Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is Writing a Series the Lazy Way Out? or 6 Reasons to Write a Stand Alone Title

Before you go all Hater on me, know this: I am writing a series.  So, I lump myself into this same category I am questioning.  But this issue came up, as most of my blog posts do, when I was having a conversation with a facebook friend about this very thing.  She was doing a blog post of her own about authors who have books out or coming out and was including me (awesome!) and wanted to know was Spellbound a series or stand-alone.  This birthed the discussion.  I opined that sometimes I thought writing a series could be a cop out, even a lazy way to end a book.  Cue the series writers who will want to SKEWER me for daring to even suggest something so, so, HERETIC!  Burn the bitch at the stake, right?

Put down the gasoline cans, Goody Writer.  I assure you, I don't REALLY feel that way.  Remember, I am about to try and sell Book Two for Spellbound to my publisher.  And look at the success of the Rowling's Harry Potter series.  Something has to be said for that.

Anyway, that being said, I really wanted this blog post to extol the virtues of the Stand Alone Book.  With writers and authors these days ramming their 20 book sagas down our throats, I want to pay homage to the simple virtues of the Stand Alone (capitalized to simulate royal lineage!)

So without further ado, here are my top 6 reasons to buy a Stand Alone title:

  1. You don't have to invest the rest of your life reading about one character.
  2. When the movie comes out, you don't have to go through puberty with the actor/actress
  3. You are given the opportunity to see if the author is more than a one-trick-pony. (I won't name names, you know who you are)
  4. Your cover artist doesn't die from boredom
  5. YOU don't die from boredom.
  6. You don't become the most hated person in America because America is so SICK TO DEATH OF THE HYPE.
So, if you are an author, and please note:  this is just MY OPINION:  Go ahead, write a series, but for the love of all that is holy....MIX IT UP!  Write a Stand Alone.  Write a whole goddamn bunch of them.  Write some short stories, write some flash fiction, throw in some magazine articles, and even a script if you have the talent for it. But MIX IT THE EFF UP.  Prove to not only us, but very likely yourself that you can let go of these other characters and not use them as the crutch you are leaning on to prove your literary chops.  Go rogue!  And as I have stolen a million times before, Just Do It.  We will be very proud of you and a funny thing will happen.  You will gain an entirely new fan base.  Authors.  Just saying.


  1. I personally am willing to take the chance that America hates me. Long live the Hype!

  2. You kill me, Moni-Q. For those who don't know it, Ms. James, like me, writes a series, as WELL as novellas, short stories and Stand Alones. She is being cheeky. I'll be over to your blog shortly, Ms. James. Look out.

  3. I have two series of books. One is The Heart Series, which are stories that so far are unrelated to one another but they have a certain style. Not to compare myself to anyone great, but I was thinking of Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. They were stories of great statesmen and historical figures that he found inspirational. The Heart Stories have a similar theme (love and hope amid wrenching loss) but no recurring characters. The Echoes of Orson's Folly series is stories with the same characters, which take place in the same town, but each story is complete and doesn't need prior stories to understand and enjoy. So I've managed to fall into the concept of a series of stand-alone novels.

  4. I'm writing a sequel to Double Crossing, but only because it turned out that way. But think of the poor author, like Grafton doing her mystery Alphabet series... she must be ready to KILL her PI by now. 26 books? same character? I sure would be!! And I did write a stand alone - which I'm revising now to sell.

    Conan Doyle DID kill Sherlock - and had to bring him back due to readers' anger! LOL

  5. Good point Meg! Think of the fictional writer Stephen King conjured up in his book, Misery. There but for the grace of God go I, huh?
    And I like your concept, Kay, a series in a stand alone. Thinking that one over.....hmmm..... :D

  6. Great post! I'm writing 3 series--all pretty unique concepts, well I've never read a book like them--I write what I want to read, and it just so happens that you peeps also like them xD

    I've also got plans to write a lot of stand alone novels, I have a horror and I have a fantasy, witchy one :D And I'm still young and people keep telling me how bright my future is xD so I could be that person to ANNOY you! ;)

  7. Too funny Samantha! I like to mix things up myself. I have series I'm working on, and I have stand alones. I've also written shorts. Thanks for extolling the virtues of the stand alone novel.

  8. I generally prefer stand alone stories. If it's a series, start or midway through, I'm apt to leave it alone as a reader. Though, as a writer, the appeal is massive. If you can hook readers into a world and keep giving them what they want, you'll have some level of success and who doesn't want that?

    I've written and released a novelette called The Night Walk Men which I've given away for free over the last year. After close to 45,000 downloads, many readers have expressed interest in seeing more of the world I've created.

    Guess what? A full length novel is in the writing stages -- but it was always there, waiting to be born. The freedom (or prod) to work on it comes from the readers, but the story itself grew from somewhere deep inside.

    Hopefully, once it comes out, readers will see and agree with this: the whole story occurred to me in its complete form. Finishing it is merely green-lit by those that matter most, but assuredly not pandered to them.

  9. I totally understand that. As of late though, it's becoming increasingly hard to find stand alones that are new releases. I love reading stand alones and series but ocassionally it becomes a huge relief to read stand alones instead of series as a book reviewer because there are so many series it's hard to keep up with them.

  10. I love Susan Wiggs' The Lakeshore Chronicles, although I have to say I have not every single one. Yet. When a book in a series stands alone, that's when you've got me.

  11. I have two series. The Target Series is a romantic thriller series and the Emily Dahill, CID Series is more mystery/suspense.
    I live doing series because it give me the chance to ask questions that don't need to be answered in a book but can be spread out over several.
    Also, with a series the author doesn't have to rush to develope the main characters, expecially when one is a bratty fur ball of a collie.