SPS 103: Using Thought Leadership to Grow a Marketing Agency with Robert Glazer

Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, the premier global partner marketing agency that has won over 30 awards for its world-class company culture. He leads a fully remote team of over 200 people. He is the author of Friday Forward, an inspirational newsletter that reaches over 200,000 readers worldwide each week. The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of several books, including Elevate, Friday Forward, and How To Thrive In The Virtual Workplace. Robert is also a global keynote speaker who has spoken on the TEDx stage and the host of the popular Elevate Podcast. Above all else, he is passionate about sharing ideas that help people and organizations elevate their performance and reach their full potential.

Why Use Books for Business

Robert wanted to create a book based on the progressive articles he had written for his industry. “We felt that our industry was on the precipice of change.” He wanted to create a book as a calling card and came up with Performance Partnerships. Through his first book, Robert realized the value that writing and content bring to a company. He also admitted that his book was a great platform to answer many common questions without repeating the answer.

Different Purposes for Each Book

His first book was meant to be a calling card for his business. However, for his more recent publications, Robert wanted to focus on impact and reach. “I took different strategies depending on what I wanted to do.” He tested out the waters for how he wanted to publish each of his books and realized quickly that certain forms of his book could be easily distributed while hardcover books have more logistics to get them to their final location.

How to Find Time to Write Books

“A lot of us picture this ideal Mark Twain, go to a cabin for five weeks and write a book.” However, this isn’t a reality for most people. Robert suggests starting small with a goal of 100 words per day and increases how many words per day as you go along until you finish your book. With an assembly line process, Robert keeps a system to continually write his books.

Listen in on today’s episode to find out how Robert markets his books, how to find podcasts to be interviewed on, and how to find your own look-alike audience.

Show Notes

  • [01:38] Using books as a marketing strategy from the start of business.
  • [04:10] Why each book has a specific purpose for his company.
  • [06:06] Which books were better for self-publishing versus traditional publishing.
  • [10:51] Marketing tactics Robert uses to sell books.
  • [15:23] Which book marketing tactics don’t work to move books.
  • [19:34] Scaling for book sales what you want to do.
  • [21:46] Details about affiliate partnership marketing.
  • [29:09] Put people in your book that would help your book be successful.

Story Arcs: What They Are and How To Write Them

When you hear critics discussing any kind of narrative art, be that a movie, T.V. show, or a book, you may have heard them use the phrase ‘story arc.’

Sometimes they describe a particularly compelling story arc, or they mention that the story arc fell flat. 

Maybe you’ve come across this term in how-to content for writers.

Everyone talks about how important it is to make sure your story arcs are compelling, but how does one go about writing a good story arc? 

We’re here to break down what a story arc is, give you some examples of story arcs you can find in pretty much any book (seriously!), and show you how to make your own stories pop.

Let’s get started! 

What’s a Story Arc?

A story arc (also called a narrative arc) is just a term for the plot of your story. The line that the story follows, from beginning to end, is called an “arc” because of the rising, peak, and falling action.

It runs from the beginning, through the middle, to the end of a story.

Any given book or movie probably has more than one arc running through it. Let’s take your standard superhero movie, for example. You’ll have the main arc, which is what the story is about—-somebody becomes a superhero and saves the world. Then you’ll have the subplots, which each have their own arc. Usually, the superhero also has a love interest, and maybe an arc with a side character that gets resolved. 

Let’s take a closer look at each component of a story arc, so you can pick them out the next time you grab a book (also, spoilers ahead for Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan).

The Elements of a Story Arc

Exposition

Usually, when we talk about exposition, we’re referring to background information about the character or setting. We’ll say things like ‘avoid exposition dumps’ and point to a particularly dense paragraph as exposition-heavy, and we generally try to avoid it on our writing. 

When we’re talking about story arcs, though, we’re using the word exposition differently. Here, it means the story’s setup. This is where we start out in our story! For Girls of Paper and Fire, this is the part where we meet Lei while she’s working in her family shop.

We hear about her home life, and we get a brief catch-up on this world’s culture and caste system

story arc toy story example
Remember, in “Toy Story” when Andy’s birthday guests get to the party, and Andy’s toys are upset – worried they will be replaced and discarded? That’s exposition in action – the part of the story that sets up for the rest of the plot. In this case, the tension between Buzz and Woody. Photo by Silvana Carlos on Unsplash

Rising Action

Coming out of exposition, there’s going to be some kind of inciting incident that kicks off the story. Something happens to our character that changes things forever, and they have to go do the rest of the story because of it. In a romance, this is the meet-cute. 

The rising action is everything surrounding that inciting incident and leading to the climax. In Girls of Paper and Fire, the inciting incident happens when General Yu comes to Lei’s village to take her to the palace. This is where she’ll live as a Paper Girl. Lei is taken from her home and thrust into palace life, an unfamiliar world where she has to develop new skills and cope with new struggles. 

Climax

At the climax, all of your rising action comes to a head in the most exciting moment in your book! This is the final superhero fight, the proposal, the last showdown. Usually, this takes place toward the end of the book, since your climax should be the thing which solves your central conflict. 

In Girls of Paper and Fire, the climax is New Years Day, when Lei has to kill the king. Not only does she kill the king, but Wren comes back for her and is reunited. This ties up the romance subplot, and she now finds out what’s written on her birth pendant. 

showdown story arc climax point
Playoff style “showdowns” are pretty common climax points in many sports stories and movies.

Falling Action

This is the fallout from the climax. In a superhero movie, this is the bad guys turning tail and going back to wherever they came from. The love interests get married, et cetera. Lei escapes the palace and starts on her new adventure, which we’ll explore in the next book

This is where all of that tension we built in the rising action starts to ease up. We’ve solved our biggest problems by now. 

Resolution

This is the end! Just like we got a snapshot of your character’s life in the beginning, before the plot came and messed everything up, we should also get a sense of how things are at the end of it. Here, we get a sense of your story’s message and what sort of impact you’re imparting to the reader. 

Different types of story arcs

Now that we know the different parts of story arcs, we need some examples. This isn’t a comprehensive list of story arcs, but it’ll give you a good idea of what to look for and what to replicate in your own writing. You may have seen a few of these before already! 

Rags to Riches

Rags to riches is just like it sounds. A character starts off living in the slums and finds themselves in the lap of luxury! How this happens is up to the story—maybe they won the lottery, or maybe they caught the eye of a prince who wants to shower them in riches. 

