I don’t know how other authors of series do it, but at the moment I’m working on three books in a series at once. It started when my book discussion group agreed to schedule the discussion of French Impression, book one of the series, in April. I took that as a good reason to revise book two so I’d be able to incorporate any suggestions they had that affected the characters’ arcs. Then it seemed a good idea to start outlining book three to write in November during NaNoWriMo since I was very involved in the characters day-to-day lives and had ideas about what happened after the end of book two.
I didn’t intend to do more than correct a typo or two in book one and change the font size so the book didn’t cost so much to print. Once I’m revising a book, it’s tempting to read through and look for things that can be improved. They’re usually minor things like the same word used too close together, a way to make something more active voice, or just an overused phrase that I suddenly realize is peppered throughout the book. (My brother recently pointed out how many different characters ‘snorted’ – kind of a laugh and a weird noise. It’s all right once in a great while but I had several characters snort in the same book.) I like to clean those up, and I often don’t see them until I’ve been away from the novel for a while.
Book two is up on critique circle so I’m getting feedback from other writers, as well as reading it while I walk and noting things to improve. It’s going well, and the feedback from the book discussion, as well as ideas for book three are influencing the scenes and character arcs in that novel. Rereading book one carefully is helping to ensure I made the characters consistent between the novels. And, since I’m looking at book one, I can make a minor change in the first novel to help set up the second or third novel.
If this sounds complicated, it helps that I like math and solving puzzles, which is what working on three novels in one series at once is like. I want each book to stand on its own, but also work for people who read them in order. It’s a challenge, but I like challenges.