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III. Goodreads Readers > Would you read a book series?

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message 1: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 221 comments There seems to be a mad rush among authors towards putting out series. Almost every book I'm offered for review is part of a series.

To tell the truth I will never bother. I don't want to be tied down into some major time consuming (possibly wasting) situation where I have to read book after book about the same subject.

Sure, there are some great series out there. But I would never read one from an unknown author. Why can't you say what you have to say in one book? I'm suspicious this series thing is just a sly way to try to make money from future sales.

Anyone else feel the same?

message 2: by Darth J (new)

Darth J  (j___) Ed wrote: "There seems to be a mad rush among authors towards putting out series. Almost every book I'm offered for review is part of a series.

To tell the truth I will never bother. I don't want to be tied ..."

I actually like series books. If I see there are a few books in a series already out, I tend to gravitate towards it for some reason. I guess I tend to like a story that goes on and on, but not everyone does. Everyone has different tastes and it's perfectly fine.

On the other hand, I have read a few stand alone novels and wished that they had sequels only to be disappointed when an author says they never planned on a sequel in the first place. The Night Circus is a good example of this IMO.

message 3: by Marina (new)

Marina Fontaine (marina_fontaine) | 70 comments I love series, but a) I almost never start a series that is not yet complete and b) I will not get an indie book, even as a freebie, if it's "Book 1 in a Blah Blah series." I've made exceptions, and most of the time regretted them.

By the way, I am talking a series that has an over-arching plotline, not individual books that have the same character (like detective stories or thrillers where each one is self-contained.)

message 4: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 144 comments Ed wrote: "There seems to be a mad rush among authors towards putting out series. Almost every book I'm offered for review is part of a series.

To tell the truth I will never bother. I don't want to be tied ..."

Ed: I think there are different reasons for writing series. Some authors, I agree, seem to prefer writing three or four very short "novels" that perhaps would be better served as a single, much larger volume.

Sometimes a story becomes a series over more tangible, practical considerations. Think about The Lord of the Rings which Tolkien conceived as a single book -- but Penguin insisted on publishing as three books. Are you faulting Tolkien for writing a "series" then?

I am a world builder with a very detailed setting in another galaxy complete with unique biochemistry, physics, astronomy, cultures, religions, political systems, even ecology. All of my books are set within this detailed "universe" I've created. My books are also structured as trilogies within this universe.

Since my training is in film writing, I conceive and outline my books rather like a television series. The book series is like the entire TV series; each trilogy is like a single season in that series.

Television shows are not intended to be watched all at once; they have episodes which together make up the individual season of any number of episodes.

So why should my trilogies be in a single volume?

I think one of the challenges of series is the balance between unity between the books and variety across the books. Is book two or even book six basically the same as book one? If so, that is pretty boring.

There has to be enough continuity between the books so you can follow along. But let's face it: I don't want book three or four to sound exactly like or too much like book one or two; I want a different story each time.

Is this perhaps part of what turns you off as well?

message 5: by G.G. (last edited Sep 24, 2013 10:38AM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments I love series. I love having a chance to read about my favorite characters once more. The only ones I don't like are the ones that have super big cliff hangers, (and yes these I feel are written just to milk money). I run away from them as soon as I learn of it. I want my book to have some kind of ending/closure. Series can have them too, just as singles sometimes don't have clean ends and leave you wondering if all will start over again. (Mostly seen in horror stories.)
So truthfully, there are so many books to read, it just become a pleasant surprise when some of my favorites come back with seconds (and third).

@Laurel That's exactly my thoughts. I see series as TV shows.

message 6: by L. (new)

L. Benitez | 118 comments I love book series and I'm writing one currently. I've only published the first one so far. How I view series are a bit as Laurel wrote. I view them like television series goes, each book is like one season. So my intention is that once someone reads my first book, it's like watching one season (like a show) and then when book two comes out it's like watching/reading the second season and so on.

I do understand the point that reading series (especially if they're not over with) can be deterring. I feel the same way but I hope that's not the case with how people feel with my book. To each his own, I suppose.

I also understand the point that sometimes book#1 can be like book#3 and so on with the same mechanic. I like to think that with my book series, it's technically all one story just divided up. My second book will simply continue where book#1 left off and will further go into detail of the characters and introduce new things. Same with the transition from the 2nd to 3rd.

Anyway, I'm not trying to get off topic and talk about my book series. I'm just saying that so long as authors do what I tend to do I'm more drawn to them. I don't mind series as long as they don't drag on and live their course. Then once the story is over the reader/fan can appreciate what is there and really like what they've been keeping up with.

That's my intention and goal for my current series. Hopefully I don't draw out the story and I can really invite people into my story and its life.

