If three books are a trilogy, what are two books? You could call them a duology, but I think people tend to call anything other than three books simply a series. There’s still so much I don’t know about writing. I’m ignorant of many of the standard conventions.
But there are conventions. There are formulas for writing and you ignore them at your peril. On the series topic, all advice is to write them. I didn’t think I would but I had one more cyberwar topic I couldn’t squeeze into the first novel, so I did write a second in order to discuss hybrid warfare.
The advice was that writing books in a series will promote additional sales, because people will go back and buy the earlier books. I’ve seen that. Four of my last five book sales were of my first book. The second book has clearly rekindled interest in my first novel, Cyber War I. Some people are buying both at once. I think others are from the hundred promotional copies of Full Spectrum Cyberwar that I signed a couple of months ago at a tech conference in Austin. Some of those books are converting into sales of the first novel.
I am going to write a third in the series. In fact, I’m 10,000 words into it already. Not understanding conventions better, I’m not confident it will be a true trilogy. I suspose it will be. But it will be twenty years into the future and a different genre – cyberpunk and a mystery rather than a tech thriller.
Another convention I broke was on my cover art. Even self-publishers tend to purchase unique cover art. They’ll spend from $200 to $400 with a cover designer. I simply licensed art from stock photos. From some of the writing blogs I read, I sense that’s frowned upon. Still, I really like my covers because they so clearly say cyberwar. They break convention though, not only in that they come from stock photos, but because they are on a white background. Not unlike the first Jurassic Park novel. But cyberwar and cybercrime books are expected to have dark backgrounds. Maybe a hooded figure, or for some reason, a grid overlaying everything says “tech” to buyers. I don’t know if my cover is hurting my sales or not. I do know that writers care a great deal about their covers, and that covers do indeed sell books.
I’m committed to following the cover convention for book three. I already licensed the photo I want, but it’s a bit racey and my family of girls have censored it from FaceBook. It’s so perfect though in how it captures my protagonist. I have time still to decide. It’ll be the obligatory dark cover, in addition to being a bit sexy. I have posters of my book covers hanging in my office. Probably won’t be able to hang that one up at work.