Examples of this include The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier, and Ever After: A Cinderalla Story by Wendy Loggia.

rags to riches storyline example
Stories and movies about day trading, like the “The Wolf of Wall Street”, is a modern-day take on the rags to riches storyline.
Photo by MayoFi on Unsplash

The Voyage

The voyage features a character traveling to an unknown land and then returning when the evil has been defeated. Sometimes this voyage is an alternate dimension that characters enter into from the real world (think The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), or just a frightening place (Like Orpheus and Eurydice). 

Comedy

Comedy makes up a huge portion of our media, and there are lots of different kinds of comedy – including romantic comedy, comedy of errors, and comedy of manners. But the basic idea is this: comedy should make the audience feel good, and it should have a feel-good ending. There might be some drama along the way, but the drama shouldn’t get in the way of the story being, ultimately, positive and triumphant. 

Examples of this include: almost every superhero movie and rom-com, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

Tragedy

If comedies are meant to be triumphant feel-good romps, tragedies are the opposite. In a tragedy, you’re watching a hero’s downfall. These are more intensely dramatic, and generally take a darker, more somber tone compared to comedies. 

If you’re looking for examples of a good tragedy, look no further than Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear are all great examples of classic tragedies. 

Tips for writing strong story arcs

With some definitions and examples under our belt, we’re ready to start talking about how to write our own story arcs.

You can use these tools for whichever type of story you’re writing. Whether it’s a romantic comedy, a tragic rags-to-riches, or a comedic voyage. 

Know the Rules, then Break Them 

Read widely in your genre and check out what sorts of tropes and story arcs people generally expect. In romance, for example, it’s very important that an author hit the regular beats that audiences come to that genre for. 

Figure out what the regular, expected beats are for your genre and your story type. If you’re writing a voyage, see and understand the different steps characters generally take.

Usually, there’s a step on the voyage plot where a character meets a wizened mentor, for example, who is generally an old wizard in fantasy

know the rules to break them writing quote

Once you know the rules and expectations, you can start to break and twist them. And that’s what will make your story unique. 

Maybe in your fantasy world, the wizened mentor isn’t an old wizard, but instead a child vampire. Maybe your characters have a meet-cute, but instead of falling in love, they hate each other. 

It’s important to remember, though, that subversion isn’t everything. And that leads us to… 

Setup and Payoff 

Even while you’re subverting story arc expectations, it’s important to remember that your readers want a satisfying story. The Avengers would be a much less satisfying watch if, at the climax, Thanos just decided to go away and leave them all alone. It would be subversive–we wouldn’t be expecting it—-but it also wouldn’t make sense, and it would leave all of the rising action sort of hanging there, unresolved. 

When you’re tinkering with story arcs, all the regular rules of storytelling still apply. You still want setup and payoff. Things you introduced should be resolved. If they aren’t resolved, there needs to be a really good, satisfying reason for it. 

If you were writing a romance, for example, maybe the characters hate each other at the start. This is a story arc called enemies-to-lovers. In this story arc, they have to grow to love each other over the course of the novel. 

In a satisfying story arc, these characters would find common interests, bond, and eventually overcome their initial hatred for each other. Pride and Prejudice is the perfect example of this! Elizabeth and Darcy hate one another at the start, but they work their differences out. It’s subversive because they’re ribbing each other the entire time and making these little digs that aren’t generally considered romantic, but all the while, they’re growing closer and we can tell that they’re growing to like one another. 

And that’s what you want—-set up your characters and story, with all its quirks and subversions, and then make sure it pays off in a compelling, motivated way. 

And that’s all there is to it! 

You’re ready to write a one-of-a-kind, satisfying story arc. 

Want a little help getting started? 

What are some of your favorite examples of subversive stories?
Got any tips for how to make a story pay off in a satisfying way?
Let us know in the comments! 

Character Motivation: Your Guide To Writing Motivated Characters That Jump Off Page

Have you ever struggled to write a character? Maybe you can’t figure out what they’re supposed to be doing, what they want to be doing, or why they’re doing what the plot you’ve planned requires? You might need to take a look at your character’s motivation.

Let’s cover:

  • What is character motivation?
  • External character motivation
  • Internal character motivation
  • Why does character motivation matter?
  • How to write believable character motivation
  • Mistakes to avoid in writing character motivation

What is character motivation?

It’s an important element in writing a strong and compelling character. Their motivation is the driving force behind their actions. A character’s motivation is something they need. It could be linked to their own survival, someone else’s, or something that they hinge their identity or existence upon.

But, sometimes motivation is less life-altering–especially for side or minor characters–but a good rule of thumb is that if a character is important enough to name, they’re important enough to want something. Your protagonist’s motivation is the thing they strive for above all else.

There are two main types of character motivation–external and internal.

External character motivation

Your external motivations are drives linked to survival. It could be their own survival, a loved one’s, or even the survival of a greater cause.

Examples of external motivation sources:

  • Physiological needs, like food and shelter
  • Safety, as in protecting yourself, your property, your loved ones
  • Protecting your society or environment

Internal character motivation

Your internal motivations are related to the character’s inner workings.

Examples of internal motivation sources:

  • Finding love or making friends
  • Learning something or overcoming an emotional or intellectual obstacle
  • Getting revenge or atonement

Your character’s motivation might be internal, external, or a mix of both. Great main characters have more than one motivation.

What do people need?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a classic way to consider the range of human wants and requirements. From basic physiological survival requirements to self-actualization, your character’s motivation lies somewhere in this hierarchy.

character motivation

Source: Verywell, Joshua Seong

For example, if we start with the base human needs, physiological requirements include breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion.

Safety includes feeling and being secure in, and of, body, employment, resources, morality, health, and property, for you, your family, and anyone else you claim responsibility for.

Love and belonging can include friendship, pets, family, and sex outside of the evolutionary need to reproduce.

Esteem means self-esteem, but also confidence, achievement, respect of and by others.

So, self-actualization covers a person’s journey through and toward morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance.

