This week I had an email from a very talented children’s writer
who is thinking about writing a humorous book series. His
questions were how long should each book be in a series. And how
many books should he write before presenting them and a series
proposal to a publisher.
The books in the Wild and Wacky Adventurers’ junior series I am currently writing with my husband Bill Condon are about 3,000 to 4,000 words long (which allows plenty of space for illustrations). Of my two other series books, the 11 Bushranger books were about 3,000 words and the four Grandma Cadbury books were about 25,000 words each.
1. What Bill and I are doing is ‘perfecting’ the first three Adventurers books and submitting them to a publisher with a proposal for another six in the series. For these other six, we’ll provide draft titles, settings, and a brief description of each book. So far, the first three books are titled Bin Bin Ooligah and the Butti Butti Bigfoot, Tazzie Wallaroo and the Abominable Snowman and Yungdrung Wung and the Watta-Wopping Volcano. How we have written them is outlined in an earlier blog, http://diannedibates.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/continuing-book.html
I think writing two books in a series before submitting is a very good idea. (We are submitting three as we plan to have a nine book series all up.)
However, I would perhaps think again about your idea set in outer space as that topic is popular (I know because I borrowed space and alien books from the local library and there were lots of them) ... but that’s not to say it can’t be done again, and done better. I believe you ought to come up with something that’s not been done, or much done such as stories about cavemen, circuses, cooking school, rebellious convicts, rock and roll legends, acting/dancing school, quirky teachers, jungle stories, postman adventures, etc; there’s a zillion possibilities.
I think you are probably better off having each book a stand-alone, rather than a continuous narrative series. The reason for this is there’s more saleability in stand-alone books in a series, plus if the series takes off, you can keep on writing more and more books whereas a narrative series (with books one through to five – which is what my writer friend had suggested) has to eventually finish.
Series books such as Duncan Ball’s Selby the talking dog, Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kids, Bates’ Grandma Cadbury et al all have the same characters but each book is a stand-alone. Stand-alone books can always be read in any order.
In my Bushranger books and our Wild and Wacky Adventurers, we have different main characters in each book (and different locations, such as outer space, arctic region, volcanic region, etc), so that each book is part of the overall series (that is, they fit under the series category) but each book is a stand-alone.
One good thing about writing a book in a series is that you can get it finished quickly – plus you can put all of your wonderful zaniness and wild humour into it.
Dianne (Di) Bates has published 120+ books for young readers and has won state and national book writing awards.
NOTE: If you have a query about writing a children’s book, feel free to send your question/s to firstname.lastname@example.org and Di will attempt to respond in a future blog.