All in all, I would say yes to book series =)

message 7: by Reed (new)

Reed Bosgoed (ReedBosgoed) | 60 comments I like series when the plot can justify it. I've read some series that I was salivating for the sequel because there was so much left to learn and see in the universe the author was building (EX: Hitchhiker's Guide). Then of course the flip side where book one was fluff and books 2 and on promised to be the same nonsense (EX: Twilight). I'm a new indie author and my first book is part of a series. I didn't break it up to make money. If I had decided on doing it in one book it would have been like 1500 pages minimum. NOBODY would be willing to read a 1500 page indie debut novel. Some might read book 1 of a series if it's 250 pages.

@Ed: Are you saying you'd feel obligated to read a whole series if someone asked you to review one part? Why is that? A terrible book one is just like reading a one off with a terrible first few chapters. When it begins to suck, put it away.

message 8: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 144 comments Jonathan wrote: "Generally speaking, I'm not wild about series. I'm a horror writer, and the genre has been diluted to the point of meaninglessness by Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephanie Meyer and their imitators. I'm l..."

A candy coated sugar rush? Wow! That feels like a smack in the face, Jonathan!

Now perhaps in the horror genre, that is the case, but it DOES NOT APPLY to my Peers of Beinan books. I don't sugar coat ANYTHING in my books; if anything, they are an exploration of some pretty big social issues -- like sexual politics, rape for political gain (study women's history to discover how rampant political rape has been in western culture), terrorism, the use of religion as an excuse for violence, even medical ethics.

Not one bit of what I do is about the money or market trends; I'm just interested in great story-telling.

Now I will admit that the ending of my second book is both clean and messy; I had to postpone some BIG revelations intended for the book and put them into the third book in progress now. That's because at the end of book two, Princess Anyu heads off into exile (the focus of the first half of the third book referred to in that book's title). But instead of immediately following her, I circle back to what happens on the home front after she leaves. This is practical because you won't see these characters again and won't know their fates for about twenty Earth years and I really wanted to at least hint at what happens to the rest of the characters.

Kinda like how in Star Wars Episode Three we don't watch Yoda go to Dagoba; instead that cuts to show you Princess Leia arriving on Alderaan, Luke arriving on Tatooine, and of course Padme Amidala's funeral.

I do something similar. I hope that is something people can respect.

I actually really love the way the second book ends, even with some of these threads that are not wrapped up, because it allows me to say something very powerful about love and what we will do for those we love.

As many times as I've read "Ghosts of the Past," that ending still makes ME cry!

message 9: by C.M.J. (last edited Sep 24, 2013 11:39AM) (new)

C.M.J. Wallace | 193 comments I’ve posted this before in response to this type of thread. I’ll repeat it here because it bears repeating.

I respectfully beg to differ with those who say authors writing cliff-hangers are out to get more money. I concede that some may have that goal, but for others, including me, it’s a matter of practicality. I’d intended my books to be a single volume, but when I started sending out query letters to agents and reading their opinions on huge word counts—and discovering what publishers of first-time authors thought about taking a risk on bulky manuscripts from unknowns—I realized I’d have to break the book into parts or else no traditional publisher would ever touch it. And there's usually no great place to break a book when you hadn't planned on it. As far as paperbacks go, imagine trying to sell a multithousand-page book on CreateSpace while keeping the price reasonable. And then there’s shipping on top of that. (And despite what some people may think, shipping costs vary with distance from the warehouse. Amazon mailed 10 copies of my book for a giveaway, and the cost differed by as much as a dollar—for the same book sent on the same day—depending on where in the U.S. the books went.) Also, I clearly display the series title and volume number on the cover of my books, and in their blurbs on sales sites I state that the books are not stand-alone works. I don’t want people who don’t like cliff-hangers to buy my books.

And are those who object to cliff-hangers on the grounds of money-grubbing actually suggesting that huge series such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games should have been a single book? These are unequivocally cliff-hangers without resolution until the final book (Martin’s is still going, as far as I know), but that doesn’t seem to have hurt their popularity. And having a series wasn’t Tolkien’s idea; it was his publisher’s. And it was a matter of practicality.

I understand that cliff-hangers annoy some people, but sometimes they’re a necessity. If you must hate them, do so because you just don’t like cliff-hangers, not because you suspect the author of having ulterior motives.

message 10: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 221 comments Thanks for all the interesting replies so far.

I guess I should have mentioned that if each book in a series has a satisfying CONCLUSION I could bear with it. I don't want to be left hanging for the next one.

If the sequel is about the same character / different story that would be another matter and I wouldn't mind a it.