A simplified version of the hierarchy might be more helpful for writers. This version has three main categories:

Basic needs

  • Food
  • Water
  • Sleep
  • Shelter
  • Security and safety

Psychological needs

  • Love
  • Friendship
  • Accomplishment
  • Self-esteem

Self-fulfillment 

  • Self-actualization
  • Creativity
  • Achievement

Maslow’s model theorizes that physiological needs must be met before moving up the hierarchy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it works in directly the order listed, but imagine a person is drowning (in threat of losing the physiological need of breathing) and instead of thinking of how to get out of the water, they’re thinking about how to publish their memoirs for creative achievement and fulfillment. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, right?

People (and characters) have a natural order in which they want things. Some categories of need are just more pressing than others, so they should be seen to first. 

Get the “Character Worksheet”!
This guide takes you step-by-step through developing highly-motivated characters.

PLUS, get access to our Full-Time Fiction Resources bundle,
when you sign up for the Fiction Writers Workshop below!

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Why should you care to understand character motivation?

Why do we care to put in the effort writing a motivation for our character? Isn’t it enough that they’re an active character? Not really! The motivation for those actions is what your readers will connect with the most.

Relatability

Motivation makes a character relatable–to the writer and the reader.

Understanding why a character is doing something makes them much easier to write, and makes them more human to read.

Imagine reading a scene where a character throws a fit and tears up a hotel room without knowing why they’re doing it. We can imagine a reason for it, sure, but knowing that they’re in from out of town for a funeral and their family just kicked them out of it would make that scene more impactful and understandable.

Otherwise it just looks like they’re having a tantrum.

With a specific character motivation, the reader can understand and relate to the character.

Having an established motivation helps the writer too. If you know what a character wants, you’ll know how to write their actions.

A common mistake amateur writers will make is focusing on the plot. In order to get the story from Point A to Point B, the character has to do XYZ. While that might be true for the story, having a character mime out whatever is necessary for the plot can make for a convoluted or nonexistent character arc.

With a specific character motivation, the writer can know what the character would realistically do in different situations.

Character Motivation

Every character needs a motivation.

Authors usually write their protagonist’s motivation without even trying–but what about your antagonist? What about the supporting cast? Like I said, if a character is important enough to have a name, they’re important enough to have a motivation.

If a character doesn’t have a motivation, they have no reason to act. In order to create a compelling cast of round, complete characters, a writer needs to understand how to write motivation.

Now that we understand character motivation and why it’s important,

How do you write believable character motivation?

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your character’s motivations. Here are some tips:

Make them complex.

Some characters will have very simple motivations–like survive being hunted by a bear. But most characters will have complicated, deeper motivations that contradict things in their environment, things they believe within themselves, and even their other motivations.

Surface-level motivations have their place, and often those can coexist with deeper motivations, but your main character should be complicated, and so should the things they want.

Give your character more than one motivation.

Like I mentioned earlier, you should have a mix of external and internal motivators for your main character. It also might seem like they really want one thing, but that want stems from a deeper desire. Maybe your character is really fighting for a promotion at work, but their internal motivation is a sense of accomplishment, for example.

Have your character change.

Through pursuing what they want–or think that they want–your character should trigger their own arc. How do they change while they’re trying to get what they want? Was it really what they wanted all along, or do they learn that they truly desire something else?

Have your character’s motivation, and their achieving or lack of achieving it, coincide with their character arc.

Have your character’s motivation change.

With your character’s change, their motivations will likely change as well. Just like real people, a character should change their mind, change their outlook, and change what motivates them to act. Consider how circumstances and plot beats could change their opinion on a matter, or some other significant shift that might swap their original motivation or make them realize what it has been all along.

Keep a character sheet.

Simply speaking, it’s easier to craft compelling and complex characters if you can brainstorm traits, flaws, interests, goals, weaknesses, strengths and other aspects of their personality and keep it organized in one place. Having all of their data in line will help you realize what motivates them as a person.

Giving your characters complex, multiple motivations that change and change them, and keeping a character sheet can help you to create strong character motivations that will lead to strong character arcs.

Mistakes to avoid in writing character motivation.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes you might run into when you’re writing in things that motivate your characters.

Forgetting about the villains.

Like I mentioned earlier, your protagonist isn’t the only character who needs to be motivated. The antagonists and villains need love too. Why are they doing what they do? Sure, sometimes characters can be “just evil,” but what are their goals? What is their ultimate idea for what they want to achieve? What drives them? It doesn’t have to be a tragic backstory, and it doesn’t have to make them an empathetic character, but they still need to be motivated by something.

Forgetting about the supporting cast.

To reiterate: if a character is important enough to have a name, they’re important enough to have a goal. As an example of side characters who don’t have motivation, think about the best friend in most romantic comedies–they’re only there to support the main character and their goals. They typically don’t have drive of their own, and their only purpose is to be a soundboard for the protagonist’s problems or to be a plot device. While this works in a formulaic romcom, it’s not ideal for novel characters. As a general rule, everyone needs to want something.

Telling instead of showing.

There is so much to writing that goes behind the scenes. Worldbuilding, character sheets, research, backstory, history–and most of that work doesn’t show in the text. And that’s good! Your backstory should be like a shadow of your story, providing depth and tangibility. You don’t spell out and share every single aspect of what you’ve built of your world, you let it create a richer picture for the story to take place in.

Your character development works the same way. When you’ve decided what drives your character, just let it drive them. You know it’s the motivational force, but you don’t tell your reader that. A good reader will figure out your character’s motivation on their own if they’ve been written well. In most cases, blatantly conveying information to the audience cheapens the experience.

Sticking too hard to one motivation.

Like we talked about earlier, a character’s motivation should be open to change. It’s also nice to have multiple in play at once to provide a complex and intriguing character arc. Think about how the character themself is changing throughout the story, then apply that change to the things they want and the way they act.

So make sure you give every character an adequate motivator, including the antagonists and supporting casts, show those motivations in the way the character behaves and makes choices, and don’t be afraid to have multiple, complex, or evolving motivations.

These tips should help you write a more grounded, round, and relatable character! What was your favorite book character’s main motivation, and did it change over the course of the story?

Get the Character Worksheet that takes you step-by-step through developing highly motivated character and also helps you build the world that is most conducive to that.

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Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

anti hero character worksheet

The Antihero: Who They Are (and How to Write Them)

We love the antihero. 

Seriously. Jack Sparrow, Batman, Walter White, Severus Snape—-these characters are some of the most treasured fixtures in our pop culture. Breaking Bad ended years ago, but people still get into heated debates about Walter White like the season finale happened yesterday. 

