and the excitement of a new release.
Today, I’m going to share with you the secrets that propelled my book sales skyward. We’ll take a deep dive into the labyrinth of writing a sequel, exploring how to weave anticipated sequels that thrill our readers and boost our book sales. We’ll tackle the hows and whys of books with sequels, and I’ll share insider tips to keep your readers hooked book after book.
But, as we all know, a great book series is not just about nailing the plot twists and character arcs. It’s about building your brand as an author too.
So, whether you’re plotting your first sequel or your tenth, strap in and prepare for a wild ride; together, let’s conquer the world of sequel planning and take your book sales to new heights. Trust me; it’s going to be a fun journey!
The Power of Sequels in Literature
All right, let’s dive right into the heart of the matter: sequels. Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve crafted a few (okay, more than a few) popular sequels and series in my time. Why, you ask? Because sequels are a veritable treasure trove of opportunities, creatively and commercially.
The Color of Money
Let’s talk about our favorite “S” word: sales. We all want to sell more books, right? Well, sequels, when done right, are sales magnets. I’m not just blowing smoke here. The data backs it up. Book sequels consistently outperform standalone novels in the market. Why?
Because readers love to invest in stories that continue. They want to see what new adventures await their beloved characters, what further sequels will bring, and how the storyline will twist and turn next.
Each new book in a series offers an opportunity to re-engage your readers and ignite their anticipation for the next one. Plus, each new release brings in new readers, who then often go back and buy the earlier books. It’s a beautiful, sales-boosting cycle.
The Creativity of a Sequel
Now, let’s shift gears and talk about the creative side. Writing a sequel is like going on a second date with your characters. You’ve gotten to know them in the first book, and now it’s time to explore their depths, to see them grow and change. Sequels offer a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper into your characters and your world.
And this, in turn, provides a richer experience for your readers, enticing them to stay on for the whole ride.
Series planning, in this context, is an essential part of the process. It’s not enough to just write one sequel after another. You need a plan, a roadmap outlining where your story is heading. This helps you maintain consistency and continuity and also allows you to drop hints and plant seeds that will bloom in future books. A well-planned series keeps readers hooked and eagerly anticipating your next release.
So, the next time you find yourself pondering whether to venture into the realm of sequel planning, remember the power that sequels wield. They are key to unlocking increased book sales and delighting your readers with rich, ongoing narratives. Take it from a guy who’s written a few. They’re worth it.
Sequel Planning: A Strategic Approach
All right, buckle up, authors! It’s time to delve into the thrilling world of sequel planning. As someone who has navigated these treacherous waters time and again, I can assure you that having a strategic approach to planning your sequels can make a world of difference. So, let’s break this down step by step.
Understanding the Scope of Your Series
Before you start writing a sequel, you need to understand the scope of your series. Are you planning a trilogy? A quartet? Or an open-ended series with new sequels rolling out until your characters retire to a beach in Florida?
Understanding the breadth of your series helps you pace your narrative and character development. Trust me; you don’t want to exhaust all your plot ideas in the first two books and then be left floundering for the next eight.
Outlining Your Series Arc
Once you’ve determined the scope of your series, it’s time to outline your series arc. This is your grand, overarching plot spanning across all your books. Consider it the backbone of your series, with each book being a vertebra supporting and contributing to the whole structure. Here’re some tips:
- Start with the end: Knowing where your story will end can help guide your decisions as you plan individual books.
- Develop subplots: These are smaller arcs spanning two or more books, adding depth and richness to your series.
- Plan character growth: How will your characters change and evolve throughout the series?
Planning Individual Book Arcs
Now you have your series arc in place, it’s time to plan the individual book arcs. Each book should have its own self-contained plot contributing to the series arc.
Standalone yet connected: Each book should be satisfying on its own while advancing the series plot.
- Introduce new elements: New characters, conflicts, and settings will keep your readers engaged and eager for more.
- Build anticipation: A well-planned book arc will build anticipation for the next book in the series.
Sequel Planning and Marketing
Remember, sequels aren’t just about writing a compelling story; they’re also a crucial part of your book marketing strategy. Each new sequel is an opportunity to re-engage your readers and attract new ones. Make sure to do the following:
- Time your releases: Regular, anticipated sequels can keep your readers engaged and your sales steady.
- Leverage pre-orders: Allow readers to order your next book in advance. This not only boosts sales but also creates buzz.
- Bundle your books: Once you have a few books out, consider bundling them together for a discounted price. This can attract new readers and boost overall sales.
Sequel planning might seem daunting, but with a strategic approach, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling process. It allows you to craft a cohesive and compelling series to captivate your readers, build your author brand, and dramatically improve your book sales. What’s not to love?