But a series to me implies you have to read each book to get to the end of the THAT story. Sequels okay - series not so much.

message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2137 comments This is a good question. Personally I don't mind reading them but I'm not a big fan of them. Any series beyond 3 books seems way too much to me. I don't like if by the third book in a series a character has totally changed from the first or it goes way into the future or years go by. I like series to not focus on elements of time but rather to just stay the same with just new plots and characters developing slowly and casually. In some series these things are usually over done and its hard to get into them because the basis is so beyond what you would expect.

message 12: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Well I did say HUGE cliffhangers. I understand that a series have to have some kind of continuity or else they are just stand alone under the same name. The Dark series from Christine Feehan comes to mind here, and I don't consider them as such.

In my mind, huge cliffhangers usually are from book far from being in the 250+ pages. They come from books that have so few as 75-100 pages mostly, which tells me that they could have gathered them all in one volume easily.

message 13: by C.M.J. (new)

C.M.J. Wallace | 193 comments G.G. wrote: "Well I did say HUGE cliffhangers. I understand that a series have to have some kind of continuity or else they are just stand alone under the same name. The Dark series from Christine Feehan comes ..."

Thanks for that clarification, G.G. Because I'm now aware of how some people feel about the abrupt drop-off of a cliff-hanger, and because I never planned for my books to be that way in the first place, I'm going to offer the entire series as a single e-book when the last volume is finished. In the meantime, I hope my warning about the series not being a stand-alone one is enough to keep haters of cliff-hangers safe! ;)

message 14: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 144 comments Ed wrote: "Thanks for all the interesting replies so far.

I guess I should have mentioned that if each book in a series has a satisfying CONCLUSION I could bear with it. I don't want to be left hanging for ..."

Ed: I actually have both situations in my Anlei's Legacy arc in The Peers of Beinan. Book one is completely stand alone. Book two takes place three generations later with entirely different characters -- they are the LEGACY of the first book with constant historical references to book one. As every history student knows, no incident happens in a historical vacuum; there's usually a series of events that build up to create it (great example: the 1588 launch of the Spanish Armada against England which was caused by numerous events across the entire Tudor dynasty -- starting with Henry VIII's divorce of Catherine of Aragon). Book one causes book two to happen -- but not to the people who set those events in motion.

This is in strong contrast with books two and three which happen to mostly the same people as one continuous story broken into two pieces by Lord Yelu's coup d'etat. Whereas it doesn't matter if a person reads two or one first, a person must read two before three for any of it to make sense.

So you really can have it both ways in the same trilogy.

Justin: what do you think of my series structure in using series of trilogies in the same universe? My second trilogy in the works happens about 10,000 years before the first trilogy. Do you find that problematic?

message 15: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2137 comments The same universe in all series seems fine sounds like no issue and its the same setting. The 2nd one ehh yeah I say a bit much however If the content is the same and theres a basis and logical reason for such a big time shift then fine. I'm not a fan of such a big time gap in books like that but I'm sure if your making it work all the best.

message 16: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 144 comments Justin wrote: "The same universe in all series seems fine sounds like no issue and its the same setting. The 2nd one ehh yeah I say a bit much however If the content is the same and theres a basis and logical rea..."

Each trilogy stands alone in the same universe -- just like Star Trek Voyager stands alone from Star Trek the Original Series. Same universe, different times with different characters. :)

message 17: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2137 comments Hmm..well if your making a Star Trek reference then It all makes sense now lol. Interesting though.

message 18: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 182 comments I'm not a fan of 'Book One of...' when it's the only volume currently available. There's always a fear that poor sales will dissuade a writer from finishing what he/she started.

How do you define a series? Two books is a novel and a sequel. Three is a trilogy. There should be a rule that authors have to write at least four before being allowed to call it a series... (just joking).

message 19: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Hayes | 155 comments I have two book series going right now. With one of them, the books are stand alone (each book is a self contained story). My other series, however, has a story arch that must be read in order. Why did I choose to do this? The story is about a young woman who is healing being held captive as a sex slave. I didn't think that I could realistically cover her healing and the building of a relationship between the two characters in a single book.

I also think some of it has to do with genre. Given I write romance, I also knew, as did my publisher, that it wasn't likely that a reader would pick up a 400K book from an author they'd never heard of...which, when the series is all said and done, is how long its going to be. In the same vein, though, a 400K book in another genre wouldn't be as big of an issue. Even from an unknown author.

message 20: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments Series is what sell books. if a reader knows you have another book coming out set in the universe of the previous one....hopefully thats why they'll stay with you.
It's survival!
I am working on a series of books set In 1843 California with elves. Each book takes on a different elf.
I hope to have a novella out at the end of the month I Swear My Roommate is a Vampire....which has nothing to do with a s just a fun light read (I hope!)
I like writing different stuff because it helps me grow as a writer. And I have read series many many times. I guess I have a high tolerance because I read some that have gone on for some the Sookie Stackhouse novels (True Blood on HBO)

message 21: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle Pretty much all I read are series (pretty much all I read is fantasy, as well... which seem to gravitate more towards series as a genre than others... so that could have something to do with it). Personally, I love series. I hate saying "goodbye" to a favorite character, and as I read extremely quickly, I prefer long series over a stand-alone. I am one who almost always wants to know "more" about the story/characters/world/what-have-you.

