Google+ Reading Teen: The Series Syndrome: Does Every Book Have to be Part of a Series?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Series Syndrome: Does Every Book Have to be Part of a Series?


I can't be the only one who's noticed.  Has it hit your country?  Your town?  Your home?  Do you recognize the symptoms?

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You're reading a new YA book.  The cover looks amazing, the flap is intriguing, the first chapter has you hooked!  It's something new, or at least a new twist on something you love.  The writing is great and the story has you captivated.  But then something happens.  About chapter 7 or 8 you start noticing that nothing is really happening.  Chapters go on and on with no real rhyme or reason.  Pretty soon you're wondering when this book is going to end.  You're just about to give up when things get interesting again.  You're almost at the finale when WHAM.....CLIFFHANGER!  You scream, "What???  There's another one??"

The Series Syndrome

It seems like more and more these days, that stories, instead of being stand-alone books, are part of a series of three or more.  I've been wondering what the cause of this trend is.  Is this something Publishing companies want, and push for?  Are authors choosing to make their books into a series.  Is public demand for a series really high?  

The reason I ask is two-fold.  

One, in my experience, both with myself and with my friends, books in a series can be a turn-off.  If I know a book is the first in a who-knows-how long series, I'm much more reluctant to want to start it.  First, because it either has so many books out already that I feel left behind and the thought of catching up is overwhelming, or, it's the first in the series and I'll forget what happened by the time the second comes out.  And Second, I'm afraid to start a book in a series because no matter how bad the book is, I still want to know how the story ends.  And if I don't like the first book, not only did I waste my time reading it, but I will also have to keep reading a series I don't like if I want to know how the story ends.  So, I just don't start it at all.  I have a lot of friends that like to come over to my house and borrow books off my bookshelf.  Time and time again if I recommend a book, they'll ask, "Is there more than one?" and if I say, "Yes," they ask for something different.  If there's a series that I'm absolutely in LOVE with (The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments etc.), I feel like I have to beg and promise they will love them before they agree to start the first book.

The Second reason I ask is because of the books themselves.  Please don't get me wrong, there are a lot of AMAZING series out there.  But, I have read quite a lot of books releasing this year that are the first in a series, and many been filled with what seems like fluff.  Just a lot of boring, mindless nothing to make a story that could have been an awesome stand-alone, into a long, drawn-out three part (or more) series.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten to the end of a book this year and thought  Are you serious?  There's another one?  At this point, there are so many of them, that I don't even care enough about how it ends to read the next if it's not great.  And what's really sad is that, in many cases, if the story had just been one or maybe two books, it would have been incredible.  But instead it is just mediocre.  

Of course there are a lot of books out there that have to be part of a series.  There is just too much thought, action, drama, etc. to fit into one book.  These books are amazing, and most of my favorite books ARE part of a series (Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, Paranormalcy, Beautiful Creatures etc.)  But does every book need to be part of a series?

So my questions are:

Readers
Am I alone in this?  How do you feel about the Series Syndrome?  Do you agree/disagree?

Authors-
Do you feel pressured into writing more than one book for your story?  If so, why?

Publishers-
Do book in a series sell better or worse, as a whole (Excluding the huge best-sellers).  Do you look for stories that are a series over stand-alones, or does it matter?


Leave a comment!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


55 comments:

  1. Well, I wouldn't promise anything about Hunger Games, buuut otherwise I agree.

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  2. I agree with you completely!
    I loove series, especially the ones you've mentioned, but seems like every book that is out is part of a new series!!
    There are times that I think: oh god, I just need to read an stand-alone book, so when I finish it I won't be dying of curiosity..=)
    Amazing post!

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  3. I was just thinking about this, because I recently read a bunch of debut authors, and it seems like ALL of their books end in cliffhangers. ARGH!

    I actually like series (as long as there is an end in sight), but I like it best when the first book has some closure.

    For this reason I like to wait until all the books in a series are out before picking it up. But sometimes, you just can't wait that long.

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  4. THANK YOU, for bringing this up. This has been on my mind and bugging for quite some time now.

    In all honesty, I would much prefer a majority of books to be stand alone. I will make a few exceptions, but even then, I'd prefer for the series to not extend beyond a trilogy.

