As an acquiring editor I'm always asking for a series concept, a trilogy, or a concept for multiple books that allow for branding and building readership. When I talk about "career arc" I'm looking for what your next, next, next books will be...
Here are some things to think about as you conceive and write a series for the romance readership.
- In today's marketplace, the current/most recent book is going to be the most visible. The booksellers are very focused on frontlist. That means readers have to be able to enter your series at any point.
- Each book has to be able to stand on its own. Build and (re)populate the world in every book. Never assume readers have read the series from the beginning.
- Don't explain backstory--give the information in the telling of the new story.
- Bring fresh secondary characters into every book.
- Future heroes and heroines have to be desirable/redeemable every time they appear in any book. You will be working against yourself if you set a character up as a jerk or undesirable and then try to redeem them as a hero or heroine later.
- If you set up a character very strongly as the next hero or heroine, then deliver that character's story in the very next book. Don't try to keep a secondary character's setup going over multiple books--it's difficult to keep their story development totally fresh.
- Be consistent throughout the series with the same heat level, tone, quality of writing.
- If one book fails, the retail buyers may be unwilling to continue or to strongly support the series--for this reason I as an editor am going to be focused on the market strength of the next book as it stands, rather than being dictated by the order of the characters' stories.
- If you set up your series in such a way that it has to be read in one particular order you may find extensive revisions when your editor rearranges the order of the series.
- Even after the entire series is on the market, readers may not read the books in order. You have no control over that.