2 B Read
Series, Sequels, and Stand-Alones
My publisher, Kensington/Zebra, has asked me to do several linked series. Because it's to the author's advantage to have as many books come out as often as possible to build name recognition, I was quick to agree. According to just about any publisher you talk to, it's commercially attractive to have series books.
My author friends have been getting a lot of two and three-book contracts where the publishers specify that the books be linked to one another.
I understand this. For most of us, when we finish a book we really, really loved, we go hunting for that author's backlist.
I get a lot of fan mail. For the past six months my fans have been clammoring for information on my sequels. "When is Rebecca Peabody (a minor character in both my Counterfeit Countess and One Golden Ring) going to have her own story?" they want to know. Or, "Will you give the Birmingham brothers their own stories?" Obviously, most readers want sequels.
(As for sequels to my CC and One Golden Ring, they are in the works, but I'm in the process of changing publishers, so they'll be delayed.)
That brings up one of the reasons I'm changing publishers. Some publishers are better at marketing sequels than others. Zebra is not very good at this, IMO. For example, in 2002 I had a three-book series titled the Brides of Bath. Book 2 came out in April and promptly sold out. When Book 3 came out in August, quite naturally the readers who liked it and who hadn't read the first two wanted to purchase the April book. (Let's face it, that's why publishers like to publish these puppies.) However, my April book was completely out of print and even though it sold extremely well, my publisher chose not to reprint. This is not good business, IMO. (By the way, that April mass market paperback that sold out so quickly is often offered for sale on the internet for about $18!)
Other publishers excel at pushing authors' connected books. Hands down, the hottest selling Regency-set historical writer in the world is Stephanie Laurens, who's written like a dozen of her Cynster series, and booksellers tell me readers wait in line for her next -- even if they have to buy it in costly hardback.
But why does it have to be a linked book? If I like an author, I like everything she writes. I'd still be eager for her newest whether or not it was linked to the previous one. I don't even know if I want to see the previous heroine and hero now that they're in to potty training and mundaneness.
As a pure reader, I prefer books that are NOT linked. Oftentimes I feel cheated when a subplot romance is not developed because I know the author is saving that story for her next book. My very favorite books (and my readers' favorites of mine) are those in which there's a very satisfying subplot romance (sometimes much lighter than the angst of the hero and heroine). The more that can be layered into a book, the better I like it. I hate it when I feel the author's saving some good stuff for the next book.
And I'd love to know what the rest of you think about this.