Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lonely Little Stand-Alone in a Serial World

I write stand-alone books. I don't carry ideas for a series around in my head except for the adult murder mystery books I intend to write one day. When it comes to my YA work, I have always developed each new story with a new set of characters.

My latest manuscript, currently looking for a home, has brought back serious serial feedback, however. Some of the people who read it, including one professional editor, asked me, "Is this the first book in a series?" The question left me a bit surprised. "No, sorry," I replied both times. But inside I began to wonder what they were seeing that I wasn't.

I haven't read much in terms of YA series. In fact, I don't think I've really read any, although I am stretching my brain trying to make sure. When I was younger -a LOT younger- I read the usual ones: Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobsey Twins. I even read some of the less familiar ones like Beany Malone and Trixie Belden. As an adult, however, I haven't read any of the YA series I have run across, mostly because they tend to run to sword and sorcery or science fiction, neither of which are my first-choice genres. I'm not necessarily averse to them, I just don't pick them up very often. (Note: J.K. Rowling, as far as I'm concerned, didn't write a series so much as she wrote one long work that needed to be broken down into separate books, rather like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.)

So now I am looking at my manuscript with new eyes and lots of questions. Do I want to go further with these characters? Does their world lend itself to a number of stories instead of just one? And where would I go with them, if that's the case?

For all of you out there working on a series, I'd love some feedback. How did you know you had a multi-tale universe or group of characters? Do you think it's easier to sell a series than a single book? Do you write outside of your series? Do you ever get bored with the same people??

Oh, and if anyone can suggest a series that isn't sci-fi/fantasy (or Twilight, for that matter), hey, I'd love the input!


  1. How did I know. There were two treasons, one for each series. Though they're fantasy books I think the reasons will apply to both kinds. The first of the series, The Jewels Of Earda, the editor asked this question when she reached the end. "Is this a single story or a series. If a single story, you need to tie up these loose ends. She listed a half dozen. Yikes, I thought. I really had a trilogy if I was to tie up those loose ends. The second time was decided on my own. I'm a planner, sort of. What I do is a tell synopsis. When I reached fifty pages, I knew I couldn't do this all in one book. Are they easier or harder to sell? I've never thought of that when writing. Hopes this helps a bit.

  2. I've never written a series, so I really know little about them. The Ally Carter Gallagher Girl series I'd Tell You I Love You but then I'd Have to Kill You is a fun read.

  3. I have only published one book, and it is the first installment of a seven-part series. It started off as a standalone novel but grew to something more. In my series, each novel is told from a different character's perspective. I am finishing up my second novel, and I love continuing the story. If others see the potential for a series, then consider it. Series are exceedingly popular with teeens. Hope that helps...

  4. CROSSED OUT is part of a series. Right now I'm working on the sequel.

    One huge thing I'd recommend is making a bible for your series where you list all your characteers, places, settings, goals, and other things. One good example of one is from Diana Gabaldon on her Outlander series. Also Robert Jordan did one for the WOT series.

    Some fun series suggestions are DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK by Marlene Perez; DEAD GIRL DANCING by Linda Singleton and Jennifer Barnes has some fun series that include GOLDEN and THE SQUAD.