If you're an author, you'll hear a lot of advice about making the majority of your books link together into a series. Preferably a long series, perhaps with connected novellas, prequels, and other perks. The reasons usually given are: that it's honestly easier to keep writing in a world that's already been created, spinning out more stories in that world, than to invent new worlds and characters from scratch every time; and also that it gives readers a feeling of continuity. They know pretty much what they are going to get from you because it's all in the same world, whereas if you do lots of standalone projects, lovely and unique as each might be, readers aren't sure they will have the same feelings about your new book as about your last one because it's simply 100% different.
Ease of writing--what I call "lazily churning out"--books isn't appealing for me, nor should it be to anyone who is thinking carefully. Readers can always tell when an author has put in a thorough effort and as a series or loose set of interconnected books, shorts, and prequels drags on they will recognize that dialed-in feeling. I read an interesting article recently, when I was looking up behind-the-scenes on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (a great old western, by the way.) When I scrolled down, I saw bits of an interview with two actors in the series Yellowstone, about what it was like to work with Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner has been around a long time. He made some of his famous movies when I was a kid. So by now he has been a household name for years. The others said they were surprised by how hardworking and humble he was. He never treated the production in a cavalier way, he was never arrogant, and he never expected to do less because he was a big star. The quality of the work remained as important to him as it was when he first started acting. The article clearly portrayed their respect for this man.
So interconnecting my books because it's sheerly easier to get readers involved in the same world, with minimal effort from me, is definitely not my goal. BUT there is a good reason to link my books more closely. The reason is not author comfort, it's reader comfort. I've bounced all over the place in many genres and while I have certainly taken the time to work hard on each book, readers might not be sure what they're getting. (Other than that it is a quality story, of course.) Exactly what quality story, though? In a time when about 90% of books are a burn experience for readers--and trust me, I read a lot because I love books and I've been burned many, many times--trust is really important. (It's also true that many times I have loved a book I read, obviously, or I would not still be writing or reading now!) I've been mulling for a while now about how to connect my stories better. I do have one trilogy, but the rest are all stand-alones in different genres. How could I link them? The best way is of course to write a reader magnet--a story meant to be given away as a sample--because I need one anyway. In the past I've given away my actual books in place of a dedicated magnet and that's not a great strategy.
For several months I've been planning to write a new story to be used promotionally that will link all my stories together through the element of time travel. Because I have historical eras I'll need a way to get those characters to interact with modern ones and since I have science fiction books, a character in one of them can find a time-travel machine. Time-travel also makes it possible to alter the ages of the characters so they can be older or younger or even meet an older version of themselves. The concept is for a few selected characters from each book to bump into each other using time-travel and then have an adventure together, with a small appendix in the back that lists which books they came from so you can read more about a character you really enjoyed in the sample. I'm also planning additional stories using the same idea (episodic adventures for my characters in time travel) to be sold as exclusive content on my website and I hope to add other products besides fiction into the webstore.
I have been so busy I keep putting it off. I haven't found the time to just sit down and write a story these days. But I'm going to get this story written soon, so consider this announcement a prophecy of sorts. I will put up a short-term link for you to get the story when it's done. Its main purpose is to attract newsletter subscribers, after all, and to start readers off with a linked, connected view of all my stories and how they fit together. The download will expire quickly though so you'll want to snap it up when you open that email.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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