March 14, 2018 by Sarra Cannon
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to bring to you a series of videos and posts where I will talk about how to write a bestselling series. In my last video, I shared with you my top tips for how I sold over half a million books self-publishing, and in that video, I talked about how one of the best things I did was to create a single series with focused releases.
I’ve embedded today’s video explaining what an anchor series is and how to create your own bestselling series below. If you’d prefer to read, instead, scroll down and continue reading.
I call this type of series an “anchor” series, and for indie authors, it’s the single most valuable marketing tool you have right from the beginning.
Ok, so what is an anchor series?
An anchor series is a well branded, clearly defined series with five or more books that is positioned to bring in readers and income to your career for years to come.
There are a few definitions of the word “anchor” that really drew me to creating this term.
One is “a person or thing that provides stability of confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation.”
I love that, because there is no doubt that indie publishing is a very uncertain situation. I love the idea of having something that provides stability to your career, despite everything else that’s going on.
I often like to say that really and truly, indie publishing is like setting your ship out onto the open seas where there are shark infested waters. There are waves that will blow you off-course. There are dangers that can completely flip your ship over.
There are so many things that are out of our control that can affect our career and our income. For example, vendors change their algorithms. They change the way they promote or recommend your books. They change royalty rates or begin to promote books that are exclusive to their platform.
Things happen over night sometimes in this business that can completely shatter your income or can, in some cases, cause a windfall. There have been people whose careers have been made off being in the right place at the right time because a vendor made a change that really did great things for them.
But these are the types of things you can’t really predict. You have no control over what might happen at Amazon or iBooks or any other vendor. So, it is very much like being out on the open seas.
One thing you have complete control over, however, is exactly what and how you publish your books. If you take the time to strategize your own anchor series, it is going to give you a lot of stability and a lot of confidence over the long term.
This is definitely a long term strategy. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme or hack of any kind. This is a long term strategy that I’m talking about, but with great planning and strategy, it is something that can help you bring in consistent income for years to come, if not decades.
An Anchor Series Holds You To Your Goals
Another definition of anchor that I love is “an object used to hold something firmly in place.”
I also like this definition because you think about dropping your anchor when you’re on a boat. It holds you in place. Holds you to your goals.
If you remember one of my first posts talks about what is it that you want out of your career, and this is something that I will come back to over and over and over again.
I’m so passionate about tailoring your career to being something that you can not only be proud of, but something that’s going to be spiritually profitable for you, emotionally profitable for you, as well as financially profitable.
Until you know what it is you want, it’s hard to know what is going to make you feel fulfilled both emotionally and financially. But once you are on that path, instead of letting trends, competition, comparing yourself to other people, vendors changing, and stuff like this send your boat way off-course, this is something that is going to hold you firmly in place and help lead you toward your goals.
An anchor series will help do that for you. It will help to set you on a path toward your true desires as an author, and it will help you weather even the roughest storms at sea.
An anchor series is a series that’s well-branded, so that when readers see it, they immediately recognize it as part of the same.
It is a series in a very clearly-defined genre or niche market. At a glance, a reader can look at your series and say, “Oh, I know exactly what kind of book this is and how it’s going to make me feel.”
I’m not talking about copying someone else’s book, but what I am talking about is giving readers a clear expectation of genre just by looking at the cover and the description and the categories for your book.
I’m also not talking about writing something just to fit it into a box. The most important thing is to follow your heart and write what you truly want to write, even if it doesn’t follow these rules.
I am simply giving you some guidelines for ways to write what you love in such a way that it will give you an advantage and help you find your true fans as fast as possible.
If you want to build an anchor series that is gonna bring in money and lots of readers for years to come, it will always be easier to market if it can be clearly placed into a specific genre or niche.
Other elements of an anchor series are having focused releases and publishing five or more books in your series.
Of course, there will be different experiences for different people, but I have noticed that the more books you have in an anchor series, the more likely it is to grow over time.
My anchor series for example, I just released the ninth book. There will be at least 11 books in this series, and there are going to be several spin offs. It’s something meaty enough that readers can get into it and love it for years to come.
When you have a longer series, readers can spend a lot of time in this world that you’ve created. One or two books isn’t usually going to be enough to build an anchor series.
This was just a quick outline of the basic elements of a bestselling, anchor series. Over the next few weeks I will be doing a series of videos and posts diving into each of these elements a little deeper, so I hope you’ll subscribe to my channel on YouTube or sign up for my mailing list here at Heart Breathings.
Meanwhile, in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the concept of an anchor series. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I will do my best to make sure I cover everything in the next few videos.
I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.
Thank you for doing these as blog posts as well as videos. It’s much easier for me to remember things I see written rather than hear spoken.
Thanks for the feedback, Marcus. I am working to try to come up with a better system for transcribing these without taking so much of my time. I’m a little bit behind, but they will all slowly be posted as blog posts while I figure out my system!!
Sarra, you are my new favorite inspiration and I wish I had seen this 5 years ago. I am a perfect picture of what not to do! I started two different series and a few stand alone books, so I have no brand. I’m focusing now!
I’m glad these posts are resonating with you! Sometimes we have to go down the wrong path to learn and get clear on exactly where we want to be! Hang in there, put together a clear strategy, and you are going to find your success!
Sarra, hi! I’ve been binge watching your WONDERFUL Heart Breathings videos for a couple of weeks now and am SO grateful for your insights and guidance! I’m impressed and inspired, thank you. I’ve even stumbled happily into a fun planner obsession inspired by you! Haha! (#stickersgalore) Please do continue your posts/videos about building an anchor series. I’m working on the first book of my anchor series now and could use all the help I could get with branding, etc. Thanks again for all you do. (PS…some writers from my local RWA chapter attended your #RWA2018 workshop and highly recommended you to our entire group. That’s how I found you, FYI.)