A Single Novel Or A Series?
It's funny how life sometimes works. A little under a year ago I started writing a story, more for the amusement of myself and some close friends. I was hypothesizing what would happen if I had found that one of my (many!) famous and wealthy relatives had an estate to which I had a claim. What started as a conversation on Christmas Eve grew into a written email exchange and then morphed into the novel "Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor".
While I had always wanted to write a complete novel, I thought that would wait until I retired, several years in the future. I had been engrossed in my family history research for the better part of 15 years and that was my passion which engaged what little spare time I had.
As my "what if" story grew, it quickly took on a life of its own. Within a few months, I had what I thought was a fun little story, mixing in realistic characters in an exciting setting, and just to make things more interesting, I threw in a ghost and a strong back story for good measure. With editing and rewriting, I found myself with "Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor". The story takes DNA testing and family research to an extreme, and then adds the reality of greedy "friends" trying to stake claim to a massive inheritance.
Once I had finished and published "Bloodlines: Cove Point Manor", I found I had another storyline running around in my brain. I also found I was now bored since I was no longer writing after months of doing so in every free minute I could find.
My second novel, "Bloodlines: Of Noble Blood", took the two main characters from my first novel and placed them in a different setting but still following the basic DNA mystery theme from the first. The second storyline was darker, and had more of a sinister feel to it, but I thought it had worked well. My readers liked the second book, but they missed the antagonists from Cove Point Manor, Brenda and Connie.
From my viewpoint, I had written the two novels revolving around a DNA mystery that I wanted, but my fans were clamouring for more: they loved the characters and didn't want to stop reading about them.
After some consideration, I figured out a new storyline and wrote "Bloodlines: Brenda's Revenge". This book resurrected the two bumbling and nasty antagonists, Brenda and Connie, the mother-daughter duo from "Cove Point Manor" and combined them with my protagonists, Alex and Maggie, and wrote my third novel. The third novel allowed me to expand on the original story in many aspects, providing my readers with more background and insight for several of the characters they knew and liked.
After months of writing, editing, re-writing and formatting, "Brenda's Revenge" was published earlier this month. Sales have started to come in for this new novel, but to my surprise, sales of my first and second novels have started to increase dramatically. Since all three books are also enrolled in Kindle Select, I am also seeing a significant boost in borrows and reads from Amazon customers enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners' Lending Library program. The increase has been noticeable and the addition of the third book in the Bloodlines Series seems to have breathed new life in my earlier works.
While "Brenda's Revenge" is still a new release, things look promising so far. It seems that tying the three novels together in a series has been welcomed by my readers and has also generated interest from new readers.
As a reader myself, I have to admit that some of my favorite books have been part of a series, although I also enjoy stand-alone stories. With a series of books that I really enjoy though, I found myself quickly hunting down the next book in the series and then reading it. If you think of the old Hardy Boys series, Nancy Drew series or even the more recent Harry Potter series and Twilight series, each book left the reader wanting more. I'm not comparing my own books to any of the above series, but I think that readers like, and are more likely to buy, books that they enjoy when they are offered in a series.
Only time and experience will tell, but I'm already outlining additional adventures for Alex and Maggie and, of course, some of the more "interesting" secondary characters that my readers have enjoyed.
What do you think?