    I'm not a writer, but to me it makes more sense to make a definitive game plan when starting a series and set a limit (and stick to it!).

    I recently read a YA book that felt like its only purpose was to setup the next installment. The story went on and on and was stretched thin and nothing really happened until the very end. I hate feeling as though I'm being strung along.

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  5. I totally agree with you. Some series are amazing but then there are books that I can't believe are going to be series because the first one was pretty much just a whole lot of pages that could have been taken out. The other problem with the Series Syndrome is that unless the story isn't super memorable, I've forgotten what happens in the previous books by the time the next book comes out.

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  6. If the story is only "ok" then I usually don't want to finish the series, but books like the Hunger Games just HAVE to be series because so much action is packed into them. Otherwise I agree.

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  7. Yes, I agree with all of you! I think the best series are the ones that are thoroughly planned out and are only a series because it couldn't possibly be one book. Also, the ones that have some sort of resolution at the end of at least the first book. All the HP books felt like they were wrapped up at the end. Even The Hunger Games had a feeling of closure after the first one. I recently read White Cat, and I couldn't even tell from the end of it that there was going to be another. I love that! Same thing with The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves. Fantastic series!

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  8. Some books are so boring that you don't even want to finish the first one. I really love the series you mentioned, but others are just pointless.

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  9. Someone else feels the same way!! There are many series that I do enjoy, but lately, I've come across so many books that are just good. Good, in that I liked them, but then it ends and I need to know more, so, like you, I end up reading a series that I'm not all that into.

    And I almost always feel the need to re-read the last book in a series so I don't feel completely lost when starting the next one because I don't remember exactly what had happened. I'd like to just pick up a YA book, read it, and have it end on the last page. No sequel, no series. Just one self-contained story squeezed in between 200-300 or so pages.

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  10. I know, I know! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!! lmao
    Still, I love series. The fact that I can start a second book already knowing all those characters is so good! It's like going back to school and finding those same people you like there again, instead of just being the new kid in class.
    I guess what is missing is each book is beginning, middle and end. Even if it's a series and there's a cliff hanging at the end, it should have some kinda of an end. That's what I think.
    GREAT GREAT POST! =) (as always! =)

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  11. I just posted about this on Facebook and I felt like I was the only one that kinda felt like this. I'm getting burnt out on series. It's not just in YA. Look at some of the adult series. Janet Evanovich is on book 17. Faye Kellerman is around 20. JD Robb is past 20. Jonathan Kellerman is probably past 20. It gets old. All the plots start sounding the same.


    I think some of it is pressure by the publishers. More books in a series equals more money. Hunger Games could have been one book right? Sold for $20. Instead, break it up sell each one for $17. You build up word of mouth between book releases and then you have an EVENT like Mockingjay.

    My last thought on the issue (and I'll probably get completely slammed for this), is that it's taking the easy way out. It's easier to just add on to an existing story than to create something completely new. Your characters, their dynamics, their world, etc is already established you don't need to invest in that anymore you just add another story to it.

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  12. I am okay with series, as long as they don't go too long. and D: my money!

    So.. long series is really a turn off for me. Unless I get to read them without buying them!

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  13. I teach younger readers, many who are reluctant readers or who experience challenges when reading. Series, for a teacher, are a godsend for reluctant readers. If they read a book they like and it belongs to a series, it is easier to get them to try another book from that series. I do see your point, that too many books are series just for the sake of being series, but I love the fact that there are so many options for me to offer to my students now!

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  14. @Autumn YES!!!

    @Jamie I TOTALLY agree with you about younger readers! My 9 year old daughter is reading the Warriors series and she's just flying through one after the other. Same with Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter. My son will read the Goosebumps books, but he's a tough one to get to read anything.

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  15. HARRY POTTER SERIES... PERFECT IN EVERY WAY!!!
    That been said, I loved Beautiful Creatures/Darkness. The Hunger Games Trilogy.
    After that 95% of books I've read would have been loads better if they were a stand alone book. Most books (not all)that turn into a series are very flat in the middle and so boring. Maybe, this is the reason why I get annoyed quickly with most books.

