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In Regards to Series Poll

[poll id="122"]

First, let me apologize for not putting up another poll for so long. I kept meaning to put up another one but kept putting it off because I couldn’t think of a good poll topic (if you have one, let me know – jane at dearauthor.com). Second, what do you think of series books? It seems that books today are never standalone and are always in some kind of series. As Sandy Coleman of the new AAR blog noted, we are going to be gifted or inundated, whichever way you look at it, with a new Mary Balogh series starting at the end of February.

We have open ended series like Kresley Cole’s Desires After Dark and nearly every cross over or paranormal fantasy. We have trilogies such as the Nora Roberts Pagan Stone series, the last of which was just recently released. Elizabeth Hoyt, one of Jayne’s favorite historical authors, is in the midst of The Legend of the Four Horsemen books. There are the seeming never ending books about the Cynsters by Stephanie Laurens. Some series I’ve given up on and some I don’t feel compelled to start but lord, wouldn’t it be lovely to have some stand alone books again? Or not?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

42 Comments

  1. Amy
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:13:12

    I said other — because while I do like series, I have to be sure there’s an end date before I get into one. I’m notoriously big on closure…I like every little plot thread tied up as much as possible and would hate the feeling that even thought a series seems finished, there’s more coming that could change everything. Fantasy trilogies are a pretty safe bet — and since I tend to buy them when they’re reissued in paperback, they’re usually finished and ready to be read!

    Any other series that contains more than four books and is still ongoing, I won’t touch. The one exception is George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire series…which I only started because I mistakenly thought it was a trilogy since I got the first book before the fourth one came out. And now I’m seriously worried he might never finish the thing! My fears may be justified with that one…

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  2. Randi
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:15:40

    I had to pick Other. I like to start a series at the beginning (oh dear lord, how I hate reading a series out of order-and I will wait MONTHS to get the first one) but will happily drop the series if it sux. For example, I haven’t read LKH since Danse Macabre. I stopped reading The Dresden Files after book 5. Some series I couldn’t get past book 1 or 2 (Lynn Viehl, BRB, um, who writes The Darkwing series?, etc). And I am not a purchaser of books unless I like the series; so I won’t buy the rest of the series if I’m not reading it. But I still like Brockmann, Robb, Jacqueline Carey. There are others, I just can’t think of them right now. As long as I’m still happy with a series, I’ll continue buying. As for stand-alones: hm, I think I like stories that somehow relate to each other. Often, an author will have some great secondary characters, and it’s nice for them to get their own story.

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  3. Anonymousie
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:16:20

    If I am devoted to an author, like to Suzanne Brockmann, I don’t care how long her series goes. I’ll read every book. But even then I like the fact that if I skip a book or two, or get them out of order, I’m not confused. I don’t want a series where I *have* to read them in order. Because of that, I like “ensemble” series; I don’t want the heroine trying to get her HEA over several books. That’s not romance to me. It might be a mystery series or a fantasy series, but it’s not what I want when I pick up a romance.

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  4. Victoria Janssen
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:34:44

    I voted “other.” I keep reading series until I get tired of them, which can sometimes take a while, especially if the books are spaced out. I prefer shorter series, if the author is using the same few characters.

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  5. Shannon Stacey
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:43:04

    While I’ll read Brockmann and JD Robb forever, overall I’m tired of long series. I can’t read out of order EVER, so it’s exhausting and stressful trying to keep up with some of them.

    They also need to keep the characters moving forward. I think I’ve fallen off the Plum train, though I do miss Ranger.

    I also wish some authors of popular series would do a few standalones or a trilogy so I can jump on the train. Kenyon and Feehan, for example. The idea of going back and finding book one in each series and then the entire backlist is daunting, especially since I don’t even know if I like the authors’ voices. Were they to do a standalone or a separate trilogy, there’s a possibility I’d really enjoy them and invest the time and money into catching up on the primary series. Then I’ll found out a series-related novella was part of some anthology I can’t find with other authors I’ve never heard of.

    Mostly, though, I’m so damn tired of picking up an interesting looking book at Walmart or Borders and finding out it’s part of a series and either the store doesn’t have book one, or there are too many to figure out.

    I voted for the bookstore stomping. More stand-alone single titles, please?

