Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Guest Post: How Long Should A Series Be?

 How Long Should A Series Be? 

By Cynthia Sax

These are my insights gathered over years of writing series. Your stories are different. You are different as a writer and as a person. You have different goals, different marketing strategies, a different view of success. Please use the insights that you feel apply to you and discard the rest.

As Long As It Needs To Be

I’m a pantser, a writer who writes by the seat of her pants. Sometimes, I’ll start a series with the intention of it being X stories long and the series becomes X+12 stories long. That happens. I write as many stories as I have to write to give readers a satisfactory end to the series.

But my ideal series length at this moment is five.

That’s because I’m self-published so I know my publisher (me – grins) will give me those five stories to run with. It is because my current favorite marketing strategy is to price the first story in the series, after a few years of being published, at permafree. And it is because, in cyborg romance, I see readership of a series dramatically drop off after five stories.

That might not be your ideal series length.

How You Publish

If you work with a publisher, talk to your publisher about their preferred length of series. Ask them what their process is i.e. when they evaluate the success of a series. Look at the series published by writers at your level (the successful AND the struggling series). How many stories are in those series?

The big New York traditional publishers often evaluate the success of a series after only ONE book has released. When I write for them, I plan for only one book to be released in the ‘series.’ My best case planned-for scenario is three books.

Mid-sized and small press publishers might have a bit more flexibility…or they might not. They might see readership drop off after three or five stories.

If you are indie or self-published, you have flexibility but you might still want the series to be profitable. You might want to have the funds to publish future stories.

Your Niche

Different niches have different preferred series length.

In cyborg romance, my niche, the preferred series length is at least five stories. Readers have to invest in the world. They want to stay in that world for a while.

In contemporary romance, that length might be three stories, the much talked about trilogy. 50 Shades Of Grey was, originally, three stories long.

Duets were very popular in 2020. Those are only two stories long. Most of those were contemporary romances.

Look at the top selling writers in your niche. Are their series similar lengths?

Entry Points

I have nine core stories in my first cyborg romance series. Most series readers start with Story One and read from there. This is especially true for cyborg romance readers.

This means there is only one entry point for those nine stories.

BookBub and many other promo places prefer to promote Story Ones in series. I only have one story I can promote with them for those nine stories.

If I had split the series into two, I would have two entry points, two stories I could promote.

I could have done this because there were multiple entry points within the series. Each story had a standalone romance. There were different stages in the series (the escape, the rebellion, etc), different natural starting and stopping points.

If there are no entry points, other than the first story, it might be best that the series remain whole.

Ensuring Readers Follow You Into The New Related Series

There is always a risk in splitting a series. Readers might not follow us to the new series.

I worried about that also. But when I started my new cyborg romance series set in the same world, I saw almost no drop in readership.


Because the covers are very similar. They look like the same series. And I added the excerpt for the first story in the second series to the back of the final story in the first series. The two series were unofficially linked.

Bookseller Considerations

There are benefits to having a longer series, however.

Some booksellers, like Apple, send out notifications about a new release in a series to ANYONE who has ever downloaded or purchased any book in that series. That means more stories in the series might result in a greater number of readers notified.

Marketing Considerations

Your promotional strategies around your series will likely be a big factor in deciding how long it should be.

I like the permafree first in series marketing strategy. That works for me, for my readers, and for the types of books I write.

This means that, of course, I can’t have only one story in my ‘series’ or I’d be giving away all my stories. (grins) Two stories in a series likely doesn’t make sense for this strategy either.

How did I derive five stories as my target number? I think of permafree as sampling. Many booksellers sample 20% of a story. These booksellers have done their research and they know that’s the best sample size for most stories. If the first story is 20% of a series, that means there are four other stories in the series.

If a favorite marketing strategy is box sets/collection/omnibuses, the number of stories in a series might depend on the price points and size of completed series omnibuses (which sell VERY well in some niches). Amazon caps the 70% royalty rate at $9.99. If your individual stories sell for $2.99, that works out to a three-story omnibus, a trilogy.

If your stories are in KU (Kindle Unlimited), you might want to figure out how to maximize your free days. A free day on two story series, for example, might be more profitable than a free day on a one story ‘series’.  

The Longer Series

If you do decide a longer series is right for you, I would strongly suggest you create, if you can, possible ending points in it.

As I mentioned, my 9 story long series had several ending points in it, places where I could stop the series and, with a little bit of finessing on that last story, make the shortened series satisfying for the reader. There would be enough resolution to make them happy.

