Series or standalones, pros and cons

I started my writing career as a greenhorn with a three book mystery series set in the tiny fictional town of Finny. I guess you could say, therefore, that I cut my teeth on series writing. However, when that series wrapped I signed on with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and I spent a good bit of time writing single books before I once again switched to series. So which is better? In this writer’s humble opinion, there are advantages and challenges to both.

With stand alone books, you can get in there and write a book with all manner of murder and mayhem, because the characters and setting will not have to carry on through another book. Ah the freedom! Characters can be discarded at will. Frankly, it’s easier to write a stand-alone because you have fewer details to keep track of over time. The disadvantage? Your reader may not be as invested in buying your next book. Stand-alones do not provide that built in sense of urgency about what happens next.

The series, by contrast, is a whole lot more complicated. Characters must be placed carefully in the narrative who may not have the spotlight focused on them until a few more books have come and gone. Still, they need to be set into place (and they can’t be cardboard placeholders either) until it’s their turn to shine. All of their pertinent details from eye color to family history must be recorded to ensure the facts remain consistent over the course of the series. Same with the setting, if the entire series takes place in one location. That coffee shop on the corner of Cream and Sugar had better be in the same location in book two, unless you’ve explained the change. Publishers appreciate series book because if readers enjoy the first one, they’re primed to come back for the rest which makes everyone’s marketing job a bit easier.

So what about you? Do you enjoy stand-alone novels or series? Got any favorites you’d care to share?  Giving away a Starbuck’s card and two books this month.

image

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Shanda on July 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I would have been devastated if Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon or Harry Potter had been stand alones. However, I cannot fathom some books continuing. One can even be too many. 🙂 I mean, after War and Peace, what would we have had? Famine and Sustenance?
    No definitive answer from me, sorry. If I had to narrow it down, I would say stand alone romance and series for fantasy. Usually. Got a fence for me to straddle?
    🙂

    Like

    Reply

  2. Posted by Kaci on July 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I prefer stand alone books. Very rarely am I glad that it is a series. Most of the time, it feels like it has been drug out too far.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Posted by Gayle on July 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Hi, my name is Gayle and I have just found you as an author. My favorite is series….I have the ability to put myself into the books and the locations so that the characters become like friends to me. So I enjoy carrying on with these people as far as the series permits. I also will read a book by an author and really like it and then read all of his or her books even if not series. Thanks.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Reblogged this on Cozynookbks and commented:
    Series or Stand-alone books?

    Like

    Reply

  5. I’ve often asked myself that question. Do I prefer series or stand-alone books? I’d say both for different reasons. I agree with a commenter above. Sometimes you are in the mood for a quick read, then when it’s done you can just move on. I have to admit that I have enjoyed the stand-alone books more now because I like to read different things depending on my mood. I may finish a great romance book that’s part of a series, but I may be in the mood for a mystery next. Because there are so many series books out there it can be hard to keep up if you like bouncing between genres. Then if I read too many books in between I forget what was going on in book-one and I get all confused. On the other hand, series are great if you really, REALLY love the characters and setting. You just want to go back and re-visit everyone and feel the warm and fuzzies again. However, if you’re a blogger who reads and reviews books for authors you can’t continue to read series books because you have other commitments. So, I guess it just depends on an individual’s preference and/or circumstances. I hope that all makes sense.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Posted by Lynsay Forsyth on July 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I enjoy both. On that note, I also like series that the books in it can be read as stand-alones, where just the setting and/or some characters continue on instead of a plot running through the series. With those I never feel bad that I can’t get the next book right away.

    Like

    Reply

  7. Posted by Carol Smith on July 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I enjoy both series and stand-alones. The series depends on the strength of the authors characters. Some characters the reader just would love to see how things would develop between other characters that were secondary in the first story.

    Like

    Reply

  8. I like both series and stand-alones. It just depends on how much time I have to read and what I am in the mood for.

    Like

    Reply

  9. Posted by Suzan Michet on July 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hmm. I guess it depends on what I am looking for. Sometimes you want a quick read for the cottage/beach so you really don’t want to invest in characters in a series. But other times, if I find myself liking a character, I want there to be a series so I can see what happens next. Series certainly do have a way of drawing a reader in if they are well written … I have been annoyed by inconsistencies in some series !

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: