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Three Book Minimum?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by David Ivanov, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. David Ivanov

    David Ivanov Minstrel

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    So is it just me, or is every new break-out fantasy writer expected to launch with a trilogy or at least three titles in the same series? It's getting very hard these days to be able to buy a single stand-alone novel in the fantasy genre -- kind of feels like I'm marrying every new author for the duration of three volumes at least. I understand publishers figure they need multibook deals to turn a profit on new talent, but is it even feasible anymore to accomplish that with separate unrelated novels?
     
  2. Well, it's probably a lot harder than it used to be.

    The thing is, readers tend to like series, assuming they like the first book, because readers like to revisit the characters they... er... like. This is awfully convenient for publishers because it makes it easier to sell subsequent books, assuming the first does well.
     
  3. Rikilamaro

    Rikilamaro Inkling

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    There does seem to be an awful lot of new series out there. And perhaps it is really all about the money - series sell.

    I don't know how you work, but if I read a new author and I like their work, I'm going to pay attention when I see other books by them - whether or not they're in the same series. But, the problem is that I like to have series all lined up shiny on my shelves. Having unrelated books in a row (even by the same person) just doesn't flow well with my decor. So I may wait to get the book from the library instead of adding it to my personal stockpile. Maybe I'm weird like that?
     
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I guess I would be guilty of the 'three book series minimum' as I am now working on the third novel in the First Civilization's Legacy series.

    However, I wrote the first novel (Flank Hawk) as a stand alone novel. It had a complete story arc and could have ended there. But there was room for the story of the main character to continue. My publisher asked if I had a second novel planned. I did and wrote it (Blood Sword). It took me a long time to figure out how to write because I wanted it not only to have its own story arc, but have it independent of the first novel. I wanted to write Blood Sword such that a reader would not have had to read the first novel (Flank Hawk) to enjoy the Blood Sword. However, I also wrote it so that it would solidly compliment Flank Hawk, for those who read it. I hope that makes sense.

    I see writing a series as different than writing a three book trilogy. With a trilogy, although each novel in the trilogy may have an individual story arc, the novels really do not stand alone as they're not structured to. They were written with that intention.

    To be honest, I have ideas for a total of five novels in my First Civilization's Legacy series, but after completing the third (working title: Soul Forge), I plan on branching out with another novel. It'll be written as Flank Hawk was, a standalone novel, but with the potential to be continued.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    As a reader, I much prefer series. I'm less likely to buy a stand alone book.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'm the opposite, if the series isn't done. I've got to the point where I am unlikely to buy a book from a new author if it is book one of a series and can't stand on its own.
     
  7. Dang, I hope steerpike will make an exception for me ;)
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'll make an exception for any MS member. I do make exceptions from time to time browsing in the store (Acacia being the last one). But I don't want to get into too many series that author's stretch out over a decade to get any kind of plot resolution :)
     
  9. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    The great Fantasy novel The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (the original is in German) is only one book, and still the story is told in a very satisfactory way without the need to be a trilogy or a series =)

    Maybe the concept of writing Fantasy series was started by Tolkien and his friend C.S. Lewis with The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, which is why many writers are following their example, so today most Fantasy is written in at least three books.

    I want to expand my first Fantasy trilogy to transform it into a seven-book series, my second series has five and I am currently writing the last novel of my Joan of England trilogy.
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I thought Tolkien actually wrote "The Lord of the Rings" as a single-volume work, and the publisher split it into three.
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    That's correct, Steerpike. If I recall correctly, it was because of a paper shortage and the opportunity to make more money by splitting it up.
     
  12. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    I did not know that Tolkien intended The Lord of the Rings to be a single book, thanks for this piece of knowledge Steerpike and Ireth!! =)

    Those three books put together would make a monster book, I think it was a wise decision to split and create a trilogy for whatever reason that they did it... I bet that some A Song of Ice and Fire books are larger than the entire Lord of the Rings, but maybe in Tolkien's times it was unusual to publish such large books.

    Was Narnia intended to be a seven-book series since the beginning??
     
  13. David Ivanov

    David Ivanov Minstrel

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    I've had some pleasant surprises with some newer authors writing series initial novels that are very strong independently of their follow-ons. Some that come to mind are John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" (a sci-fi novel rather than fantasy) and Scott Lynch's "The Lies of Locke Lamora." I ended up reading their second novels, which I enjoyed immensely, but didn't feel compelled to go beyond that unless the mood strikes me. And in Lynch's case I'm definitely looking forward to his next offering.
     
  14. I promise, my NIP is the first in what will be absolutely no longer than a three-book series. First one has taken me about a year to write (on the final revision pass now and waiting on cover art to be finished, then I'll be publishing it). Presumably #2 and #3 will take about the same amount of time (well, hopefully less, since I'm a little better at this than I was a year ago). I mean I know exactly where I want the story to go and I have no intention of letting it get out of hand. I have too many other ideas I want to write to let this one spin out of control.
     
  15. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'm defying the 3-book minimum by having my first series be a duology rather than a trilogy. XD My vampire novel might become a trilogy, but no more than that.
     
  16. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    My first Fantasy novel could very well stand as a single book, and when I started to write it that was my intention- However, I fell in love so deeply with my characters, my world and my Magic that I just could not resist the desire to write the second book, then the third...

    And now I want to expand it to seven!!

    Maybe that's why Fantasy literature is more commonly found as trilogies or series, instead of a single book? =)
     
  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Most of my recent efforts seem to be turning into Novella's...a genre for which the market appears to be extinct.
     
  18. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Many people are like this, and it's one of the reasons why I wrote all the books of my series before publishing the first one. I also was fortunate that Orbit released The Riyria Revelations in three back-to-back months. The result was all three books were "on the street" within 60 days of one another - something that is quite rare in fantasy these days.
     
  19. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Is this new? I can think of very few "stand alone" fantasy novels. I think "series" are pretty much a time honored tradition of the genre.
     
  20. julidrevezzo

    julidrevezzo Scribe

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    I'm not sure ....In my reading experience almost everything I've ever read has been part of a series. The harder thing is finding ones that standalone. In fact, that only one that comes to mind is ...The Barbed Coil by J.V. Jones and that was....a while back. :) My book stands alone. :) I may be stubborn but I like to have a nice solid ending to my stories (there are certain authors who I used to read who didn't and decades on, I'm still waiting for those final books to come out *grumbles*), so I don't want to do that to my readers. But yes, I did turn it into a series at the behest of my editor and critique pals, and am almost done with the first draft of book two. But I promise, they stand alone.:) Really...
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
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