The Series Series, Part 1: Planning a Series
My mother and I have developed three series to date:
The Dumpy the Dump Truck picture book series; the Little Bo series of chapter books (the conclusion or final installment of will be published this Fall); and our current The Very Fairy Princess series of picture books, and now leveled readers – the first of which will be published in time for the holidays.
A question that I get asked frequently by editing clients is, “how do you plan a series? Do you start out intending to write a series, or does one book just evolve into more?”
The answer is: it depends.
Generally speaking, in today’s market, publishers want to see if a picture book character or concept will fly before they commit to more of the same. We had always hoped that The Very Fairy Princess would be a series, and had pitched it as such, but our publisher was nervous about committing to any sequels until the first book had demonstrated a sales record. Happily, it did – though we continue to bite our nails with each new installment to see if sales will warrant another.
With chapter books and middle grade novels, the price point tends to be less – and there is also a greater demand for multiple titles in a series for this age group. This makes pitching a chapter book or middle grade series a little easier.
To be on the safe side, when conceiving a series, it’s probably best to draft no more than one to three complete manuscripts before attempting to sell them. It’s important, though, to brainstorm a handful of other ideas, titles even – and to write a paragraph or so on each. This way you can be ready if an interested publisher or agent asks for more information.
Next up: Starting a Series – How do you establish the world and the characters?