Why? 

As a writer, you might want to get in on some of this action yourself. It’s not a coincidence that antiheroes are so remembered and beloved. In this article, we’re going to talk about why antiheroes work so well when they’re done effectively—-and we’ll help you avoid writing an ineffective antihero, too! 

What is an antihero?

In literature, “hero” typically refers to the protagonist of the story. An “antihero” is a character who is still your protagonist, but their morality is more ambiguous. They’re flawed, complex, and often incredibly relatable to the audience. They’re usually seen as broken or damaged, despite the fact that they’re usually doing the best that they can.

An antihero lacks the usual traits we associate with heroes—they make “bad” choices, are often self-serving, and don’t follow society’s rules and expectations.

example of an anti-hero costume
While not Angelina Jolie, this anti-hero costume of Maleficent is legit.

Why are they so impactful? 

Heroes are fun to read about, sure. But they’re not very relatable. It’s satisfying to see Captain America take the high road and we can appreciate what a good guy he is. The fact that antiheroes are a little darker means there’s an automatic extra layer of complexity to them that we don’t get with regular heroes. 

But also, there’s just something so gratifying about watching anti-heroes. 

They don’t take the high ground. They don’t usually really care that much about helping others, and they’re generally just trying to save their own skin. 

And the truth is, that’s a lot more relatable than someone who never does the wrong thing, even once. We want to watch a character do the stuff we secretly fantasize about. We want to see Jack Sparrow work around the law to get what he wants and laugh when he stabs his friends in the back—-it’s mean, but it’s fun! 

We see a little bit of the darker parts of ourselves in a good antihero, and that’s what makes them so effective. Even if we don’t necessarily relate to them, it’s just a guilty pleasure to watch them scowl and stomp around and tear through the plot. 

Plus, that self-serving nature often makes for really compelling conflict. So once you’re in it for the one-liners and gleeful jabs, you’re staying to see whether our dark, snarky protagonist could actually be capable of change. 

Examples of an anti hero

Let’s look at a few antiheroes in our popular culture and talk about what makes them work so well to give you a better sense of what we’re working with: 

Jack Sparrow

Jack Sparrow wants his ship back. He’s working around the law, since he’s a pirate, but he’s also a failing pirate. Depp modeled this character after a washed-out rock star, and it gives Sparrow that modern edge and comedic feel that we remember him for! We love his snark and we love how unpredictable he is–he’s not always loyal to our protagonists. 

Important to remember: Sparrow may be unpredictable, but he’s always loyal to his own interests, and his interests remain consistent. We’ll expand on this later. 

Geralt of Rivia

Toss a coin to your Witcher! He’s literally dirty, he’s grumpy, he’s unfriendly, and he doesn’t care about you or anyone else except himself. 

…right? 

Geralt works well because although he’s a no-nonsense character with some questionable methods, we get moments of real humanity from him. He may not ever admit it—-ever—-but he does care about helping people, and he does have people he cares about. 

Maleficent 

I remember being pretty confused when I sat down to watch the Maleficent movie starring Angelina Jolie. A movie? About her? She’s the bad guy! 

When the movie started, my suspicions were confirmed. She’s evil! She’s got horns! 

But then it got complicated. 

Maleficent hits the major antihero beats we discussed. She’s snarky, she laughs at some of the fairy tale tropes that we’ve all kind of been dying to laugh at, and she makes faces at a baby. Guilty-pleasure stuff. But we also get her origin story, and we learn that she isn’t actually, deep down, evil. 

anti-hero character worksheet

Tips for writing anti heroes

How can we make our own antiheroes work as well as the examples we provided? Well, I’ve got a list of tips and tricks based on the examples we just gave. Here’s 5 ways to make your antihero work in your story! 

Give Them a Motive 

Antiheroes are all about their unconventional methods and roundabout approach. They can also be known for their unpredictability, since they’re pretty self-serving. Sometimes, when this is done wrong, it makes the character confusing. You don’t want a character randomly being cruel and being arbitrarily unpredictable. 

To solve this, just give them a strong motive. 

Here’s a huge author hack for you: readers will root for just about any character with a strong motive. Think about John Wick. We’ll happily watch him go on a two-hour murder rampage because, hey, someone got his dog! It’s a simple hook, but it works. 

Jack Sparrow, to use an earlier example, is self-serving and unpredictable, but he’s always doing things in line with his own goals. He wants his ship back and he wants pirate fame. His actions aren’t random, they just don’t always align with what our protagonists want. That’s what makes him a wild card, and that’s what keeps him from being frustrating. 

Let the Mask Slip 

Antiheroes gotta antihero, and that means a lot of snark, glowering, and generally grumpy behavior. Where heroes are genuine and kind, antiheroes have a lot of snark and defenses. 

But you know what audiences love? When the mask slips, and we can see that our antihero isn’t actually rotten to the core. 

You don’t want your antihero to be outright evil. Someone who acts mean and is mean and does mean things is just a villain. Think about Geralt. He’s grumpy, he huffs and puffs about, but then we see him with Yennefer. His defenses slip, and he’s soft and feeling and kind. 

Aw, we think. He’s not all bad. 

And not only does that make us more comfortable watching him ram daggers into people’s eyes, but it also makes us want to see the mask slip again. It keeps us engaged, and it sets us at ease. 

Give ‘Em a Sidekick 

Antiheroes can be funny sometimes, when they’ve got something snarky to say. But they can also be a little bit painful to sit with for long periods of time. Again, let’s use Geralt here. He’s not running around making jokes like Sparrow–on his own, he’s probably quiet, gruff, and minding his business. 

How do we fix this? Enter Jaskier. 

I always say this is the Donkey and Shrek approach. For one, it’s hilarious to watch a bubbly, quipping sidekick try to pal around with the world’s grumpiest idiot. For another, it breaks up some of that gloom-and-doom and gives the audience something more dynamic, lighthearted, and interesting to experience while these characters are on their journey. 

Plus, this often combines with the last point. For all the complaining the antihero might do about their sidekick, it makes for a great feel-good moment when we watch them trudge along to rescue their annoying counterpart from whatever shenanigans they blundered into. 

Make Them A Feature, Not the Main Attraction 

Like we’ve mentioned, antiheroes can be something of a downer. At worst, they can be grumpy and incompatible with other characters, and at their best, they can be unpredictable and unwieldy. It can be a little difficult for an audience to sit with a totally self-serving jerk, even if that jerk is funny and has a good motive. 

