Anything Legal, Legal Thrillers, Legal Mysteries and More discussion

Archive > how do you read a series?

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore Consider this a poll. I'll admit I'm interested in this question because I've written several series.
As a reader, I tend to jump in anywhere, because a reader can do that in a well-written series and other titles in the series just don't sound interesting to me after reading the blurbs and "peeking inside," whether on Amazon, in a bookstore, or in a library. As a reviewer, I never ask the author for copies of previous books in the series, mostly for the same reasons and assumptions. And, as an author, the only reason I write another book in the series is that the what-ifs and other plot ideas, potential characters, and settings match well with other books in the series. (I've actually written books halfway through or more and then returned for massive content editing because I've realized that.)
So, the question really is: does it matter? Do you just jump in too? Or, are you looking for a linear development over time so you can watch the characters evolve into new settings and situations?
Sorry that the question is so generic.

message 2: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments I like series, Steven, but within that context, I truly don't like to reach the conclusion of a novel and discover it is a cliff hanger; I love series when they contain an internal story that is carried from one book to the next, but each book could also be read as a 'stand alone.' I began one series, never realizing it was on book of many, and although I have gone back and forth, the author adeptly expanded to provide unanswered questions in each book.

message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tom471) | 180 comments I prefer to read series books starting w. the 1st book, but I have read many series books out of order. Frequently depends on what is available at the library.

message 4: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Skye, I'm in agreement about cliffhangers. Each book must be a stand-alone as far as the current story goes. That the characters develop further in the next novel in the series is OK, but each book should be a self-contained story. That allows me to jump in when the story sounds interesting. Your last sentence is the answer I was looking for.
Given that we should be able to jump in at any point in the series, I think I can cover those who want to go in order mostly through just character development. That's basically what I do. I guess we need more samples than two to improve the stats, though. LOL.
PS. Your comments suggest that the business of releasing a novel a few chapters at a time mightn't go over so well. I've only done that when I serialized Evil Agenda on my blog (hard to put a whole novel in a blog post). Dickens, of course, was famous for that...different times maybe?

message 5: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Yes, that is how Dickens wrote. Back to the other commentary, Steven; I think cliffhangers are a marketing tool, one that is mildly annoying. Sue Grafton, Lisa Gardner and Michael Connelly write in series, but they manage to wind things up and brief the reader in every book that follows; that is perfect to me.

message 6: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Thomas,
I see the serialization of a book on Amazon almost as bad as cliffhangers. Patience is a virtue--the author should finish the story before publishing. Note that even traditional authors are doing this now.
Of course, if you believe Konrath, all books will eventually be interactive (I guess it would have to be an ebook then). Not exactly my ideal of having some quiet time to sit down and read a good book!

message 7: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore Hmm, I thought there was another comment by Thomas here. Count my last comment as a general one, then. LOL.

message 8: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Steven, I don't have an Amazon account, won't get one, especially after I saw the news today-----they are accused of having very poor working conditions for their employees, and I don't read e-books.

message 9: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tom471) | 180 comments @Steven I have read and enjoyed Konrath, Sue Grafton, Robert B Parker, and Dana Stabenow among others. I do have a kindle, but don't read serial stories from Amazon. Like you and others, I prefer a series book that works as a standalone. I am disappointed in how Amazon treats their employees. Anti union sentiment has a long, unpleasant history in the US.
I am currently reading The Cold Dish 1st in Longmire series and enjoying it. I borrowed it from the library. I tend to read my kindle mostly on trips

Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) (michellesbookends) I prefer series. I get attached to a character and want to continue on with them. Its comforting to pick up a book and know the character already. I prefer to start with the first book. I also do book reviews so sometimes that's not always possible. If I find myself in a book that has previous work I will find them and read them as well. I think its always good and broadens your audience if your book can be a stand alone on the off chance the reader only picks up that one book. It may make them want to read others though, its done that to me. Cliffhangers.. eh.. depends on how far you left me hanging. A new story line can be tantalizing..but if you didn't wrap up the obvious I'm going to be annoyed. I want to see strong character development in any book. I don't care for vague characters. I want to feel like your character is real. Since I like my crime/thrillers that really helps with enjoying a book and or a series.

message 11: by Jean (new)

Jean | 59 comments I like to start at the beginning and read in order. Occasionally I have accidentally read out of order, and that doesn't particularly bother me, but I do like to keep up with what's going on in the lives of the characters.

