When people read books, magazines, watch a movie or engage in any kind of similar activity they mentally rate the material by comparing it to a baseline of what they think it should be like or to similar materials. Whatever the method, the fact is that it is human nature to want to rate or evaluate the activities that we engage in.
I like reading a lot of books by debut authors because it really gives me a sense of where the “Book World or Industry” is and where it is heading. And so with that is my book rating system for debut authors who have written what is to become the first book in a series (I am only focusing on series for now, hence the part 1, because it seems that most new books now are a part of a series, $$$).
1. The book must get the Author’s Name Out
Now I do not mean the author’s name should become like the name Anne Rice is for vampire/paranormal books or how John Grisham is for legal thrillers. No, what I mean is that as a debut author you are, obviously, a new author at the very least to the current genre you are writing for (although more often than not debut authors are authors that have never been published).
As a new author it is your goal to get your name out and have people be say (when they see your name on a book) something like:
“The Heist Society, well it does sound kind of interesting…oh wait, it was written by Ally Carter, she’s the author of one of my favorite book series, The Gallagher Girls series, now I definitely have to buy this book.”
In this case the person was already considering buying the book however by seeing that Ally Cater is the author or the book the person decided to take the next step and buy the book, instead of just trying to find it at the library or going to your local bookstore and reading a little bit every day until you finish it. (haha, yeah, it happens)
A well-known author’s name on a book can validate a book and make a potential reader, & hopefully in the author’s case buyer, take a chance and think “well even though I have my doubts about this book, it’s by Stephanie Meyer (not a favorite of me, personally) and give it a chance.
In my opinion, this is the easiest step in my rating system that a book by a debut author can accomplish because all the book has to do is be a well written book that keeps the readers interested, which leads me the next step…
2. The book must keep readers interested by expanding on a pre-existing genre or creating a new one
Now the reason why I don’t just say keep readers interested is because as a debut author you are new to the “published book world” as well as to the genre you are writing for. Therefore in order to be successfully you must make an impact within that genre.
Take Rick Riordan, the author of the well-known Percy Jackson series. In 2005, when The Lightening Thieffirst came out, there were not many fictional young adult aged books dealing with Greek mythology. At this time not only was Rick Riordan a debut author, to the Young Adult audience, but his book, the Lightning Thief, expanded on a genre that was basically dead.
By expanding on this genre and creating a whole world, he paved the way for more authors such as Jessica Therrien, author of the upcoming Children of the Gods series to be successful.
3. The book must build a solid foundation that the following books in the series will be able to expand upon.
This is the most crucial point because there is no reason to write a book that is meant to introduce a series and not have it accomplish that goal.
If the first book in a series can “set the stage” or “build the foundation” for the other books in the series then it can be considered successful. A book can do this by having a good ending that gives just enough closure to satisfy the reader but not enough so that the reader is left thinking,
“man, I can’t wait for the next book, I don’t know what I am going to do I don’t think I can read another book until it comes out.”
(that is of course until the reader finds out the next book is not coming out until the end of the next year L)
Anyway, the point is that it is vital that the first book and every book until the last one, in the series accomplishes that task.
***You might be wondering why I stated that the above steps were tasks that the book needed to accomplish, not the author since the book is not a thing. This is because while I know that books do not literally do things I do believe that they have power and that it is not completely the author. In my opinion, authors are more of the instrument while the book and the story within the book are the things that are really in control. In fact when you read interviews that ask authors why they chose a certain direct for their series they usually cite that the characters or the story compelled them to do it not that they personally decided, “well I think that Harry should marry Ginny”.***