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  6. Elizabeth
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 10:46:01

    I like a good series but if it’s a long series and it’s put out over several years (or decades) then I often don’t read the entire series unless I really really like it and keep up with when a new book is published. Especially if I can’t figure out the timeline. Occasionally if it’s a series that is only a series because the characters are the same (as opposed to something like Harry Potter) then I’ll pick and choose a book as I come across it although that does drive the OCD part of my brain insane because I hate not starting at the beginning.

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  7. MaryK
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:08:04

    @Anonymousie:

    I don't want the heroine trying to get her HEA over several books. That's not romance to me. It might be a mystery series or a fantasy series, but it's not what I want when I pick up a romance.

    Yes, yes, yes! I have pretty strong feelings about this. ;) There’s a thread about it over on one of the AAR forums. It starts as a rant on mislabeling because of an HEA series arc. This was my opinion:

    “Unfortunately, I’m not willing to take that (an HEA at the end of a series) as a given in the romance genre. Series are notoriously unstable – sometimes they get dropped mid-cycle, sometimes they continue forever. That can be okay in other genres because an HEA isn’t one of the hallmarks of other genres. IMO, it’s too risky to delay such an important romance novel identifier. If you have to wait three, five, eight books before you know “okay this was a romance series,” then the individual books themselves aren’t genre romance novels. Not to mention this series followed right after the Cameron Dean series, also labeled paranormal romance, which caused Jane of Dear Author to wallbang her ereading device.

    The result of this spate of mislabeling, for me, is that I won’t read the Gleason novels (or ones like them) until the series is finished and confirmed as romance. When I read romance novels, I read expecting a romantic relationship with a happy resolution and if that doesn’t happen the book gets a low grade for not meeting my expectations. When I read urban fantasy, on the other hand, I don’t expect successful romantic relationships because romantic relationships are not promised by the urban fantasy genre.”

    I guess when there’s an HEA over several books it would be a good to time for them to be “released back to back to back to back.” To bad I didn’t choose that in the poll.

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  8. Nicole
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:28:27

    I voted “other” as it really depends on the series. Still reading the JD Robb ones, but stopped reading Laurens’ series. Also stopped reading Kenyon, but still reading Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh, etc. Just depends. I don’t tend to wait until I have all of the series, but occasionally I do.

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  9. Moth
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:31:51

    I said other -’ because while I do like series, I have to be sure there's an end date before I get into one.

    Ditto. I don’t want to invest time and money in a series over years and years and years and then end up with a gut-punch 6 books in or whatever when the author can’t come up with anymore plots and offs one of the main characters. That’s part of why I felt safe getting into the Sharing Knife series- because the end was safely guaranteed and in sight (and at this point I trust Bujold enough I doubt she’ll kill off Fawn or Dag).

    For sprawling, long series I’ve been pretty lucky to get into them once they’re over or VERY far in and I can read the whole thing in order (and read spoilers on wiki). Dragonriders I didn’t read until all the books Anne McCaffrey wrote had been published (and I promptly stopped reading once she passed the series off to her incompetant son). Same for the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael- all the books were out and Ellis Peters had (unfortunately) passed so I knew more would not be coming.

    I feel better and safer when my series are safely established and fleshed out. I’m still a little mad at myself for getting hooked into Harry Potter before all the books were out because the seventh book totally killed the whole series for me and by that point I had spent the last five years caught up in Potter-mania with the rest of the world. I took the day off of work so I could read the last book as soon as it came. I finished the book that day and promptly gave my entire collection of Potters to my boyfriend because I knew I would never read them again I was that disappointed by the end of the series.

    I just finished working my way through the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold this past summer and now I’m really scared she’s going to kill Aral in the newest book. :( As long as she doesn’t kill Miles again, though, (for good) I’ll stick with that series for awhile yet.

    As far as romance series I prefer the brother trope where each book in the series is essentially a stand-alone with a few over-arching plot points to connect it to the other books (like Loretta Chase’s Carsington saga and Jude Deveraux’s old Velvet series). I like my couples to get their HEA IN the first book and not have to wait for the rest of the series to come out to find out if they end up together. Of course, the problem with brother books is the series usually runs out of steam by brother number 4 or 5, I find.

    I also really like it when the series follows a particular world and each book is a stand-alone. Those series don’t have the problem of running out of steam by book 4 or 5 the way brother books do.

    Great topic, btw! :D

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  10. theo
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 11:55:13

    I too voted ‘Other’ because, like many, I have a different outlook on series books. I NEVER read a series where the ongoing leads still, by book 173, haven’t had their HEA. Well, that’s not true, there are a couple I do read, but then, they’re not romances either so I have no HEA expectations.

