Series novels: a way to stay in the story

There is a school of thought that states that series novels are the way to go when self-publishing. You draw your reader in with the first in a series and are thus guaranteed a readership for the rest of the series.

There is much truth to this sentiment. If you think about all the one-shot novels you’ve read, especially the good ones, you are often left with a feeling of “Well, what happened afterwards?” when you’re done reading. Haven’t you ever wondered what our heroes or heroines get up to after a particularly rousing plot? These days, I rarely read one-off stories like that. The last book I read that wasn’t in a series was “Madame Tussaud” which was less a novel and more of a novelisation of a historical story. We all more or less know what Madame Tussaud did after her story of escaping 18th century France. Since then, I’ve read mostly read books that include a character (or characters) who can be found across multiple novels: Roland Deschain, Jack Reacher, Nicholas Flamel, the Sigma Force crew, Harry Dresden, and to name a few.

There is doubtless appeal to being able to immerse oneself into the lives of characters we grow to love (or hate) over a course of multiple stories. I mentioned in a Foboko.com newsletter a few weeks ago a popular meme that keeps cropping up in my news feeds.

Emotional Trauma at the hands of a book

This has happened to me so often that my husband almost dreads when I dive into a new book now. He says I get so emotional with my reading that I “get a little crazy” for a while. I get involved with the characters I am reading about so much so that when the story is over, I feel like a little part of me died. A series encourages me with the thought that the characters and their world aren’t a thing of the past, but holds promise for more adventure to come.

Of course, a serious side effect of series is that when one is finished, it’s very difficult to resist diving back into the next in the series immediately. My Jack Reacher stage was much like this. I think I devoured all the Reacher novels in a matter of weeks and am now craving more Reacher goodness as I write. The point is, though, that there *will* be more Reacher goodness to look forward to; at least for a few more instalments. There’s no telling when Lee Child will find that Reacher has served his usefulness as a character and moves on to a new venture. Think of Roland Deschain and his katet. Stephen King stated that he has no immediate plans to revisit Mid-World which is somewhat of a disappointment for many Dark Tower fans.

Still, despite the fact that series promises far more enjoyment over several intervals, I don’t think I use that as factor when I am choosing my next reading adventure. What about you? Does the fact that a novel is part of a series encourage you to choose it over another when you’re looking for you next big read?