Books in a Series: What Are You Writing?
I attended RomCon earlier this month, a conference dedicated to readers of romance. During one of the sessions, a panel asked readers (including booksellers, bloggers, and reviewers) what their tastes were about books in a series. The conversation briefly settled on a debate between a series of stand-alone books (e.g., books set in the same world, but each featuring different sets of main characters) versus a series driven by continuing characters. While it was mentioned that mystery often has a continuing character, no one firmly attributed either kind of series to a specific genre (like romance, UF, mystery), I think because in many cases the genre lines are blurred.
Here’s my experience, from pre-pubbed to pubbed: When I started Shadow Bound, the first book in my Shadow series, there was no doubt that it would be a stand-alone. It was my first book, so I really felt it needed to have complete character arcs, but I also believed that the world had definite series potential. When I sold Shadow Bound, the acquiring editor asked if I had a series in mind, referencing a secondary character for the next book. We settled on Custo Santovari, probably my favorite character thus far. It seemed that the stand-alone was the way to go. My contract was for two books; they each needed to be complete in and of themselves. I held out hope that I’d get to write more. And, thank goodness, I do.
Shadow Bound was released last month, so now I’m starting to get feedback from readers. The story straddles the line between romance and fantasy (in B&N I’m in the fantasy/sci-fi section; elsewhere I’m in romance), where both kinds of series are prevalent. And sure enough, many readers have expressed interest in what happens next for my Shadow Bound protagonists. They want the second kind of series, with continuing characters, which has made me pause and think (and write this blog). I think it’s a good sign, and I love that readers are invested enough to want to follow these characters. And of course now I have all these possibilities popping into my head for the characters of the previous book.☺ Even so, I think this series is better suited to stand-alones than a single overarching story. The next book still shifts to Custo’s story, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I tortured Custo in Shadow Bound, and it gets worse in Shadow Fall. And then a whole lot better.☺
So today I’m asking the readers of the BookEnds blog a similar question about series: What are you writing (and why)? Do you see it having series potential? If so, what kind of series–stand-alone or continuing characters? And what type of series do you prefer to read?
Erin Kellison is the author of the Shadow series, which includes Shadow Bound and Shadow Fall. Stories have always been a central part of Erin Kellison’s life. She attempted her first book in sixth grade, a dark fantasy adventure, and still has those early handwritten chapters. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English Language and Literature, and went on for a master’s in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on oral storytelling. When she had children, nothing scared her anymore, so her focus shifted to writing fiction. She lives in Arizona with her two beautiful daughters and husband, and she will have a dog (breed undetermined) when her youngest turns five.
Learn more about Erin at www.erinkellison.com.