Sunday Q&A: Book Series

posted in: Various Musings | 0

What are your thoughts about book series as opposed to standalone novels?

Years ago, when I realized that my writing naturally gravitated to the romance genre, I didn’t consider writing a series at all. My ideas all revolved around standalone topics—girl meets boy; they have some bumps and hitches along the way; but eventually they live happily ever after. I hadn’t considered a series, in spite of the fact that some of my favorite stories have been series (most of them are mystery-based, but they are still series).

In 2011, after having published Tangled Web, though, I started getting author newsletters from KDP (Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing). One of the first ones I received featured an interview with John Locke, the indie author who’d just sold one million ebooks, and so he wrote a book with that title—How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months. In spite of my thoughts about that book today, one of the things that impressed me at the time was how Locke had captured a built-in audience with his series (and he was starting a second series at the time he published his book on making it as an indie author). Readers kept coming back because they loved the character of Donovan Creed and wanted to see what would happen next. And we see that over and over again, don’t we? Stephanie Plum, Christian Grey, Harry Potter, James Bond. Those books might be plot-driven, but they’re also character-driven. We read them not just for the “latest adventure” but even more for the overarching story. We want to know what’s going to happen next in the grand scheme of things.

But I didn’t just want to do it because of a built-in reader base. Writing for me is not mercenary. I would write if no one read my work (but I have to admit—I love it when they do!), and I did for years. Writing is also not a get-rich-quick scheme. Writing is instead telling stories and entertaining readers. And so I looked back on some of the novels I have loved the most—yes, there are hundreds of standalones on my list, but there are lots of series too, and I know I loved them because I loved the characters. It started in my youth, with Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden (a character I recall as having a lot more depth and believability—and even growth—than my beloved Nancy Drew), but it quickly expanded and grew. I loved the detective novels of A.A. Fair, thanks to the characters Donald Lam and Bertha Cool. And that trend of loving characters and their stories continues to this day—not just old faves like Hercule Poirot, but new ones like Sookie Stackhouse come to mind.

What’s cool about series is that, as both a writer and a reader, you grow with the characters, and because there are multiple stories in the same universe, you enjoy a richer experience. So, first, I started with the Nicki Sosebee series (her multiple-book story was planned), but when I had readers ask for more (they wanted follow ups to both Tangled Web and Bullet), I wasn’t about to refuse. I know how much I love book series, so I wanted to give my readers the same. What’s not to love about a good series?

Got a question for me? Post it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it either here or in a future post!

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