Howdy folks and happy Saturday.
My research gypsy scout and good friend, Terrick Y’Zir, has encouraged me from time to time to tackle a standalone novel next, once I wrap up the Psalms of Isaak. And I’m thinking very seriously about it, though I’m pretty sure anything I write could just as easily be the first book to a series. I tend to think big in Story when it comes to novels and though I’ve only finished three novels and I’m still two books from completing my first series, it seems all of my ideas are for series. Three book, five book, maybe even seven book.
It’s gotten me to thinking about the pros and cons of writing a series. For me, I’m writing a series with a fixed ending point at five books. Other series are more episodic and can continue for decades. I’ve thought about both kinds of series and for whatever reason, I feel more at home in that world than I do the world of standalones. And truth be told, I still feel more comfortable in the world of short stories than I do novels. But that’s a post for another day.
What are some of the pros and cons of writing a series?
1) You get to spend a LOT of time developing your characters and building your relationship (and your reader’s relationship) with them over the course of the story you’re telling.
2) Readers tend to like series — probably because of those characters you’ve been developing book after book.
3) Because readers tend to like series, publishers tend to like them as well. Lots of new series debut each year from new authors.
4) You know what you’re going to write about for a long stretch of time.
Those are just some of the pros. I’m sure you can come up with more. But what about the cons?
1) You spend a LOT of time with these characters. For me, we’ve been married now for six years, me and Rudolfo, Petronus, Jin Li Tam, Vlad Li Tam, Neb, Winters, Isaak. We’ve spent far too much time together. I’m not always happy to see them at this point.
2) Readers really like series…especially when they’re finished. I’m not sure how it will look but I’m pretty sure that once the series is complete, there will be a spike in sales from all the people who told me “Oh, I never buy a book in a series until the series is finished.” Most of the time, these folks will recognize the error in that thinking if you point out to them that publishers measure a series success based on sales now and that low sales could mean the complete series may never be published. Then, they buy the books and stash them. But still, keep in mind that some of your audience won’t spend their money until you’ve finished the whole thing.
3) You know what you’re going to write about for a long…stretch…of…time. I’ve been fortunate to mix it up with a few short projects but even still, the Psalms of Isaak has filled up six years of my life. It’s likely to take up close to seven before it’s finished. That’s…a…long…stretch…of…time.
And yet…nearly everyone is writing a series of some kind. And folks are liking mine, despite my loud protestations of being a short story writer until 2006 when that dare launched me as a novelist.
There are days when it’s a love-hate relationship, but like any other marriage, I’m in it for better or for worse. And as hard as I try to come up with a standalone idea for my pal, everything I think of now is at least three books. Maybe even five!
Trailor Boy out!