Friday, May 11, 2012

Series or Stand Alone? Give Me Your Opinion and You Might Win Both My Books!

I've tweaked this post a bit from a previous post on my personal blog due to time constraints.  But I really want to pick your brain. Do you enjoy reading a series or do you grow easily bored? Do you like contemporary novels or historical? What's your favorite genre? If you are a writer what do you prefer to write and what do you prefer to read? In this crazy world we live in where are you going to spend your money when you have time to relax? Will it be a book or some other type of activity you enjoy? Can you tell I've been thinking, a lot? I want to know what you think, too.

I went snooping on other blogs to try and answer some questions for myself as a writer who will very soon be completing the third book in my Ravensmoore Chronicles which will probably release in May of 2013. Chameleon is available now! Do I want to write another series? Should I try to expand this one? Should I try writing stand alone novels for awhile? These are things I will have to decide at sometime with help from my agent. So while you're thinking about these questions here are some ideas I discovered from others out there in cyberspace.

The Bookshelf Muse asked this same question related to YA. She has some interesting comments.
Here's a look at this question from Book Worms at Goodreads.

And James Scott Bell discusses Going Deeper With a Series Character Maybe it's the deeper angle that is so enjoyable with a series. As writers we get the chance to explore and as readers we get the opportunity to find out more about what makes certain characters tick.

Some interesting views here at Time for a Return of the Stand Alone Novel?
Good thoughts at eBookworm too, Is the Stand Alone Novel a Lost Art?

I've been scanning my bookshelf and I just got hooked on another series. This one by C.S. Harris who has lured me into her Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries. I love to read and write novels set during the Regency era and Harris has an awesome character in Sebastian. I would have been deeply disappointed if she hadn't written more books after What Angels Fear. These novels are not written for the CBA and are not for the faint of heart are fascinating. Harris has used her degrees in history and her non-fiction work regarding the French Revolution to bring her characters to life in a way that makes me want to visit them again and again. Harris has more experience than me and more books, but she's come closest to doing with Sebastian what I've done with Ravensmoore. The fact that she's written past book three makes me wonder if  I should do this with my characters? I'm writing historical romance with strong mystery/suspense elements.

Then of course all those critical issues like sales, reader interest, etc., come into play.

So whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, what do you think? Are you a series reader or do you prefer stand alone? And if you could only pick one, what would it be? Thanks for helping me explore this idea. I really want to hear from you. Leave your e-mail address if you want a chance to win autographed copies of  both my books. Secrets of the Heart and Chameleon,  Book Two in my Ravensmoore Series.


sue harrison said...

If I love the characters, then I'm all for a series. Otherwise, I'd prefer to read "stand alone" books, although in my writing career, I've written 2 trilogies. Go figure!

Anyway, I fell in love with Secret of the Heart and today I'll go to one of my favorite online bookstores and buy Chameleon! Can't wait.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Jill, VERY interesting question, but I'm thinking you already know where I stand!!

I LOVE reading series because when I invest time in a book and its characters, I want to stay with them for a while, you know? So many of the series I read just have a cameo roll for the hero/heroine who appeared in the prior book, and I find myself wanting to know MORE about them, which just means the author did a great job in bonding me to his or her hero and heroine. I want to go DEEP into everybody's lives in each book, not just the hero and heroine. Call me a busybody if you will, but I want to see the newly married, the long married and the forever married couple in action in their lives. Which is why I incorporate sub plots in my series for each couple who has appeared prior. For me, it's just more fun to write and -- I hope -- fun to read too!

Don't enter me because I have both your books and I LOVED them!!


Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JILL, I like or prefer series but they must be able to stand alone. That being said, I got in trouble with a review that I did because I don't always read my books in order and it doesn't bother me if I missed out on earlier stuff that happened in the first books. But it does bother others, lol!

cmr_laura said...

I love either one. Also when a stand-alone becomes a series...although I hate it when i borrow a book from the library only to find out it's only part of a series (like the library only has book 3).

Tammy G. said...

I enjoy stand alone reads but if there is a series by a favorite author and I like the characters I read the whole series.

Tammy G. said...'s my email address
Would love to win Chameleon!

Debbie Clark said...

I love both! However, I really enjoy series books. It lets me get to know the characters better. There are sometimes that I think a side character needs a story. My mom has been buying through the Guideposts the Patchwork Mysteries and through Annie's Attic the Annie's Attic Mystries. She sends them down to me once she reads them every month. I have really enjoyed each book in both series. They have different authors each month and it is fun to see how they weave in new characters into the story each time and yet stay consistant with the people that are the main players of the series.
I love both contemporary and historical, but I think that I like historical better. Things were very difficult back in the 1800's, but they did not have the distractions that we have now. I think that there were a few less evil people back then compared to now.
Debbie Clark

Anonymous said...

I like books in a series, because writing more than one book about the characters gives the author more time to develop the characters, possible at different ages or stages in their lives. I also read and enjoy stand-alone books.
I usually prefer historical fiction like Bodie Thoene's Jerusalem series, but I also read and loved Karen Kingsbury's continuing multiple series starting with Redemption
Alas, I have neither of your books, and would love to win a set.
Kaye Whitney

Jillian Kent said...