Building Anticipation: Crafting a Compelling Continuing Narrative
If you’ve ever wondered why readers eagerly await new sequels, it’s because they’re enthralled by the ongoing story. They’re invested in your characters, curious about your world, and can’t wait to see what happens next. So, how do we keep this anticipation alive?
The Art of the Cliffhanger
When it comes to building anticipation, nothing works quite like a good old-fashioned cliffhanger. But beware, my friends, for the art of the cliffhanger is a delicate balance.
- The right amount of suspense: Ending your book on a major cliffhanger can keep readers on tenterhooks for the next book, but be careful not to leave too many unresolved questions. This could frustrate your readers instead of intrigue them.
- Subtle hints: A hint or a teaser about what’s to come in the next book can be just as effective (and often a lot less frustrating) as a full-blown cliffhanger. A new character, a mysterious object, or an unexpected revelation can all serve to whet your reader’s appetite for the next book.
Character Development across Books
One of the most compelling aspects of a series is watching characters grow and evolve. As an author, you have the unique opportunity to develop your characters across multiple books.
- Evolving characters: Keep your characters dynamic. Let them learn from their experiences and evolve. This keeps your readers invested in their journeys.
- New relationships: Introduce new characters and relationships in your sequels. This adds depth to your story and provides new avenues for character development.
The Promise of More to Explore
Your world is a character in its own right. And just like your characters, it should grow and evolve throughout your series.
- Expanding world: Use your sequels to expand your world. New locations, cultures, and rules can keep your readers intrigued.
- Deepening lore: Delve deeper into the history, mythology, or technology of your world. This adds depth to your story and gives readers more to look forward to.
Leveraging Anticipation in Your Marketing
Building anticipation isn’t just good for your narrative; it’s also great for your book sales. Here’s how.
- Teasers and sneak peeks: Share excerpts, cover reveals, or teaser quotes from your upcoming book. This keeps your existing readers excited and can also attract new readers.
- Pre-orders: Make your next book available for pre-order. This allows your eager readers to purchase your book in advance, boosting your initial sales.
Crafting a compelling continuing narrative is a crucial part of series planning. It keeps your readers eager for more, builds your author brand, and boosts your book sales. So, get out there and start crafting those anticipated sequels!
Author Branding and Establishing a Loyal Reader Base
So, let’s talk about something that’s often overlooked but incredibly important in the realm of sequel writing: author branding. This is your unique stamp, your unmistakable voice — your signature style that readers come to know and love. It’s what turns casual readers into loyal fans and loyal fans into advocates for your work. So, how do we go about establishing a strong author brand? Let’s explore!
Consistency Is Key
Consistency in your writing style, themes, and quality is the cornerstone of author branding. It’s what makes your books uniquely you.
- Writing style: Whether it’s your witty dialogue, intricate plotting, or vivid world-building, identify your strengths and make sure they shine in every book.
- Themes: If your books consistently explore certain themes, you’ll attract readers who are interested in those topics.
- Quality: Ensure that every book you release is of high quality. This builds trust with your readers and solidifies your brand.
Engage with Your Readers
Building a loyal reader base involves more than just writing great books. It’s also about forming a connection with your readers.
- Social media: Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to interact with your readers, share updates about your new sequels, and give them a glimpse into your writing process. Grow your Facebook and Twitter followers and you have a beeline straight to their wallets.
- Newsletters: Regular newsletters are a great way to keep your readers informed about your upcoming books and any exciting news or events.
- Reader feedback: Engage with your readers’ reviews and comments. This shows you value their opinions and helps you understand what they love about your books.
A Strong Author Image
Your author image is a significant part of your brand. However, it’s not just about your photo; it’s about how you present yourself to your readers.
- Author bio: Your author bio is an opportunity to share a bit about yourself with your readers. Make it interesting and authentic. Having a strong author bio is one way to stand out and make more sales on Amazon.
- Professionalism: Whether you’re interacting with readers online or in person, maintaining a professional and respectful demeanor strengthens your author brand.
Harnessing the Power of Sequels in Branding
Sequels are a powerful tool in author branding. They establish you as a prolific writer in your genre and build reader anticipation.
- Anticipated sequels: The promise of more books in a series keeps readers engaged with your work over a longer period, strengthening your brand.
- Series planning: A well-planned series that delivers on reader expectations enhances your reputation as a reliable and skilled author.
Author branding is more than just a marketing strategy. It’s about forming a genuine connection with your readers and giving them more of what they love. So, keep those sequels coming, and watch your author brand (and your book sales) soar!
Read the next part of this in-depth guide to find out more about Leveraging Sequels for Increased Sales, with some of my top tips for getting more out of the hard work you’ve put in with all of that sequel planning.