Sunday, January 3, 2010

Are You Considering Writing a Book Series? Author Yvonne Perry Shares the Pros and Cons

My good friend and multi-published author Yvonne Perry has just released The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children. In this special interview with Yvonne, we’ll learn the good, bad, and the best tips about publishing a book series.

Carol Denbow: Yvonne, long time, my friend! It’s always a pleasure to have you as a guest at A Book Inside Blog. I was so happy to hear of your new release, The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children. We have many visitors to this site who are interested in writing children’s books as well as numerous seasoned authors wishing to continue their published book saga into a book series. I have several questions for you, but let me start by asking you about this book series. Please tell us a little about The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children. Such as, what are the books about, how many are there, and where do you make your books available for purchase?

Yvonne Perry: Each story in The Sid Series is a collection of 12 body-mind-spirit stories that gives insight on some mature subjects such as recycling, being who you really are, overcoming the fear of storms, helping others, listening to one’s inner guidance, caring for the body, accepting and appreciating diversity, dealing with family change, and coping with the death of a pet. See

Carol Denbow: When one writes a series of books, do they write them all at once? For instance, is the entire story line written as one bundle, and then divided into several books, and how did you personally go about this?

Yvonne Perry: I began writing The Sid Series when my grandson, Sidney, was very young. The stories were inspired things we did together. I typed the stories into a Word doc, and would later read the stories to him while he sat on my lap in front of the computer. He wanted pictures to go with his stories, so I attempted to illustrate them and bring them to life with colored backgrounds.

Next, I formatted the first three stories and printed them in black and white since my printer was out of color ink (as usual). I didn’t have a stapler with an arm long enough to reach to the centerfold, so I stapled the left edges together to hold the pages tight. It looked like a kindergarten term paper! It just didn’t “feel” like a book. I wanted a better way to bind them, and the pages needed to be in color according to Sid.

I took the file to Kinko’s thinking I would have the stories printed in color on both sides. Gasp! It would cost about $15 per book to print 15 pages and a cover! I decided if I was going to go to the trouble of printing and binding the stories, I might as well go ahead and publish them. I found a commercial printer that offered to produce the books in color with a center staple for about $7 each. I printed about a dozen copies of each title thinking I would sell the ones I didn’t need. However, printing them at $7 each didn’t allow any room for profit because folks weren’t willing to pay more than $7 for a 15-page book. Since it cost me another $2 to ship them, I would actually be paying people to buy them.

But none of that mattered. I didn’t write or publish them with the intention of getting rich! I was happy that we could hold and read the books together when it was time for bed. Sidney was so proud of our books that he took them to school for his teacher to read to his kindergarten class.

As time passed, Sid and I added more stories to the collection. He would dictate a story while I typed it. Sid became interested in the computer and was able to play games and get around quite well on the Internet. Once he learned to read, I formatted some new stories into e-books that he could read to himself any time he wanted. I still offer the e-books on my Web site for $3 each.

Still, I wanted the new stories in printed format. That’s when I decided to put all twelve stories in one book and publish them as The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children. I’m glad I did. Now I have a lasting and tangible reminder of the times Sid and I spent together and we have a way to share them with other children and adults.

Carol Denbow: Is it considerably more expensive to publish a series at one time, or can it actually save you money in the long run?

Yvonne Perry: It is much more expensive to do the stories one at the time. Publishers/printers charge a setup fee and catalog fee for each book title/ISBN. Plus, if you are unable to design your own cover, you will need to pay someone to do a cover for each title rather than for one cover for a book containing all the stories. That is why I published the stories as individual e-books until I finished writing all twelve. Then, I laid out the stories as one book and self-published using Lightning Source.

Carol Denbow: If a writer is considering a book series, would you recommend they complete and publish one book at a time, or write and publish them all at once, and how did you make your own decision to publish them all at one time?

Yvonne Perry: It depends on whether you plan to self-publish or query a conventional publisher, how many pages your book will have, your budget, and whether you are going to print the books in color or black and white. Printing in color is more expensive than black and white.

