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What Harry Potter Taught Me About Writing An Article Series…
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Every once in a while when you’re doing article marketing you may feel extra inspired and get it into your head that you’d like to do an article series.

What’s an article series?

An article series is a group of articles on a related specific theme. All the articles in the grouping compliment each other, but each article can also stand alone and make complete sense if viewed by itself.

If you’re doing an article series, the natural inclination is to break it into parts, indicating Part 1, Part 2, etc in the title, but as I told you previously, breaking your articles into “parts” is a definite no-no :-) .

Remember, when you’re doing article marketing, it’s not a given that a publisher will pick up every single one of your articles, so you have to make each article be able to stand on it’s own.

Having your articles listed as Part 1, Part 2, etc, decreases the chances of your article getting picked up for publication, and it also may decrease the likelihood of someone reading one of your parts that they find separate from the others.

It’s sort of like going to the movies–if you see a movie that says “Part 4″, and you haven’t even seen movies 1-3, chances are you’ll want to watch the original movie before watching any of the sequels. This is just human nature–if there is an obvious sequence in place, we like to do things in order.

So if readers find your Part 7 article all by its lonesome self, and they haven’t read parts 1-6, they may pass on Part 7 thinking that they will be coming into the middle of the movie and won’t understand.

Also, what if an ezine editor liked your Part 7 and wanted to show just that articles to her subscribers?

Her readership would be saying, “Out of the blue this is Part 7–did I miss something?”

Some publishers may choose to publish some of your articles and not others (this is especially true if the publisher is running an ezine), so referring to Part 1, etc in your title can turn some publishers off and confuse readers. So, don’t do that! ;-)

Whenever we submit articles each article should be able to stand on it’s own without referencing other articles.

How do you do a series of articles if you can’t tell your readers outright that you’re doing a series?

You have to be strategic and unconventional–you will know that your articles are all related and in a series, but you won’t be bonking readers over the head saying “these are all connected and must be read together”.

In the book world, authors are great at accomplishing this feat–an example of how to do a series while still making each piece be able to stand on its own is the “Harry Potter” series.

There are 7 books in this series–here are the titles:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (aka Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Now, if you were totally unfamiliar with this series of books, could you tell me in what order they were written based on the titles?

I don’t think so, and that plays to the the author’s advantage. If I happen to find “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in the library and all the other books are checked out, it wouldn’t matter to me–I could still read that book because it is a stand alone book.

Yes, it is part of a series, but it has merit on it’s own, and I don’t need to read all the others before it in order to understand it.

Title Unity Is The Key

Also, notice how if you saw all of these books on a shelf, the titles would indicate that they were related, but if you saw them separately you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were part of a series.

The first part of the title is what unites all the books, “Harry Potter and the…” — this is a great idea if you’re doing an article series and want to indicate that the articles are related but still able to stand alone.

You can have unity with your titles by being consistent in your title phrasing. Let’s say you’re doing a article series on “How To Start Your Online Business”, you could have titles like this:

How To Start Your Online Business: Finding Your Niche

How To Start Your Online Business: Developing a Business Plan to Guide Your Growth

How To Start Your Online Business: Creating Your First Website

How To Start Your Online Business: Online Marketing Techniques You Can’t Live Without

You get the idea–just like the Harry Potter books, if you saw all of these articles together you would know that they were related, but if you saw them separately you wouldn’t know that they were part of a series.

They are all equally strong as stand alone articles–that’s what you’re going for!

The title is where most folks go wrong when they get it into their head to do an article series, so if you can just tweak your titles, that will likely solve your problems.

As we mentioned before, you wouldn’t mention the other articles in the series in any article–the title and the subject matter are what unite the articles, not an outright announcement of “This is an article series!”

Obvious question: If you can’t tell readers that you have an article series, what’s the point of doing one?

I knew you were going to ask that! :-) There are actually 3 BIG reasons you may want to try your hand at doing an article series, and we’ll go over them in our next post.

For now though–Have any of you written an article series lately? What were your titles?

Related Resources:

The 3 Reasons Why Writing An Article Series Can Simplify Your Life

How To Launch an Article Series from One Lonely Article

How to Turn a Blog Post Into a Free Reprint Article

7 Great Tips for Writing Articles that Ezine Editors Want to Publish

The 3 *BIG* Reasons Why Small Business Owners Use Article Marketing

What To Do If You’re Itching To Write An Article Series…

Note: This post is a participant in Problogger’s Group Writing Project– Killer Titles! If you have a blog and would like to participate in this group writing project, you have until the end of Thursday, August 28, 2008Â to submit your entry.


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17 Responses to “What Harry Potter Taught Me About Writing An Article Series…”

  1. I found you through the problogger contest and I liked your title. And I absolutely loved your post and found it really, really helpful. Thank you so much.

  2. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Laurie,

    Awww, thank you :-) Thanks so much for visiting and I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  3. I too found you through ProBlogger — I loved the Harry Potter series — so the title worked!

    Also appreciate the info — was sort of wondering about the “series” idea — I’m going to rethink some of the future titles on my blog. I can see how that can help with eventually compiling the info for a book in the future!

    Best,
    Peggie

  4. Good points you make here. I’ve tried two series since launching my blog at the end of June. Neither of them got the greatest response. For both, I used Pt. 1 – x in the title. Your way makes a lot more sense.

    I found you through the Problogger contest too.

  5. Jonny Tokyo says:

    Great article very informative thanks.

    JT

  6. [...] Two of my favorites where What Harry Potter Taught Me About Writing An Article Series… and Are You Raising a S…. I witnessed this remarkable phenomenon in Bristol and it ain’t pretty. [...]

  7. [...] Related Resources:   What Harry Potter Taught Me About Writing An Article Series [...]

  8. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Peggie,

    Thanks so much–yes, the same concept can apply to blogs too!

  9. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Bill,

    I’ve learned a lot from Problogger–thanks so much for stopping by.

  10. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Jonny–

    I really appreciate it :-) and thank you for sharing this post with your readers!

  11. Darren says:

    that post is something to think about when writing my next articles

  12. Frank Pacey says:

    Hi Steve.

    It is so obvious when you think about it, isn’t it.
    But then some of us appreciate the prod to get us thinking about it.

    The “Related Resources” section is a good idea if it is allowed where the articale is posted. It seems quite big for a resource box.

  13. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for your comment–actually the “related resources” section on this post is something that is unique to the blog posts here and not really something that I use when I’m doing article marketing.

    I thought it would be helpful to list some “related resources” section here on this blog, but when you’re submitting an article you will not have enough room in your resource box to include that much info. I would advise using a single link back to your website in your article resource box.

    I hope that helps :-)

  14. Delords says:

    Great Post Steve,

    This is really helpful,

  15. Hi Steve,
    You have provided good tips how to connect one article to the other without losing the main theme.
    You always come up with new ideas…
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. Nipa says:

    Thank you for sharing.

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