Lets take a trip to a wonderful place. A place where adventures are within our fingertips. A place where all you have to do is crack open the cover and you can be anywhere. A place called the bookstore.
Browsing the shelves (and later my own bookcases) I discovered that most of the books are part of a series.
Here are a few examples:
- Harry Potter (7 books)
- The Mortal Instruments (4 books and counting)
- The Hex Hall series (2 books and 1 to go)
- Vampire Academy (6 books, 1 spin-off series)
- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
- Shiver, Linger, Forever.
- Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn.
- Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath.
- The Sookie Stackhouse series (9 books so far)
Why so many? Some books begin life with the best intentions of being a stand alone title. 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. 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. And there's something comforting about settling down to read a book with a character you know. If we enjoy it then we get involved and have to read on. Sometimes we don't. I'm sure there are people who didn't enjoy/couldn't finish some of the books I've mentioned.
But how do we look on this as writers? We're told to write stand alone books where we can. Pitch one book. But why are we told to query our books as stand alone when it seems like every book out there has a larger story arc to tell?
But this doesn't seem to put off agents or publishers from signing 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's the right idea, the right story, your series could be up there with the others.
What do you think?