3's a Charm! Writing and Reading a Series

Today on the hot sand we have author Kim Hornsby joining us with a margarita in hand. Pray tell, Kim, what wisdom do you have today?

I don't know about wisdom but I do have some insight and burning questions about writing a series.

I am a self-published author which means I am a publishing house as well as a novelist. See my fancy logo, compliments of author Lori Leger?

My first indie-pub was so successful I decided to make it into a series. I wrote the first book in 2012, then realized I didn't tie everything up and needed to keep going. Readers wanted me to continue. I didn't go into this knowing I'd have a series, plotting the whole thing with arcs and conflict and knowledge that carries across the grand plot of the whole shebang. Oh no. I'm doing it by the seat of my yoga pants.
I thought about writing a series, saw that they were selling on Amazon like hot cakes (how do hot cakes sell, anyhow?), and wrote the second book for NaNoWriMo, fixed it up and published the novel months later. My timing was as stinky as a skunk at the dump. With fourteen months between book 1 and 2, I did not catch my readers just out of the gate as they finished book 1. I missed thousands of sales in 2013 by not publishing a second one shortly after the first one.
And now I'm trying to rectify that mistake by writing the third one and publishing it within 9 months of the last book. I have to write the third one whether sales are good or not because I have faithful readers waiting for the next installment.
Also, I left a few things up in the air and must tie up some loose ends with Book 3. I didn't leave things with a suspenseful cliffhanger, rather an interest in what happens next. I don't like it when books are so compelling and then you have to wait months to see if the protag gets shot, pregnant, loses her mind, her purse, or anything else. I respect my readers and won't do that to them, especially because the next book doesn't come out immediately. I'd probably make more sales if I used cliffhangers but this is where I draw the literary line.
What do you think when you read a series? If the writer leaves you hanging it's maddening but how many of you buy the next book to see what happens? And how many of you will buy the next book for more than you paid for the last book to get your answers?

I keep Book 1 at a very reasonable rate, sometimes free, and offer the second book for more. It's a bit like getting you hooked on something yummy only to find out it costs more the second time.
At least I'm not asking $11.99 for an ebook download. The most I charge is $3.00  or $4.00. Dang those big New York fancy publishers.
That's a whole other topic on here. Why do they charge so much for an ebook when they only spent money promoting, editing, preparing the book, and not on a printing press or paper? Or shipping books.
I'm writing Book 3 now. It'll come out 9 months after Book 2, not the best plan but better than 14 months. Still, I'm not sure that the series is the best way to go if you don't have three ready to go. Or close to ready. Or are prepared to lock yourself in to the attic for 6 months to write.

I have a novella series that I wrote as an experiment with Contemporary Romance. The first one is permanently free, the second costs a whopping $.99. The second Husband Hunt has done well in the past, especially when The Bachelor is on TV. The freebie leads readers into the next installment. I write under a pen name for these books because they are light, romancy reading and I don't want to confuse my suspense readers.
I'm not sure I'll write a series again, especially because my books all tie in to each other anyhow. Goldy knows Pepper, Greg grew up next door to Tina etc. I like that connection and will stick with that instead of writing one colossal book that needs to be split up into three.

What do you think about the Series? Got any tips?

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