Thursday, 20 May 2010

I Spy...A Series.

There are places that make me happy. Where the birds twitter, the sun shines, and I feel the crying of my credit card from inside my bag. Yes, the bookstore.

Perusing the shelves - and later my own bookcases - I came across something which I hadn't really paid much attention...most of my books are part of a series.

Here are a few of my reads:

Harry Potter (a very nice box set of all 7 books, thanks Mum and Dad).
His Dark Materials (another nice box set from my little brother).
The Mortal Instruments (all three).
Vampire Academy (5 books so far since I just got Spirit Bound).
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire (Mockingjay to go).
Shiver (soon to add Linger and Forever).
The Hollow (soon to add The Haunted, and the third book after that).
Chaos Walking.
Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn.
Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath.
The Sookie Stackhouse books.
Wicked Lovely, Fragile Eternity, Ink Exchange, Radiant Shadows.

I have stand alone books but these are looking few and far between on a bookcase heaving with series. And it is the same in the bookstore.

But if the first book leaves readers hungry for more, then onwards to book two.

Some series, may begin with the best intentions of only one book. But as the story unfolds, the characters revealed, darker layers and wider narratives open up making it impossible to tell the full saga in 300/400 pages. And a sequel or series is born.

Some books are plotted with the intentions of being a series, like The Immortals by Alyson Noel.

It doesn't seem to bother readers if there are two, three, or even perhaps seven books in a series. If we enjoy it, we get involved and have to read on.

And sometimes we don't. There are plenty of people who couldn't finish Twilight, or any of the other books I've mentioned.

I love all books. But why is it that we are told to query our books as stand alone when it seems like every book out there has a larger story arc to tell?

I've read lots of articles that advise to pitch one book? Then they add if we want to put on the query that it is a stand alone with series potential, then we can do that too.


But this doesn't seem to put agents or publishers off signing authors for books with series potential. So I say write the story you want to write. Stand alone, sequel, trilogy or series. Because it only takes one agent to fall in love with your book. And then one publisher. And if it is the right idea, the right story that hooks readers, makes them thirsty for more, your series could be up there with the others.

And my credit card will cry even more. :)


Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

I love that you say, "Write the story you want to write." I think whatever's meant to be, will be. The story itself should be the focus. Great post. Thanks!


Christina Lee said...

OOh those are good series up there! okay I am going with that--one agent needs to love my work--c'mon agent!;-)

MissV said...

I was talking to my hubs about series the other day. I get that we fall in love with the characters and want to know more about them. I get that publishers want to know that you're good for more than one book.

I have books I fell in love with, and was ecstatic when they came out with another.

But then there are some series that I once loved that I got completely sick of...Anne Rice and the vampire books comes to mind. The first 3 or 4 books I couldn't buy the book fast enough. Then there were just too many of them. I bought them (collector in me), but I didn't rush home to read them.

I don't want to risk that saturation/alienation as an author. But how do you know how many books you can do before people start rolling their eyes and saying, "another (fillintheblank) book?"

Jaydee Morgan said...

I agree with you in that you have to write the books you want - and if they turn into a series, so be it. Now saying that, I don't write that way. I can't even imagine writing an entire series around the same characters. It's not for me (and looking at my own bookshelf, it's not the types of books I read either).

Palindrome said...

I agree write what you want to write.

I'm personally tired of series right now. If I see a book and it says book one...onward I move. I'm a fan of the standalone novel and the leaving of people wanting more. That's why they buy your next book and your next book. It doesn't have to be a series to leave that feeling.

But if you have a big story to tell, tell it. No matter how many books it takes. :)

Mayowa said...

Series are great. I can't stand the waiting until the next one comes out though...

Your list reminds me that I need to read more Pullman.

Great post.

Matthew Rush said...

I always love series more, but it does seem that you're right about getting published, the first nook must be able to stand alone.

Shannon said...

Absolutely agree that we need to write the stories that motive us. Personally, I'm a fan of series books. I meet characters, fall in love with them and want to know them better, just like friends.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I agree that its confusing. My first book is a potential series but because of the advice I've seen, I decided to put off writing a second volume until theres interest in the first. With how popular series are, you'd think agents would be on the lookout...:(

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Adventures. I agree, the story is 100% what is important. :)

Christina Lee, They are out there for you, I can feel it.:)

MissV. Great points. There are some series which can oversaturate the market or overstay their welcome. I think the trick is to keep it fresh, tell the story you want to tell, believe in the characters and - hopefully - everything will be fine.:)

Jaydee. That's true too. You have to write what is best for you.

Palindrome. Great comments. Like you say, if you have a story to tell, tell it. No matter how many books. :)

Mayowa. I hate the waiting too. I hate it even more when I don't realise it's book one of a series. :)

Matthew. True. There is so much info saying make it stand alone.

Shannon. That is why I like series books too. I like to see how they change over the course of the books.

CQG. Great points. You think there would be a call for series books more. Maybe it needs to be a proven book first to sell?

Samantha Bennett said...

I'm a series junky. Once I find an author I like, I pretty much eat their books. You get so attached to the characters!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Samantha. I agree. Once I start a series I tend to like to see it through. :)

Jen said...

Lindsay this is a wonderful post!!! I loved all your selections of series! Harry Potter currently topping the list for me!

I find that I love series, one's that I can read over and over again. Makes the story longer, which I love as long as it's good! I'm also a huge fan of standalones as well! I guess as long as it's appealing I'll buy!

I wrote my first WiP thinking it would be a standalone and later realized that I had an idea for the second installment before being finished with the first. Strange things happen when writing, it's the beauty of it all!

Jemi Fraser said...

There are so many series in my list of favourites too. I love to really get to know the characters & the worlds they live in :)

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ah, the series. Strangely, none of my books are meant to be anything but standalone. I have one gothic horror tale in the pipeline that MAYBE has a sequel in it, but no trilogies, etc. Dunno if I actually have the stamina to stay with one story for so long...Great post, Lindsay!

Lola Sharp said...

I read standalone and series, but so far I've only written standalone. By the time I'm working through revisions, I'm REALLY ready to move on to the shiny new story.

I agree, write the book(s) you want to write.

Have a wonderful weekend!