Friday, December 9, 2011

Seriously? A series?

Sometimes I write and come up with characters that I could see playing out into a whole series.  In my mind, those characters have personalities that are bigger than just a single book, and have so much potential for more adventures.  But, I am yet to learn how to decipher which ones would really work as a series.  I wonder, when writing and submitting, if an editor is the one who pitches the idea of extending a character beyond a single manuscript; or, if the author comes with this already in mind.  It’s probably a combination of both.

Something I’m trying to think through is: what if you have a story that seems like it could be a series (I’m talking picture books, not novels or middle grade books), but you have only written book two in the series, and you have not been able to figure out how to properly introduce those characters in book one?  It would seem backwards to try to publish the second one first, before you even get the first one out.  But then again, what if it doesn’t pan out to be a series?  You wouldn’t want to not send out a manuscript when it may be something that an editor is interested in.
Oh well, I guess I’ll ponder this some more.  Who knows, maybe book one will pop into my head after all.

Here are a few popular picture book series that I enjoy: 
Mo Willems and Knuffle Bunny:

Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner and their Snowmen Series
And my absolute favorite, Ian Falconer and the Olivia series


  1. Hey, JaNay. You raise some good questions I've wondered myself. I know, also, some authors write a book, and then write a "prequel" to it, the story that came before. Even as I write this, I'm starting to think that could be interesting: You know, a backward series. The first book, then the prequel, then the prequel to that. Hmm.

  2. That is interesting, Mitty! Sounds like a new challenge for our writing skills :)

  3. Hey Mitty, I just realized that there will be a break out session at this year's SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference about series. It's titled "Creating a Successful Series" and will be led by Lin Oliver. That might be an interesting and insightful session to attend.

  4. This is one of the most important chicken or egg questions writers face. Common advice is never mention you expect your book to be the start of a series, and yet, some editors only acquire series! I have a series in mind and hope to get to work on it this year, but how to market it is a real dilemma. I love to read series and see my grandkids absolutely captured by them (Magic Treehouse for my granddaugher, Rick Riorden's books for my grandson). Thanks for the heads-up about the session at the spring conference!