message 12: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments I agree with you, Jean. I have read Sue Grafton and Lisa Gardner in order, but other series, I read out of order because I didn't realize it was part of many.

message 13: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Skye and Thomas, I have my own issues with Amazon (review policies, for example), but if you're referring to the Times article about Amazon, they have a long-standing policy of attacking the retail giant; in particular, they're biased toward traditional publishing, which makes sense, of course. I toss their book review supplement in the circular file right away now. If you want to go after someone who exploits their employees, especially women, I'd go after Waltons, a bigger retail giant--the Times doesn't touch them. You have to understand the hidden agendas.
Indie writers generally have a friend in Amazon because they contributed greatly to the indie revolution in publishing. Of course, they're our friend until they aren't, because Amazon's only desire, like Waltons, is to sell you stuff. On the other hand, the Authors Guild, for example, a group that pretends to be like a union and a voice for authors' rights, is really a pawn of traditional publishers. Unions can now have pros and cons, not like in the Woody Guthrie days.
I'm disappointed how Waltons treats their employees.
Linked In had a nice piece by an Amazon employee who shot down the NY Times article, by the way. Bet you folks didn't read that. No issue is black and least fifty shades of gray.
I left Facebook because there were too many people on soapboxes, so I'll shut up now. Sorry.
Back to my writing....

Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) (michellesbookends) I've done that too Skye. Now if I find a book I like I'll quickly look it up online or if I'm out use my phone to see if its a series. I keep a list on my phone just in case I find a book to go along with a series. If I like an author though I really like to read everything they write! Kind of OCD that way. Lisa Gardner is a great one. I've got a list going to catch up on her books soon.

message 15: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Michelle, great idea!!!

message 16: by Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) (last edited Aug 17, 2015 10:28AM) (new)

Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) (michellesbookends) All those soapboxes get away from the point of enjoying our books! I hate all that ugly side of what goes on in the book world. I try to stay out of that since I am a reader and not a writer. I can understand a writers frustration with that world though. I use Facebook still for family reasons mainly- but I like it for spreading word about a book I really enjoy. I've had more than one person pick up a book I've read and reviewed by sharing it there. I guess its a matter of being able to pick and control what you want to see there. Easier said than done! If you want something out there in the world use every available avenue to you. Or have friends that do.. :)

message 17: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments I agree, Michelle. I don't use FB, but I receive a bunch of book blogs daily, and I have gotten great ideas about various authors. Good Reads is also good for recommendation, and I am going to recommend a great series right now: Sunny Frazier's books.

Michelle (Michelle's Book Ends) (michellesbookends) I will check that out. Thank you for the suggestion. I'm always looking to expand on my TBR list.

message 19: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments There are three books in the series. Very good~

message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael Burton | 2631 comments Wow, Steven you have started a firestorm. Great question and great dialogue.

Many excellent points have been made. As a reader of thriller series, I always prefer to start at the beginning. I want to identify with the characters and see how they develop from book to book. As an author, my characters drive the story and I have been told by my readers they want to see more of a particular character and how he/she develops.

When reading a book out of sequence, much of the characters development is missed. Of course, the reader does get a sense of the characters personality, but relevant information about the character is missed and may make the reader question why he/she is doing something.

As far as each book of a series being a stand alone, I agree. Each book in itself must be its own story. I want to see the main story come to a conclusion, but I don't mind if a side story has a cliffhanger. Skye made a good point, that cliffhangers maybe a marketing ploy. That is certainly a realistic possibility. Side story cliffhangers I feel aids in developing the characters. As a reader, I want to know what happens. I guess you can call it a continuing mystery.

With all the bashing of Amazon, remember Amazon now owns Goodreads.

Steven, Thanks for a great question and this would make a great poll.

message 21: by Thomas (new)

Thomas (tom471) | 180 comments I have always received excellent customer service from Amazon. @Steven,By Waltons, do you mean WalMart Walton family?

message 22: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 163 comments I prefer to read the books in order because often things that happened in earlier books affect events (or are mentioned) in later ones. Sometimes, the author only mentions the earlier event in passing, leaving the reader wondering, "What is he talking about?" unless he or she has read the earlier books.

Having said that, however, often reading a book later in the series motivates me to read the rest of the books starting with the first. James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series and Lee Child's Jack Reacher series are two I read that way.

