The funny thing about a book series is that, sometimes, a reader is left hanging when the next book never materializes.
A reader knows when a series feels unfinished—there was a character whose story was just aching to be told. But, instead, the author’s next book takes place in a new town or universe and that character is left behind. We can send all the emails or messages we want to the author, who will says something to the effect of, “well, my publisher didn’t want another book,” or “I changed publishers,” or some other excuse—or so it seems to the reader. I mean, seriously, if it feels to me as the reader that a series feels unfinished, it should feel even worse for the author, no? Don’t authors have characters talking in their heads? So who do we blame for this? The reader, for not buying the books as they were published? The publisher and author, for not getting readers excited to try the books? Is it just fate?
After all, when a television show gets abruptly canceled, it’s usually because no one is watching. So when it’s re-discovered and made into a cult favorite (think Firefly or Deadwood), there is regret for not watching when the show was first released. With television, actors age and move on to other roles and after a while the synergy is gone. But with a book series? As long as the author is still writing, why not complete a series? Throw readers a crumb or two. Consider self-publishing!
Why even bring this up? Surprisingly, the topic of series interruption was brought up twice in a week. The first instance was at a book club meeting, where readers had VERY strong views about reading series that doesn’t come to completion. If they know a series doesn’t end, they are either loathe to start it or, even worse, it taints the author’s reputation and the readers don’t want to pick up new books from them. I was initially surprised by this, but then I got to thinking and I do have a few authors who I feel have “burned” me. Now, I won’t invest in their books unless I know the trilogy is complete or a book is truly a stand-alone.
The second time this was brought up was in a meeting with writers. They talked about publishers not accepting a book or wanting a series to end. The best thing I heard was writers wanting to take the risks to self-publish in order to complete a series for their own sake.
I cheered. And made a note to go check on series I feel were left hanging. In these conversations, I heard about two authors who have series that are still going strong. Their books continue to flow on a regular basis. And, since both authors are self-publishing, we’ll know who to blame if they stop, right? Liliana Hart has at least three active series running. Suzanne Ferrell is churning out trilogies. Since I just loaded up on both authors, you’ll have to wait a week or two to get my opinion. But I’m excited to try these authors out.
As for other series, Jade Lee has another installment in the Bridal Favors series publishing in February. What The Groom Wants (Sourcebooks Casablanca; Feb. 4, 2014) is the story of one the owners of A Lady’s Favor dress shop, who is moonlighting at a gambling den when she catches the eye of the owner. Well, he’s had her in his sights for a time, and now he’s ready to make a move. The great thing about Lee’s historicals are the emotion and sensuality that are seamlessly weaved into her stories. And her characters are never run of the mill—they aren’t lords and ladies who’d never get dirt on their hands.
And now to discuss a series that is definitely coming to a close. The End, no more. The series has run its course, and the author has decided to end it on her own terms, whether the reader is ready for it or not. Shelly Laurenston’s fans are definitely NOT ready to see the end of the Pride series. Nine books just doesn’t seem to be enough when Laurenston has managed to hook more and more readers with each book. Bite Me (Kensington; March 25, 2014) will be the last one. Although there will be more Laurenston/Aiken books coming, they will all take place in a new world, and I’m not quite ready to leave the “old” world behind. So far, I’ve only been teased with one chapter of Bite Me—I’m waiting not-so-patiently for the rest!
Right now, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about romance series. Can we have faith that we’ll get to read all of the stories a series has to offer? Or is it all based on luck that books get published? It’s a serious business for readers to determine before they dive into something new.
What do you think? Do you wait until a series is finished before you start? Are you willing to jump into a series with more than five, 10, 20 books?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors Adventures in Fiction in February, an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.