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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Stand Alone Novel or Series?

What are you writing? A novel that is part of a series or stand-alone one?

I want to talk about series. There are 2-book series, 3-book, 4-book and more. Jan Karon has written eleven books in the Mitford series. But the average seems to be three or four books. Let's face it, it's kind of hard to leave beloved characters behind after all that time you spent with them. Especially if you have a town filled with characters. 

When I planned out my Chapel Springs series, there were three books, which has become four. I write the first book with two characters having POVs. My main character is Claire. Her best friend, Patsy, had a POV. In the second book, Claire has a POV again, but another character in town has the other POV.

With two books out, I had a street team, fans (I love saying that word) who populate a community group on Facebook. When I began to work on the third book, I was in a quandary about whose POV I would write this one in. My fans were emphatic. Claire had to have a POV. She was the heart of Chapel Springs.

That was my determining factor … my readers. So the third book and now the fourth all have Claire with one of the POVs and another character from the town with one. And readers like series.

But not all series are like mine. More often than not, there is a unifier that goes through each book. Sometimes it's a town, sometimes a theme of lost love or families reunited, or perhaps a job.

Ronie Kendig has written several series: The Discarded Heroes - 4-book series addressing PTSD. A Breed Apart is about military working dogs. The Quiet Professionals is a 3-book series with active duty military. The Tox Files (new, not released yet--coming out in October/December) is a 3-book series that's sort of Indiana Jones meets Jason Bourne meets her Rapid-Fire Fiction (Ronie's brand). 

October 2016
Susan May Warren had several books in her Christiansen Family series. Each family member was the POV character in one of the books. She has a series about Montana smoke jumpers, mountain fire fighters. A number of years ago, she did a series with a noble legacy as the unifier.

Deborah Raney has five books in her Chicory Inn series, starting with the parents changing their home into a bed and breakfast. After the first, each of their grown children had their story told.

Melanie Dickerson writes fairy talks, or rather rewrites them. She bases her novels on a fairy tale character in her fairy tale romance series. Some Biblical historical authors have based their series on the women in the Bible.

So, if you're thinking about writing a series, you first have to decide how the books will tie together. You can have an ensemble cast in a town, like my Chapel Springs series. In this type, the town actually becomes a character.

You can choose a career, like fire fighters, or the police. Richard Mabry writes medical thrillers. They are all stand-alone novels … and yet, they could be considered a series, since all have the medical profession theme.

As long as you have something that ties the books together, you can write a series. If you've written a series, I'd love to hear about yours. What was the unifier? Join the conversation.

Home to Chapel Springs

A homeless author, a theatre ghost, and a heartbroken daughter ~ there’s trouble in Chapel Springs

There’s always someone new in Chapel Springs, either coming home or stirring up trouble. Bestselling author Carin Jardine’s latest book is a flop. Homeless and broke, she and her little boy have no choice but to retreat to the house she inherited from her nana in Chapel Springs—the house that’s been gutted. Then, a stranger knocks on her door. One that will change the course of her life. With one of her daughters in love with the wrong boy, a theatre rumored to be haunted, and Howie Newlander and Mayor Riley go head-to-head in a hot election, Claire gets caught in the middle.


  1. When I wrote a proposal for an agent who I am considering, he recommended including a short synopsis on future books in the series, whether that was your intention or not. I suspect some publishers like to know the option exists. For my indy writing, a series is almost a requirement. Those readers are tough to get and you want to keep feeding them the characters they love. When I ended my 4-book Cherry Hill YA series, a spun off one character and continued her story with a serial novel, both on Wattpad and Amazon. It sells very litte, but gets decent readership on Wattpad, and I can continue to cultivate my reader base that way. I do little editing on that one. It's more like writing a blog series. But it seems to keep my readers happy (except for my Aunt Betty, who gave me a hard time at a wedding last weekend for taking too long to release the next Darla the Alpha Cat book).

  2. I did have the first 3 books in the proposal. The fourth made itself known after I'd written the 2nd one. :) And that is very interesting about readers and series, but I think it's true. If you write characters they love, they want more. :)

  3. i wrote my first novel with nary a thought of a sequel. i wasn't opposed, it just never occurred to me. when a couple of readers—dare i say fans!!—asked if there was a sequel, lo and behold, two places in my story pointed straight to #2! and the story needed the third book to bring it to completion. now i'm working out a storyline (still a pantzer not a plotter! LOL) for a new series.
    ps, i love reading books in series by other authors and yours, Ane, is on my wanna-read list

  4. Well, thank you, Robin! I love it when a story points to another book. That's when you know you've done your job right with the first one. Congratulations!!

  5. I love a book series! It's great to keep reading about keeps the joy going for a reader. I have your Home to Chapel Springs, but it's on my TBR shelf for now. I am waiting until I can get the first two paperbacks in the series before I read it. I don't like jumping into the middle of a series....I need to know who all of the characters are from the beginning. I enjoy books in a series, stand-alone books and novellas! If it's a book, I love it....I do prefer the actual book over ebooks, though. The feel, the smell and of course, the autograph....can't beat it! LOL

  6. I'm so glad you love series, Debbie. I'm the same. IU guess that's why I write them.

  7. I'm working on a new fantasy series now. The tie is the theme - the main character is longing for a father's love,though she doesn't know it. It will be her story in three books, with three different settings as she moves through life, starting as a young girl abandoned by her father.

    1. That sounds so good! It reminds me slightly if Francine Rivers 2-book series A Mothers Hope and A Daughter's Dream (I may have those titles skewed) but it was about a woman's desire for her moms approval and how each grneration messed up. Great series. I can't wait to see yours, Marcia!

  8. Thank you for comments about series. It helps new writers create an ending that leads to a sequel

  9. You're so welcome, Pat. Just remember, all the series books should be able to stand alone. Even where the story continues in a time sequence. So give each book a satisfying ending yet let the reader realize the saga will go on. :)


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