Lists. They are everywhere on the internet. 7 Ways to Do This and 15 Ways Not To Do That. Are they effective?
I have created several series. The first was a few titles in Holly Lisle’s 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About… series.
I revisited the series concept when I wrote for Genealogy Today. My first series for GT was about databases. I happen to love a good database. But, I discovered that most people leave a lot of the fields blank when they use a database software program like Live Roots™ and so on.
Those fields are important. Let’s say you find two different people with the same name as your grandfather in one of the census enumerations. If you know that grandpa was a jeweler, then he probably wasn’t a coal miner or a chimney sweep. So, it can be really wise to fill in all the blanks.
As databases are shared more online, I found the issue even more frustrating. I would find really good data—but some piece of information would be missing. I really wanted to see a complete profile for every single person.
I wrote a dozen articles about databases, in serial format. Even as you read this, dear readers, I see some of your eyes glassing over.
Yes, I needed to generate some enthusiasm for reading the series. So I came up with “The Compleat Genealogical Database” and wrote a separate article on the 12 most common fields that really should contain data.
Later, I wrote another series on The Genealogy of Communities. The focus there was on different groups of society, like logging camps. Yes, really. You can find the names of people who lived and worked in logging camps. That just might explain why 20-year-old Bobby was missing from the census that year. He was off in the wilderness felling trees.
So, what’s the point of a serial?
Serial readers. You want to keep your readers reading.
Tell me more.
In the articles I wrote, I had a process. I would list my topics ahead of time, before I ever started writing.
I am not that particular about the number of topics. There may be something magic to the number 7 or 13. But, I don’t actually do a count. I have read some research on this subject and have yet to read anything that says a specific number guarantees readers. I am more concerned with being thorough.
The Genealogy of Communities, had a nice flow. It began with an article that introduced the series. The name of that article became part of the title for every individual article. That way, if anyone remembered the words Genealogy of Communities and wanted to find my articles again, they could Google Genealogy of Communities.
As I wrote each article, I created a link to the previous one. That way, I could guide any reader to the previous article, just in case they started in the middle of the serial.
It’s possible to mention what your next topic is, as you are writing. But, you don’t usually have a live link to add yet. But, you can add a live link to the previous article.
When I finished the series, I went back to every single article and added live links to every article in the series. I was just being thorough.
Other Articles In This Series:
- Genealogy of Communities
- Genealogy of Communities: Fishing Camps
- Genealogy of Communities: Seminaries and Other Educational Communities
- Genealogy of Communities: Indian Reservations
- Genealogy of Communities: Prisons
- Genealogy of Communities: Asylums, Hospitals, and Sanitariums
- Genealogy of Communities: Prostitution
- Genealogy of Communities: Faith-Based Communities
- Genealogy of Communities: The Utopias
- Genealogy of Communities: Intentional Community Into the Next Century
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.
I am a practical writer. I wanted to link to the article before and the article after each one. But, I also wanted readers to know the entire list of articles and how to find them.
The value of a serial is to keep readers reading. Not only do you need to add new material, you need to make sure your readers can find it.
Binge-watching has had an impact on society. It is a new way of presenting the serial concept in one big dose. Instead of waiting for a weekly edition—and maybe missing it—now we can watch at our leisure. A new innovation is the release of an entire season all at one time. Order up the pizza and send all calls to voicemail.
A lot of writers create series. Readers like the characters or the story or the topic, and they want more.
Generally, writers release one book, make a big splash, go back to writing, release another…. But, recently, as a guest at a meeting of Writers on the River, in East Peoria, Illinois, I was surprised to hear author Amanda Meredith say that she prefers to wait until all of the books in a series are complete before she releases the series.
I think Amanda may be ahead of the curve. What’s good for Netflix is good for… writers?
Photo from Facebook. Writers on the River. Jessica Ann Clements, Amanda Meredith, Mandee Wallace Shanklin, Melinda Huff Bones,Anya Breton, Aly Grady and Judy Rosella Edwards ( a/k/a Think::Fast::Write::Fast).
Another idea for a series is to repackage several monographs, like Amazon Short Reads, into a single volume as a collector’s edition. Maybe even sell it as a hardcover (yes, I’m talking about Lulu.com again).
Serial writing can be a good thing. It keeps readers on board. It can help you organize your writing. You have options: publish individually, or publish all at once for your binge-readers. And, you can still order out for pizza.