Selling your series

Today I’ve got Joyce Lavene on the blog talking about selling a series.

Here’s Joyce!

You’ve come up with a great idea. You’ve got some unique characters. You think it might be possible that you’ve thought of a series. How do you convince a publisher?


The publishing industry is driven by money, just like any other. Publishers and writers both want to make a living. One time-honored way to please both readers and editors is the series.


By definition, a series is a group of books that maintains a place or characters, sometimes both. Readers begin to identify with returning characters or setting. If your series captures their interest, they’ll want to read the backlist and wait eagerly for new books.


Publishers know this too. Many editors are looking for the next J.K. Rowling or Jan Karon. Series books have a long shelf life, an active backlist, and guaranteed future sales. Your job as a writer is to convince an editor that:


  • You’re capable of writing several books.
  • You have an interesting plot that can carry more than one book.
  • You have fascinating characters that can continue to be fascinating.
  • You have a wonderful setting: town, world, etc.


If you’ve had several books published, it shouldn’t be too hard to prove to an editor that you’re capable of getting the job done. If you’ve never published a book, you’re going to have to provide thorough documentation to show that you’ve thought the project through.


How do show that a plot is strong enough to maintain a series? Not all ideas are big enough to write more than one book. Of those that are, another group of ideas would drop off after two or three books. Your plot has to be expandable. It has to show growth potential. Don’t be afraid to let the editor know where you’re going.


You love your characters. How do you show an editor that they’re up to the task of carrying more than one book? Character breakdown is a major series problem. If your series has replaceable characters, you don’t have to worry about it. Most series are dependent on their characters: Miss Marple, Harry Potter, Jack Ryan.  If you’re starting now, re-design your characters to give them endurance.


You’ve created the ultimate universe that can continue through several books, regardless of character changes. Be sure you express that when you contact an editor. What makes your universe so special? What makes it strong enough that people can come and go without taking away from it?


A final word about the practical aspects of selling a series: Be sure the publisher knows you’re selling the books as a series. Your contract should reflect that. It should stipulate how many books are going to come out each year and when they’re going to come out. Each publisher is different. Each contract is different. It’s good for both of you to know what you’re doing from the beginning so there aren’t any surprises.


If you’re planning to publish your own series, these tips still make sense. You might not have to sell your idea to an editor, but you’ll want to sell your writing, and continue selling it, to your readers.


A series can be a delight to write. If you love your characters and your setting, you can go back over and over to visit them. They become like members of your family!


My new book is A Haunting Dream, book four in the Missing Pieces Mysteries, set in Duck, North Carolina (a real place!)



The mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell, is a woman with a gift for finding lost things. When her boyfriend Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann arrives in Duck looking for a second chance, Dae suddenly finds herself facing certain heartache. And while her romantic life is in shambles, she’s even more concerned by the sudden change in her gift. After touching a medallion owned by a local named Chuck Sparks, Dae is shocked when her vision reveals his murder—and a cry for help. Dae doesn’t know what to make of the dead man’s plea to “Help her,” until she has another vision about a kidnapped girl—Chuck’s daughter, Betsy. With a child missing, the FBI steps in to take over the case. But Dae can’t ignore her visions of Betsy, or the fact that Kevin’s psychic ex-fiancé might be the only person who can help find her.


About Joyce:

Joyce Lavene writes bestselling mystery with her husband/partner Jim. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family, her cat, Quincy, and her rescue dog, Rudi. Visit her at, www.Facebook/JoyceandJimLavene  Twitter: @authorjlavene



Purchase: A Haunting Dream at:


Win a copy of A Haunting Dream, the fourth book in the Missing Pieces Mysteries, by leaving your name at my blog: 


It’s Cindy again!  Thanks for being here, Joyce. Lots of great information about series! Hurry over to Joyce’s blog and comment!

Happy writing!





Susan Santangelo – Writing what she knows best

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I’ve got Susan Santangelo on the blog talking about Baby Boomer Mysteries.

Here’s Susan!

I’m frequently asked at book talks, “Why do you write a Baby Boomer mystery series?” My answer is, “Why not?” There are 78.2 million Baby Boomers in the United States, according to the latest census figures. And many “senior” Boomers, myself included, are starting to hit the magic age of 65. There’s so much written about the financial piece of growing older – taking care of your IRAs, 401Ks, etc. – but nobody seemed to be taking a look at the emotional piece. By that I mean, how do couples who have been married for years, raised a family, and been leading fairly independent lives, now cope with the fact that the husband and the wife are no longer going out to a 9 – 5 job every day? Instead, they often get into each other’s way as they struggle to re-define their roles. Of course, nothing like that ever happens in my house! 🙂

I’ve always loved the mystery genre. I was hooked on Nancy Drew books when I was a child, then I graduated to Agatha Christie, and I’ve just keep on going. I love what is traditionally called the cozy – no blood and gore for me. I like to be entertained. And, especially, I like to laugh!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, and that was a real wakeup call for me. I’ve been a freelance writer, editor and drama critic for years. I’ve also had my own p. r. company and done special events for a variety of clients, including Carnegie Hall. Writing press releases, articles, brochures – I did it all. But I’d always wanted to write a mystery. After the cancer diagnosis (I’m fine now!) I thought, why wait? Who knows what other curve balls life might have in store for me?

The original idea of the series was that my husband and I would do it together. He’s been writing non-fiction professionally for years. But it didn’t work out that way.

The series deals with typical Boomers Carol and Jim Andrews as they navigate the rocky way toward their golden years. In the first book, Retirement Can Be Murder, released in April 2009, Carol dreads Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it, except interfering in the day-to-day activities and driving her crazy. Until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach. The second one in the series, Moving Can Be Murder, was released May 1 2011. This one deals with Carol and Jim selling the family home and downsizing, with one dead body thrown in to keep things interesting. Book 3 in the series, Marriage Can Be Murder, includes a destination wedding on Nantucket, and was released in July 2012. There a total of 7 books planned for the series.

My books are written in the first person, so many people think I’m Carol. I’ve even been introduced at book talks as Carol! We’re both sarcastic and like to be in charge. We value our family and our close women friends. Oh, one more thing – we both love English cocker spaniels. There are two English cockers in the books, Lucy and Ethel.

My characters have become my best friends. The more I write about them, the more I want to write about them. And I have a sneaky suspicion that when I’m not keeping an eye on them, they get into trouble. Or, maybe it’s the other way around?

The subhead for each book title is, “Every wife has a story.” The more women I connect with, either at book talks or via the Internet, the more I realize how true that is!

The books are available on Amazon and a number of independent book stores, as well as on Kindle and Nook. And through the website:

Thanks for the opportunity to make some new cyber friends. I always love to hear from readers. I can be reached at ssantangelo (at) aol (dot) com

Susan Santangelo

Me again!

Thanks for being on the blog today, Susan! The series sounds great. Love that the cocker spaniels are named Lucy and Ethel! I’ve wondered about that first person issue. I only write in third so I’ve never thought anyone would call me by a character name.

Happy writing!


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