However, I prefer series where each book is a self-contained unit and stands alone well. I don't mind a bit of an overarching plot, but am not a huge fan of cliff-hangers.

message 22: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments I actually waited I think it was five years for David Eddings The Belgariad to finish..actually it might have been seven years? anyway...there were five books..and by golly I was going to read the series I. One fell swoop! And I did!

message 23: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I like series that have the same characters but not really the same ongoing story.
I don't mind a series with an ongoing story as long as each individual book has an actually ending which closes that book, recently it seems like all the series are ending in a cliff hanger, which does nothing but annoy me.

message 24: by Thomas (last edited Oct 06, 2013 01:44PM) (new)

Thomas Murphy (thomasm1964) | 1 comments It's interesting that no-one has yet addressed the financial reason why so many authors split books up into three or more parts.

The comments which follow relate specifically to the e-book rather than the printed book market.

There seems to be a tipping point for most e-books. It seems to be around the $2.99 or £2.49 mark. Unfortunately, when Amazon and the other big boys were building their platforms, one of their biggest gimmicks was the "free" e-book.

Free to whom though? Certainly not the poor author who actually wrote the thing. Every "free" book is a cost to an author who is not being properly recognised or rewarded for his or her work.

Typically, e-book authors at the moment are writing three parters. Often, the first part is free as an enticer and the second two parts are paid-for.

Let us assume for the sake of the argument that we are talking about good authors. I fully accept that many authors out there (traditionally and self published) are dire - but let's stick with someone who has written a damn good story.

The author has invested hours of every day into writing their story and, not unreasonably, would like to make some sort of a return on it.

The sticking point is around £2.49 per book - less than a cup of Costa coffee. The total investment by Costa - including all business rates, employee costs, ingredient and packaging costs, marketing and so on - was recently reported as less than 16 pence per cup - but they charge between £2.50 and £3.00 for their coffee.

Customers will pay more for coffee which takes minutes to make and buttons to produce than they will for a good satisfying read. There is already something wrong there.

Back to the author. One part free; two parts paid-for at £2.49 each means that, for the total of £4.90 (or two cups of coffee) the reader has bought something which may last them a lifetime and may well give them many hours of reading pleasure.

Now let's look at some sums:

01. Time to write the book - say a year - maybe 800 hours of expended time with no guarantee of reward.

02. Cost: a cover art illustrator (assuming we are talking about a serious author who wants to make a career of writing good books): £400 plus.

03. An ISBN number: around £25 per ISBN unless you buy in bulk.

04. Networking and marketing time and expenditure to get the word out. Books which are not marketed do not sell. No-one but the author can put the word out - and it takes weeks and weeks and week of unpaid effort and/or paid for professional marketing.

05. Now think of the numbers. If 3,000 people in year 1 buy both paid-for sections of a story at £2.49 per part, the author grosses £4.90 x 3,000 = £7,470.

Are any of you prepared to work for £7,470 per year? In fact, it is worse than that because we are talking about one year to write and publish the book and one year to gross the £7,470 - or two years' effort at £3,735 per year.

But it doesn't end there. Let's say all the sales are via Amazon. They take 30% off the top. So now your author nets £5,229 in year 1 - that's below minimum wage, ladies and gentlemen.

Did you think I had finished? Chances are that the author is reimbursed via PayPal. It's quick; it's convenient and there is no way that Amazon is going to pick up the charges - so that's another 3.14% off the headline figure. The author takes home just £5,064 from the series - equivalent to £2,532 per year over the two years it takes to write, publish and earn from the book.

Shall we take off the £400 for the cover art and the £25 for the ISBN number and maybe the costs of a domain name and webhosting package if the author is trying to sell via their own website as well ...?

It's not exactly creaming it in, is it?

Of course some top authors may well earn many tens or hundreds of thousands more than this - but most authors don't.

Authors write three parters fundamentally because readers won't pay an honest price upfront for a single book. Not to put too fine a point on it, readers have to be tricked or persuaded into parting with a decent sum of money for their reading pleasure.

What I would like to see more of is authors offering the three parters as three separate products but feeling confident enough to offer alongside them the full story - at a fair price. Then we would see whether readers really are after the cheapest deal they can find or whether they respect the time, effort and sheer hard work that the author has put into trying to give the reader a few hours' pleasure.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, it was so good knowing someone else out there feels like I do!