This gives you freedom and flexibility. You could pause the series for a bit if it requires, for example, time to build readership or if you wish to write something else. Or you could end it.

Making The Decision

When I looked at all the above factors, it was clear to me that five stories in a series was my target. I don’t always hit that number of stories but that’s what I aim to reach.

Your situation is different. Your target number of stories might be different. You might also have considerations I don’t. There is no one right answer. There is only the right answer for you.


Dark Thoughts is available now!

Can love redeem a monster?

The Refuge is home to some of the most violent beings in the universe. Kralj, its leader, reigns over the remote outpost with terrifying ease, ruthlessly squashing any rumors of rebellion, killing anyone who breaks his rules. Primitive, deadly, powerful, he’s a monster, scarred both on his face and his soul. He has never met a being he couldn’t control.

Until he meets her.

Dita has one mission—to kill the three targets claiming sanctuary within the Refuge. Or so she claims. For the first time in his long lifespan, Kralj isn’t certain of another being’s intentions. The tiny assassin is immune to his powers, her thoughts unreadable. He can’t predict her movements, can’t control her, can’t stop wanting her.

Dita is rare, as unique as he is, and, to keep the residents of the Refuge safe, Kralj will have to kill her. But first, he’ll touch her, taste her, show her how passionate the beast inside him can be.


Dark Thoughts is a STAND-ALONE SciFi Romance.

The hero might be tall, dark, and scarred but don’t be fooled by his appearance.

He’s truly a monster.

This story is not for readers with delicate sensibilities.


Read Now For FREE:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AUS

Apple Books






About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes steamy Cyborg, Alien and Contemporary Romances. Her stories have been featured on TV, in Star Magazine and on numerous best of lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled newsletter and visit her on the web at







Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Guest Post: Worldbuilding For Pantsers


Worldbuilding For Pantsers

By Cynthia Sax

Before I start, I would like to stress that there are very few rules (if any) in writing and none of those rules (if they exist) are mentioned in this post. We’re all different writers. We are writing different stories. We have different goals and different visions of success. What works for me might not work for you. Use what you can and discard the rest.

I am a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. Often when I start writing, I have an idea for a character and a vision of the first scene and that’s it.

I’ve thus far written 23 cyborg romances and 12 alien romances set in the same world. It is (now) a huge world and it is constantly evolving. And I wrote those stories while pantsing.


Basing It On An Existing World

Basing a new world roughly on an existing world makes worldbuilding SO much easier. Yes, it is a cheat but it is a cheat most writers use either consciously or subconsciously.

Maybe the small town your contemporary romance is set in is based on a small town you once lived in or visited. You know fundamental truths like it will have a post office and a convenience store and everyone will know everyone’s business.

Maybe the underwater world your merman romance is set in is based on research you’ve done on deep water exploration. You know there will be pressure issues and you might have an image in your mind of the plants and the creatures sharing that world with your merman. Perhaps you scuba dive and can bring that knowledge into the story.

I combined (at least) two different existing worlds when I started writing the first story in my world (Releasing Rage).

Similar to Star Wars, my world is based VERY roughly on World War II. The Humanoid Alliance, my baddies, are the empire i.e. the Nazis and my hero and heroine are the rebels i.e. the Allies.

I have studied the spread of fascism and the rise and fall of empires extensively (due to personal interest) so this was an ‘easy’ setting for me.

Then I combined that existing world with the reader expectations for futuristic settings. I’ve watched quite a few science fiction TV shows and movies and I’ve read quite a few scifi romances. There’s a default image most of us ‘see’ for spaceships and other scifi tools or garments. The flight suit, for example, is a standard garment many futuristic beings wear.


Writing The First Draft

I subconsciously merged these two existing worlds in that first scene I envisioned. As I started writing Releasing Rage, however, I would come across things that were specific to my unique world. The cyborgs needed a means to communicate without the enemy overhearing them, for example. I grew up with CB radios and had them speak through built-into-them transmission lines.

When I wrote the first quick (for me) draft, I didn’t know how these transmission lines would work. I left gaps that I filled in after the first draft was completed. At that point, I knew all that I needed the transmission lines to do (within that story). I researched how that could work (as SciFi Romance is based on science, I like to have science behind any tools).