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  16. I wrote the first book of the Ganzfield series as a story that could stand alone, albeit with enough loose ends that I could add to the story. I LOVE my characters, so the internal pressure is there--I want to go back and spend more time in the Ganzfield world! That was my primary reason for writing the 2nd and 3rd books--I didn't any pressure from my publisher. Heck, I didn't even HAVE a publisher until after I'd finished the first draft of the 4th book.

    BTW, as a reader, I LOATHE cliffhangers! Teaser chapters are fine (I love putting them in my own books), but the story in each book should have some sense of resolution.

    Just my 2-cents. - Kate

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  17. Kate- YES! I loved that about MINDER! I felt like at the end of the book, there was resolution! And it wasn't 400 pages long and filled with endless nothing just to be able to make more than one book! Perfect example!

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  18. Oh, I completely agree. I'm happy to read linked standalones (eg China Mieville, Charles de Lint, various cozy mysteries), but I'm not a huge series reader, particularly if they stretch on and on.

    I know it's a safe bet for publishers because there's an established audience waiting for the next installment, but one can't help but feel that a lot of stories are being unnecessarily dragged out in the name of a quick buck.

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  19. Great info here. As a writer with a YA manuscript, I want to know what readers think. I appreciated the comments too.

    http://serendipiteeblog.com

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  20. As an author, it's kind of dicey to comment. I really try to be Switzerland when it comes to reading preferences.

    Mostly, I wanted to know what constitutes a series to readers. Is it only books that carry on the same story, same characters? Or do other books set in the same world, with different protagonists, count as a series like you're talking about?

    Inquiring minds...!

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  21. I agree whole heartedly. Several books I have read this have ended on cliffhangers. Previously books I had read in a series had some closure but left you wanting more. Lately books in a series don't give you the option of wanting more you have to have it in order to complete the story.

    I find that contemporary books tend to be more stand alone than any fantasy or paranormal books. SO I guess another questions would be does genre play a part in whether or not a book is stand alone or series?

    Great Post!!

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  22. @Trinity For me (as if I haven't talked enough here) it's not so much that a book is a series, as much as it seems like lately books that shouldn't be a series are being stretched into more than one book. The story is good, but it's injected with so much nothing that it becomes tiresome and boring. Adding to that is the fact that there are so many!

    Also, take a series like....The Vampire Diaries. I hear that it's great. But there's already, I think, five books out. The thought of being so far behind is overwhelming to me. That's how most of my friends feel, too. So, I still haven't started them.

    I don't consider books like The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves to be a series because they can stand alone.

    And, of course, I don't mean I don't want any books to be a series. There are so many that are amazing! I hope it doesn't come across that way!I

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  23. @Jen I think you said it perfectly! I want the OPTION to read more. I don't want to be FORCED to read more! GREAT!

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  24. I found this post both fascinating and heartening. As an author I sometimes find myself frustrated because it seems as if recently, the demand has been primarily for series books/concepts but unfortunately, my creative brain, at least to date, hasn't been wired that way. I'm very much a stand-alone story writer and believe me, I've been petrified, waiting for my new book to come out, that no one's going to want to read because it is a stand-alone.

    You guys give me hope. :-)

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  25. Ah, okay, I get it. Thanks for clarifying. I'm now writing Book #2 in a series, but it's different characters - the characters from the first book are now secondary - and what's difficult is making it fresh, not the same story, different dress. Definitely need to blow up some stuff. Ha!

    Here's hoping my first book is not like its author: sagging middle. :)

    Very insightful blog post - many thanks!

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  26. @Trinity YAY! Those are actually some of my favorite types! Like the Wicked Lovely Series! I love reading from all the different characters' pov! Oh, Wicked Lovely....that's one I should've added to my favorites list!

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  27. Honestly, I think a big part of the series thing is that with the supernatural/fantasy books, the authors have put SO much time into creating not only the characters, but the world themselves... they want to spend more time there, they have bigger things in mind than just 75K words.

    I also think... if you were to take out much of that "fluff" in these books... how much sense of the world as a whole would you really get? I think those parts are far more important than they may seem... and I also think this is a be careful what you wish for scenario. It seems nice to ask for a book to be action packed, but that gets hard to follow and it drops out a lot of other things when its constant action. How many books jump in too fast, move too quickly, and leave you feeling confused, lacking in character development, and missing a connection to it?

