Are you a popular fiction author who’s new to self-publishing? What’s your strategy for the books you will publish going forward—what are you planning to write next? It’s very tempting to think variety is the spice of life and suppose every book has to be totally different from the last one.
Being a successful genre author in today’s digital market is all about building a profile which stands out from the crowd. The best way to do that? Become well known for one big thing, be it a continuing character, linked characters, a central setting, certain themes, or all of these things. If after your first novel is published you divert down a new path, it may feel refreshing and personally satisfying, that you are avoiding being boring. But actually this could lose you readers. They are wanting to come back for more of what you offered them in the first place, continue with the experience.
Think of it this way: if a TV series is successful, do its producers and writers cancel the second season and branch out into something completely different? No, they carry on building the world that reached out to viewers, make it a place to return to.
In this situation, variety comes from enhanced characterisation—we discover more and more about a person as the story unfolds—the introduction of new characters, unexpected plot twists that take the reader on an exciting journey and sheer quality of writing.
So the name of the game is extending the franchise. Think of how you can compel readers to keep on coming back to your world with different content. Create a core series with memorable characters, themes and settings, then use it to diversify; short spin-offs, prequels and sequels can be wonderful for attracting and retaining readers.