How to Write a Series with Shawn Chesser
This weeks show is an interview with Shawn Chesser, the author of the successful series “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.” We talk about how to write a series and some of the things that Shawn has learnt along the way. Shawn reveals some key strategies that he has used to keep sales up across all his books, as well as how useful networking with other authors has been to him. If you are wondering how to write a series that is financially successful, this is the interview you should listen to!
Odesk – Great resource for finding people to help you out with formatting your book.
Shawn stopped reading his reviews. They are overwhelmingly positive but he didn’t like reading the negative ones as they are often just negative and not constructive for his writing process.
Writing the Book
Shawn wrote his first book on his iPhone, using just the “Notes” app. He emailed all of the writing to himself and had to go through the mission of making it all compatible for online publishing. A friend of his with a degree in English told him it was good so Shawn thought, “Why not self-publish it!?” So he did.
Today his writing has got faster – he takes the same time to write each book (he releases every six months) – but each book is longer than the last. Regularity is obviously one of the keys of how to write a series.
All of the books Shawn writes are in the same world, and so far in the same series, but he is going to branch out writing smaller characters stories in the same world.
He was basically forced to start a Facebook page because he was told to get an online presence. The Facebook page had a link in the back of the book and people got in touch with him saying they liked what he was doing.
At first the books he wrote started to trail off in sales over time. By the time he wrote the third book he started to notice that the sales weren’t declining over time.
When a book gets on one of the bestseller lists on Amazon you can ride a wave for a while. Shawn has found that it if hits them you’ll see good sales for six months.
Shawn was sort of forced into going full time. He had an injury and couldn’t work so took to writing full time, he thought ‘this is the time, if I don’t do it now I never will.’ Of course, you don’t need to be writing full time learn how to write a series, but it does mean that the books will probably get done faster.
Shawn is on the show because Mark Tufo (you can listen to that interview here) put me in touch with him. He is connected with several other authors who all write in the same genre as him. They help each other out by recommending each other’s books in the back of their own, they do box sets together, cross promote on social media etc. While they have the same reader, they are not in competition really, Shawn says “there are plenty of zombie readers for everyone.”
Whenever Shawn meets a well-known author he is always amazing by how ‘normal’ and approachable they are.
Shawn works with Monique Happy, who previously worked with Mark Tufo and he was impressed with her editing. Now she edits all of his books and has developed a name for being an editor to post-apocalyptic novels. You can visit her site by finding it here.
While his books do have a military element he has not been in the military himself. He is just very interested in it and has read a lot of military fiction and non-fiction. He now has fans serving in the military who he often calls on for information when needed and they are more than happy to help him out.
“[Mark Tufo] had some great advice: Don’t read your reviews”
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