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Writing and self-publishing a trilogy. Do you do it one by one or all at once?

As I’m nearing the final stages of self-publishing Book 3 of my sci-fi/apocalyptic trilogy, it has occurred to me that there were 2 ways to go about writing a trilogy and I chose one way.

Was it the right way? The two ways to write and publish a trilogy are:

1.       Write the books 1 at a time and publish as they are completed

2.       Write all 3 books and release them a few months apart
I chose the Option 1 while writing "Welcome to theApocalypse". My reasons were personal. I suspect other authors choose their way for personal reasons as well.

Writing and self-publishing a trilogy Part 1. Write the books 1 at a time and publish as they are completed

My reason for choosing to write and publish as they were completed are this:

I had spent so long writing book 1, it had undergone major re-writes, plus I had written the first drafts to not one, but two other books while waiting for publisher and agents to reply to my pitches. The first manuscript spent 7 months with a publisher only to be turned down. Then I re-wrote it and it then spent a year on the pitching process. Finally, with advice from an editor I did one last re-write and by the time I made the call to self-publish, my publishing history was getting further and further behind me. The last book for adults was released in 2014, and since I’m only completing book 3 now, it would 2018 before I could publish if I chose option 2. I didn’t want to wait that long. As I said, purely personal reasons. But I’ve learned something from publishing them as they’re written instead of publishing them in one batch.

What did I learn from doing it this way?
You can shape future books to what readers want.

I received reviews and some were great and some not so great. Some of the not so great were helpful in that I was able to use what they didn’t like and explain it in the next book. Maybe it’s not ideal to use reviewers as beta readers, because you can mess it up and risk sales of follow up books, but I’m not interested in gaining these readers as fans

You can find a really good plot twist you never thought of.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but the truth is that one negative reviewer provided an invaluable plot twist for me. He stated that he couldn’t understand why the players didn’t want to kill everything, after all, wasn’t that the point of the game? Good point. Maybe because I didn’t want to write a senseless violence story, however I was able to use this to explain how a batch of chemicals was weakened so the players couldn’t have gone primal, in order to explain how the increased batch made a bunch of people mutate and become the salvation for humanity. I would never have thought of this wonderful twist in the story arc without this negative review. So take that, bad reviewers, your words cannot hurt me.

You can pace yourself when promoting.

Maybe this is also a bad point, because so many people are enthusiastic at book 1 and this typically wanes by book 3. And many readers simply don’t want to wait 5 months to a year for the follow up book. But I have found that pacing the publications has given me 3 bites at the cherry. Because the books are released minimum 6-12 months apart, placing blog tours so close together could lead to blogger and/or reader fatigue. Besides, with each book’s promotion, I have learned what to do and what NOT to do. So pacing the publication allows me to shift my strategy with each book.

So is it the right way? For me it was. For others, probably not. Other writers may believe that One does not simply slap a cover on it and publish on Amazon.

To get the two sides to this story, I will interview an author who has taken the second option with a trilogy to talk about why they chose this option and what they learned from this approach.

Coming soon: Writing and self-publishing a trilogy Part 2. Write all 3 books and release them a few months apart.


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