This is really just because antiheroes can be a little chaotic. And there’s an easy way to temper that chaos: relegate them to the sidelines and make them a feature. 

Jack Sparrow is our example again here. He’s a major character, sure, but he isn’t really our main character. Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner are our main characters. Jack Sparrow is acting as sort of their pirate guide—-the story is about him, in part, but he’s more of a feature than the main character. 

Because of this, all of his quirks and weird antics are comedic relief. They’re a delightful break from the traditional pirate story, and they make it fun and exciting. When we’ve had enough, we come back to the plot, and we stay engaged the whole way through. 

Give Them a Code 

We don’t want our antiheroes to be full-on villains, and we want them to have a motive. But sometimes we still need a little something extra to make it clear to the audience why they behave the way they do, and why they matters. 

Give them a code! I also call this the Batman solution. 

Batman is a classic antihero–unconventional methods, gruff demeanor, ticks all the boxes. One of the things that makes him an effective antihero and not just an inconsistent, frustrating character is that he’s got a very rigid code: he doesn’t kill people. 

Batman as an example of the antihero
Batman’s code keeps his anti-hero character consistent, and while gruff, he’s safe enough to become a marketable character for kids.

Prompts for writing anti heroes

Ready to get started with your own antihero? We’ve got some prompts to set you on your snarky, self-serving way:

  1. A man gets diagnosed with a terminal illness and needs to make sure his family isn’t financially screwed in the wake of his treatment and departure. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to make some extra money. What does he try? 
  2. A village recluse’s home is invaded with woodland creatures. It turns out their land has been taken by the King, and the recluse decides to advocate for the creatures to get them off his land. 
  3. Pick a villain from your favorite fairy tale and write their origin story. Were they always evil? Or were they just misunderstood? 
  4. A rogue bounty hunter wanders the countryside with his prized hunting dog, looking to pick up odd jobs. One day, someone steals his hunting dog, and the bounty hunter goes on a mission to get him back. 
  5. This businesswoman is ruthless, cunning, and self-serving. On a layover, she gets stranded in a small town with her chipper new intern. Write them falling in love! 

Want the fast pass to writing GREAT anti-heroes?

Grab the “Character Development Worksheet” below and get writing!

Character Development Cheat Sheet [also printable!]

Fast track your character development in HALF the time.

Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully customizable and printable character development worksheet designed to make your characters shine!

Got any advice for writing antiheroes? What’s your favorite example of an antihero?
Let us know in the comments! 

SPS 102: How To Write A Memoir That Actually Sells Copies (Without Being Famous) with Justin & Alexis Black

Justin and Alexis are SPS graduates and have published their memoir Redefining Normal and have sold over 5000 copies in a few months. Justin and Alexis are involved in community development and changing the foster-care system. Alexis Black is a proud foster care alumni. She founded The Scholarship Expert, where she authored The Scholarship Blueprint book and workbook and an online course to assist students in graduating from college debt-free. Justin Black created the Rising Over Societal Expectations (ROSE) Empowerment Group with a vision to close the information gap for today’s generation of Black and Brown young adults after his experiences as a Black male in the foster care system.

Why Justin and Alexis Decided to Write Their Book

Justin says, “There is so much that we want to teach people so they can learn and understand the culture of poverty and generational habits and unresolved issues.” They want people to learn from their trauma and circumstances. “When it came to the memoir aspect, I feel that so many people can learn from our experiences and our stories.”

How They Packaged Their Story

“From many blogs that I’ve read and podcasts that I’ve listened to, I learned that you have to be careful when you write a memoir and not become the victim in it,” says Alexis. When you are the victor, people can learn the lessons you want them to take away.

She also recommends getting a good book editor because not everything needs to be in your book for your memoir. “It’s important to have your story buttoned up tight and really well-written so people can follow-along and relate to your story.” Justin adds the importance of being self-reflective, authentic, and intentional of your experiences in your story.

Listen in today’s episode to find out how they recorded their conversations to create content for their book, the importance of having a support system in place when writing a memoir, and why you need a third-party editor to bring your book to life.

Show Notes

  • [02:45] Why Justin and Alexis decided to write their book.
  • [04:46] Why write a memoir for their book.
  • [09:42] How to tell your story so others can relate to your experience.
  • [16:36] The challenges of co-authoring your book.
  • [19:15] The importance of bringing in a third-party editor.
  • [26:38] Connecting with influencers and change makers to promote your book.
  • [31:52] How to market and purchase your book for sale.
  • [41:09] Why you need to write your story.

SPS 101: Relationships, Radio, And 3 Ring Binder Books: Create A Life You Love & Generate Millions In Revenue with Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a multiple-book author and is passionate about helping people find work they love. He specializes in creative thinking for increased personal and business success. He believes that meaningful work blends our natural skills and abilities, unique personality traits, and dreams and passions. Dan is active in helping individuals redirect careers, evaluate new income sources, and achieve balanced living. He believes that a clear sense of direction can help us become all that God designed us to be.

Why Dan Decided to Write His Book

“I never thought of myself as a writer or wanted to write a book.” His first book, 48 Days, came from teaching a Sunday school class where he met others who were doing well financially but weren’t happy with their work. “They were doing something that they felt was ‘OK’ but they didn’t have passion about it.”

When he met with those people, they started referring him to others. Dan came up with the material for his first book through these conversations, which he created through a three-ring binder and two cassette tapes.

His Journey with a Traditional Publisher

Dan’s book caught the attention of multiple publishers after advertising with Dave Ramsey in the early days of his entrepreneurship. He signed with a publisher, and although his revenue and profit per book sale dropped, his audience increased because of the book publisher connections and distribution lines.

Building his Email List

“I started my marketing campaign with the 67 emails I originally had” back in 2000. Over time, he had over 140,000 people sign up for his newsletter. “Seeing that and seeing that people wanted more, I started coaching and doing live events.”

Listen in today’s episode to find out what Dan did to market his first book, how Dan embraces the relationship he has with his current following, and why Dan got into podcasting to promote his platform.