    I love the series sets... and I also think of how many books, outside of the fantasy and even dystopian genres, DON'T have series. I really do think that's my first point- its an entire world being created, not characters put in the world we already know.

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  28. This was a fantastic post and I really enjoyed the comments. You have some great followers here! :)

    I would agree that publishers like series because they can build on the momentum of the first and increase sales.

    However, there really has to be enough in each book for it to work for me and sadly, that is not always the case. It would be better to have great standalones than a mediocre series.

    That being said, a great series is better (IMO) than the same number of standalones because you can go deeper when you don't have to start from scratch each time.

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  29. Honestly, when I was younger I preferred stand alone books because often I wouldn't be able to go back to the store or remember to pick up the next book in a series that was currently on-going, so I wanted a story that was contained and I wouldn't have to worry about hunting down the next part to.

    Then when I got a car and a job I was like 'OMG BOOKS' and bought books every week and kept an obsessive list for new books and sequels and loved series books more because it guaranteed me more books in something I already loved.

    Now I'd love a happy medium. Actually I'd kill for a happy medium where there was an equal number. Some authors I applaud because they'll have 'companion' books, but you won't have to read the other book (or books) to read the current one. Not unless you want to at least. So the books can be more stand alone.

    I'm running across a lot more trilogies than anything else. It seems every time I find a new YA author is like 'lol book 1 in a new trilogy!'

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  30. I think series are a good idea in only certain cases. Some books should be stand alone (aka Suite Scarlette by Maureen Johnson. While it works well in a series, I think if it had been a stand-alone it would have worked ten times better. On the other hand, complex titles like The Mediator Series should have more than one book on its plate.) If the story is too complex to tell in one sitting, then I fully agree with a series. For example, Gossip Girl = Never should've been a series. Twilight = Never should've been a series. The Awakening = Never should've been a series. Artemis Fowl = at least two more, Eoin Colfer, please?

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  31. I love series books - but it does change how I feel about the books individually. I guess I proceed with caution when I know it's a series book. Sometimes though, it's a home run and I'm thrilled to come back for the next season...

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  32. Well thought out post definately something to think about.

    I like series as I sometimes feel like I don't want good things to end and I am so nosy I always want to find out more and more about characters but I think it's wise to think about how books are presented to us as readers/consumers.

    Just because it's literature doesn't mean it isn't also a business!

    Stacey

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  33. Hi, I was linked here by a re-tweet!

    I'll admit that a good series will pull me in and there's been many times where if I'm just not feeling the commitment, I'll pass something over. Here's what someone ought to try though: A series that can be read as just the individual books. I've never come across many in the YA genre, though perhaps that's more my fault than that of the genre itself. I've come across this a great deal in the Romance genre and think it could work elsewhere easily. Each book in a particular series is self contained, it can be easily understood just by reading this one book. However, there are direct hints toward other books in the series, other people who have been allotted book time, events that are happening at the same time and might effect what is going on, but not so much you have to know more than you do know. But you want to know. And that's why people keep on with these series.

    Just my two cents. I know the feeling. I'm not a big fan of the Twilight series (though I'm not really a hater of it either), but it killed me with how open ended things were so I read the whole series. The hardback novels sitting on my shelf sometimes shame me for that very reason. I just couldn't stop myself.

    This is all from me as a reader and a potentially maybe one day writer.

    Aden

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  34. It's a difficult problem for authors. For myself, the story I wanted to tell would never fit into one book, but I agree with most of the posts — I'm not a fan of cliffhangers so I try not to write them. The first book of the Mother-Earth series, "A Measure of Disorder" has a resolution, and though not all the loose ends are tied up, I think most people that have read it are satisfied there is an ending, but excited to read the next book. My plan at this point is to be done in three.

    I think publishers want people to get invested in characters so they will keep buying books. Plus, as has been mentioned, with fantasy and paranormal, the author has to spend some time to build the world. In many cases that makes for a slow start.

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  35. This was definitely on my mind just a few days ago as well. I feel like a lot of series these days are series just because the author wants more money, or the promotions that come with the next sequel coming out.
    There are definitely some exceptions where I absolutely love the entire series and it just makes me want to read every single one again and again.
    Anyway, great post.