    I DO read a series where the minor characters will have their day, but each novel is so well crafted that I don’t need to read the others to know what’s going on, each one is able to stand on it’s own. So in that respect, I’m with Moth.

    I have an author that I’ve read voraciously who has switched genre and gone from romance to UF with romantic elements. Haven’t been able to read any of that because I couldn’t get past the first few chapters of the first book at all and frankly, didn’t want to have to wait through five for the ending. But I will wait for her if she goes back to her original format.

    I also have a couple authors I’ve dropped mid series because they switched genres in the middle and didn’t tell me. Very dissatisfied with that!!

    But let’s face it, if we all read the same thing, we’d only have one book to pass around and that would get dull in a hurry! LOL

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  11. GrowlyCub
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:01:25

    I picked ‘other’ as well. I have many, many series in my library.

    There are some series I followed for a long time, but stopped when they went to HC and with the titles all so similar I lost track of which books I already owned. I don’t think I’d start reading these series nowadays though, knowing what I know now.

    I do not like stories that are dragged out over several books with the same h/h without them getting together early on. Too risky with publishers dropping authors like flies.

    What I really dislike is a series where the author takes away the HEA of a couple who had an earlier book. That’s not romance!

    I like revisiting couples from earlier books, so I like loosely connected series (3-6 books) but I’ve decided that I absolutely do NOT like series that have a (usually mystery) plot that is not resolved until the last book because that usually takes away from the relationship development.

    Overall, keep it sweet and short (3-6 books), don’t put an overarching mystery plot in, don’t have earlier couples overshadow the current couple and don’t ever take away the HEAs of earlier couples, and I’ll read your series. :)

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  12. Kathleen MacIver
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:03:34

    Series don’t really make a difference to me.

    If the series is a bunch of stand-alone books, with plots that start and stop on their own, then it’s not much different than if they weren’t a series. If the author writes well, I’ll keep reading them. If I don’t care for them, then I won’t.

    If the series is the type that has one main plot that isn’t concluded until the end of the whole series, then I treat the whole series as one book. If it holds my attention and I enjoy it, then I’ll finish it ’till the plot is concluded. If it loses me half way through, then it’s no different from putting a book down half-way through.

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  13. Dagny
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:05:10

    Sometimes I read all and sometimes I drop off. It really depends on how the story goes and if it gets repetitive. I do like to start with the first book though and read in order, but I've made exceptions. When I come to a series late, I read reviews and pick and choose which books I think will be best unless they seem to be so closely tied that it won't make sense. In that case a really good review could make me read them all and a really bad review could turn me off the whole thing.

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  14. katiebabs
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:12:04

    I thought I would be a faithful reader of the Anita Blake series, and invested my money and time into that up to book 10. Then book 11 came along and I was out of there. So, if an author can keep my interest and keep things fresh and exciting, they I will stick with the series till they decide to end it, or do something so wacky as LKH did to Anita and hre lame ass ardor.

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  15. Lisa J
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:29:07

    I agree with those who want a HEA with each book. That being said, I believe I read on Nalini Singh’s blog the main characters in her new book Angel’s Blood will also be the main characters in the second book of the series. I’m scared, but I love her writing so I will read the second and see what happens. If there isn’t a HEA and new lead characters I won’t buy a third book.

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  16. Moth
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:50:15

    What I really dislike is a series where the author takes away the HEA of a couple who had an earlier book. That's not romance!

    I concur. I hate that!

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  17. MaryK
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 13:09:17

    @Lisa J: Do you know if the Angel’s Blood series will be Romance? Picky, I know, but I’m very sensitive to the difference in focus between Romance and, say, Urban Fantasy. OTOH, I don’t mind a continuing couple in Romance if they get together in the first book and stay together through the series.

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  18. Katharina
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 13:16:09

    I like the way Liz Carlyle’s or Karen Rose’s books are connected. You might find a name of a previous character, or encounter a happy couple from an earlier book, giving you, the reader, the satisfying impression that all is set in the same “universe”. However, those authors’ books are never glued together in a way that you feel stressed to read the whole backlist in order to understand the current release.

