We All Have Favorites

I listened to Chuck Wendig’s podcast this week where he discusses everything about writing and marketing and death threats.  Yes, he got them, but his writing is a bit irreverent.  Still…  it’s writing.  If a reader doesn’t like it, he can toss it in the can.  I’m not good at podcasts, at sitting still and listening when there’s no person to focus on.  Lectures where I can watch a speaker?  I can concentrate for hours.  A faceless voice?  I end up fiddling, losing my concentration.  But I’m glad I made the effort to listen to Wendig.  He intrigued me to try his talk when he said that he thought series were always a matter of diminishing returns.

What?  I’d always heard that series helped a writer BUILD an audience.  And I still believe that.  But that’s not what he meant.  He meant that a writer gets fewer and fewer reviews the longer the series goes.  And he’s probably right.  Just look at some of your favorite authors’ first books compared to their fourth or fifth.  He says a writer’s ego needs some of that praise and when it dwindles, it’s harder to feel inspired to write.  Well, you can judge that for yourself.  But here’s the link to the podcast, if you’re interested: https://wegrowmedia.com/chuck-wendig-on-owning-your-voice-and-choosing-the-path-of-your-career-as-a-writer/#disqus_thread

Anyway, I listened to his talk, and then I got to thinking about series.  I happen to love them.  I’m much more inclined to buy a book in a series I love than a standalone that I’m not sure about.  And that even goes to second or third series that some of my favorite authors write.  I mean, let’s be honest.  We all have favorites.  These are my truths:

I love Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap series more than her Cat Latimer or Fork to Table series, even though they’re all good.  Why?  Beats me.  I just like the mix of people more and the romance between Jill and Greg.  I still buy the other series, though, just not as many.

I love Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series AND her Hidden Legacy series.  Have I tried some of her other books?  No.  Same goes with Patricia Briggs.  I buy every Mercy Thompson book, but I haven’t gotten into her Alpha and Omega series.  And I could go on.  I love Jenna Bennett’s Savannah Martin.  Not so much any of the others.

Why?  The same author writes the books.  They’re writing is topnotch.  Always.  But I’m not the only reader who struggles with this.  Martha Grimes tried to write a few break away books when she got tired of writing about Richard Jury.  All readers did was complain that they wanted another Superintendent Jury.  Same with Elizabeth George and her Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers mysteries.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes but had to bring him back when readers complained so much.

Why does one series click when another one doesn’t?  I don’t know.  But I think a series can help build an audience, and the readers who love one series might not buy another one.  There are no guarantees.  But that’s life, isn’t it?

Have a great week, and happy writing!


7 thoughts on “We All Have Favorites

  1. I waffle when it comes to series. I ADORE the Pendergast series of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Every time they release a new book (I think they’re up to 19 or 20) I devour it. By the same token, there are a few other series I follow where I am several books behind because–although I enjoy them–standalone novels pull me more. If I absolutely had to choose between the two I would go with standalones. Maybe that’s because I’ve read several series where I lost interest after a few books or felt the author dragged the story arc on too long.

    Write a series and make each book a standalone, and I’m all in. Write a series without a definitive end for each novel and I usually bail after a few. I’m fine with huge story arcs but I want each novel to have a close rather than an open ending. I guess I’m picky, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m with you about standalone books in a series. I always hated cliffhangers. But I’m currently writing a cliffhanger series, and I’m actually enjoying it quite a bit. Will the readers? That remains to be seen. (But it’s fun doing something new.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I really enjoyed The Gate, but you did leave us at a cliffhanger all the way around. It just made me want you to write faster! I want to know what happens to all of the characters.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. You brought up something I didn’t discuss (or think of last night:) Most of the series I read are standalone books without a series arc, except for Ilona Andrews Kate Daniel series. In truth, I like the comfort of returning to a series I really enjoy and expect to be good. But a great standalone is fine by me, too. Those books are just more of a risk.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I write more series than standalones because my over-arching story is too big to tell in one book, I have too many characters who impact things and deserve page time, and I also think a (good) series rewards both the reader and the writer—the reader with more good material to devour and the writer with more fans.

    That said, I have two complete series and three in the works, and I have a a favorite, so I would imagine readers will, too. And I think it comes down first to genre (readers have preferences) and if the genre’s the same across series, it boils down to characters. Some readers will bond with the hero of one series, others with the heroine in a different series, and so on.

    Regardless, Wendig (and you) raised an interesting point. Thought-provoking. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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