Sometimes I didn’t have any idea how something would work. I wanted my cyborgs to have babies, for example. I left that as a big question mark. When I attended a Consumer Electronics Show (the big one in Vegas), I talked to every scientist and product developer who would listen to me, asking them how it might be possible. They generously gave me their thoughts, deriving a plausible solution which I used in my world.


The World Needed For That Story

My story wasn’t about the world. It was about the characters. So I only mentioned what I needed to mention for the story to make sense, to ‘exist’ for the readers.

I didn’t need to know what was happening on the next planet, for example, because my characters wouldn’t be visiting that planet during the story. I didn’t talk about currency, as another example, because my characters didn’t use any currency during the story.

If the point-of-view characters wouldn’t know something, I didn’t mention it. If the information wasn’t key to the story, again, I didn’t mention it.

This reduced research time and it also made my pantser heart happy. I could pants those detail in future stories.


Plan For Multiple Stories

I wrote Releasing Rage, the first story, originally just for me. When I completed it, I knew I wanted to share it with readers. But I thought it might be a single story.

Thankfully, when I added to my world, I envisioned what the ramifications of these additions would be…and EVERY addition leaves ripples in our worlds.

The ability to transmit stealthily, for example, meant all information would likely be shared by the cyborgs. Once one of them realized they could have babies, ALL of them would have that information. Once one of them escaped the Humanoid Alliance, ALL of them would know it was possible to escape.

The less limiting the world, the less limited your future stories will be. When you add an aspect, think to yourself, “Will I want to adhere to this new world ‘rule’ for 30 more stories?”


World Unique Language

Please learn from my mistakes and use world unique language sparingly. Consider testing it with readers and other writers first.

In my world, for example, the beings use a$$ coverings as the term for pants/slacks/leggings, etc. This is extremely awkward and many readers HATE it. Unfortunately, I used it in the first story and have, thus far, been forced to use it for 34 more stories.

If you’re writing in a niche like scifi or fantasy, consider using enough unique words to make your world special but not enough to be limiting or draw the reader out of the story.


An Ever-Expanding World

My world grew with each new story. The heroine in my second story (Breathing Vapor), for example, was a Humanoid Alliance insider. She knew things about the enemy that no one in the first story knew. The heroine in my third story (Crash And Burn) was a pilot. She knew things about ships that no one in the first two stories knew.

Everything in the previous stories is brought forward to the current story. The stories might be pantsed now but the world is definitely NOT pantsed.

That is how I, as a pantser, build my worlds. What are some tactics you use for world building?



Releasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals—kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

Until he meets Joan.

Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal—survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Read Now for FREE:

On Amazon US

On Amazon UK

On Amazon AUS

On Apple Books

On B&N

On Kobo



About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes steamy Cyborg, Alien and Contemporary Romances. Her stories have been featured on TV, in Star Magazine and on numerous best of top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled monthly newsletter and visit her on the web at



Twitter:  @CynthiaSax



Friday, December 18, 2020

Fundraiser: Giftmas 2020




I won't take up too much of your time at all, and before I start talking about connections, I will ask you to go and donate. I'm being forward, I know, but this is important. Your donation to the Edmonton Food Bank--however small--will buy someone a warm meal. It will ease someone's worries a little, and if that isn't worth a few bucks, I don't know what is. And speaking of connections, it doesn't matter where on this planet you are. If you want to give, you can. Thank you.

So connections. They are important. In this plague year, they shifted, more to the digital and away from the personal. Some of us have not seen family members in months. I can't remember when I shook someone's hand last.

At the same time, thanks to the power of connections, I was able to help several students succeed in their final exams. They have now graduated and are moving to the next stage of their lives.

Friends that were once close have moved back to different countries earlier this year while the situation was still new and raw and developing. There was and is sadness there, because rapid change is never easy.

At the same time, I feel that digital conferences have allowed more writers to partake than in-person ones. I still want to meet with fellow authors irl, but I truly love the idea that the digital space allows more people access.

And another hugely valuable area for connections: when I came down with Covid not too long ago, people checked in with me, and it didn't matter that they were from four different countries. Truly, I was moved by this, especially because I was in isolation for several weeks, and knowing people were there, even if "there" was sometimes oceans away, helped.

So, please, stay safe. Remember to socially distance, not just for you but also those around you. And if someone you know is sick or won't be able to visit with family this holiday season, remember that you, yes you!, can be their connection. All it takes is a phone call, a text, anything that will let them know another person cares.

Alexandra Seidel

December 18, 2020