    I absolutely love series featuring one strong heroine or h/h couple. The best thing that happened to me this year was discovering Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily Ashton series, and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia March series. It doesn’t always work, of course, I could never get into the Stephanie Plum series, for example. Whether I follow a series strongly depends on the author’s talent to develop her characters and the story line.

    I don’t read Feehan and Kenyon, mainly because they write in a genre I don’t like. But the backlist and their seemingly strongly intertwined series present a daunting project I definitely won’t tackle.

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  19. DS
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 13:44:16

    I think I may have answered wrong. I don’t mind books with continuing characters which may have a multibook story arc in addition to each book reaching a satisfactory conclusion. This usually happens in mysteries or sff. I really don’t like it when there’s a group of characters who may be brothers, sisters, cousins, clones (OK, a lot of times they feel like clones) each of which gets a book. If I get a whiff of that, the book is history. The reason? There’s usually a certain amount of space in a book that goes to setting up to “sequel bait” and it almost always detracts from the current story.

    Fans of George R.R. Martin have my sympathy. I held my breath until Dorothy Dunnett’s publisher brought out the last book in the House of Niccolo series.

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  20. Marianne McA
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 14:14:05

    I voted ‘Other’ too, because it all depends on the series.

    I think long Romance series are difficult to pull off, because of the genre requirements. I don’t read paranormals, so I don’t know about Anita Blake etc., but I wouldn’t say either Evanovich or J.D.Robb write romance.

    The longest (romance) series I’m currently following is Brockmann’s, and I think she was clever in splitting that world so that she can vary the sorts of stories she tells. That said, I’m havering about whether to buy her most recent book when it’s released in paperback – I loved the last couple of books, and I’m tempted to leave it at that.

    I’m more likely to buy a book if it’s a series I follow – I like Laurie R King, and I preorder her Mary Russell books. However, when King published a standalone, I didn’t buy it for some time – she’s still the same writer, so it’s the hook of the continuing series that makes the difference. Conversely, if I’ve given up a series, the most brilliant reviews wouldn’t make me resume reading it.

    And sometimes, if you hear about a series later on, it’s daunting to even think about starting it. Dear Author had a review of one of the later ‘Kushiel’ books that made me want to read it – but when I looked at the books I’d have to read to get to it, I decided not to bother.

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  21. Nalini Singh
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 14:26:46

    Obviously, I love series, writing and reading. For me, there are two types that work. The first is the loosely connected or family group that DS mentioned, who all get their stories. The second is the one with an overarching plotline that runs through the books.

    With the first, I’m happy for it to keep going as long as the stories stay fresh, while with the second, there needs to be development in each book (whether it’s a trilogy or open-ended) to keep me hooked.

    From a writer’s perspective, part of the fun of writing a linked series is that the characters continue to develop and grow, and we’re able to see their life in more depth as time passes.

    (Also, not to hijack the thread but since I’m here – Lisa J/MaryK – have faith :) I don’t think that romance readers will be disappointed by “Angels’ Blood.” It’s a complete book on its own, though (I hope!) you’ll see why I decided to continue the story once you read it.)

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  22. Lisa J
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 14:44:17

    Hi Nalini:

    Forgiven for the hijack. I love your writing so I will definitely give both books a try. (You should hurry up with Mercy’s book…and Hawke’s and…..)

    I like stories with an on-going arc to the storyline. It is fun when you get to revisit characters from previous books and find them still happy and in love.

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  23. Jane
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 14:46:12

    @Lisa J: I’m not trying to torment anyone or brag, but I was fortunate enough to read Angels’ Blood and there was a definite HEA resolution BUT there is obviously a lot of story left to be told and I am excited to read it. I told Nalini after I had read the story that I have never dreamed Angels could be so amazingly sexy.

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  24. Jage
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 14:57:16

    I adore series as long as the author knows exactly where they’re going with it. If by the fifth book I get that fillerish feeling and the sixth doesn’t deliver I’m out of there. Some series can keep me in longer than others even if the last couple of books weren’t that great because I don’t want to give in but by then you can tell that the author has no plan because the main character seems to regress and is no longer likable.

    A problem I’ve had with series is when the author goes against the rules of his/her own world which makes it impossible for me to suspend disbelief. I was with you that she can float because of blahblahblah but as a result she’s laid up in bed for days. The minute it’s changed so that she can do the floating thing or whatever and suffer no consequences I no longer believe anything you tell me and I can’t get into it.

