COMPLETE THREE BOOKS I wanted to sell a novel to get my writing career off the ground. I was working a full-time job and raising two children with my hubby while I studied the craft of writing. What I've learned along the way is that it's probably a great idea to write the first three books in your series you hope to sell before you pitch it to an agent or editor. We learn how to write by writing. It's easy to think about writing a novel but when it comes down to actually doing it and fitting the time in to do it that's a another thing entirely. If I'd had all three of my books written for this series before it sold my current situation would have been that much easier.
LEARN THE CRAFT No matter how well you write there is always more to learn. While you are writing I recommend you try to attend at least one big conference somewhere that will help you grow. You will not only grow as a writer but you will start to get an idea of what the business side of writing is all about. You can meet with editors and agents for an appointment (although most will want you to have something to pitch if you do) or you can choose to sit in and listen to an agent and editor panel. I've done both. I'm sure I scheduled to meet with editors way too early. I scheduled two agent appointments along the way because I didn't think I was ready for one yet in those early days and I was right. James Scott Bell wrote a great blog this week at The Kill Zone called How to Develop an Enduring Series. I'd encourage you to take a look.
STUDY THE MARKET Know what's out there. Read in the genre you want to publish in but also read widely. You may think you know what you want to write and then find out later that you really want to write in another genre. I've always loved historical romances. I learned over the years that I love them better with a mystery/suspense plot. Try to incorporate new ideas into old plots. If you try to write the same thing that someone else is writing it won't be fresh and fresh is important.
My latest addiction to a series is this one that begins with What Angels Fear. This is a series written for the ABA and not the CBA. It contains some gruesome murders so it's not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy novels like this you will learn a lot about what makes an enduring series.C. S. Harris has created a series I cannot put down. I am currently reading book three, Why Mermaids Sing. Written during the time period I love, the British Regency, Harris has woven an intriguing mix of characters into a fabulous mystery series with hero Sebastian St. Cyr.
What's your favorite series? If you are writing a series, what have you learned?