Writing a Book Series Spin-off Successfully

For authors deeply invested in their series, writing a book series spin-off can feel like an exciting new chapter rather than an abrupt farewell to a beloved world. It’s hard to step away from favorite characters and settings that you took, sometimes, years to create! And that goes for your readers, as well.

From bestselling author, Kathleen Brooks, she explores how to transition seamlessly from a main series to a spin-off, ensuring continued engagement and excitement for readers. By evaluating the business viability of your series, understanding what elements resonate with your audience, and strategically planting seeds for future stories, you can expand your fictional world without missing a beat!

Discover the steps to writing a successful book series spin-off, from character development to branding, and learn how to keep your readers coming back for more.

A Guest Post by Kathleen Brooks


I love writing and reading series. You can become so invested in your main series that you may not want to leave that series when you’ve written your last planned book. So, what do you do when you go through all the family members, the military unit, or the sports team yet want to write more about that world?


image of three book covers for the "Shadows Landing" The Townsends" spin-off series


The Business of Books

First thing first, you have to evaluate your series from a business point of view. Is it profitable? Do your readers keep picking up the next book in the series? You might be better off with a new concept if the answer is no. If the answer is yes, then you need to look to the next question.

For me, I knew by the 4th book in my Shadows Landing series that it sold well enough and that I was so in love with the town and characters that I wanted to continue once I wrote the central family’s stories.




Where is the Love?

What do readers love about your current series? For example, my Shadows Landing series is set in a small town and revolves around a family. My readers love the central family. But they also love the quirky secondary characters of the town. So, I knew I wanted to stay in the town of Shadows Landing even though I had exhausted the primary family characters.

Next, I evaluated where the most interest lay outside the main characters. Was it a best friend? Was it a club one of the characters was in? For me, it was a female attorney who worked for one of the main characters. She was tough as nails and my readers loved her. How did I know? My reader group constantly asked about her! And I noticed what they talked about after each book release. That’s when I saw the path to my spin-off. I began to give her meddling brothers several books from the end of the main series and have now started a spin-off around her family.


Plan Ahead

You find what your readers love and then start planning it several books ahead of your final book in the series. It could be a beloved secondary character to which you start giving more background. It could be hinting at a new job, a transfer, or a large family that you could pivot to. If you are already on your last book in the main series, you can plant someone— say a freshman up-and-coming sports star touring the school when your senior start is about to graduate.

It would help if you introduced these new characters enough in your main series that readers already relate to and are interested in them. By adding them to the main series ahead of time, even if it’s just in the final book, you are setting the stage to expand your world with all these new characters without completely changing it.


The Crossover Convo

Now, let’s talk crossovers. It’s up to you how much crossover you’d like between the main series and the spin-off. If you take a favorite character and move them to a new town to start a new job, then it will result in very little crossover. If you write about a different part of the family—such as cousins to your main series—you’ll probably have more crossover.

The important part is, whether there is a little crossover or a lot, you must write it as if a new reader who picks up book one has never read the main series it’s spun off from. Then, if you add in crossovers, you explain who they are as if you don’t know them. Give their background and a hook so your new readers will want to pick up your other series to read about his interesting character. Your existing readers will be thrilled to see a previous main character.

Series Bibles noting where crossovers can or did happen or who are friends with whom is helpful. Also, if you’re using the same location, a map of the location will also help you keep all the details straight.


Build the Brand

You have your spin-off. You’re planting teasers for it in your main series. But what about branding? You could use a similar series of keywords to connect them. Example: the main series is the Shadows Landing series. The spin-off is Shadows Landing: The Townsends. I also have a main series titled the Bluegrass Series, and the spin-offs are the Bluegrass Brothers series and the Forever Bluegrass series.

The similar words key in long-time readers that these series are linked and it allows new readers to easily find the linked main series and go back to read them too. Other branding includes similar color themes, fonts, and styling for covers between the main series and the spin-off for the covers.


Good luck spinning your series!


About Kathleen Brooks

Kathleen Brooks is a multiple time New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Kathleen’s stories are romantic suspense mostly set in small fictional towns. Kathleen loves writing about strong female heroines, the men who love them, quirky characters, funny animals, strong communities, sassy octogenarians, and happily-ever-afters.

Kathleen lives in Kentucky with her husband, daughter, and dog who is waiting to make her appearance in one of her books. When not writing, Kathleen always finds time to enjoy reading a good book.


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