Monday, January 7, 2013

The Series vs. the Stand Alone Novel

“Stand alones” are the books an author writes that aren’t connected to any other book and that aren’t a part of a series.  They are able to, ahem, stand alone.  They don’t require other books to understand what’s going on.  They are a complete story on their own without any wondering what comes next.  All is resolved, the happily ever after is taken care of.  For everyone.

Okay, so I’ll admit as a reader than I love a good series.  When I find an author whose voice or style I love, I really enjoy having a chance to experience it over and over.  I love getting to know secondary characters in one book and then getting to see their story and romance unfold in the next.  I get it.  I really do.

But sometimes, a writer will write something that’s just… complete.  It’s a full, complete story and the end really is the end.

As a reader, I’m okay with that.  When I find an author I like, I will look into their entire backlist.  It’s very likely that if you win me over with a series, I’ll read all your stand alones.  And vice versa.  If I read something from an author and fall in love, finding out they have several other books, even if they aren’t connected to the one that first hooked me, is like Christmas morning!

But not all readers feel that way.  One reader told me, “A stand alone book makes me nervous.  I’m afraid I’m going to love all the characters but then never get to “see” them again or find out what happens to the cute brother.”   

I have two stand alone books right now (No Matter What and Hotblooded) and I get reader e-mails about both of them (“when are you going to write Tony’s book?”  “Will we ever see what happens between David and Carla?”)  all the time.  And every time I think “hmm… maybe I should write that book”.  Sure, there could be a good book or two there.  But does every book have to have a follow up with the secondary characters?
Another reader told me, “When I really love a couple and go through all the angst of seeing them get together, I want so badly to see them down the road happy and doing well, having kids, all that stuff.”

Yeah, I can relate to that too.  That’s why I kept writing books in the Bradford series and now have a novella coming out (in February) that acts as an epilogue to all five books! :)  As if five books aren’t enough!

However, I’ve read some really great stand alone novels.  Sure, I fall for secondary characters (as a reader and a writer) and I think about the main characters’ future together (again as a reader and a writer :)) but as a reader, I’m just as happy to find a stand alone book from a favorite author as I am a series. 

So, I’m curious what you all think and feel.   Are stand alones good for you?  Will you read those as readily as you do a series?  If an author wins you over with a series, or as a part of an anthology, or with a novella, will you check out and download their other books?  Or if you find an author through a series, is it too hard to let go and take a chance on some new characters?

And speaking of stand alone books, I’m featuring my stand alone, Hotblooded, this month with a variety of games and giveaways—stop by if you have a chance!

Or enter to win a copy from Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hotblooded by Erin Nicholas


by Erin Nicholas

Giveaway ends February 06, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


MamaMasseyWVU said...

To be honest I tend to be drawn a little bit more to series books. I like becoming so involved with a family/group of friends that you become entirely emotional invested.

I love feeling the same highs and lows such as who is pregnant, who's getting divorced.

At the same time I do like stand alone novels as well as long as they are written well. Your two examples Hotbloded and No Matter What tie most of the lose ends. You introduced the secondary characters but didn't give enough detail for the reader to become attached. They play their part in the story they tend to be flat/static.

Now had The Bradford Series just been a 3 book series of just the siblings I'm pretty sure I would have lost my mind not knowing what happened to Dooley and Kevin.

MamaMasseyWVU said...

I adore series books. I become completely emotionally invested. You feel the pain and joys of the family/group of friends. You want to know whats going on with their lives... who is pregnant, who is getting divorced. Honestly at times I have to remember that they are fictional characters because their stories can be so powerful.

* I have to admit that I recently became so angry at how two secondary characters ended a blossoming relationship that I cried for at least an hour and actually wrote a very long review about how if she didn't write a book for them I would be angry forever... (Sienna Daniels McKay from Lorelei James' book Gone Country for those wondering)

However if a Stand Alone book is written well I will enjoy it too! No Matter What and Hotblooded are two great examples. The secondary characters are flat and static. They serve their purpose to the story but not enough information was given to really create a bond with them, and in a stand alone that is important.

If you had chosen to only write The Bradford Series as a 3 book trilogy for only the siblings I would have been VERY ANGRY! The time and detail that was invested into Dooley and Kevin would have been a huge tease. They had lives outside of the friendship that you hinted at, and in turn we wanted to know more.

I will still probably choose a series first but if it is an author that I enjoy reading I will always read whatever they release, be it series, stand alone or novella!