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  36. +JMJ+

    Great question! =D

    I'm a big fan of series, but I tend to wait until all the books are out before I start reading it. And then I take my precious time getting from the beginning to the end. =P (It took me about five years to read Susan Cooper's entire Dark Is Rising sequence--and I still haven't finished Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. Don't even ask me about the Harry Potter books. LOL!)

    So, yes, hearing that a cool-sounding new release is actually the first in a series or a trilogy is going to cool my book-buying ardour somewhat. I'd be much quicker about snapping it up if I knew it were a stand-alone. (And that explains why I haven't started The Hunger Games yet . . . but I promised you in another post that I'd get around to it now that Mockingjay has been released, and I'm a blogger of my word!)

    At the moment, I'm rereading Jane Eyre and remembering that it was originally published as a serial novel in three parts. (Kind of the Victorian equivalent of our trilogies, I guess.) I also know that there was some prejudice against such serial novels at the time: publishers used this form to make the books more affordable, and they were perceived as thinking more about their profits than the quality of what they were publishing. Knowing this gives me a better perspective on the new trilogy trend and keeps it from being too annoying.

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  37. +JMJ+

    I've read through some of the comments and I see that what bugs fellow readers the most are the cliffhangers. I agree that series books that have a sense of closure are more satisfying to read.

    The one Suzanne Collins book I have read, Gregor and the Overlander, was a beautifully self-contained adventure. I guess that's why the publishers made sure to include the exciting first chapter of the next book at the end of my copy. LOL!

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  38. I personally tend to read series more. Don't get me wrong a lot of your points are valid cause I almost never read the first book when it comes out. I love trilogies the best as I know that means 3 books- story over. I tend to collect them (once being sure by reading the reviews that they are worth my time and money) and then read them back to back as I hate the wait. If they are a really long series then I read them in batches of 4 or 5 books at a time. When I "discovered" Robb's "In Death" series there were already 25 books out plus 5 or 6 anthologies. I waited till I had nearly all of them on my shelf before starting them. Took me about 9 to 10 months to read them as I would read a mini series between the batches. I felt like friend had died when I finished them all and hate to wait for a year till the next one came out. I like series as I love revisiting the world that the author has invented and revisiting with old friends with each book that comes out. You don't spend half the book learning the rules of this world, you know the backstory and it doesn't have to be retold so that you know why certain things are happening. And I love the cliff hangers that tend to be part of a series.

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  39. I love reading what everyone has to say. I think we all kind of feel the same way. If you're going to make a series, it needs to be good. And we all, except @Lisa R, tend to be turned off by cliffhangers. I think the bottom line is, that we just don't want you trying to MAKE a series/trilogy out of a book that just doesn't have the content to make it interesting.

    A friend said that she's seen a new trend toward making stand-alone books that can be made into a series, or at least have companions if the book does well and there's demand for it. Keep your characters alive and your "world" intact so that the story can continue.

    Carrie Ryan's books are a fantastic example of this. Also Kimberly Derting's Body Finder and Holly Black's White Cat.

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  40. I used to love series back when I was struggling to find things to read. Nowadays my TBR pile is hundreds of books long. It takes a special book to make me read a series.

    I appreciate books that wrap up at the end. Leaving some room for a sequel is great, but I think cliffhangers are lazy and dishonest. I feel cheated that I spent so much time reading a story just not be forced to buy the next in the series to have any kind of conclusion.

    Strong words, I suppose, but that's how I feel. Amen.

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  41. I have to say that it seems I'm in the minority here that actually LOVES series (and is fine with cliffhangers). I prefer series over stand-alone books BUT I still enjoy reading both kinds. Most of my favourite books are from series, but I do like stand-alone books as well. Most of the series that I read are fantasy-based or urban fantasy, and I haven't found that they (or some) are weak or pointless or fleshed out just to continue the series. I find that some may go at a slower pace only because there is a lot more world-building in them, but I'm fine with that, because once the "world" is established, the story continues, and doesn't need to be reiterated in full detail in each book.
    Most of the stand-alone books that I read are contemporary. There is no world-building as everything is assumed to be the same as our world. I love a good stand-alone and find that they are as engrossing as the series that I read. Sure, stand-alones are great, but I love being able to return to the same world, with the same (or different) characters.
    I haven't had the experience you've had (or many of those who've commented) with regards to first books that are fleshed out without resolution so that they can continue on in series fashion. (Maybe I'm lucky in not having read them? I don't know.)