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  25. Lisa J
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 15:03:35

    @Jane – Now I’m really jealous. I will definitely be one of the first in line to buy Angel’s Blood. The excerpt Nalini has posted on her website definitely sounds great.

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  26. theo
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 15:04:26

    @ Jage

    DITTO!!!!!!!!!

    If the author can’t keep track of the rules of his/her own world, you know, the one that THEY built, or decide they don’t like them and toss them halfway through, the book flies into the wall and that’s the end of my reading that author.

    It’s not that hard to keep notes.

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  27. Elizabeth Smith
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 15:09:29

    The problem with stand-alone books is that unless they’re really long, i never feel the characters have known eachother long enough and built up that relationship to have a true HEA yet. It feels as if they are either drawn together by mutual lust or just because they are the main characters and not through a real bond. I like series because I can watch the entirety of their relationship and see point by point how they fall for eachother. For me, it’s like the difference between a 30 minute TV show and a movie. There is no plot, no character development, nothing really to say for 30 minutes other than a fun snapshot of a longer life. In a 2 hour movie, however, you can actually tell a story and put together a cohesive relationship. There are exceptions, sure, but I like more buildup than I usually get from a stand-alone.

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  28. Marg
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 15:54:51

    I like loosely connected books rather than a single story/couple taking several books. However, one problem I find with either type of series is that I load way to much expectation on the book/author. I don’t know if this is my fault for expecting too much or the author’s fault for giving too good of a preview and then not following through.

    I find it happens more when there is a longer time between releases. I guess while I wait for the book to be released, I start filling in what I want to happen and then when it doesn’t go right I feel like the author let me down.

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  29. Jennifer
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 17:08:27

    I can’t do series that are too long (Brockmann being a really long exception). I get lost or distracted by something else and stop. Plus, there are all those other good books and I only have so much time to read…

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  30. aed
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 20:51:39

    I’ll read a series until the end, and sometimes loop it several times after. The only exception being that rare and unfortunate instance when the author gets bored and starts phoning it in. That pisses me off like nobody’s business. There’s nothing worse than plunking down $25 on what would otherwise be bad fanfic except or the part where, oh hell, it isn’t. Like Theo said above, it’s not that hard to keep notes, and the way I see it, if the author can’t be bothered to care, how can she expect anyone else to?

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  31. orannia
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 21:11:41

    For me, there are two types that work. The first is the loosely connected or family group that DS mentioned, who all get their stories. The second is the one with an overarching plotline that runs through the books. With the first, I'm happy for it to keep going as long as the stories stay fresh…

    For me, the operative word is fresh. I need each book to be fresh, for the characters to show variey and not, as someone so beautifully put, be clones of each other. If I start reading a book and feel like I’ve read it before (AKA Groundhog Day) then I won’t continue with the series.

    I’m about 15 pages from the end of To Taste Temptation (which is a horrible place to have to stop! BTW, does anyone know if a certain secondary character with green eyes [I'm being deliberately obtuse] re-appears in the later books?) and didn’t realise when I started it that it was part of a quartet. I don’t mind. I treat each book as a single entity…and am usually not put off knowing it is part of a series. However, some series have become so big that I’m hesitant to start them. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s series is one. A good friend has them all and has offered to let me borrow them but I can’t face them. Saying that, I borrowed Naked In Death of the same friend last year, loved it and almost immediately after finishing it emailed her with ‘can I borrow the next one please?’. And I didn’t even ask how many were in the series! Which just goes to show there is no method in my madness :)

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  32. ldb
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 00:36:56

    I am of two minds. However an author needs to tell a story in the best way possible is how the story needs to be told, so if I can see that that is happening with a series I will enjoy it, and buy it. That means that I can’t just have a family that happens to have a bunch of hero and heroine potentials or a group of vampires and warewolves who all happen to know each other, there needs to be some relivence and overall arch through all the books. I get so annoyed when I see lists of potential h/H and can see teh archtype already. But at the same time romance is only 300ish pages which is ahard to develope really good characters. If an author wants to develope someone over time and make them a strong and different kind of character a series is a good way to do it.

    Also I don’t know has anyone read this, but Avon released a book Silent Ocean Away it is the first of three books, but rather then it being a traditional series it’s really just the first part of the story, the ending is inconclusive not really a cliffhanger but also every string is left hanging. It’s really annoying, but the story that has developed was good and I understand that it couldn’t be told in one normal paged book.

