Confessions and Questions

Hi Gang, Craig here again. I decided to park the Expansion Packs for a while. Writing posts here is kind of like dowsing, in that I really don’t know what our readers might want. There is a certain amount of guess work involved. I have a theory the Expansion Packs will return, but today I have a different approach.


I love a good stand-alone novel. I also like short stories, even micro-fiction. I enjoy the completion in them.

I’m also inclined to bounce around in my reading habits. I read a lot of different fields, even some that aren’t speculative.

Because of this, my writing habits mirror my reading preferences. I assumed many readers feel the same way I do. After one of my paranormal tales, maybe they’re off to read the next spy thriller.

I’m also one of those guys who likes to play with all the tools. I’ve written novels, novellas (or is it novellae?), collections of short stories, a collection of shorts that tells an overarching story, but… I’ve never written a series.

I have all kinds of excuses, for what they’re worth. If I’m not making my house payment off the first book, why would a try a follow up story? I often struggle with word count – are my ideas big enough? It’s one thing to write a 100K word story, but what about a 400K word story. What about my desire to run off to another genre and play there?

I’ve been asked for subsequent tales for all of my stories. There must be some kind of interest there. A few of my colleagues finally talked me into it. It wasn’t so much the twisted arm as the idea that I have a tool that is untested. I like to play with all the tools.

Never one to do things half-hearted, there are two kinds of series and I’m writing one of each. One will be a trilogy with an overarching plot. The other one will be recurring stories using the same characters, but no prerequisite of reading what came before.

Note: I’m not dropping titles, because this isn’t about promo. I genuinely hope to learn something.


Are there people out there who read like I do? Do you like a stand-alone story that allows you to jump genres to something else?

Do you prefer series? Would you rather stay in the same universe and bask in it without running off to the next thing?

How do you shop? Do you wait for a series to conclude before buying the first one? Do you start reading, then tap your foot waiting for the next book to publish? A little bit of both?

Do you have a bias one way or the other? Meaning, you don’t really care as long as you’re entertained.

If you enjoy series, what kind do you prefer? Those with an overarching plot, or those that revisit the same characters for new tales. (Like Bond, Conan, Holmes, etc.)

I suppose I ought to ask a hate question, if some of you are so inclined. Is there something you dislike about stand-alones, or series? What turns you off about either concept?

I’d like to hear from you today. Readers, writers, industry professionals, there could be something to learn here. The publishing world is a moving target and maybe there’s something for all of us to learn.

Dousing for an answer

It’s a totally unscientific study, and remember, I’m basing the rest of my life on your answers. (Not really.)

38 thoughts on “Confessions and Questions

  1. Pingback: Series or Standalones #amwriting #Romance #mgtab @jacqbiggar - The Authors' Billboard

  2. Pingback: Series or Standalones- Does it Matter? #amwriting #Romance – Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

  3. Like you, Craig, I read all different genres. I will confess that the only series I’ve ever read have been my sister’s and that’s because she sends me chapters as she is writing. So, I’d say overall, I’m not big on series. I love stand-alones, short stories, novellas, and anything else that grabs my attention. I love character-driven stories, and that was what I saw in the Lanternfish! The plot didn’t drive the characters, they drove the plot and that is what appeals to me. Great subject!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Friday Finds – Staci Troilo

  5. I read anything and everything. I do have a soft spot for series’ as you can get deeper involved in complex plots and characters than in a single book. However, a series can also have a really draining, negative effect if it drags on too long. Anything over six books is just faaaar too much IMHO. I like a good resolving trilogy best. Not so keen on series’ that use the same world or characters that aren’t all part of a big overarching plot, but that’s just a matter of personal taste (and I guess what I’ve grown up reading and watching).
    Don’t know if any of this helps you, but I have every confidence you’ll nail it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I mostly read genre fiction, long, short, standalone, series, etc. Once in a while, when I’m feeling more cerebral than usual, I’ll try something literary. Even nonfiction once in a while. I tend to read more series, though. And I like all three varieties–ones like Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels with an over arcing story question, ones with recurring characters, and ones with a recurring setting but different characters who take the lead in each book. I hardly ever read the same author back to back. I burn out that way, but I read my favorites maybe every third book I pick up. My romances had a recurring setting, but my mysteries have recurring characters. And with many of the other commenters. I hate cliffhanger endings. They feel too gimmicky.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I guess I’m a series reader. If I read a standalone I really enjoy, I’m left wishing the author would write more in that world. I like one overarching character (like J.D. Robb’s In Death series with Eve Dallas) just as much as I enjoy a worldbuilding series with different character leads (like J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series). Hmm, what is it with first name initials? Maybe I need to make a change or two for my own books 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I read both series and stand alone. I like both. If the characters and the world are compelling, I want more. I don’t binge read, and I don’t mind waiting for the next book in the series (but I don’t want to wait years). I don’t prefer the cliff hanger type, because I like closure, especially if the book didn’t actually want me to read more, but I want to know the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I read across genres. I guess I write that way too, if you count my upcoming short story collection. When I read, I have favorite genres but I do venture from them. When it comes to a standalone vs. a series, I love both. The standalone probably gets a slight edge. My favorite types of series are those with a reoccurring character rather than an overreaching story arc. Preston & Child’s Pendergast series is an excellent example.They’ll be releasing book 20 next March and I’m still thoroughly invested.