    Anyway, that's my $0.02 ;).

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  42. First, I love this site. Second...SERIES BOOKS!

    As a writer, I can say that there is a great temptation to come up with a concept that can be worked into a series, rather than a stand-alone novel. I can sum up the reason in one word: CASH. Writing novels is basically a freelance, do-years-of-work-without-ever-seeing-a-dime proposition. If you had spent two years (or more!) writing and polishing a novel, and you had a choice between a contract for that one book or a contract for a series based on that one book, which would you choose? Yup. Guaranteed income over a number of years is a big win for a novel writer.

    HOWEVER, I don't want my name on something sub-par. I want my name on something good! So it's my job to make sure that if I write a series, I do it in in such a way that each book can stand alone, with nicely wrapped up main plotlines and a few loose ends in the subplots to lead my readers into the next book.

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  43. I actually like reading series, as it's always so sad when I've just fallen in love with some characters and it suddenly ends, with no hope seeing them again.
    Although to avoid waiting for a second etc book in the series,meanwhile forgetting what the first one was about, I usually try to get all the books or at least some and only then read the series.

    (You've been bitten by a book blogger zombie)

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  44. I feel pretty much the same way - I really wonder where the trend is coming from. I really don't mind series, but I mind it when the first book in a series can't be a stand alone book. I'm fine with unfinished business, but the main arch of the book needs to be finished. I need to walk away knowing that reading the next book is a choice and that if I do read the next book it's simply because I liked the characters and the world, not because the story didn't finish. Not everything has to be wrapped up in a neat little bow, but the major plot line and tension has to be worked out. I think ending the first book with serious unfinished business is just bad writing - the book either needed more editing or more pages. That being said, I'm "okay" with cliffhangers later in series, once I'm already committed. Also, as a writer, I know it's a lot of fun to work in the same world and with the same characters for a long period of time. I can certainly appreciate the desire to write a series but I think it needs to be done with a little more finess than is the current trend. I can also understand how a publisher likes a series - it's a known entity, if the first book does well, odds are really high the second one will do just as well. I just wish authors would stop cliff hanging the first book.

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  45. I have to say, when I read the title my first thought was "The Immortals" by Alyson Noel! That series so far is 5 or 6 books long(I don't even know!). I just finished the third and I want to bang my head on something hard! Nooothing has haaapened.It feels like the series has one major conflict that none of the books have managed to solve. They're jumping through the stupidest, highest hoops they can find to find a solution. And it's taken three books of it (so far!)! Why do these books exist? I feel like it could have been summed up in two pretty great novels. The premise is great, but the plot is nonexistent, and I'm dying inside to decide if I should suck it up and finish. Do they make pills for this disease?

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  46. I actually get the feeling nowadays. That's why I've read a few books these days since most of the books that I acquire are the first books in a series; and I suppose like you, I don't like waiting for the sequel to come out. For example, I was doing a post for this particular book that's finally going to come out and then bam! I can't remember the story from the first book since it came out a year ago. I love the stories but drawing them out just to have more books is just, well, not cool. If one could tell the story in one book, why not?

    BUT, I love series as long as they are beautifully executed and is necessary. i.e. The Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.

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  47. Thank you for bringing this up! I totally agree!! dont get me wrong I do love series... TMI, twilight, curse workers etc. BUT I find more authors are tending to focus on making a series instead of just "A good well written book", and sometimes thats all a gal wants.. a begining a middle and an end lol. She doesnt want to have to wait the next 3yrs and 2 more installments to get it.

    I think personally the thing for me is knowing exactly when its time to finish... This is just my opinion! but series like L.J smith vampire d and alyson noel The immortals uterly killed me they went around in circles and I just ended up frustrated and didnt reach the end. I have to see the books going somewhere in order to keep my interest.

