I asked Cecy Robson, author SEALED WITH A CURSE: A WEIRD GIRLS NOVEL, about writing a series. She was kind enough to share some of her experience.
1. You’d written a few Weird Girls books before you landed an agent. How many had you completed and how much rework did you do?
I had three Weird Girls novels, three Weird novellas, and a spin-off novel written before I met my agent. When I signed with Penguin, Book One of my series had actually been divided into two novels. Those took the most work because I had to expand them into two books. The others were easier because they were already done. I rewrote each because my writing style had changed, and I because I had to match them with how the characters had developed. The details, plot arc, etc. remained the same.
2. Do you feel like it was better to have multiple books completed, or would it have been better to just have one?
My agent signed me after reading my first novel, knowing it had series potential. She didn’t realize I’d already written the next two installments and was overjoyed when I told her. Publishers―at least with regard to adult novels―like series. In fact, they expect it. Unless you’re a big name like Stephen King―who has the power to write a standalone novel and have it sell big―publishers want a project that can go on for several books and typically offer 2-3 book deals. Series potential makes an author more appealing. More books equal more money.
3. How much seeding do you do? For example, how much setup for book two did you put into SEALED WITH A CURSE?
I add enough to stir the curiosity of the reader. For example, I had a character that continued to make an appearance throughout SEALED WITH A CURSE. He never said much, but his presence suggested he had a purpose. He, ahem, shows up dead on my “weird” girls’ doorstep in the first few pages of A CURSED EMBRACE. The reader discovers his role as A CURSED EMBRACE unfolds.
4. A lot of paranormal series stretch on for a long time. Kim Harrison’s the Hollows and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books both come to mind. How far out do you suggest a series writer plan?
I planned closely for the first three that I wrote―hoping for a multi-book deal. However, I plotted out―at least in my head―seven books for my protagonist, Celia Wird. Since my series is about four sisters with unique supernatural abilities, I’ve since been “encouraged” by my agent and editor to start thinking about books for the other three sisters. I think it’s important when a writer creates a storyline to include strong supporting characters so they may potentially get their own spin-offs.
5. And of course, when’s your next book out?
A CURSED EMBRACE, releases July 2, 2013 followed by CURSED BY DESTINY (tent. title) January 2014.
I had the pleasure of meeting Cecy at the Backspace conference a few years ago. Aside from being a talented, dedicated, writer, she’s a genuinely nice person. I really appreciate her taking the time to answer these questions.
Cecy is offering a signed copy of SEALED WITH A CURSE to one of our readers. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Let me know in the comments or by email (email@example.com), and we’ll choose the winner at random.