Show Notes

  • [01:55] Why Dan decided to write his first book.
  • [04:15] How real stories created Dan’s book.
  • [07:43] Publishers started knocking on Dan’s door when his book gained popularity.
  • [09:57] What Dan did in his book marketing plan to sell so many books.
  • [12:17] How Dan got into podcasting in Nashville.
  • [17:24] Making the best-seller list and what Dan did to get there.
  • [24:26] Using his book as an introduction to what he offers in his business.
  • [29:50] Why his book is more of a legacy piece.

woman reading indie book

How to Price Your Book: Finding A Balance Between Units Sold and Profit

Your book is finished! Congratulations! You wrote, edited, and polished that little guy until he sparkled. You agonized over every pixel of your cover and formatting. Maybe you even plotted out a series of sequels. It’s ready to go!

With all of that time and effort put into your book, it’s priceless to you. But what’s it worth to everyone else?

Let’s talk about how to properly price a book.

Pricing a book can be tricky. It’s more of an art than a science. Factors you consider in pricing your book might include what you’ve invested, the market, the trim size, the format, the genre, your competition, the mode of sale–deep inhale–the time of year, your business goals, your sales goals, and countless other elements. It’s a lot to sort out! Before you get overwhelmed, let’s break down why careful book pricing is important.

Why you should know how to price a book

Pricing a product requires multiple levels of understanding in numerous areas like marketing, trends, psychology, and accounting.

The biggest reason pricing is important is that it can help you accomplish your book goals. Whether your goal is to turn a profit, build a business, grow your readership, or establish a brand, each goal will have a different pricing strategy.

If your goal is just to make money, pricing it too cheap might prevent you turning a profit. Price it too high, and you might have the same problem because no one is willing to buy it.

If you want to grow your business and use the book as a sales funnel, a high price point might be blocking you from potential sales. But maybe pricing it too low will undervalue your work and lose a browser’s interest.

Knowing how to price a book will help you make the right decisions for achieving your personal and professional goals.

This graph from ScribeWriting.com shows how the price of an ebook can affect the volume of sales. As you can see, the happy price for ebook sales to sell the most copies is between $0.99 and $3.99 with a drop for $1.99.

Why do sales  drop at the $1.99 mark? One explanation could be that there’s a balance between perceived value and cost. At the $0.99 price point, potential customers may have a feeling of “nothing to lose.” Even if the ebook is complete garbage, it’s less than a dollar. With such a low cost of entry, there’s very little at risk.

At $1.99, that feels a little different. That’s no longer just cents–it feels more substantial, so it’s less of a throwaway expense. But wait–why does the book priced at $2.99 sell MORE copies?

What you price your book at is what you’re telling prospective readers the book is “worth.” At $1.99, that’s not exactly an unnoticeable amount of money–you think your book is worth more than a dollar, but not THAT much more.

At $2.99, you’re VALUING your book higher, which can raise the perceived worth.

Outlandishly cheap ($0.99): Nothing to lose.

“Just” cheap ($1.99): Must not be worth much.

Affordable, but far from free ($2.99-3.99): The author puts worth in this book, so maybe I should too.

As this graph shows, the price of your book greatly indicates its sales success. You want to know how to price a book because then you can use it to accomplish your book goals.

We know why we want to price a book well, now let’s look at how to price a book well.


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How to Price Your Book

Like I mentioned earlier, there are so, so many factors that can go into book pricing. Let’s look at a few of the big things you can do to settle on an appropriate price.

  1. Consider your goals. The main factor in deciding a price for your book is deciding what you’re trying to accomplish with it. What do you want your book to achieve?

Are you trying to make as much money as possible? Trying to grow your business? How about your readership?

Also consider your sales goals. If your goal is to sell enough in your first month to pay for the cost of production, what price point makes sense for your expected sales numbers? (Be careful here–in most cases, basing your price on the investment you made can harm your sales. More on that in a bit.)

If the book is simply a hook to grab readers or clients, it would likely be priced considerably lower than a book only written to produce income.

Take the time to determine your personal, business, brand, and sales goals before you settle on a price.

  1. Research the industry and your genre. Different genres and formats are priced differently. Take a look at how other publishers are pricing books like yours. Keep in mind that if a reader is holding your book and a similar book in their hands, and yours is $7 more, they’ll almost always go with the other. Consider your book’s worth in relation to comparable publications.

    Thing to consider in price comparison:

    • Genre
    • Content
    • Popularity of author
    • Wordcount
    • Format (ebook, paperback, hardback)
    • Quality (print, formatting, editing, information, etc.)

Write down the price range you see in books like yours. For example, if your romance subgenre sells between $3.99 and $7.99 at your book’s word count, your book should sell somewhere between those price points.

Now consider how the popular authors are selling versus the unknowns. Where do you lie on that spectrum? If you have a large online following, your book can probably sell for much higher than a debut. If you’re a debut, your book is probably realistically on the lower end.

  1. Consider royalties. Sales price does not equal income. Don’t forget royalties when you’re deciding on your sales price. If your publisher or distributor offers a higher royalty, you can usually price it lower. Many offer a very small royalty, take that into consideration as well. That doesn’t mean hike up your prices until you’re happy with your cut, but it does mean to factor in your royalty percentage when pricing your book to meet your goals.
  2. Remember that people might judge the quality of your book based on the price. If your publication is an ebook that you spent a few weeks writing and is essentially an elongated listicle, 99 cents is probably perfect. If your publication is a 200,000 word fantasy novel you’ve been working on for three years, suggesting a 99 cent price tag probably just sent your soul shooting straight out your nostrils.

    A hefty fantasy novel priced at 99 cents might make potential buyers nervous too, because they’re used to bigger price tags in that genre. A book that time-consuming to produce selling for under a dollar is a big red flag–it tells your readers that your book won’t give them value.

    That said, there’s a wide range of reasonable prices for a book, and finding the balance between not undervaluing your work and not overpricing right at the beginning during peak sales times is tricky. Common advice is start on the lower end of reasonable to get more sales (thus more reviews), then inch the price up once you have momentum.

Consider your goals, your industry, your current readership, your genre, royalties, and quality perception when deciding on a price.

Those are specific factors to consider–now let’s look at some general things to keep in mind.

Book Pricing Tips

Here are a few general tips to keep in mind when pricing your book.

  • Expect to fluctuate your price. As your book ages, sales will drop. Determine when you should drop the price of your book with it. For example, I published my first collection of short stories in 2018. The price started at $11.95 for paperback and $4.99 for ebook. They’re currently at $7.95 and $3.99 respectively, and I might drop them again in the future. I do this to match the price to demand.