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  48. I am drawn to series because often, when I finish a good book, I want more! When a series is well written and done right,I quite enjoy them (Harry Potter, Mortal Instruments, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, and His Dark Materials are a few examples of effective series). All of these have something in common: each individual novel has its own plot, which contributes to a series arc, and is resolved at the novel's conclusion. This is my criteria for a quality series. However, many writers create a series which really turns out to be one VERY long novel broken up into different publications--a serial gone wrong kind of situation, mostly likely sparked by the writer's need to jump on series bandwagon (The Maze Runner comes to mind). I don't know where this bandwagon came from or why it's so popular but I do think there's a definite pressure to write in series. I can't explain it, but I feel it and would be interested to hear others' opinions on why stand-alone-novels don't seem to be good enough for writers or readers.

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  49. Writing a series equates to more money. Pure and simple. I've read a tonne of comments about publishers preferring series to standalones (dollar signs in the publishers' eyes!).
    From a readers point of view, I love any engaging series. It's great to really get to know the characters, and pick up (hopefully not at exactly the same spot) where I left them, if that makes sense. You've invested in the characters and series and it's almost as if you're meeting old acquaintances! As long as the books are well written and I get sucked into them, series don't really bother me. Great thread going though. Keep up the super work! X

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  50. So glad someone finally wrote this post! There are some amazing series out there, but there are also a ton of so-so series. I've been craving and seeking out stand alone books just because I can't get involved in anyore series. Also, the time in between books is so long that readers forget, so the follow-up books always start with review chapters.

    I do enjoy series that have recurring characters but which don't necessarily depend on one another. The Morganville books are like that, you could start anywhere in the series and be fine. What I don't like is the trend in just stopping a book-- a cliffhanger is one thing, but you have to resolve some storylines.

    Great post!!

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  51. Finally! I thought I was the only one who thought about this! I have read a lot of great series, and some of them do need to be a series, but others could really do as a stand alone or trilogy or SOMETHING!
    I actually once found a review for some book and said wow that sounds like a good story! So I went to goodreads to add it to my to-read list, and found out that it was book one in a ten book series! Total turn off. I have enough books that I want to read, and I'm not investing the time or money in a series that long.
    I have also been reading the House of Night books for a few years now. They were wonderful at first, but now they're just ridiculous. It seems like practically nothing has happened in the last two books, and I don't even remember most of what happened anymore. Also, I once heard that there were supposed to be ten books in this series (after I started reading it) and now there are going to be twelve. I don't even see how they are going to stretch this series into twelve books! They are not extremely long books, around 300 pages, but it just seems like nothing happens anymore, and they're just trying to draw it out.
    Everyhting seems to be a part of a series anymore though. I have actually gotten into the habit of examining books that I find at a bookstore that sound like something I would read just to make sure it's not a book halfway through a series, or that it doesn't have a sequel (unless its a trilogy. I've also tried to get out of the habit of reading trilogies, but they are still better than getting into another big series).
    I agree that there don't seem to be many stand alone stories anymore, and I don't understand why. I suppose that publishers hope that it increases sales because once you start a series, you almost always have to see it through to the end. I do think there should be more stand alones though. Waiting a year or half a year for every new installment is annoying, you often forget what has happened in the series by the time the next few have come out, and there's nothing wrong with stand alones. They can be just as entertaining, if not more, than most series. So yes, I agree that some seies are best as series, but they are the ones that fill the pages with a story, not fluff. I'm tired of reading fluff, it's for English papers not books!

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  52. After reading Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments I am dying to get my hands on more . Maybe it's just YA books but they're good! I am waiting for Masquerade ...and Paranormalcy . I guess it depends on the author too . Yes , Richelle Meads Vampire Academy series was written in that same fashion (filled with what seems like fluff. Just a lot of boring, mindless nothing to make a story) but I liked them and wanted more .

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    1. Yeah, I think series like VA and MI are awesome, actually there are tons of series that I love. However, there are even more that are just not necessary...only turned into series to sell more books, it seems. These are the ones I'm talking about. My friend asked me the other day for a book suggestion. She said, "I want something paranormal that's a stand-alone." After searching my bookshelves and racking my brain, I came up empty. I couldn't think of a single good paranormal stand-alone.

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  53. Sorry to post so late here, but I wanted to bring up a possible third reason for series: most times a series is easier to copyright (especially internationally) than a single novel. Also, international readers/audience = $$$$$. So it comes down to money.

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    1. It's NEVER too late to comment! :D

      And yes, everything comes down to money, I think! Very good point!

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