Pumpkin Roll Contest
Randy: Do you see any evidence that publishers prefer a series of books rather than shopping for stand alone novels?
Josi: I don’t see that. From my perspective, publishers are looking for great books. If it’s a stand alone and it’s great, awesome, if it’s a series and it’s great, that’s good too. The author, however, has to understand the pros and cons of a series from a publisher’s perspective and be willing to address the drawbacks.
Randy: Is there a concern that you could be painting yourself into a corner by writing a series? And if readers were only expecting you to write more of your Culinary Mystery series, would that be bad?
* Obviously, this is theoretical for you since you have written more than just your Culinary Mysteries.
Josi: I think it helps that I’d already written a variety of things before I wrote Lemon Tart. I’d written women’s fiction, romance, suspense, and a YA novel. I think that allowed both my publisher and myself to see beyond just THIS series. We also both realize that it can’t go on forever. We’re already discussing what I’ll do next, and it won’t be a culinary mystery though we’ll use the good things we’ve learned to make this next series just as good but from a new perspective. I’m sure there are some readers who won’t transfer over when I go to something new, but hopefully most of them will come with me. I think the fear of ‘painting yourself in a corner’ is very valid thought, which is why I am working my tail off to take full advantage of THIS opportunity right now. I’m very aware that I may never find this same kind of success, so I am maximizing my potential within this series right now. There’s so much said about branding in the industry, and it’s a good thing, to get a name for yourself, but it can also be stagnating and restrictive. It’s not easy to create a balance, but I’m grateful that so far I’ve been able to do so.
Randy: What tricks, or methods, do you use to keep new books in the series from sounding too much like the previous ones?
Josi: This is my biggest fear! I struggle and struggle with this everytime I start a new project. It’s such a pet peeve of mine with other authors and series, so I try hard to keep it fresh and different but it means that each book has less elements to pull from since I’m using things up all the time.
Randy: Is there a danger in making a book in a series that is too different from the others?-
Josi: Absolutely. Readers can read one book in the series for a variety of reasons, but they will only come back and read another one because they liked that first one. I have to keep the books similar enough that it’s familiar to the readers, and yet I need to make it unique enough that it doesn’t feel recycled. It all goes back to the story arc, series arc, and character arc. It has to be consistent and yet new all at the same time.
Randy: What is the best bit of advice you can give unpublished authors about writing a series of books?
Josi: Understand a publisher’s concern with a series—if they contact for the whole series and the first one doesn’t go well, they could sink themselves. If an author has written one book in the series and the publisher loves it, but the others aren’t as good, they, again, are in a tough situation. I suggest, as I’ve heard many other people recommend, that the first book be capable of standing on its own. I also suggest having a really great marketing plan if you’re planning a series so that the publisher can see that you understand the need to launch strong.