Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter…

What do all these books have in common besides being major bestsellers?

They’re all part of a continuing series.

I probably don’t have to tell you that series books are popular with readers but what you might not know is they’re favorites of publishers and agents too.

Bottom line is publishing is a business and both editors and agents look for people who are in this for the long haul and not just one book wonders. Create a series and they know you’re an author who wishes to make a career out of writing.

If you’ve been thinking about penning a series or have a story that could turn into one, here are five tips for creating series books-

Love Your Character(s)

You wouldn’t want to hang out with friends you didn’t like and the same goes for your character or characters. Unlike a standalone book, you’ll be spending lots of time in the head and heart of your series character so you should love them like a dear old friend.

Planning, Planning, Planning

While you should keep track of things like age, time span etc., in every book you write, it’s vital in a continuing series. I ran afoul of this a few times and now keep a notebook for each series that I write. Character’s names, ages, marriage status, children etc. It’s all too easy to lose track and then you have to reread previous manuscripts, or worse still, make a fatal error and lose credibility with your readers.

Cliffhanger, Yes, Please

One of the appeals of reading a series is the cliffhanger, an unfinished storyline that continues into the next book…but a word of caution. There are two sets of readers. One likes the open ending and the thought of waiting for the release of your next book to find out who did it or if so and so got together with so and so. The other group gets downright snarky if you make them wait. I’ve learned to try and please both sets of readers. I’ll tie up the main storyline (no cliffhanger), and then continue with a sub-plot cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until my next book.

Don’t Keep Me Waiting

If you are going the cliffhanger route at the end of a book then play nice. In fact, you should place nice anyway. Don’t make your readers wait a couple of years until you release your next story in the series. They might just forget about you and find another series to love.


Do you have a writing question you’d like answered or what to see a specific topic covered in the Writer’s Room? Leave a comment and let me know.

Susan Palmquist is the author of 100 plus books including writing instruction, lifestyle, romances and mysteries. Under her pen name, Vanessa Devereaux, she writes erotic romances and erotica.

Since 2010 she’s been tutoring aspiring authors and offering workshops through various chapters of Romance Writers of America. She recently launched a mentoring/coaching service for both aspiring and established writers. You can learn more about Susan and her work at and her writing blog at and check out her self- paced writing classes at

Contact Susan about her coaching/mentoring service at

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