Questions on Multiple Series

How many series can an author successfully write at one time before the series start to suffer?  When do you know it is time to let a series go?

These are questions I have been pondering for some time and I am interested in opinions that you guys may offer, especially anyone who may be an author. Please understand I am not an author so I approach this only from a reader’s viewpoint.

Can an author successfully give multiple series the attention each deserves without any of them suffering?  I have been reading an author for many years, but this author is now writing five series—the fifth series just started with book one a week ago.  I really enjoyed this book and will write my review very soon.  The series I started with is now nearing release of book number 30.  Personally, I feel this series needed to be ended some time ago, but we now have new characters whom will undoubtedly have books written for them and the overall story arc is still not finished.  It is the series that will never end!!  I also have to wonder, in the author’s defense—how much of this is the author and their muse and how much of it is the publisher continually trying to capitalize on an author’s popularity.

I read several authors who have multiple series, and it is normal for those authors in my experience to release one book a year in the series.  When we are talking about  3 or more series, how can that possibly happen?  Therefore, we are probably looking at over a year between books.   One of my favorite authors generally writes one series at a time and we get a book usually every 6 months and then they start another series.  Granted, these series usually contain 4 to 5 books.  However, the series is completed and then we get to start another one.  With the author who is on book 30, I could literally be in my mid 60s before it finishes and I am already 53!! Some of the recent books have disappointed me with much repetition—hence question 2—when do you know it is time to let go?  I have many years invested in this series and I want to see the end, but I’m tired and don’t receive the level of enjoyment that I used to.

Have any of you faced a similar dilemma and how did you decide?  Looking forward to your thoughts.

 

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17 thoughts on “Questions on Multiple Series

  1. What a great article! I have so much to say on this subject but I’ll try to be brief. First I’m also just a reader not a writer so I have no writer insight, sorry. Okay, for me it’s so hard when a new series is started and the old ones not finished then suddenly your favorite series is getting released every two years instead of ever year! Also is this about Christian Feehan? She’s the only one I can think of with so many books.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. You don’t have to be brief. I am genuinely interested in people’s thoughts on this topic.

      As to the identity of the authors referred to in the article–mum’s the word!! LOLOLOL

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  2. I, too, followed an author for many years and found myself both excited and disappointed in later books. From a writer’s perspective, I’m thinking the answer depends on the writer. I may have several things going, but they all go together, more or less, so my attention isn’t divided. Someone who was able to devote all of his/her time to writing could keep up with several without any of them suffering. *shrug* I couldn’t with all I have to do now, but I also have a ‘real’ job that takes 40+ hours a week. If I was free to write, I think I could keep up with more of them.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts from a writer’s perspective. I hadn’t thought about the idea of being either a full-time writer as opposed to a writer with an outside job also. Another piece of the puzzle. Thanks for the input.

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  3. I’ve never really thought about authors with different series, mainly because (and I’ve just now noticed this, looking around at my book shelves), I’ve only read all of the series of one author. Every other series, it’s only the one by that author, and I think it’s the same author you’re talking about lol. Although, I’m still excited about the new characters, even if I’m wishing the plot line would hurry up and end, I’m mostly in it for the characters now anyway.

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  4. This is a great article, and definitely some great questions! As a reader, I can say that I’ve lost interest in a series before when the books seem too similar to one another, or just unable to invest myself in reading when there are so many books available that I feel overwhelmed (specifically if they’re not stand alones). I have very little time for reading these days anyway between juggling my own writing, my day job, and whatever social requirements of my time that friends and family demands.

    As a writer, however, I’m constantly aware of this and unwilling to get myself involved too deeply in working on more than one series when I don’t know if I’ll have the time to dedicate to make it the best it can possibly be–and I’ve definitely had ideas for other series (specifically, a YA spinoff series of The Crucible following a mage on her Calling that spans several books). But work and other aspects of life interfere, and unless/until I can start making a living off of my writing, that won’t come to pass.

    I also don’t have a publisher milking my series (thankfully! lol) so I’m free to put my focus on my books and decide if I’ve written enough, or if more books need to come. As it stands, I started The Crucible Series, for example, with the intention of writing as many books as I possibly could, and not because they need to be there, but because I wanted each story to be different, a stand alone that could be read without having to read the rest of the books available. Their major connection is just that they all exist in the same universe, which I think lends some versatility to it. If you didn’t like the mood/theme of one book, you might appreciate the next, or the previous, better.

    So I guess it really just depends on the set up of the series and the stories being told. Sometimes it feels like the author is beating a dead horse, and others? Subsequent stories will be more interesting! 🙂

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  5. As a friendly neighborhood author, I feel that two is the most I can handle at once. I’ve always looked at books like pies. Best enjoyed in slices, but can make you sick if you eat too much. By the same analogy, baking more than a couple of pies at a time causes their quality to suffer. So, imho, two series is the limit.

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  6. Angela, thanks for reading and giving your insights as an author. I have to really think that some of this is due to the publisher which I think is a real shame if they end up causing the author some readers. I really appreciate your comments and am looking forward to the new book.

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    1. Yep, the publisher’s job is to make money, so it’s not surprising in some cases if readers lose interest in a series because it feels as if it’s just being milked somehow. =\ Anyway, thanks so much for reading and reviewing them! Keep the great posts coming! 😀

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  7. I have mixed feelings about it. Some series I would like to read until I die, others I give up.
    I guess it depends on the series and the author’s “voice”. If the writing’s appealing, addictive, fluid, one can probably feel more interested, no matter what. But if things change…
    Take SK, an author with many series and spin offs and countless books published. I’ve given up on one of her series, I’m only following another because I fell in love and I want to see a certain situation solved, but the despair over not having her new book right now is over.
    Then Feehan, I’m reading her latest, of a new series and her voice is there but I got tired of it. I feel, no matter the subject/world, her characters are all the same. I don’t think I’ll push myself to read more of her books and will use my time on other stories.
    ****

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    1. Thanks Sonia for your thoughts. I feel very similarly about the author I am questioning. I am on the verge of giving up on the extra long series. Of course, my head is already telling me now not to give up yet but I think I may be done. Thanks for following the blog!

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    1. I know, right? I told a good friend once that if I died before a series I was interested in ended, she was going to have to get the book and come to the cemetary and read the book to me. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and the author made to the end of the series also!! Thanks for commenting!

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  8. Yes, I think if an author is trying to write more than one series at a time, the quality goes down. They become too formulaic. Before retirement I was a library cataloger and it used to drive me crazy when authors had more than one on the go. Sometimes they would overlap – so that #5 in the original series was #2 in the spin-off series…. A cataloger’s nightmare.

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