    There might be cases where you want to raise your book’s price. For example, many indie authors use the strategy of starting your book at a lower price to collect reviews and build momentum before they increase it for higher royalties.

    Either way, don’t expect that your book’s price will stay consistent through its lifetime.
     

  • Run promotional prices. You’ll likely want to drop your prices temporarily to boost sales, before another book release, or to promote something else. For example, I dropped the ebook of my first collection to 99 cents for the release week of my new collection. That way, people could read the first one if they hadn’t yet to get hype for the new release.

    For another example: If you wrote an educational or nonfiction piece, you might run a promotional price period for the release of a corresponding webinar or online course.

  • Go for odd numbers. There’s a weird marketing phenomenon where people perceive odd numbers as being a bargain. That’s why you see items priced as $19.99 instead of $20. There is also research to support that giving a random-looking price can increase sales. If you price a book at $4.99, people might see it as below $5, a standard price. If you price something as $4.53, it might look like you’re making it as cheap as possible, because it’s a very strange number. Some distributors REQUIRE that you price your ebook ending in .99 because that’s how big of an impact it has on sales.
  • Lower the price for books in a series before releasing a new one. Like I said earlier, you might drop the price of a previous publication before the release of your next. This is an especially good move in a series. If someone sees a book that looks interesting, but it’s the third in a series, they might lose interest. But if they see that they can get the first in the series at a lower price point for a limited time, they’re much more likely to try it out and potentially buy the sequels.
  • Consider NOT considering your investment. I know there’s an impulse to “make your money back.” In business generally, your ROI is an important factor. In book pricing, this is somewhat of a gray area. Publishing hinges heavily on timing–the release of your book is the hottest sales spot. If you price your book higher because you’re worried about making your investment back, you run the risk of pricing it TOO high, resulting in fewer sales. Of course, in self-publishing, this might be rectified later with a price drop, but you won’t get that Shiny New Book time back. By that point, the book is stale and you’ve missed out on potential sales.

    I think the time to consider a return on investment is before production when you’re creating your book’s budget. If this is your first publication and you have no idea how it will perform, keep that in mind when you’re deciding what to invest.

  • Learn from experience. Keep track of your sales, prices, and other factors. Experiment with different price points and make note of what works.

    Also keep up-to-date with the market and current trends with every publication. The research you did for your last book might be irrelevant now. Publishing is a constantly evolving market, especially self-publishing. With newer industries, expect norms and best practices to change pretty regularly, so make sure you’re staying on top of it!

Book pricing can be difficult to get a handle on, but through research, practice, and trial and error, any author can manage it.

SPS 100: The “Duct Tape Marketing” Book Launch: Sell More Books & Get More Referrals with John Jantsch (And How To Negotiate Your Publishing Contract)

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, The Referral Engine, and SEO for Growth. He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.

Why John Uses Book Marketing to Promote his Business

“It’s a great way for people to see what it may be like to work with you through your book.” John says that books can give people a deep look into a possible client fit. “Also, by buying the $15 calling card, it allows you to charge more for your services,” like writing and publishing a book bridges and builds trust with the reader.

How Authors Can Use the Duct Tape Method to Sell Books

The Duct Tape Marketing is a system that starts with using strategy before tactics. “We want to differentiate who is going to be a standout client for us.” Having a solid point of view that allows you to differentiate yourself is critical for your business, John says.

Marketing strategy is the foundation for your marketing by starting with your ideal client for your company. You can figure out the problem you solve for your client and develop content for each stage of your customer journey with the Duct Tape seven phases. Combining these marketing components gives your business a solid fan base that will spread the word about your platform and send you more referrals.

Developing a Book Marketing Strategy

Focus your book around a core problem that is a pain point for people. John gives new ideas on how to market your book, including sending your book out to those who would promote and market your book by sharing it with others. Speaking at events and selling books at events is a tangible marketing strategy to get the word out for your book.

Listen in to today’s episode to find out how to negotiate your publishing contract, how to use your book as a referral source, and how to sell your book when speaking at an event.

Show Notes

  • [02:27] Why John uses books as part of his marketing plan.
  • [04:10] How authors can use the Duct Tape Method to sell more books.
  • [08:28] What you need to develop in your book marketing strategy.
  • [13:00] Identifying product fulfillment for your market.
  • [19:36] Tactics that have sold the most books for John.
  • [22:19] Marketing your book to a traditional publisher.
  • [28:23] What you can ask for when negotiating with a publisher.
  • [32:42] Offering free content with a book purchase.
  • [35:03] Advice John gives to new authors.

bookshelf with book series

How To Write A Book Series: Hooking Your Audience

Some of the most beloved books of all time are a part of a series. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games, Discworld, Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The writers of these stories have created fantastical worlds and characters so endearing you want to follow them through book after book. I’m sure most of your favorites as a kid were series, because series facilitate the space to really develop a relationship between your reader and your characters.

Like any longform writing, book series present their own unique challenge, but they also offer unique benefits, for both reader and writer. Are you ready to write your own series?

Should you write a book series?

Do you have dynamic characters and an interesting world you’d like to explore for more than one book? Do you have a story that just won’t fit into one book, but you can segment it up cleanly into several? Then maybe you should write a book series!

While book series can be incredibly challenging, they also hold tons of potential for building a loyal readership. Think about it–if you’re developing the same world and same characters over several books, people who read the first book are likely to begin another. The more they read, often the more committed they become. The more committed they are, the more friends they will recommend your books to.

Think about a 10-book series versus 10 standalones by the same author. If you read the first book of the series and you love it, you’ll want to read the next one. If you read a standalone and love it, you’re done. There’s nothing else for you here. Series just attract more readers.

Aside from that, readers love following their favorite characters through multiple adventures. Once you’ve connected with a character, you want to know more about them, and you want to see them grow.

If you’re up to the challenge of writing a book series, I have a few tips for you.

How long should a book series be?

As long as you need it to be. Some stories need one book, some stories need a trilogy, and maybe some stories need an interminable serial publication. Which one is best for you?

There are essentially two types of series–closed or continued.

A closed series is when you’ve got a story that just doesn’t fit in one book, so it becomes several books. Think of the closed series like The Hunger Games–three books tell the story of Katniss Everdeen.