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  33. SonomaLass
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 01:15:28

    I voted “other” because it really depends on the series and author. I could have selected any answer in the poll for particular authors/series.

    Really good authors, with consistent worlds and compelling characters, can keep going a long time as far as I’m concerned. Ongoing series are easy to drop if I’m not engaged with the characters — Laurie R. King and Anne Perry are two in the mystery genre whose work I am happy to read as long as they continue to write. Both of them have multiple series as well, and King has occasional stand-alones; all are good, and so I read them. A “finite” series, with cliffhangers between books and no real payoff until the end of the last book, is harder to give up — but I have, and will again, if I’m not enjoying it (aka Wheel of Time, although 12 books is a bit of a stretch for “finite”).

    I’ve had the frustration of an author not finishing a trilogy for a very long time (and will she ever? I don’t know!). And sometimes with an authors I don’t know, I wait until the trilogy or whatever is finished so that I can read them back-to-back if I decide I like them. But usually I read what looks good, and keep reading if I enjoy it, and I figure the occasional delays or disappointments are the price I pay for reading the work of living authors.

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  34. Shreela
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 01:16:15

    I love series that have a group of main characters, so the author can enjoy a fresh idea instead of painting the characters into a corner.

    Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books always has Sookie as the main character, but changes which secondary character will get a lot of time in the different books. Plus, she has more than just a single paranormal, like Blood Ties does. If it wasn’t for Blood Ties different paranormal creatures, I would have tired of it a lot sooner. Same with fantasies/sagas/scifi: I want more than a single element, while switching around between the main characters, with each of those genres.

    I want series labeled better. I look at books in the library, or being reviewed online, and want to start at the beginning. But without some kind of order or sequence, it’s *REALLY FRIGGIN HARD to GUESS*. Are they listed in chronological or reverse? I’m an on-and-off-again reader, so I haven’t figured this out completely. I think they do it both ways, which is really frustrating.

    Sometimes themed titles are fun, but not if they don’t help determine which order to read the books in. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is my favorite kind of titling for a series.

    I also like for series covers to have some kind of brand for that particular series. Even if the art changes, which it will over time, at least keep the spirit of the brand for that series so we can recognize it.

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  35. Anion
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 09:54:21

    I love series–I love reading them, and I’m currently writing two of them (and planning a third!), so I loves me some series. :-) It’s so much fun to play with the characters and watch them grow, and really expand them. It’s so much fun to give them numerous obstacles to deal with, and involve them more and more deeply in their world, and to give them time to deal with their emotional issues etc.

    At the same time, though, I am very conscious of what the readers want and expect, even in books that aren’t labelled romance. So I try to give the MCs enough “moments” together where the reader can feel reassured that things will work out eventually–and I plan definite endings to my series, as well, in which everyone finds their HEA. I agree some series just go on too damn long, and should have wraped up a long time ago–when the books become essentially the same exact plot over and over again, filled with tons of padding (self-analytical conversations, for example, that go on for chapters)…it’s time to wrap things up, no matter how much of a cash cow the books may have become. Put it out of its misery and start something new, you know?

    I put that I’ll stick with them until the end, because it’s the closest to how I feel, even though it doesn’t work all the time in practice. I do think that in series books it’s important to remember that things could still work out, that even if the main couple breaks up that doesn’t mean they won’t get back together, and to have a little faith, so as long as the books are still good I’ll stick around even if the focus or even genre changes. But I also think when the books start to feel phoned in and have become so different from the original ones that they might as well just be a different series entirely…how can I have faith in an author who makes it so clear s/he doesn’t give a crap what I think? That s/he doesn’t even think I’m worth the effort of trying to give me a good story anymore?

    I think readers can tell when an author doesn’t care anymore.

    Bottom line: if the stories are still interesting, the writing is still good, and the characters still true to themselves, I’m still there, switched genres or not.

    If it feels like the author decided anything s/he wrote would be a bestseller, so here’s some crap on a page and the peons will like it or else, forget it.

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  36. Sherry Thomas
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 10:25:31

    I might be one of the few writers of stand-alone stories out there. I just can’t think in a series-y way–I can’t set out to write the story of five sisters or ten colleagues. I might end up doing that, but I can’t set out to do it.

    And I hate, hate, hate reading scenes where characters from ten previous books get together and have tea and basically halt all forward momentum of the story I’m current reading–especially if I haven’t read the previous ten books.