I'm loving here from each of you. Thanks so much for taking the time.

Sue- thanks so much for investing in Chameleon. You won't be disappointed.
Two trilogies but you read stand alone, now I want to sit down to coffee and pick your brain some more!

Julie- I love the way you write. I love the way you go deep into character in each book. Thanks for your support and I'm so glad you love these books!

Carrie- you're a riot. Got in trouble. Must find out more about that later.:) Okay, now I want you to read mine out of order and tell me what you think. You know how it is when we write it's hard to stand back and be objective.

Dawn said...

I love both, but it really depends on the book.

I love series in that I don't have to say goodbye to the characters I've come to love. Like Dee Henderson's O'Malleys or Lori Wick's Californians. And I've loved Robin Jones Gunn's Christy, Sierra, Katie, and Glenbrooke series because I get to see into my favorite friends. A series also allows the author to flesh out more in depth characters.

Stand alones, I also enjoy. Mainly because there are times when I just want one book. Not an entire series. I love Karen Kingsbury's stand alones. I love Lori Wick's the Princess.

I'd love to be entered into the drawing. my email is dawn(dot)janis(at)gmail(dot)com

Jillian Kent said...

Laura, I hear you about the library. It never fails that I can't get the book in the series that I want unless it's a series that's been out for awhile.

Tammy, thanks for your thoughts. And I agree that characters are what make for good books.

Hi Debbie,
I'm not familiar with the Guideposts Patchwork Mysteries and Annie's Attic Mysteries. I'll have to check them out. And like you I love getting to know characters in books better and better. That's what makes for good series. I wonder what the ideal number is before readers start thinking enough's enough? Hmm.

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

thanks to Julie Lessman for leading me over here w/ your pertinent qustn.

i do like a series - the continuity of fave characters met now in new situations and challenges.. all the development of character that can mature and connect us more deeply..
thinking of lisa tawn bergren's Waterfall series - excellent and captivating .

standalones are perfect infill reads b/c we have that downtime between publication of the nexts in series. i love the lightness of a standalone - enjoying the final conclusion and closure of a well told story - satisfying!

def enter me pls - you are a new author for me and i'd love to learn more of your writing.. TY for the generosity !
faithhopecherrytea at *gmail.* com

Debbie Clark said...

Jillian, even though I loved Jane Pearts brides series, I was getting a little tired of it near the end. Also loved Gilbert Morris' series on the Winslows, but that got a little wearysome near the end. So yes, 50 books can be a little overdone. Seems like 4 to 6 are enough most times.
Debbie Clark

Anonymous said...

Thank you Julie Lessman for sending me over!
I love love love series, but in most cases I wait until the series is complete before getting them....except in the case of Julie's...I just re-read and continue on with the new.
I certainly don't pass up stand alones though, since reading is my passion.
Looking forward to reading your books, so please enter me in your contest. They look very interesting!
Beverly Gluck

Sharon said...

I love both. But series that look at the same situation from different perspectives are my favorites (like Lynn Austin's Refiner Fire series). However, if a first book in the series doesn't grab my attention, I am not inclined to read the rest of the series.
At our book club last night we discussed book one of a series. A couple of people expressed their disappoint with the loose ends not being tied up neatly. And there was not a cliff hanger either. When choosing books for the book club I like to pick out some series, some stand alone. If a series, I like the book to have a satisfying ending just in case the reader did not like the story enough to continue reading.
Cliff hangers - love 'em! Kind of hard to wait for the next in the series...teaches patience, right?
A reader and book club coordinator

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Kaye,
You can't go wrong with Bodie Thoene's Jerusalem series, ornKaren Kingsbury. I love the word, alas. My family thinks I'm goofy. Alas, perhaps I am. :)Keep watch on Sunday. I'll post the winner sometime Sunday for Mother's Day.

Excellent points. I loved Dee Henderson's O'Malley series It's been awhile I think I'd to read them again as time allows. I see she has another book coming out in October.

Hey there faithhopecherrytea. So glad Julie sent you over. So glad you enjoy a good series. I love what you said though about stand alones,standalones are perfect infill reads b/c we have that downtime between publication of the nexts in series. i love the lightness of a standalone - enjoying the final conclusion and closure of a well told story - satisfying!" Great thoughts!

Melanie said...

Would love to win! While I like stand-alone books, I love series! My favorite genre is suspense/thriller, but I'm eclectic and read many genres! :)

Thanks for the chance to win your books!!

frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com
Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Carol Moncado said...

I prefer series. Julie is a great example of a series I love [I keep telling her the O'Connor's should show up in her new series too ;)].

I write manuscripts with a series in mind usually. So far, I've written manuscripts with two sequels planned but they're all set in the same 'universe' or fictional town near my hometown so characters from the others may pop in and out though they all stand [more or less] alone too. My BFF [who is one of my biggest supporters but also a great reader who points out problems etc and won't just tell me what I want to hear] just read a first draft of a new thing and that was something she told me too. She loves the other characters popping in for cameos.

