Rookie Woes – What nobody told you about writing a series

It took me 2 years to write Little Weapon – Book 3 of the Chikara Revolution.

After I was done with Fatal Extraction, I was all geared up to tell Kseniya’s story. She started off as just a mention of Zane’s past, but she refused to let me write her off. By the end of Book 1, I was all hyped up to write about Kseniya.

Then I got stuck.

How much of the previous story should I overlap? How do I make it into a standalone without repeating details that will bore the readers who had read the first book?

As a reader, I tend to be put off by long series that I only discovered much later. I wanted it to be a little like Nalini Singh’s psy-changeling series. I could pick up at any point and move on from there, and if I’m interested, I could go back and buy the older books.

I overestimated myself, because being able to write like that takes a lot of skill.

I mean, I have to be honest. I have a general sense of how the story is going to go, how the main plot is going to stretch across the 6 books I’ve planned. Initially, I’d intended to write about Nirvana and her crew as 6 individual books with their own romance and stories. Then somehow the plot developed to Zane’s brothers so my plans went kaput.

I thought, it’s ok. I have an idea of how to write this series too.

Yeah. That’s what I thought. Execution of the idea is a different thing.

It’s so much easier to start on a new story. That’s why in between that, I wrote my Chinese Historical (which I had intended to be on its own), then tried to go back to this book, gave up and wrote Purple Reign instead.

Then after I published Purple Reign, I knew I couldn’t put it off anymore.

I had help from a friend, who told me I could fill in the details along the way as flashback, but not let it hinder the main story progress. I tried. It worked. I also had an alpha reader who would point out if i dwelled on the backstory too much.

At this point, we must all remember that it’s been two years since I wrote Fatal Extraction. My poor alpha reader, bless her, went through 2 years of revisions. I had also realized how I fucked myself from the plot in Fatal Extraction. So I went back to edit Fatal Extraction, put up the revised edition, then came back to continue writing Little Weapon. It’s a minor detail that my readers might have forgotten from two years back but it’s very glaring when I’m the writer. Also if I have any readers who’d just picked up the books and carry on the Little Weapon, they are going to spot this shit.

So the same friend told me, I should have written at least 3 books in the series first before launching. Yes. I should have. Too late. Just do damage control now. It’s a good thing I don’t have many readers yet. And those who stuck with me from the start get free books for life.

Next thing I want to address – Preorders and Publicity scams

I shot myself in the foot majorly this time. I signed up with this publicity company, paid close to USD 500 for 3 months’ worth of publicity and a reader group.

So what this publicity person promised, was opportunities to put my book out there, give it more exposure etc etc. All the good stuff.

What I found out later, was that he was publicizing amongst authors like myself, who are desperate for sales. I got signed up for podcasts hosted by other authors that, I shan’t say no one listens to, but I don’t see a lot of general interest in those podcasts and interviews on their blogs. I paid for the publicity in March, those interviews that I filled in were so packed, that I only got featured much later in August. There was a tonne of them who still haven’t put up the interviews I’d filled in.

What I got out of it, was a nice TV interview, a feature on Sunday Tribune, and a review from a proper author that was posted onto Amazon. And two podcasts interviews, of which only 1 was aired. I also got some live reading, which only 1 person watched (because his turn to go live was after mine) and 1 author takeover session which only my husband, my brother-in-law, and my lovely friend participated in.

Bloody embarrassing.

As you can already tell, all these did nothing for my sales. The guy was trying to sucker me into paying for another 6 months publicity at a privileged rate, which I said ‘no’ to.

Then I didn’t hear from him anymore after that with regard to building my reader group. I texted him twice. Got ghosted. Going to try emailing. Not sure if I’m going to get through or I can kiss my USD 100 good bye. Anyway, that reader group, I found out, was him randomly going through the list of authors who signed up for publicity with him and adding them to various groups. I was getting so many group invites to the groups he had created for other authors too. When I asked him how this was going to work, he said it’s for me to learn and refer to how those authors run their group and do giveaways to attract more readers to their groups.

Erm. Not really working. I don’t have much hope about this group that I paid for, but since I paid for it, I should get something right? Even though it’s not what I’d expected?

So, back to my preorders.

While I was doing my publicity run, I thought I should put up as many preorders as I can, hoping to attract more interest to my beautiful covers. I am confident of writing them because I’ve already got the whole story outline in my head. The mistake I made, was that I was too confident about my writing ability. The 2nd and 3rd pandemic lockdown came and majorly screwed with my creativity. I had to push my first preorder back by a month once. Got warned by Amazon. I have 2 more other crazy preorder deadlines to meet, which I’m trying so damn hard now.

That’s all for now. Hope I can help prevent some rookies from making the same mistakes I did.

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