    I also like a series where each book can be read as a standalone. I do not like books that end on a cliffhanger and want me to purchase the next book to see what happens. I have no problem if I’m familiar with the author and know they’ll deliver (P&C do it now and then, though rarely). If it’s a new-to-me-author and I know the book ends on a cliffhanger, I pass.

    Series seem to be getting more press these days. I’ve written two of them myself, but I also still love a good standalone. I think if the tale is told well and has a satisfying finish, you can’t go wrong either way.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. While reading, I’ll bounce around. I like a lot of genres and I get bored easily, so hopping genre to genre is refreshing for me. Occasionally, I like a book so much, I’ll buy the whole series and devour it. (Kind of like binge-watching Netflix shows.) But usually, I’ll read book one then jump genres and a month or more later read book two. I don’t boycott standalones, but I prefer series because if I like the first one, I’m not ready to leave the world, and if I dislike the first one, I’m not reading that author again, anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

    While writing, I usually think big, so I need the scope of a series to tell the whole story. (Plus, I usually love my characters and don’t want to let them go.) I’ve written two standalones so far. One received requests for sequels, and I did start a spinoff for it, though not an actual sequel. The other book I don’t even really discuss.

    My two complete series have an over-arching storyline that spans all the novels while each book wraps up its own mystery. For my current series, I’m trying a friend’s suggestion and using cliffhangers. I wouldn’t have done that if the books weren’t being released close together. I hate to wait, so I don’t want my readers to have to wait, either. But then the publishing calendar changed, and the wait is longer than I expected. Nothing I can do about that now, though. Some people will hate it. (I know I would if I was reading it.) But the rest of the series will follow quickly once book two is released. Hopefully I don’t lose a lot of readers because of it.

    Really thought-provoking, Craig.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Staci you make a good point. I enjoy reading a series where there is overall story arc with a satisfying conclusion to each novel. And I know what you mean about letting characters go. It was hard for me to say goodbye to Driscoll Lake.


  11. You pose some interesting questions. Although I read several genres, I have my preferences. And there are some genres that don’t interest me at all. I like bot stand-alone novels as well as a series with one exception. I dislike unfinished story arcs. I recently read (and reviewed) a thriller that didn’t come to a satisfying conclusion. And while the sequel was already in publication, the author’s work didn’t interest me enough to buy it. A couple of years ago, I purchased and read three books (murder mystery) in order to know the killer’s identity. That to me is a big no-no. I’ve written a series, and while the storylines are connected, each book could stand alone. I also plan to write another series, but again, each one will be able to stand-alone.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Like you, I read and write across many genres. I, too, am trying a series for the first time in my writing. I’ve nearly finished book one, and so far it’s going well. After being let down by two authors recently on not producing the next much-awaited book in the series (George R R Martin and Tomi Adeyemi to name but two), I now prefer to wait until the whole series is out before I buy (unless they are all stand alones with no overarching plot/arc). Also, that means I can devour them all at once before I forget what happened before, lol. To that end, I plan on releasing all three of my books in my series pretty close together next year. A confession: I did write a book one for a YA planned series I never finished. I’ve now pulled that book off the market. And I won’t release until I have all the books written in that series. That’s my safety net for me and my readers. I keep seeing on the web that an author should carve out a niche and stick to that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I have to write what’s there. Thanks for a good post, Craig 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I appreciate that perspective. It sounds like good advice on the releases. At the time of mine, I didn’t intend for them to become series, so holding them back wasn’t an option. It made for some interesting thought sessions to find more story there, but it exists.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Craig, some interesting questions and I’m relieved to hear you won’t base the rest of your life on our answers! I love a good stand-alone novel as well as a good collection of short stories, essays or poetry. When I enjoy the writing I will happily read more by the same author, especially when it’s not part of a series.The author hasn’t been witholding anything deliberately for the next book(s) and that always feels like a better deal to me (Xenia) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I read many genres but I do have my favorites. Humor is something I really appreciate in any story, unless its a drama and out of place. Sometimes, its great to be in a series if you love the characters. I like having a detective in many books, too. I also love standalones when I don’t want to commit time to a storyline. There are other times when all I want is a good short story so i can go to sleep knowing what happens. So on a series to me its the characters who have more stories to tell. I’m glad you are continuing yours.

    Liked by 3 people

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s