Anyway - my .02 :D.

or possibly even a nickel's worth ;).

I'd love to win!
carolmoncado at gmail dot com

Pam K. said...

I enjoy reading a series, but prefer there only be 3 books. I also really prefer to read them all at once, especially if it is not a "stand alone" series. If there are more than 3 books in the series, I tend to get rather antsy and ready to move on to something else, unless the books are so superb that I am loathe to finish. I do enjoy books that are not in a series though. Sometimes it's nice to just read one book and then move on to something else. I'm really pretty easy to please, just give me a good book and I'm happy, whether or not it is in a series! What I really DON'T like is finding out a book is part of a series after I've read it (and it's book 2)because it was not clearly marked on the cover that it was part of a series.


Nora said...

I prefer Stand-alones! I look at how many books Karen Kingsbury has in a series and get overwhelmed! But I'm the odd duck women eat them up.

I prefer everything to happen in one book and then joyously I'll go on the the next adventure! I don't mind a two book deal.

When we read a book for book club We read book one and I let the members in my group read the rest of the series on their own. I've introduced them to someone fun and then I get to do it again next month.

So the short of it is Stand-alone!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Debbie,
Were those series that long? 50 books? I had no idea. I don't think I could last that long.:) If I kept going with this series, I'd have to do at least three more, maybe 40. Just kidding!

Hi Beverly,
Thanks for joining us. Julie Lessman is my hero. I hope some day you are re-reading my series. Hope you are passing your passion for reading on to many others.

Hi Sharon!
I don't go past the first book either if I don't like it. That's why it's so important for those of us to write to hook readers right away. Not an easy thing to do. I'm so glad you coordinate a book club. I hope you all are writing reviews, that's so important.

Debbie Clark said...

Ok. I was wrong. The House of Winslow series by Gilbert Morris has only 40 books. Book 1, The Honerable Imposter was written in 1987 and the last book The White Knight was written in 2007. It follows the family from 1620 to WWI or WWII. I don't remember. I think that I read to book 30 and then never read the rest. Jane Peart had 15 books in the Brides of Montclair series.

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Melanie,
I'm a mystery/suspense fan myself. But if it's historical I'll read it.:) I guess I'm kind of surprised so many readers here like series. I thought in this day, with time so limited, that most would vote for stand alone novels first.

Hey Carol,
I love your nickels worth. It's great! I love the idea of characters from other series popping in and out of a new series. It's a fun way for both writer and reader to enjoy continuing characters. Keep writing those manuscripts. They may all come to see publication. Love it!

Hey there, Pam,
Good points. The three book series is typical, I think. After reading everyone's posts I'm beginning to wonder if there is really a typical. And that would be a bummer to read a book and not know that it's part of a series and it's not book one. Ouch! I did read a book once by a secular author that I liked and when the 2nd book in the series came out it was actually the same book from a different characters perspective. I did not like that. I was expecting a second book and was very disappointed. Thanks for your in-put, Pam.

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Nora,
I love the way you run the book club, but I had a vision for a minute of all of you trying to read a series together. Now that would be challenging. So you like going from one adventure to the next. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I thought you'd be in the majority. But then each series book is an adventure too. Oh, the joy of reading. Thanks for sharing, Nora.

Debbie Clark, you're so funny. 40 books instead of 50. :) I can't imagine.

Liz R said...

I prefer series. I'm a nut for details and back story and you usually get a lot more of that in a series. I also always end up falling in love with a secondary character (and yes that usually means the bad boy that's not right for the heroine =P ) and enjoy reading books from their perspective later in a series.


Jillian Kent said...

Good Morning Liz,
Another series fan, yeah! I'm a sucker for secondary characters. I have to be careful at times that they don't take over the story because I also like to get into their heads and sometimes there simply isn't enough time to do that based on word counts we're supposed to stick to as authors. And as you said, that's why a series is fun. You get more information about characters and why they do what they do.

DenaNetherton said...

I got hooked on trilogies and other books in a series when I fell in love with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings back in the seventh grade. I'm way out of school, but when I find a wonderful story with fascinating characters I want more and more. That said, I've gotten bogged down in some series and been seriously disappointed. Bottom line: if the characters' world is so entrancing I grieve that I can't be magically transported into it, then the author can be confident that I'll be a repeat customer.

DenaNetherton said...

Oh, I just left a comment and forgot to give my email. It's

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Dena,
Thanks for joining the conversation. I agree with the fascinating character's statement. It's so fun when I read and get sucked into a world, far, far away, like regency England. :)

Jillian Kent said...

Hey everyone,
I will be posting the lucky winner at midnight within a new post here at Just The Write Charisma. I appreciate each of you taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed the feedback and it will be very useful to me. I love the idea of possibly continuing this series or starting a new series in the Regency era where my current characters make appearances. If you were not the winner please drop by my personal blog at

Bless you! Happy Mother's Day!