Last summer, I decided to try my hand at writing a series. The decision had been a long time coming. Editors and publishers frequently asked me "Is this the first book in a series?" when they would read (and usually reject) my submitted manuscript. I always had the feeling that if I had said, "Why, yes, this does just happen to be the first book in a seven-book story arc," that I would have gotten accepted sooner. And I would have been lying through my teeth, too.
I write stand-alones. Characters introduce themselves to me --when I'm lucky, that is; frequently getting my characters to talk to me is like trying to pull a hippo out of a river with a rope-- and tell me their story. Then they go away and I am on to the next group who shows up and rings my doorbell. Ah, but that old "Is this a series?" demon has caught up to me at last.
In October, I released a self-published e-book called Haunted, the first book in my new YA series. I am happy with how sales are going, but the feedback I get more than anything else is: "Can't wait to see what happens next!" and "The book ends with a cliffhanger so I want to know what happens next!" and "This was a fun read and I can't wait for the next one!"
Yikes! When I started my series, and I think I even bored you all, er, talked about it here, the series was based on a geographic location, Bridgeton Park Cemetery, and not on specific characters. Certainly not the ones in Haunted. And I truly never thought of my ending as a "cliffhanger." But after hearing more than a few times that readers are expecting a continuation of the story I just finished, well...I guess I'm going to go that route. Now, this is really, really tough for me, since I don't think that way. I think of my books as one-and-done. The idea of going back to the same well repeatedly is, to put it mildly, causing me to freak out.
So, if any of you out there are currently writing a series, I'd sure love to know what makes you and your stories tick. At the moment, I'm pretending I'm fan-fic'ing someone else. I have no clue how else to do this!