Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Novel Idea Can Lead To A Book Series

I have worked with a number of authors who have written trilogies or a book series, usually revolving around a specific character or concept.  I am representing one now who has turned a controversial “what if” theory into an interesting story line.

What if we can clone Jesus – and bring him back?  What if the clone was African-American?  And what if that clone was killed, but then resurrected?  Such is the premise of The Covert Messiah by J.R. Lankford, the fourth in a series that began less than a decade ago with The Jesus Thief, which has been optioned to Hollywood.

It is interesting to see how a good idea for a book can turn into a series, where essentially the uniqueness of a concept is able to live on like a soap opera.  Look at James Bond, Batman, Rocky, or other movie franchises.  They seemingly can continue for decades because people love the core theme.  Star Wars, already with six movies, will be an annual movie event starting in a year or two.  That well seemingly won’t run dry.

It makes sense that most books become a series, because often we want more of what we like.  No story, as great as it is, seems complete.  There’s always a before or an after that’s missing.  Every book begs for a sequel. 

Most writers can only write what they know or have a passion for, and most cannot envision a book turning into a series until they find themselves thinking about the main character and wanting to continue the story line.  Some may even find it hard to write anything else other than more stories for their original idea. 

So what kinds of ideas or characters work well for a series?

Crime Drama - a cop, a superhero, or a government agent can solve a billion crimes

Travel Adventure- the world has over 200 countries and tens of thousands of cities, so each one could be the setting for adventure

Children’s- many lovable characters turn one story into dozens

Romance- some characters just can’t seem to find love only once – they experience a series of conquests

Historical Fiction- depending on the event or era your story takes place in, you can have a multi-book saga on your hands

Whatever book you write, know that it could be the first of many with that character.  It’ll become your extended ego and could stay with you for life.


1.      Can you tell me a bit about your inspirations and what drew you to writing in the first place? In one word: reading. I learnt to read when I was three and I have never stopped. Books take me far away from my present reality, and take me to other worlds. When life is tough- as it was this year after a major accident which left me disabled for months- they proved my salvation. I bought a Kindle and downloaded over a 200 books. As for what inspires me: what I read, what I see, what I hear. I am one of those strange people who actually enjoys listening to people talking on their mobiles. In a word, the world around me is my inspiration. 

2. Is having a book published exclusively as an ebook a different experience to having a book in print? Do you prefer reading either format? Do you think the print book is on the way out?  I adore my Kindle. Without it I would have spent most of 2012 going quite mad. Ultimately what format a book appears isn’t all that relevant. What matters are the words, the characters and the narrative drive. I think hardcopy might gradually disappear. What will remain are story picture books for little readers, and maybe elegant coffee table books. Of course this is a time of transition and who can predict the future with any accuracy? The monks who illustrated all those wonderful bibles must have felt the same way when they first caught sight of a printing press. ‘Never catch on,’ they must have told each other. Same as when Penguin decided to produce soft covers. Enough said. 

3. What tips do you have for other writers?  I have a blog where I post lots of tips, both for very beginning writers, and those that are trying to promote their work. Social networking is important, so I recommend using facebook, tweeting, and logging into other blogs. Promoting on You Tube is useful though I have to confess I’m technologically too stupid to do this. My major piece of advice is to never give up. A book may be rejected many times before it takes off. Sometimes it can take many years, and of course this has happened to me many, many times. After I lick my wounds at yet another rejection, I remind myself that it might be the wrong time, the wrong publisher, and probably needs another draft. Now the book revolution is on us, perhaps it’s useful to think of self publishing. But be warned: too many self published books are badly edited or frankly, need more work. 

4.. Your latest YA novel ‘Dessi's Romance’ features Schoolies celebrations. Why did you choose to write about Schoolies? Did you do any specific research? And what do you think of the Schoolies culture?  I am much too old to attend Schoolies Week but have read a lot about it and talked to youngsters who went. Schoolies Week is a rite-of-passage for youngsters: the child turning into an adult. It seemed an ideal setting for these young women and men to question the adherence to their friendship and their search for identity. Apropos the ‘culture’ of Schoolies Week, we read and see a lot on the media about the negatives. but I think this is an ideal way for youngsters to celebrate without parents or supervisors. They have to learn what is and what isn’t appropriate. Some seem to find this hard and that’s when the media latches onto an unfortunate incident. In ‘Dessi’s Romance’, Dessi and Emma, who have been as close as sisters since they were babies, have to sort out their feelings for each other when a new man comes between them. 

5. What is the most important thing to remember when starting a new work?
  In my opinion, a character must become a living breathing person easily recognizable. I always recommend writers create a character profile to start with. Once your character is living at a specific time and you know his/her likes dislikes/conflicts/ family etc. you already have half your plot. I can’t emphasize this enough. In ‘eSide’, a contemporary fantasy for 9 to 12Year olds my major evil character is the witch Hecate, and hopefully, she is as scary as any horror movie. 

6. What other advice can you give beginner writers?
 Perseverance is what counts. It’s said that inspiration is only 10% and hard work 90% . I am often approached by people who tell me they ‘have a book in them’ as if I can give a magic tip. Wish I could. 

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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