Series or Standalone? What Are You Reading?

After I released my grandfather’s books on the world, I started reading and then reviewing in earnest. It wasn’t long before I discovered BookBub, and I absolutely loved it, gleaned free books that for the most part turned out to be exceptional, fun, and compelling books. Shortly after came series–lots of them–and I proceeded to read books from one series or another, sometimes exhausting them and looking for more, which might be considered a “con.” The wait for the next in the series–sometimes up to a year–then will you have to get reacquainted?

When you pick up a new book, do you prefer to start a new series or a standalone?

And, if you are starting a series, do you absolutely have to start with #1?

(Yes, sometimes!)

How can you read this? There's no pictures!

Particularly with some genres, such as science fiction, is that even a fair question? Can you even come in to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at #3 and figure it out? Did series actually have its origins in Fantasy (or Sci-Fi)? Is it a matter of becoming engaged with the protagonist and series characters?

Numbered booksPersonally, if I like that world, I want to go back. I can pick up that book and be instantly engaged. I don’t have to start all over getting to know new characters and spending half the book realizing that I really don’t like the protagonist and don’t care what happens to him/her.

Book seriesYou might be hooked on an author’s voice, the writing style, and it’s clean and comfortable. I can identify. If you have a short window of time to read, then a familiar series is probably just the ticket. Unless, uh oh, the series starts to get staid. Did the author run out of ideas? (How many is too many? You’ve seen this plot now–how many times?)

And then there’s the whole backstory thing–how much or how little? (I’ve tried my share of series only to discover a protagonist had been fully fleshed in a previous installment and was assumed everyone knew the characters by now. Seems the author is loathe to rehash it–again.)

I’ve touched on a few of the series I read in the early twenty-teens when I began my #ThrowbackThursday feature. A few of these series were:

  1. Michael Reisig, the Road to Key West series
  2. Alex Lukeman, the Project series
  3. Jinx Schwartz, the Hetta Coffey series
  4. Toby Neal, the Lei Crime series
  5. Bob Mayer, the Green Beret series
  6. M. D. Grayson, the Danny Logan series
  7. Jonas Saul, the Sarah Roberts series
  8. Willow Rose, the Emma Frost series

When I read the books in those series, I picked up their subsequent series, then decided to sample some new and up-and-comers or authors well established but that I’d not previously sampled. Granted, you probably note a genre pattern above, as many of you no doubt have your favorite genres as well.

Of course, we could get into a whole long argument for both pros and cons on whether series or standalone and several points on each side were covered above. Everyone has a valid opinion one way or the other. Many series titles can be read as a standalone. However, doesn’t it still supply built-in promotion if the title is included in a series?

Another problem, however, is that not all series titles are released in chronological order. If the series title could also be a standalone, it might not lead to series confusion were it to be published out of chronological order. ACK!–my head is whirling! Still–I think my fav is a series entry that can also function as a standalone. My vote.

So how does it work if you aren’t the reader–but the writer? Is a series a safer bet? What do readers want–series or standalone books?

Froggy madly typing

Are series really more marketable or profitable than their standalone step-brothers? Did series really begin with the twentieth century, or did we enjoy those old “serials” before they became series? (Well, actually, remembering some of those old radio serials, there is a difference.) No one can forget Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series published by Harper & Brothers from 1932 to 1943–still very popular today (especially with my hubby).

Where did I read that possibly up to 70% of books being published now are part of a series? Can that be true? But on a quest to prove or dispel that theory, could find nothing further. Possibly the three most popular series genres are fantasy, romance, and mystery. Of those, we can immediately think of J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series.

Books are not usually marketed quite as successfully to big box publishers as a planned series. The first book, a standalone, must be successful enough that it has the potential to spawn a series. The publisher might be more willing to commit to a new title, especially from a new author, for a standalone rather than consider a series.

Don’t get me started on boxed sets, as that seems to work equally well for both series and standalone books by the same author of established, commercially successful books. It’s a win-win if it gets those books out there.

If your eyes are glazing over and you’re going into series burn-out, maybe it’s time to consider the long lists of standalone books touted on Goodreads. (They are not ALL YA or Fantasy, check them out.)

So where are you with your reading this year? I must admit that owing to NetGalley, I’ve been introduced to new authors and books I’d probably never have been privy to before–some of which have been part of a series. Was I enticed to read more in those series? Yes. I have discovered some new favorites and what a beautiful smorgasbord of books are out there right now! What are you reading? Series or standalone? What is your choice? I’d love to hear your opinions! ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!Attributions for pictures and animations

Author: Rosepoint Publishing

I am the granddaughter of Patrick John "Stanley McShane" Rose whose books including "Cocos Island Treasure" I've recently published. My time is now spent in reading, reviewing, and writing bookish articles. I'm looking forward to sharing this social media odyssey with you!

9 thoughts on “Series or Standalone? What Are You Reading?”

  1. I don’t think it matter much in most crime series, but I think most fantasy series really have to be read in order. I prefer books that can standalone even if they’re part of a series. I hate cliffhanger endings in books…


  2. I almost always want to start on the first of the series. That said sometimes a really moving recommendation comes in for a later book and I might make the exception and read it out of sequence. I also like when I ‘discover’ a series I hadn’t know about and realize there are several books already lined up for my enjoyment.
    Sometimes though, it’s nice to hit a stand-alone and know it’s a one and done.


    1. I usually want to start on the first as well, but noticed several I asked for and was accepted was not the first. That’s okay, the book was enjoyed and with the exception of one, got enough backstory that I didn’t feel deprived. Agree with you that it’s neat to discover a new series. Depends on the length of the standalones, I guess, whether or not I want the book to be over. Some are so neatly wrapped up, there is no where else for it to go. Thanks for stopping to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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