I self-published through Lightning Source which gave me distribution through Ingram and the ability to offer Amazon a 25% short discount rather than the 55% discount most publish give them. The Sid Series is a 54-page picture book with color illustrations. Each story has 15-18 pages. I paid a $95 setup fee, a $12 catalog fee, and each time I order a new supply of books, I am charged a $1.50 per-book handling fee plus shipping. Now, times that amount by 12 titles and you will quickly see why I decided to publish the entire series as one book/title! However, had my book been a children’s chapter book with 150 black and white pages, I would have published each title separately.

Carol Denbow: Do you think a traditional book publisher would be as interested in publishing a complete series at one time, or publish the first of a series to test the waters before committing (assuming the first book is not labeled or written as a Part 1 book)?

Yvonne Perry: It’s hard to answer that because large publishers with large budgets might do something more risky than a small house with limited resources. Large houses seem to publish in volumes or sets. For example, Random House published the 44 books of Mary Pope Osborne’s Tree House series by issuing 4 or 5 books per year as boxed sets. The books are for sale individually as well. The same is true of Daisy Meadows’ Rainbow Magic Fairies (published by Scholastic Paperbacks) and Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children books (published by Albert Whitman & Company).

Carol Denbow: I hope this interview has helped our interested viewers. Yvonne Perry is the author of several other books as well. Yvonne, please tell us a little about the other books you have authored.

Yvonne Perry: Besides the books I’ve ghosted, edited, or proofread for clients, I have published the following titles. The ones with an asterisk (*) are available on Amazon.

Book Marketing in the Digital Age, Online Promotion Made Easy is an e-book designed to help authors promote their books online.
* Right to Recover ~ Winning the Political and Religious Wars Over Stem Cell Research in America is available as a printed book (Nightengale Press) and for the Kindle Reader on Amazon.
* My Mother's Bipolar, So What am I? co-authored with Angela Grett provides help for adult children dealing with the aftermath of being raised by a bipolar parent.
Email Episodes ~ A Hilariously Honest Look at Life is about a woman who is having a midlife crisis while her teenagers are raising reptiles in the basement.
Both an e-book and printed book, * More Than Meets the Eye about Death, Dying and Afterlife was written to comfort those who have lost a loved one or is caring for someone who is dying. Tips for Freelance Writing is an e-book that provides information for starting a free-lance writing business. Both of these e-books are free to those who subscribe to my free monthly newsletter.
I have published several poetry chapbooks and e-books about trips I have taken. All my books and e-books are available at and several are free!

Carol Denbow: You also have a Web site and I’m sure more to share with us?

Yvonne Perry: I provide mentoring/consultation on writing and publishing; My team and I offer ghostwriting, editing, and proofreading services as well as marketing assistance to businesses and individuals

You’ll want to check out our blog, podcast, and newsletter while you are there. All three provide more information about writing, publishing, and book marketing.

Carol Denbow: Yvonne, thank you so very much for visiting us on the Blog. Your information has been extremely helpful and is very much appreciated. Have a happy New Year everyone!

Yvonne Perry: Thank you for interviewing me for this blog. I would be happy to answer questions. I will stop by later today to see if anyone leaves a comment on this Blog posting.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've enjoyed doing my YA series, which first started as self-published.
One advantage is hooking fans. If they like one, they gotta read them all!

Thanks for hosting Yvonne today!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great questions, Carol. I hope my answers are helpful to your readers.

Unknown said...

Diane, is your YA series now published by a house? If so, did they want all the books at once? Just curious.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yes, they are, and they took on all five. (With a heck of a lot of editing, I might add - LOL.)

sanjeet said...

One advantage is hooking fans. If they like one, they gotta read them all!

Work from home India

Joyce Van Kirk said...

I just had my first children's book published, there are a total of nine other books to this series. When I started out they didn't want to hear about the other ones I have, just the first one. I went through a Agency. So what I was wondering if maybe it would of been better if they were all done together, I also was wondering if I should start getting the others published instead of waiting to see how the first one does.

Carol said...

Hi Joyce,
I would suggest you allow the first book to be "out there" and see how it goes for the first 3 months. Then I would approach the publisher with the following books as a series. If the first goes well, they may want to schedule the releases of the others.
Good luck and congratualtions on your release!

Proofreading and editing service said...

Interesting interview! I enjoyed reading their conversation. I also agree in writing a book series.