I don't mind story arcs that span several books as long as they are not the main plot. That should be resolved by the end of the book.

And don't throw in a cliffhanger to get me to buy the next book in the series. Konrath did that in a book in his Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels series, ending it with someone important to her being killed but not revealing who. Readers had to buy the next book in the series to find out. I haven't and I won't.

message 23: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Quillracer, Interesting that Konrath is guilty of a cliffhanger, but maybe I'm not surprised. I have other issues with Mr. Konrath--I won't mention them here (foot pauses in midair as I interrupt mounting the soapbox).
I'm guilty of mentioning earlier events in passing, my justification being that there has to be some reward for readers who read all the books in a series. I still enforce the discipline of making every story self-contained, though--no cliffhangers in my books, and no JR's waking up in the next one where the reader finds out his demise was just a dream.
@ Thomas, I suppose I should have said Walmart, but Sam Walton's empire is bigger than Walmart (Sam's Clubs, for example). I could say more, but this isn't the place. I'll remind everyone again that the NY Times has a vendetta against Amazon, though, so look for the hidden agendas (flea on a mini-soapbox?).
PS1. My "big soapbox" is my blog where I often write op-ed posts about current news. Anyone is free to comment there, of course. I'm here on Goodreads primarily as a reader, and, as a writer, to get some feel for what readers want.
PS2. Participate in Michael's poll.

message 24: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 163 comments I don't mind references to earlier events in later books. They often jog an 'I remember that' memory. Or sometimes make me want to go back and re-read that past story. They also help tie the books together.

message 25: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Steven, I am sure you mentioned it in an earlier post, but please do jot down the address for your blog. I read and write Op-eds, too, and I adore controversial issues.

message 26: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Skye, Maybe I didn't mention it in this group? I belong to several GR groups. But, here it is: (the two ems are critical). One of the tabs is the blog, and I can always be reached via my contact page if you don't want to go through GR. Comments on my blog don't appear immediately because I screen them in my effort to keep the whole website PG-13.
The op-eds are usually posted on Tuesdays; movie and book reviews or short stories on Wednesdays; something about the writing business on Thursdays; and "News and Notices from the Writing Trenches" on Fridays...but don't hold me to that schedule because I have a life beyond writing. LOL.
Maybe more info than you wanted? :-)

message 27: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Thanks, Steven. I have it now.

message 28: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Skye,
I forgot to ask for the URL to your blog. I read a lot of different blogs, but only comment on a few--I'm probably on an FBI or DHS list :-). I also read transcripts from TV talk shows (easier to analyze the POVs without the rants). Of course, Sturgeon's law applies to "information" on the internet, but op-ed like ours, if clearly labeled as such, is just honest opinion, and Wilde's quote applies: "Be yourself. You'll find everyone else is taken." (I think I have that right, but I'm doing it from memory.)
PS. We're mucking up this thread a bit. I'm concluding that reviewers are justified in hassling me when I send a later book in a series for review. People want to read the series starting from #1. That leads to another question: how does an author get around this? But that question is better placed in an author's forum, I suppose. Of course, I can just google that question and get more information than I ever wanted! :-)

message 29: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Steven, I don't have my own blog, but I belong to quite a few, and I have learned a great deal about various books, writers and reviewers. I taught writing arts, and my course was mainly based on research and argument; consequently, being a 'mad news buff,' who insisted on all students being open minded and seeking their own way instead of being biased and only listening to or reading ONE source, I emphasized your line above: 'Be yourself...'

message 30: by Steven (new)

Steven Moore @ Skye, it's important to be earnest (sorry, couldn't resist), so I probably should check the quote. Wilde is featured in the Dublin Writers Museum (pic on my "About the Author" page). Sounds like you taught a great course!
PS. I've posted at least one article stating my belief that an author's politics shouldn't affect reading choices as long as that author spins a good yarn. When choosing my fiction and when I write, I look for the story, in that grand old tradition of Irish storytelling!

message 31: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments I taught many courses. I will need to go back to your site. I agree one must be earnest, too, and I also believe that writing carries an ethical obligation. I love Irish story telling ( ahem, a bunch of blarney, huh)?

back to top


Anything Legal, Legal Thrillers, Legal...

unread topics | mark unread

Books mentioned in this topic

The Cold Dish (other topics)