Types of Books in a Series

We’ve gone over Closed, Open and Disjointed Series. For the most part, these describe a majority of the series out there. Note I didn’t say all. There are also some series that combine elements of the above. For our purposes, however, we’ll stick with the over-all definitions.

Within the main types of series listed above are the types of books that make up the series. Figuring out what type of book to use to create the series is just as important as figuring out the series type.

Stand-Alone

As it sounds. Within the series, each book stands alone with a defined beginning, middle, and end. The individual books will usually advance the characters or long plot arc forward in some small way even if the plot of the book might be tenuously tied to the longer and larger story arc.

While the end of the book will hint to the conflict to come in the next book, show a new development, or raise a new question, it does not end in a cliff-hanger.

Pros:

With a Stand-Alone book, the series is more accessible to readers, who can start at any point.

Accessibility will typically create a strong following quicker as the readers do not have to go back and find previous books in order for the current one to make sense.

Reader has the satisfaction of a good climax at the end of each book.

Pushes the author to create stories with defined beginnings, middles, and ends. (Why this push is a good thing could be a blog post all on its own)

Cons:

A reader can more easily jump ship at any book unless given a good reason to stick around.

Author runs the risk of having big story-arcs going on for too long, or ending too soon without a suitable equally important story arc taking its place to entice the reader to keep buying and reading.

Serial Cliff-Hanger

Each book ends with a cliff-hanger. The reader must wait until the next book to find the answers to the problem/questions left dangling at the end of the previous book. While there is usually some sort of climax to an event at the end of the book, it does not have to have a major climax. The object is to keep the readers coming back for more.

Pros:

Reader is enticed to wait for and buy the next book just to get an answer to the cliffhanger of the previous book.

The ends of books can be very dramatic with tension rising throughout the story.

Gives the next book a ready-made opening.

Cons:

For the beginning of the book to make sense the reader might have to read the previous book. This makes the entire series harder to start for the reader.

There are a lot of readers who don’t care for cliffhangers endings, as there is a greater chance of feeling ‘cheated’ that there is no end to the book. If readers feel alienated, they won’t come back.

It can feel like a sales gimmick.

If the writer is not careful to give some sort of ‘story satisfaction’, the reader can leave the entire series in disgust as nothing ever seems to be concluded.

#

There are more pros and cons to each of the above, and some depend on the particular author and/or reader. A lot of the cons can be mitigated with good planning towards an eye of keeping the series and individual books vibrant, interesting, and addicting. If the author knows to be looking for the downfalls.

In the next post I will make the decision of which types would be best for Salmon Run.

_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Liked it? Take a second to support J.A. Marlow on Patreon!

2 thoughts on “Types of Books in a Series

  1. Here is a link on series that you might like.
    http://kayedacus.com/2008/06/16/writing-the-series-novel-introduction/
    I do like the pros and cons for each type. 🙂

    • Thanks for the links. I love reading other people’s approaches, as well. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the pros and cons. I put a lot of thinking into it, and even so I’m sure I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface on them. But, good enough for now. Need to keep working on the project!

Leave a Comment