Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meandering Monday (10)- Series vs. Standalone

It took me a little while to come to this idea. I sat down to write this (after midnight- didn't realize it was that late) and had writer's block. So I did what every writer does with a block (or even without)- I went to Twitter. I asked what I should write about and was promptly bombarded by 4 of those spam "Writers Needed" tweets. Eventually I did get a real answer from Liz, who said I should write about series vs standalones.

I told her that it was funny she mentioned that because the other day, I was talking with John on GChat and we talked about series and standalones. I had just finished Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (review tomorrow) and was under the impression that it was a standalone however it has an open ending, so it seems like a sequel will be coming. I don't know for sure about that though.

Anyway, I enjoy both a lot but it seems like a LOT of books are becoming series these days, mainly trilogies. It bugs me when a story leaves me on a cliffhanger and it seems like almost all the books I read do that. Unless of course it's a contemporary book, where it's more likely that it's a standalone. Why can't we tell a paranormal story in one book anymore? I'm writing one right now and it's gonna be a standalone, no matter what.

It's nice to just read a standalone and be done with the story once you finish the final pages. You don't have to worry about what's gonna happen next because everything's wrapped up. At least, that's how it works for me. I know from reading various authors' blogs that TONS of people feel differently and want everything to be a series. People are still asking for a 7th Mediator book from Meg Cabot, even though she's said no repeatedly and the 6th book came out like 5 years ago. Or even books like Sarah Dessen's where it's usually wrapped up- people still ask for sequels.

At the same time though, series can be a lot of fun. I LOVE The Princess Diaries (and many of Meg's other series) to bits. Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series is fantastic; so is Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series and many other series. I do enjoy spending time with characters and so it's nice to be able to revisit them with each book. In fact, I'm re-reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson and am so excited for the sequel to be out in April because I love Ginny so much and really enjoy reading her adventures.

Time to stop this rambling. What does everything else think about series and standalones?


  1. "It's nice to just read a standalone and be done with the story once you finish the final pages. You don't have to worry about what's gonna happen next because everything's wrapped up. "

    I quoted this because it says perfectly how I feel! I'd love to read some more standalone books. While I enjoy some series it can be annoying waiting a long time to find out how the story ends, especially if there are several books and they only come out once a year, it can be YEARS before we know the ending! I would really like to see some more standalone fantasy novels. I read a lot of historical fiction and like contemps a lot of those are standalone which I like but even some of those are turning into series now!

  2. I like series. I also like big storylines, and I doubt they can fit a huge storyline into just one book. I like series because I get to read more about my favorite characters. In one book, I don't become attached as much. I honestly can't remember what the last standalone novel I read was. Some people don't like waiting for new books in a series, but I love it (well, not too long of a time). I can ponder the book and by the time the book comes, I'm even more excited to read it. Basically, I'm a series person.

  3. I agree--series are nice, but it's becoming impossible to find standalones nowadays!

    I prefer standalone books because they only require you to commit once. With series, I have to wait at least a year for the next book to come out, and usually by then I've forgotten everything about the book (other than major plot points)!

    Still, for the series that really deserve being series (like, they still have things that should be developed that couldn't have been wrapped up in one book), it's worth the memory-wracking.

  4. Sometimes, I think a request for a sequel just means that people love the characters and wish they could know what happens next. But the characters don't always have new incidents in their lives that are interesting enough to build a book around. A sequel, if written, would be disappointing.

    From a business standpoint, publishers love series because if they have a successful one, it has a built-in market. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the next Harry Potter book, the next Twilight book, the next Hunger Games book--what author and publisher wouldn't love to build that kind of excitement? But that doesn't mean every series becomes The Next Big Thing. And sometimes the series model backfires--people get reluctant to pick up a book if they know it's the start of a series, because they feel like it's a bigger commitment.

  5. I like series. I really do. But, I do NOT like series that seem to go on and on and on. I like to know how many books there will be going into the series, and I don't like those that drag and seem to have no ending point in site. Often, I feel like these are books written for the same reason that a lot of movie sequels came out- the first one made a lot of money, it's already something people are familiar with/will be buying, so let's grab a piece of that cash cow. Those series bother me.

  6. Oh, and another negative, if a series doesn't sell well, we may NEVER know the ending, if they cancel the last few books. but a standalone book no matter what happens at least we've finished the story. this actually happened to a couple of series I read, for one of them I was able to email the author and she told me what the ending would have been, but for the others I never did find out.

  7. I love/hate them both, they are on equal footing for me. They both have merits that the other lacks.