Deborah Kane never intended to embark on writing a fantasy series, nor did she expect the ideas to translate to three books, or more. Kane wrote the first book, Fifth Dragon – Cumulos Capers, to revive the humorous aspects of fantasy.
“Most of what’s out there is really dark,” she said. “This is just light humour with some magic.”
There was no plan in mind, no concerns of pleasing anybody and no restrictions. “This one just kind of came out of nowhere,” she said. “I wrote it just for fun, the writing just came and came, and then I realized ‘Oh my gosh, these are books.’”
By the time she started writing the second book, Kane got more serious about the project. “Only as I went along, I realized, ‘Okay, I need a direction,’” she explained.
First, she set herself a schedule, writing in five hour increments, mostly over weekends. Though Kane stressed the importance of being passionate about the subject matter, she also recognized the value of sticking to time goals.
“If you don’t have a schedule, it’s going to be very, very difficult to write a series,” she said.
As the series continued, Kane was able to identify a common theme, which also helped to keep her writing focused. She said the books balance the head of the main character’s North American roots, with the heart of the new magical world she’s exploring.
Though it’s not necessarily an obvious theme in the series, Kane uses the head and heart analogy to drive the continuity of the series. She said it gives her a solid direction, but still allows her to let her mind wander and explore the unlimited ways the series could go.
Kane has just started writing the fourth book in the Fifth Dragon series, but that’s only half of the publishing process. She’s simultaneously working on marketing the series. “The marketing is half of writing books. There’s no point writing a book if you’re going to keep it in a drawer,” she said.
Having consistency in the cover design and back cover descriptions of each of the books was important for her when developing the Fifth Dragon series brand.
Her daughter, Canadian photographer Renee Robyn, created the images used for the covers of the books, and Kane knew early on they would be a focal point to market the series. Robyn’s magical, gothic style matches the theme and genre of the series, not to mention her artistic talents have attracted more than 11,000 social media followers.
“I have more images than I have books!” she laughed. In fact, some of her daughter’s art has even sparked new ideas for future books in the series. Using the images as inspiration has definitely helped Kane develop the series’ branding.
Her bigger challenge was writing the back cover descriptions for the books. Not only was she trying to get the general idea of each book across, but she also had to think of the series as a whole.
She had the back cover of the first book beside her when writing the second book’s description. “I needed to make sure if somebody’s never seen it, that there’s enough there to catch their interest without being repetitive for someone who’s already read the first one,” she explained.
Since the series is ongoing, Kane also had to think forward to the third book, to set the stage for characters that are developing and to avoid spoiling too much from future books.
Now that Fifth Dragon – Cumulos Capers has launched, Kane is building a platform to market the series starting with her local Edmonton market and is expanding from there. She’s begun contacting bookstores in the area to get the first book in the series on their shelves. She’s also working on boosting her online presence using social media and her website – which she’s adapted to feature the series.
To Kane, this is a learning process that she can fine tune as the series continues. “These books are fun! Let’s learn how to publish them. If I make mistakes, I can learn from these ones,” she said. She knows there’s a lot more to learn, but it takes time, especially while trying to keep up with writing the next part of the series.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, said Kane. “On Amazon, all the responses are 5 stars, and I don’t know those people. So, the feedback has been really good.” As long as people are interested in the Fifth Dragon series, Kane will continue to publish sequels.
“Strangely enough, the longer the series goes, the more options there seem to be for characters to do stuff,” she said.
Though Kane hopes to attract a loyal readership for the series, she’s not writing with her audience in mind. “I read something the other day, ‘If you write what you think your audience wants to read, it will be poor writing,’” she explained. “I remind myself why I’m writing it. These books are fun, they’re not the meaning of life.”
Kane said her approach to writing a book series was unconventional – this was one of her first projects that wasn’t premeditated. Depending on the subject matter, she said some authors may choose to set out and follow an organized plan for their project. Her advice to new authors starting a series is to pick a topic they’re passionate about and take their time with both the writing and the publishing process.