Ed, I, just like you don't want to be tied down on a series. I think series, specially when each book is a novel length are for people who have "plenty of time" to use on such readings.

I am a very busy person, and I do like long books, of several hundred pages, if they are very good, but short reads are more practical for me.

A lot of the content on book series is just to "fill the pages" until something of significance happens in the plot... My humble opinion...

message 26: by thebookbitch (new)

thebookbitch (kierancrump) | 2 comments I absolutely love reading series. I feel like with one book you say 'hi' and then 'bye' to a character so quick, whereas, with a series you stay with them longer. Also series are just so great because you can never guess what is going to happen.

But, I do like a single book on it's own. I felt with 'The Fault in Our Stars' it needed to end there, the same with other singular books I have read, but I also feel some needed more. There needed to be another hundred pages or even a sequel so we properly understand the characters.

So, Yes. I am a Series person.

message 27: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments I am in a quandary now after reading this forum. I have a series I have just started to right first book is in put away for a while land. My other quandary is around the sequel rather than a planned from the beginning series. I just blogged on this before I read this forum
If my sequel turns into a series is that me cashing in whereas if I finish the first book in an intended series and publish before book two exists am I letting my potential readers down?

Now what do I do - write something else entirely? Already done that and limited my cross selling opportunities accordingly. Still if I stopped blogging and posting maybe I could actually write and solve all the problems by actually producing the desired content.

message 28: by Anthea (new)

Anthea (anniexo) I've totally gone off reading series, I usually read the first book and then leave it at that. Usually the next books in the series aren't anywhere near as good as the first book. A lot of times a book has been completely ruined for me because the next in the series was so awful, I ended up associating the good first book with the awful second book and it puts me off.

Although I do read a lot of series, purely because that's all YA Fiction consists of these days! I'm looking for more standalone books because I enjoy them a lot more!

As for reviewing, I don't mind reviewing a book an author has sent me if it's in a series because if I really liked the book, I'd be happy to read the rest, but if I don't then it's fine. Just because an author asks me to review a book thats the start of a series doesn't necessarily mean I have to read and review the whole series! Check out my blog for my reviews -

message 29: by Chris (new)

Chris Ward (chriswardfictionwriter) I prefer reading standalones. Funnily enough, I was at a teacher's conference last week (I'm an English teacher in Japan) and I was talking to a woman who turned out to be the exact kind of person who series writers look for. She said if she's reading a book and likes it she'd buy the rest of the series before she'd even finished book one. I never realised people did that. I usually like to have a breather and read other books even if I like a series.

message 30: by F.J. (new)

F.J. Hansen (fjhansen) | 25 comments I'm a fan of science fiction, which often produces series. And, I love it! As others have said, if I find a Universe I enjoy, I want to spend more than one book in it. Even better if the books contain recurring characters in more than cameo roles. Though, for longer series (such as Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern), I don't mind if some books are set in completely different time periods with entirely different cast of characters.

I'm working on a series of my own right now. Book 1 is out, Book 2 is in editing stages--I've been holding it back until Book 3 is done (which should be within a couple months)--and I have a Book 4 planned. It's formatted somewhat like Laurel's series, with a time gap between Books 1 and 2 (though only seven years in mine) and Book 3 starting the day after Book 2 ends.

There is a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of Book 2, which is nearly 400 pages (113K words). And Book 3 will probably be around the same length by the time I'm done. But, I believe I've chosen the best place to split the story--it's the end of the year, things are quiet but really gloomy for my main characters.

When I started on this project, I hadn't planned to write a series, but it just developed that way. I really loved the two main characters, and I wanted to develop their friendship further. And my mind just started coming up with ways to continue the story.

message 31: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments F.J. wrote: "I'm a fan of science fiction, which often produces series. And, I love it! As others have said, if I find a Universe I enjoy, I want to spend more than one book in it. Even better if the books cont..."

Interesting that you went that way rather than planning as a series from the offset. My planned series is a space opera type but I have had a lot of fun developing the world form which snippets will be dropped into the stories.

The sequel issue is more complicated as it was not planned and the first book meant the sequel is hard to write. I think planning a series is OK, but have you told your readers that the first book is part of the story or will they be stand alone just linked by context?

message 32: by F.J. (new)

F.J. Hansen (fjhansen) | 25 comments I released the first book with "Book 1" on the cover page, and there's an epilogue that hints at something ominous developing for Book 2.

