In my last post, I wrote about waiting for the end of a series before starting to read the first book (see “Waiting for the end of the series” — go on, read it first. This post will make more sense if you do.). I’m not the first reader ever to have done this, and I won’t be the last. As a reader, it’s all well and good. But as a writer, it’s a rather problematic approach. Let me explain…
If every reader was to hold off and not purchase the first book in a series until after the final book was published — then anything beyond book one would never get published. If book one of a series doesn’t sell well, a publisher isn’t likely to invest in a follow-up book. So…
I got to write Gamers’ Challenge because the first book in the series, Gamers’ Quest, sold well. Now, I’m in a holding pattern. I have a third book planned, but my publisher wants to wait. We need to see if book two will sell well enough to warrant a third. And so it is for other authors as well.
So, dear readers, the future of any book series is very much in your hands. If you want to see a series progress beyond book one, don’t wait — get it straight away; read it straight away; and if you enjoy it, tell people about it… spread the word. (But it you don’t like it, then… shhhh!)
I think it probably helps a series if at least the first book can be read in isolation. Richard Harland is an author who seems particularly adept at this. Ferren and the Angel, the first book in his Heaven and Earth trilogy, can be read as a stand-alone — it’s a complete story in its own right, it has closure, but it also leads on to another two books.
Harland’s Wordshaker / Liberator duology is another great example. Each book is complete in its own right. Although it’s better to have read Worldshaker first, you don’t need to in order to understand and follow the story of Liberator. And although Harland has now moved on to work on other things, there is still plenty more scope in the Worldshaker universe for more novels should he wish to return to that series at a later date.
It’s interesting to compare Harland’s steampunk novels with Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. Each of these books is very much part of a large whole. You simply cannot read them in isolation. Much as I have loved the first two books, the story is incomplete and I have been seriously annoyed at the wait. I will not have achieved closure until the third book has been read. (It’s out this month… YAY!)
I’ve aimed for a similar structure to Harland’s books with my Gamers novels. They are part of a series, but each is a complete story in its own right. Hopefully that means readers won’t wait for the proposed third book before getting books one and two… otherwise they may be waiting an awfully long time. 🙂
Catch ya later, George