One of the best things to happen in the world books recently?  It’s gotta be all the series and serialization of stories.

Maybe it’s the influence of TV and the show addictions we all have.  Maybe it’s the rise of indie authors and how they can write faster.  Maybe readers just love getting to know a character really deeply.

Whatever it is, novel series are awesome.  All three of the Fiction School hosts are writing a novel series right now, so it’s clearly the coolest thing in the world.  (…*crickets*…*crickets*…)

In this episode, we talk about our own experiences writing a series–what’s more fun and more daunting about it, how characters have to have more potential and depth, if planning and plotting out a series is a good strategy or not, and lots more.

PLUS! A special bonus!  When this episode aired, Jody just released her second book in her Audrey’s Guides Series, Audrey’s Guide to Black Magic.  To start the show, hear her read a little bit of the book.  Then click here to get the book!

This is what it's like to write a series: each one a story, going a little farther. Then at the end: licking.

This is what it’s like to write a series: each one its own story, going a little farther than the one before. Then at the end: licking.


  • The backstory of writing Audrey’s Guide to Black Magic
  • Reasons why Jody chose to self-publish the book
  • how Jody built “an army of book bloggers with amazing insights”
  • Jody reads a few pages from Audrey’s Guide to Black Magic
  • Are series better planned ahead or do they arrive organically as the first book is being written?  Which is better?  We appear to mostly NOT plan out the whole series.  (But this freaks us out–listen until the end!)
  • The difference with characters in novel series: they have to have longer character arcs and keep developing
  • The mixed feelings about self-publishing; one perk is the speed, as Jody was able to beat many other witch books to market
  • One downside of self-publishing: the editing process, which is more in-depth with traditional publishing.  “Self-publishing is like tightrope walking.” (but Baker LOVES it.  Even though he’d be awful at actual tightrope walking.)
  • Are series a good way for writers to gain fans because the books link to each other? They make for a natural “sales funnel,” to use icky marketing terminology
  • Reading audiences are changing, and the rise in series writing is probably related to the film and television movement toward series
  • In a series, you have to be more concerned with character development as the writer; the appeal for readers is probably the longer, deeper, more twisting relationship with a character
  • Look out for this trap when writing a series: Avoid making the second book too much of a review of the first book’s information.  It has to balance out and fill in the reader without being a boring rehash
  • But it also has to be subtle enough that the second book (and third, fourth, fifth, etc.) works as a standalone read.
  • Series are cool to readers also because of the “white space,” the gaps between the stories that readers get to fill in for themselves
  • We’re all kind of terrified to write third book–which Jody feels has to be a “climactic wonderbook.”  There’s lots of pressure on the end books in the series
  • But it still has to get written from some organic love for the story.  Tommy’s at work on his book 3 and he still doesn’t know how the trilogy will end
  • One way a series can be planned to be useful to writers is by using an external time framework, like the way each Harry Potter book is simultaneous with one school year for the seven years they go to Hogwarts.  Or, using the course of a year and the seasonal moments in it, to frame and drive the action from somewhere beyond the characters themselves
  • Characters also make lots of the choices in the second, third book for the author, so the ending books in the trilogy don’t always have the same level of Author-as-God
  • As we get toward ending our series, our greatest fear is jumping the shark.  Or jumping THE DRAGON.  Or forgetting to add in enough sharks and laser beams.

Thanks for reading (and listening)!

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Happy writing, everybody.