    The last series I read was the Samaria trilogy by Sharon Shinn. Overall it was good, but neither of the subsequent books was quite as good as ARCHANGEL, and I was rather distraught at some of the revelations in the subsequent books. I rather loved the mysticism/faith of the first book.

    It makes me look upon a story like LORD OF THE RINGS with even more nostalgia and longing. When Tolkien was done, he was done. He didn’t tell the story of every survivor. Didn’t set a book in every corner of Middle Earth. Didn’t give the chronicles of Aragorn and Arwen’s children. And somehow, that made the story more grand, the adventures more real, and left some breathing room for the readers.

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  37. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 10:56:27

    I love connected books, with an HEA for each new couple. A series that follows the same heroine or hero through multiple books isn’t for me. I’ve read and enjoyed JD Robb (those stand alone perfectly well) and some others, but I tend to look at series books as too much of a time suck. With a questionable payoff.

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  38. Kaetrin
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 01:41:58

    I like series books when they’re good. I like to start at the beginning so I get the full package but if I don’t like them, I won’t continue.

    When I was reading fantasy I started reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I really liked the first few books but then I started to get the impression that there was no planned end to this massive story arc and whole books (with 800+ pages) would go by with nothing really happening, so I gave up.

    I love Brockmann and Balogh and Beverley. Beverley’s Malloren series is one of my favourites. I actually read book 4 and 5 first then got the others and read from the beginning all the way to the end. I must say that the full Rothgar experience was only obtained by getting to know him in each of the books – his HEA was so much more satisfying when I had a better appreciation of him. Following his story, I am very happy to read other books where he appears, just to “catch up”.

    I also really love the JD Robb books – these are quite different though because the story is actually the crime being solved, against the background of Eve and Roarke’s evolving relationship. I read them for the relationship, my mum and her husband read them for the police procedural aspect. I have “sold” them to quite a few people now with the thing I love best about them – you can see how the characters grow and develop (including the marvelous secondary characters in the series, which, because of the the length of it, you get to know quite well too) and when I pick up the next one, it’s like catching up with old dear friends. I guess I just can’t let go, so series’ suit me! However, if (God Forbid) Nora stopped writing them, the series can end without any loose ends, which is great too (Hate, Hate, Hate, loose ends….)

    Having said I like series, I’m also happy to read a well written stand alone novel. I care more about the quality of the story than whether it is part of a series or not.

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  39. Bev Stephans
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 12:53:10

    I voted for two. The first being saving all the books in a trilogy to read at once and other.

    Since I read so much, I learned a long time ago to read a trilogy straight through. This way I don’t lose the thread of the story.

    I also voted for other as some series are wonderful and I followed, am following them to the end. Other series, I stopped after two to five books. I won’t mention any authors or their series as I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings.

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  40. Joy
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 18:52:01

    I like series – and usually finish them. But sometimes I get annoyed/bored and stop reading. My most recent example is the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I loved the first few books….then tolarated a couple …but could not finish the last one.

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  41. Tehani
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 19:02:59

    I have a love/hate relationship with series books. I love the fact that if I fall in love with the characters and story arcs, there’s more to feed my addiction. I HATE the fact you sometimes wait years for the books to come out. I remember reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory series ten (or more!) years ago, and yet there’s still more coming out in that story!

    Often I find I’ll outgrow the series before the author finishes it, if it goes on for more than three books. I like stand alone, but it is nice to get extended fixes on good characters and writing.

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  42. Nifty
    Dec 10, 2008 @ 15:02:46

    Generally speaking, I do enjoy series. I think they can be a great opportunity for advanced character development. But my preference when it comes to a series is that I have a feel for where the author is going from the very first book. I like to have an idea of what her final destination is going to be. I prefer for the series I read to have a feel that it’s one long story arc broken up into several books. I NEED there to be a sense of momentum and forward progress in each subsequent book. Otherwise, I begin to feel that I’m being strung along rather than swept along…as was the case for me with the endless and directionless Anita Blake series.

    Series that are “series” only because the charactes are related don’t do too much for me…especially if the characters only make cameo appearances in each others’ books. I can handle three or four books in a series like this, but that’s it. The reason I love Nora Roberts trilogies, as an example, is because all the characters play significant roles THROUGHOUT the series, and not only in their own books.

    Series that are going strong for me are the In Death series, the Outlander series, the Mercy Thompson series.

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