To Wait or not to Wait

A Guest Post by Gamma Martinez

Conventional wisdom when writing a series has always been to write the first book then go on to write something else because you don't know if the first book will sell. For traditional publishing, that is still very valid advice, but I don't need to tell you that publishing has changed. The increased popularity of indie publishing means this question needs to be reexamined. Naturally, you could write the first book, release it, and then go on write the second, but there is another possibility that should be considered, especially for trilogies and other short series. Do you release the books when they are written, or do you write them all and release them in quick succession? Though I'm working with a small press, I had the same decision with my trilogy, The Oracles of Kurnugi. I opted to write them all first.

Writing the entire series obviously requires patience, but there are some advantages that may be enough to overcome that. The most obvious is that the most annoying part of reading any series is waiting for the next book to come out. With the whole series written, you can schedule them to be released on whatever schedule you want. You can build interest in your series without having to worry about that interest falling away as people move on to something else.

Continuity is also something to be considered. If you talk to authors writing series, inevitably someone will say "I wish I hadn't done that." I recently ran into that situation myself. The tension in the third act of the third book was completely defused by a magical item the protagonist had received in the first book. All it took was a couple of sentences to resolve the issue. Yes, I could've written around it or found some way to take the item from him, but it would've have been as powerful a scene. With adequate plotting, you can foresee major issues, but minor ones will crop up, and sometimes the best solution will be to change what was done earlier in the series. If the early books are already released that is an option no longer open to you.

Closely related to continuity is writing skill. No matter skilled you are when you begin, you will be a stronger writer after you write the third book in the series than you were when you were writing the first. Many writers wish they could go back and rewrite parts of their earlier books, not because of what they said, but because now, they are capable of saying the same thing in a much stronger voice. If you wait until the series is written, you can go back and find those rough spots, and so you're able to bring that first book up to the quality of the third.

Obviously, writing an entire series before the first book is released is not an easy choice to make. If it takes you six months or a year to write a book, you may decide that's too long to wait before putting your work out there. You may want to take a page out of the traditional method and see if the first book sells well before you decide to write a second. There are advantages to waiting though, and if you decide to go indie instead of tradition, writing the whole series may be something you want to consider.

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Gama Martinez lives near Dallas and collects weapons in case he ever needs to supply a medieval battalion. He greatly resents when work or other real life things get in the way of writing. Other than writing, he does normal things like run from bulls and attempt to leave the Earth to be a Martian colonist. Delphi, the first book in the Oracles of Kurnugi trilogy, was released Tuesday, May 27. Visit his website at http://www.GamaRayBurst.com.


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