“When did the need for series and/or sequels start, anyway? I’ve been reading Diana Wynne Jones’ REFLECTIONS ON WRITING, and she isn’t shy about sharing her thoughts on series arcs (that is, she didn’t like them). If memory serves, out of the gazillion books she wrote, only three, maybe four had sequels. Even in the Chrestomanci series, Chrestomanci himself is not always a primary character. Granted, I’m working on a series myself, and feel good about this decision. I’m just wondering how many stand-alone stories the publishing world takes on vs. sure-fire series stories. I hope that makes sense.” -jeanleesworld
So we have a two-part question here. First, when did the need for series and/or sequels start? Pretty much since writing became a serious business, but probably more so since it became a very cutthroat business. Let me explain…
For one, you can write a stand alone book if you want, but you’re going to face massive hurdles if you want it published via traditional methods. In the fiction world, you’d want to start by submitting your manuscript to agents. I can say from experience that most of them, and the publishers, won’t give your work a second look if you don’t plan to write a sequel. Don’t forget, this is a business to them and they’re looking to make money off of it. It’s not about the art to them.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a criticism, you want them thinking this way, because it’s how you’re going to make your money from your published work. Let it be about the art for you, let it be about the money for them. So that brings us to the second half of the question; how many standalone books get published… honestly it’s pretty rare at this point unless you’re going the self-publishing route.
Why is this the case? Well simply put, the more books written, the more money there is to be made. One could argue that a really good stand alone will continue to sell as some of the classic literature pieces do… but who’s going to risk their livelihoods, business, and income on a venture like that when someone else is offering 3-6 books, each of which will sell?
Is it fair? Not really… but that’s the reality of it. Unfortunately, in this day and age, your options are to bite the bullet and write a sequel, or self-publish and hope for the best.
Personally, I’d say start working on a sequel. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this and a sequel doesn’t necessarily have to stick to the same characters.
Hope this helps!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Catch you on the flip side!