A continued series is a collection of episodic stories set in the same universe, likely with the same characters, but each book is a complete story and none of them rely on each other. Think Nancy Drew. Each story is about the same teenage detective, but each plot is a different, standalone mystery.

Some closed series have the potential to become continued serials, like The Chronicles of Narnia. There are only seven books in that series, but CS Lewis could have continued writing stories set in that universe, or even in the different universes we see in Narnia–in The Magician’s Nephew, we learn about The Wood Between The Worlds, which is a wooded area full of countless ponds, each of which could take someone to a different existence. That’s endless story fodder, and the series could still be publishing new stories to this day, had CS Lewis decided to continue it.

But the most important thing to know about the length of a book series is knowing when to tap out. When a story’s run its course, anything you force will seem just like that–forced. It’s often better to quit while it’s still going strong, if you feel you’ve reached the end of the tale.

So how long should a book series be? As long as the story needs.

How to write a book series step-by-step

1. Decide if it’s a closed series or a continuation.

Before you jump into your series, you need to know the format so you can properly plan them out before you start writing.

Example 1

Like we already covered, a closed series is essentially a story that ends within a certain number of books, like The Hunger Games. It’s a three-book series about Katniss, from being destitute in District 12, to battling in the Hunger Games, to where she ends up married with children. We get the whole story in a three-book journey. It would be difficult to capture everything that happens in that series in a single book.

A continuation series is something like Nancy Drew–books about the character interminably solving mysteries with no end in sight. There have been over 500 books published in this series since the 1930s, written by various authors and published under the name Carolyn Keene. With a serial like that, the publisher can release new books forever.

Example 2

Any media series will take one form or the other. Look at TV shows: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a four-season arc, and plays out like the Four Acts of a story. Something like CSI or NCIS typically goes on for much longer, the focus of the episodes being more on the plot (a whodunit) that gets wrapped up in that episode, rather than a show like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that focuses on the characters and their journey.

If you’re aiming for a serial story, the important things for your series will be a likable, pretty middle-of-the-lane character, and an environment that lends itself to those smaller, serial stories. Using Nancy Drew as the example, she’s a teen detective. She’s likable, but standard enough to be relatable to most readers of the genre, and she’s a detective, which gives an endless amount of story ideas–just give her a new mystery to solve. The character doesn’t necessarily change. They might learn a few lessons, sure, but the focus isn’t on character arc.

A closed series is going to follow typically a much more flawed character with complicated emotions and special difficulties, like Katniss Everdeen. For a closed series, you’ll usually want to outline the entire series and know how it ends before you publish the first one. With a continuation series, this is less necessary.

As you can see, there’s a huge difference in how you plan and execute a closed narrative and a serial story, so make that decision first.

2. Craft the meta-narrative.

If your series is “closed,” it requires a metanarrative. The metanarrative is the overarching story. Each book should have a story on its own, then a greater story across the entire series.

Example 1

The Hunger Games series is about the people of a broken society being beaten down until they’ve had enough and rise together.

The first book is about surviving the hunger games. We see the problems, we get to know the characters, and we understand the urgency.

The second book, Catching Fire, is about the rebellion rising because of what they’ve done. We see that people have been ready to rebel for a long time, and now Katniss has sparked the revolt.

Mockingjay brings us to the end of the story. We see one cruel dictatorship fall and another threaten to rise in its place.

The metanarrative works as one piece, but each book tells its own story.

Example 2

My favorite to reference is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because it’s well-written, and because it’s very intentionally done over a four-season series. Each episode has its own arc, each season has its own arc, and the entire series has its own arc. That’s how books in a closed series should be. Next time you watch your favorite TV show, note how there’s a plot inside of each episode, but they all contribute to the greater metanarrative.

This can be incredibly tricky to manage, but it’s much easier with careful planning and a full-series outline before the first book is published.

3. Outline the series, then outline the books.

The simplest way to deal with the metanarrative issue is by outlining the series as a whole first, then outlining each book with its own mini-arc that contributes to the greater story. Ideally, you want to have the entire series outlined–or at least a plan from getting to the beginning to the end–and an idea of what happens in each book.

4. Create loose ends.

While you do want each book to stand on its own pretty well, creating loose ends is essential.

Example 1

In one of my favorite book series, Bloody Jack by LA Meyer, we follow an orphan girl from where she lived on the streets in London to a ship where she pretended to be a boy to get accepted into the British Navy. The book ends with her being found out and left in a prestigious girls’ school in America. This ends the first book quite well–we saw her adventures on the sea, then those adventures ended.

But Jack’s adventures continue in the next book with the next book about her time at the girls’ school. The greater story of the series is the adventures of Jack, but each book outlines a specific adventure. The first book ends with her exiting the navy, which leaves the reader satisfied that we’ve heard the whole story. But it also ends with her entering the school, which might pique interest into reading the next book to see what happens there. It’s a great balance between satisfaction of the story we’ve been told and curiosity to hear the next one.

Example 2

Another series I’m in the middle of is Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. This series is very much closed–it’s a mystery story, and each book ends with “to be continued.” This series does NOT work as a standalone, and definitely leaves loose ends. While Bloody Jack could be consumed one book at a time, to get the full narrative of Truly Devious requires you to read the full series.

As you can see, each writer takes their own route to telling stories with a closed series, but they all leave loose ends.

5. Keep track of your story.

Creating a series bible or keeping careful notes and outlines of the overall story as well as individual books will help you avoid plot holes and inconsistencies. It’s wise to keep a quick reference guide on hand while writing, and also to keep a more detailed account of what has happened so far and what you plan to happen next.

Here’s a list of documents you might like to keep on hand while writing your series:

  • Character sheets – keep track of your character’s background information, physical description, character arc, and motivation
  • Series plot outline – the metanarrative and overall story arc
  • Book plot outline – the outline for the current book you’re working on
  • Worldbuilding notes – especially if you’re writing a fantasy, sci-fi, or historical series, you’ll want to have world notes. You might even make separate documents for different aspects of your worldbuilding, like the magic system, your research notes, etc.

Most problems that arise while writing a book series can be alleviated through careful planning and keeping a reference guide easily accessible while writing the next installment!

Conclusion

While series can be a big challenge and commitment, the return of consistent content, a loyal following, and quicker production once you get rolling might be worth the initial time investment.

Ready to start your book series?