A good comparison would be the original Star Wars trilogy, where the first movie was basically a stand alone with a more-or-less clean ending. Then, the second movie ends with what could be in literature an ellipsis.

message 33: by Robert (new)

Robert Italia (robert-italia) | 28 comments I'm very selective when it comes to fiction. Don't care to read the same story over and over again.

message 34: by Harrison (new)

Harrison Davies (harrisondavies) | 134 comments Definitely a bit cynical. A sly way to make money? I wish. I write for the love, any money that comes in is great, but it is very little and may never compensate the years or money invested to bring the reader a professional product.

I believe you are missing out by denying yourself a great series of books, of which there are many, written by dedicated authors like myself.

It's a hard enough task to write, sweat and bleed over a project, stressing yourself to ensure your product is top notch, for someone to be so cycnical.

If everyone felt the same, no one would write, what would be the point.

Opinions like that make me wonder why I write.

Sad :(


message 35: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments When I wrote Reprobate: A Katla Novel, I had some excellent ideas for additional plot lines that would explore other sides of the freelance assassin protagonist, so I decided to develop the Amsterdam Assassin Series as a series of stand-alone novels and short stories that have the same characters but enjoying one book does not rely on having read the other books/stories. No cliffhangers beyond readers want to know what will happen next in the lives of the protagonists.

As to the concerns addressed in this thread:
- "Can't you put just everything in one book?" No. The books are all over 100K and all have a different theme. The first book, Reprobate: A Katla Novel, deals with the protagonist breaking her own rules and the consequences. The second book, Peccadillo: A Katla Novel, has criminals trying a hostile takeover of her legitimate business, unaware that they're dealing with an assassin. In the third book, Rogue - A Katla novel, Katla comes to the attention of global intelligence communities when she kills the wrong target. I'm currently working on the fourth novel, Ghosting, which will show yet another side of the character.

- "The first book is mostly good, but the rest is repetitive crap." Most reviewers agree that the second book is superior to the first book. I just published the third novel. Feedback from the beta-readers convince me that Rogue is both different from Peccadillo and Reprobate, but just as interesting and entertaining. Just because some people force themselves to turn a stand-alone book into a series doesn't mean every series writer succumbs to this laziness.

- "You write a series to cash in." If I wanted to cash in, I'd write short novels in a hot genre, not suspense fiction about a freelance assassin in Amsterdam. And as I sell somewhere around 30-60 books per month, I'm not 'cashing in'. If I listened to 'market experts' I would abandon the series due to the meagre sales. However, I do have fans who want to know what happens to the protagonists and are eager for future books (check my reviews), so I just ignore the sales and keep on writing what I love to write.

- "Series are just fluff/sugar coated candy/throwaway books." My series is pretty dark, which is quite normal for a suspense fiction series with a freelance assassin protagonist. I've been praised for the brief instances of wit that lighten the mood and ground the story in reality. In keeping with the need for verisimilitude, the events in the books have real moral/ethical/physical consequences and I received feedback from fans on how scenes made them reconsider the reader's own attitudes.

- "You're just too lazy to invent new characters." Writing a series is actually more difficult than writing stand-alone novels, mostly because you need to satisfy both the new readers and the readers who read the other books, which requires a fine balance of putting in just enough back story to please both. Meanwhile, I dedicated myself to writing about characters who might never 'hit it big' with fans. Writing stand-alones with new characters doesn't require any referencing to published stories.
Also, the series does feature new characters. Granted, they may be antagonists, but if the antagonists don't measure up, the protagonist will fall kind of flat. I go by the principle that any character I create should be able to hold their own as protagonist of their own stories, so they have to be fully developed, not just sounding boards for the main characters.

Still I understand how readers don't want to read series and prefer standalones. In that case, Reprobate: A Katla Novel would work as a great sample because it has all the characters, but all the plot lines are resolved in the end and you don't need to read the other books. Except if you want to know what the future holds in store for Katla and Bram...

message 36: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash (sulci) | 751 comments Don't think I've ever read a series in my life. Unless maybe the Detective Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo count. But even they annoy me in the revelation of yet another 'new' character trait in Hole - why did that not show up in book 1 or 2 then?

message 37: by Harrison (new)

Harrison Davies (harrisondavies) | 134 comments The great thing about a series is that you can watch your favourite characters grow and evolve or even de-evolve emaotionally, spiritually etc.

You invest in them and desire to leanr their fate.

message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 4 comments I don't tend to read books that are in a series; from a personal perspective I feel tied down and want to move on to something new; I suppose it is just a matter of how a person feels.

Most series books that I have read seem to go downhill; I'm not saying they all do; maybe it is just the ones I have chosen in the past (names no names as does not like being negative)... :D

message 39: by Edward (new)

Edward Wolfe (edwardmwolfe) Masha wrote: "I love series, but a) I almost never start a series that is not yet complete and b) I will not get an indie book, even as a freebie"

I agree with you on the first part. I couldn't handle not being able to read the complete story and waiting for the next installment.

