Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is your serial satisfying? A reader's rant.

I'm often asked to read books that are part of a serial, and even more often it is the first book in the serial.

I think serials are great - I really do. I love them. Some of my favorite books are serials. I adore John Marsden's Tomorrow series. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series - at least the first 15 of them. After that I got a bit bored, but anyway. James Patterson's Alex Cross series and Women's Murder Club. J.D. Robb's In Death series. Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. Series are great! You connect with the characters and you hunger for more. Right?

But here's what bugs me. 


So many author's today want to jump on the series bandwagon - and that is ok - IF they do it right. But I'm finding that so many of them are not doing it right. In my humble opinion as a reader.
 
They are so set in their mind that you have to buy their next book that they don't make each book so it can stand on it's own. If you are going to write a series each book SHOULD be able to be picked up and read as a stand alone book. You should give a tiny little bit of back story to catch the reader up slightly, and you should give a conclusion at the end of each novel. 

I recently read a novel that I wasn't particularly enjoying but kept reading because the author kept teasing you building up to what you thought would be a big reveal at the end of the book, only to feel cheated at the end because the big reveal never happened. You had to hope it would occur in the next book. I feel so cheated by that author that I won't be reading the next book.  And you won't find a review of this book on my blog.

If you are going to write a serial, obviously there has to be something more to come. Right? So maybe you have don't want to give away everything in the first novel, or even the second or third. I get that. But you still have to have some kind of satisfying conclusion to each book. 

I just read a FANTASTIC YA novel that is book one in a series - and you WILL see a review of that one in a few days on here. You'll know it because it is getting a 5 star rating. That author has the series formula down pat and I can't wait to read more. 

But for the rest of you authors out there who are writing a series - when you write your novel(s) I sincerely hope you will keep this humble reader's opinion in mind. Don't leave us readers dangling over the edge of the precipice. Give us a landing. Some kind of landing. ANY kind of landing. Please.

Readers - what are some of your favorite book series and what is it you love about them?

13 comments:

  1. This is a great post. I recently read a book that I was really enjoying, then as the conflict really started to build...then it ended. Stay tuned for book 2. I was pissed. It's like a cliffhanger for a TV show, there has to be a payoff for the reader as a reward for sticking through the story.

    In my serial, I'm working on book 2, but in book one, I completed the main story arc...there is a bigger story arc at play and that will continue, but anyone can read book one or two and get the gist of the story and characters without feeling cheated. At least thats what I've been told lol

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    1. Thanks Tim! I haven't read your novel but it sounds like you understand the formula! Best of luck to you.

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  2. I totally understand what you mean, I have read a few series that after the first book I was like What in the world happened. Right now I'm reading The Maze Runner and I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't happen with this one!

    Great post!!

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    1. Thanks Ali! Come back and let me know what you think of The Maze Runner when you finish it.

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  3. Those are really good points about what makes a good series.

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    1. Thanks Coral. I hope some of these authors take them to heart.

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  4. Found your blog by chance. This is very interesting from a writers perspective as I finished all threads of my book one then in the epilogue set-up teasers for book two. I thought I was being innovative, mimicking the recent movie trend of making two movies part of a bigger whole. The editor strongly advised I change it, which I did and in hindsight it was the right thing to do. I still like the idea though but think it only works if you release both books together, so the early readers don't have to wait a year to find the answers.

    Great post. Will be back frequently to get a readers insight.

    My book is Chasing Innocence btw. Not a plug, just in-case your interested.

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    1. John - thanks for your comment. I checked out your novel on Goodreads and it looks intense. If you are interested in having another review check out my Review Policy page.

      How did you stumble upon me? Great to hear from you. Hope you'll keep coming back.

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  5. Great summary Shepherd! As a fan of series myself, I love getting deeper and deeper into the characters with each passing book, but I also like the satisfaction of receiving a full story with each read.

    I love reading series because it feels like revisiting old friends, and it's ok to have an underlying thread that develops over the books, but finishing on a cliff hanger doesn't really work as well in books as in TV.

    I think J. K. Rowling is a master at this. There's the full underlying structure behind the 7 books - Harry vs Voldermort - but each story is full and well developed on its own.

    Great post! :)

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    1. N.P. - Love your comment. I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan myself, but my daughter and my husband are and I know J.K. Rowling has the formula right as well.

      I agree with you - it does feel like revisiting old friends.

      Thanks for stopping by and telling us what you think. Hope you'll stop by again soon.

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  6. What a great post. I recently had the honor of reading and reviewing the ARC of Wanted:Dead or Undead by Angela Scott. While it was a cliff-hanger ending, it was the best one I have ever read. In a few words she hooked you but also satisfied you. I loathe the What the????? endings. Bravo for telling it like it is:)
    laura thomas

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    1. Thank you Laura! I'm glad to find I am not the only one who is having a problem with this new trend.

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  7. I just wrote a rant on this very same topic! These types of non-endings are happening more and more and it makes me feel manipulated which makes me less likely to buy the next book.

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