With a single title, the writer gets to start fresh each time with a new plot, setting. and cast of characters. Not all books are cut out to become a series, nor should they be. A single title works best when a book idea has a definite ending. For example, a love story that ends in marriage, a thriller centering around a specific event such as a natural disaster, or a character with one, important goal in mind. Once the love issue is satisfactorily solved, the emergency has passed, or the desired end attained, there may be no need for an encore. The writer has said all there is to say about that group of characters and that situation.
The advantage of a series springs mainly from the readers’ desire to return to people and places that are familiar to them. Because of this, there is great potential for increased sales. The disadvantage is that series writing requires great planning and effort, deeper sub-plots, and a lead character strong enough to sustain long-time interest.
Some series are planned from the beginning, but many books develop into series when the author finds they do not want to let go of the character or characters they have created. The writer knows the first book is just the beginning--the character they have created has many more adventures to explore. They start on Book Two--and a new series is born.
Many series are mysteries, for the genre is well-suited for a returning character. A series works best when the main character has a job such as a sheriff or private eye or some profession where there is opportunity for repeat business.
The series often develops after the author thinks of another crime or mystery to solve. A writer of any novel must find a much-loved character. Sheriff Jeff McQuede, a character we wanted to write more about resulted in our High County Mystery series.The fourth book in that series has just been published.
An idea for a series often comes from setting. Our travels to many foreign and exotic settings led to the Ardis Cole mysteries where Ardis, an archaeologist, travels to
Scotland, and other
countries and encounters a crime to solve related to her work. China
Expanding into a series can be challenging as each subsequent book must have the same history as the one before it. Characters, both major and minor, cannot change much from the original book without creating explanations for those changes that the reader can understand.
Our advice to writers interested in starting a series: when in doubt, start out with a single title and if there is material for a second or third book, then consider developing the novel into a series.