(I'm the author of an unintended series and I feel for the people reading it. When it's complete, I'll compile it into one book and remove the installments and hope to not do this again, although I just discovered that Amazon has a section devoted to series now, so maybe some people really do like them, even if they're not complete.)

I don't understand the second part. An indie is an author just as much as anyone else. They may suck or they may be great. I find it odd that you automatically assume they suck. That puts you in an odd position because one day, you are certain that the indie author is not even worth a free read, but then if he or she gets signed by a publisher the next day, you have to change your opinion, based on someone else's opinion.

I like to read any author who has written a story that I might find interesting, and then decide if the author is good or bad myself, rather than whether or not they made it through the meatgrinding, labyrinthine, soul-smashing publication process and were officially deemed "good" by someone with a power like bestowing knighthood on a select few.

message 40: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Evans | 7 comments I'm a series lover. I can get attached to characters pretty easily, so I can't stand the thought of saying goodbye. But that's the key: great characters. If I'm not invested in the character, I have no problem ignoring the second book. I agree with Harrison. Since I love series, I get to watch my favorite character change without feeling rushed. Not to say that there isn't great character development in a single book. The trick for the author when writing a series is to make that character grow. If they never evolve, then something went terribly wrong.

message 41: by Lisa (last edited Dec 10, 2013 05:39PM) (new)

Lisa Shea (lisashea) | 149 comments In my own reading I enjoy both standalone novels like Pride and Prejudice as well as series of novels. I adore the Robert B Parker series about Spenser. I love building that relationship with the characters and watching them grow and mature.

In my writing, I have twelve gentle romance-adventure novels set in middle ages. Sort of Pride and Prejudice meets Robin Hood. None of them are related to the others. So while one might call them a "series" in that they're all in the same general timeframe and in the same part of the world, the characters don't overlap in any way. This was the way I liked to write them. I rolled out their story, start to finish, and then they were set.

I got a lot of comments from my readers that they wanted to know what happened next. They had gotten fond of the characters and wanted to stay in their world longer. As an author that's of course heartening to hear. So even though my intention was to write single-book stories, my readers wanted more.

(Edited in - that isn't to say that I actually did it :). I have not yet released a 'second' book to go with any of those medieval novels. They are all still standalone. A key reason being - I still have too many other stories in my queue I want to share, and writing those fresh stories apparently calls to me more than adding onto an existing one.)

In comparison, when I wrote my first modern murder mystery cozy last fall, I did it with the eye of it becoming a series. The hero and heroine meet each other at the beginning and get to know each other as the plot unfolds. I now have that background set, so that in book two their relationship can develop further while they tackle another challenge. My readers are eagerly waiting for that. Each book does have a full "story" to it - but the characters and locations carry through.

So, having written both styles, I understand the appeal of both. For me it's not an either-or thing. I appreciate both for what they offer.


message 42: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Shea (lisashea) | 149 comments L.K. -

I agree that developing a relationship with the characters can be key.

If I love the Firefly series, I don't want to watch just one episode. I want to keep watching more and see how they characters grow and change. If the series ends, I'm sad. I have lost that connection with them.

If I adore the Sherlock Holmes characters, I don't want to stop after just one book. I want to read more and see what these characters do next.


message 43: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Evans | 7 comments Lisa wrote: "L.K. -

I agree that developing a relationship with the characters can be key.

If I love the Firefly series, I don't want to watch just one episode. I want to keep watching more and see how they c..."

I know! Anthony Ryan writes AMAZING lead characters, for me anyway. I love a character who is torn in two or haunted by something from their past. When I find one, I never want to say goodbye. It's why I love series so much. A single book leaves me too hungry for more. Although, I usually wait until the entire series has been published. Patience is not in my vocabulary and I hate waiting for the next book. I didn't do that with Anthony Ryan's book and the wait is TORTURE!!! I'm stalking him in hopes that he'll up the publish date. His writing and characters are what make me grateful for series.
I think my childhood plays a big role in series. My mother always passed along series so it's what I grew up on. I do love me a good horror book though, and those are usually only a single book. I admit, I don't get attached to characters in horror books. Not sure why. Maybe I'm too scared to worry about their tragic past. I'm too busy screaming at them to run.

message 44: by Gus (new)

Gus (gusgallows) | 7 comments I have actually been told that most readers won't pick up an unknown author unless they have a series. I for one, don't care either way. If the author manages to catch my eye with a great cover, or an excellent synopsis, I'll read them whether they have a series or not. I wrote a series, but they are only a series because they take place in the same world. Each one is a different story that is considered lore in that realm. No cliffhangers in my books. They do slightly cross relate but only at a world history level as each book takes place in a different time and on a different part of the world.

message 45: by Ophelia (new)

Ophelia Sikes (opheliasikes) | 28 comments G.G. wrote: "I love series. I love having a chance to read about my favorite characters once more. The only ones I don't like are the ones that have super big cliff hangers, (and yes these I feel are written just to milk money). I run away from them as soon as I learn of it. I want my book to have some kind of ending/closure."

