I guess it’s no secret that authors love series, and love them for practical reasons—the chance to more fully explore a world and a set of characters, and the fact that when an author sells a series to a publisher, there are multiple book sales involved. Much more comforting to one’s career than selling standalone books one at a time.
(Sure, if you’re Stephen King or Nora Roberts, you can just sell X number of unspecified books, but most authors can’t do that. There’s a process of submitting a proposal, a synopsis (detailed outline), and sample chapters which publishers then sit on for months on end before deciding whether or not they want to print them. But I digress.)
But how do you feel about series as a reader? Is there a limit? Are there series that you think have gone on too long?
I love series, and there are quite a few that are on my must-read, auto-buy list. I’m currently reading Ever After, book eleven in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, and I’m already mourning the fact that there will be only two more books after this. I know there were some mixed reviews on the last book, A Perfect Blood (which I liked personally), but I will truly miss this series. Same with the Harry Dresden series, which I think is still going strong, with a few more to go (I think Jim Butcher has said he was stopping at nineteen or twenty).
There are a couple of other popular series, whose names I won’t mention, that I’ve loved over the years but have probably gone a couple of books past where they should have ended, where the characters have started feeling stale and the natural unfolding of story has begun to stall.
As a reader, I see series I’ve missed out on (like the John Connolly series that guest reviewer Cherry talked about here yesterday), and I’m daunted by this being book eleven. It would take forever to catch up.
Which brings us to trilogies and standalones. In some ways, trilogies seem to be the ideal reader experience. There’s enough room for a story to sprawl out and develop, and for characters to grow. Yet three books isn’t daunting. I haven’t had a chance to read the Hunger Games books, but there are only three of them. So they’re sitting and waiting on me and I will get to them.
Standalones, I have mixed feelings about. First, they’re hard to find. Sci-fi tends to have more than any other of the speculative fiction genres, I think. Have you found many standalones? Do you feel they gave you the same satisfaction as losing yourself in a world with a long story arc?
My paranormal romance books (written as Susannah Sandlin) were written as a trilogy, and as the trilogy comes to a close next month, I feel sad that I’ll either be changing that world into something a little different with a spinoff series or leaving the world behind to develop new worlds, new characters.
What are your thoughts? Would you like to see more standalones, or are you, like me, a series fan? What’s the first series you remember reading? My favorite books as a kid were Nancy Drew (series), Heidi (standalone), The Secret Garden (standalone), Little Women (trilogy, sort of).