G. G. -

I do understand your preference for closure, and that's fine. We all have different styles we like to read. I want to gently counter, though, that cliffhangers are not necessarily about milking money.

I have written quite a number of full length novels which have the traditional beginning, middle, and end. I am used to writing in that style and enjoy it.

However, when I began writing novellas for the more explicit market, I found that I naturally wrote them in story arcs which built to a crescendo. There wasn't a wrap-up in the ten chapters. It instead built to an explosion which then swirled around and resorted and then built into another crescendo.

I've finished three of the books so far, and there hasn't been a "resting point / ending" in here so far. There's nowhere I could have broken the story in a happy ending. It's been go-go-go. To artificially insert a happy ending celebration would have interrupted the flow of the story.

I did give it a lot of thought, too, because I know there are readers who really want that happy ending at the end of each book. It just wasn't there, in the story I was writing. I am going to have to "force" a pause at the end of Book 4, because I want to switch to another series for a while and I want to give readers that ability to take a breath. But it'll only be a temporary pause, because there's more story left.

I'll tackle the "why have novellas in the first place" topic separately so this post doesn't get too long.

message 46: by Ophelia (last edited Dec 11, 2013 07:52AM) (new)

Ophelia Sikes (opheliasikes) | 28 comments Ed wrote: "Why can't you say what you have to say in one book? I'm suspicious this series thing is just a sly way to try to make money from future sales."

I imagine what you mean here is novellas that are around 10 chapters long, and combining those into larger books. I imagine you don't mean taking four 30-chapter long books and stuffing them into some sort of a super-massive 120-chapter monstrosity :).

The reason some people prefer novellas is the same reason some people cringe at the idea of reading a book that's 2,000 pages long. It's simply daunting to read a longer work based on their situation. They are busy and then want something that fits into their timeframe and focus. For you that might be 400 page novels. For some people that means 100 page novellas. We all have different demands on our time and mental focus, and that's OK.

So for the people who prefer novellas, often they are quite harried and can only get quick reading in amongst many other things they're juggling. They like being able to get through their story and have a sense of accomplishment. They have finished it. Then maybe in a few weeks they can tackle another one.

Another benefit - and this is an amazing situation that only self-publishing and our modern world could create - is that fans are now interactive parts of the story. If an author goes off into a cave for a year, comes out with a finished giant block of text, and hands it to fans, they are stuck with that result. They can only read and comment on it.

However, with a series that is being written and published every few weeks, the fans are an integral part of its development. They read the first chunk and talk about what they liked and didn't like. They are talking while the author is writing part 2 - so now the author can integrate the fans' thoughts and suggestions in part 2. Then part 2 comes out three weeks later, the fans gobble that up, give feedback, and that helps craft part 3.

The whole process goes much more quickly. The fans are deeply integrated in the process. It's an interactive environment where fans and authors craft a world together. It's fairly amazing.

And it keeps going. Instead of a novel coming out in a static state, and then nothing happening for a year or two (or ever), with a novella series the story keeps progressing. The characters grow and mature. It's appealing for the same reason that watching Castle is appealing - you see the development of characters, the blossoming of relationships, and the growth of connections.

message 47: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (VanessaEden) | 509 comments I like to read book series'! I definitely would read a spa series because I feel that if you have out a series that you, the author, are focused and serious in your writing and that would make me feel confident that the writing style and plot would be very satisfying.

message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

I read series but only about 3 or 4 books because I get bored with the same character.

I even wrote a mystery series (three books) which got good reviews, one saying, "What really grabbed me, though, was watching the hero deal with his issues, eventually with a measure of success, while his girl friend dealt with him and her issues involving him."

But I ran out of things to say about this protagonist and his girlfriend so I went on to writing other books.

Richard Brawer

message 49: by Danielle (new)

Danielle (danielleleneedavis) | 34 comments I've written one book and working on the second. I'm planning a series. I'm writing a series because that's what I like to read----a mystery series.

message 50: by SheriC (PM) (new)

SheriC (PM) (shericpm) Although many of my favorite books are part of a series, I won't start a new series until I've heard so much positive buzz along with recommendations from people I trust that my curiosity drives me to it. My time is limited and a book series is a big commitment.

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