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Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Many Books?

By Geri Foster

How many books does an author have to write before you become a fan? I ask this question because there has been a great deal of discussion lately about how many books there must be in a series before readers really become fans. The magic number seems to be seven, however, that isn't written in stone.

I've enjoyed many series that were only three books long and found this very fulfilling. Several authors have written twelve to fifteen books in the same series, and the readers come pouring in to stay up with the latest installment.

I think if you're reading about a family or a place, the stories can go on as long as the writer wants to write in that series. As long as they aren't dragging people out of the woodwork to come up with a new story. It all has to be come organically from the series. We're not really interested in a distant cousin that shows up out of the blue. We want to read stories about people we've been following. At least, that's my take on series. What about you?

That's why many readers will ask an author, "When are you going to write so and so's story. I've been hoping your next book would be about this secondary character that's been showing up since you started the series. I can't wait to read the story of the guy you just introduced in your last book."



Recently at a book signing a reader came up to me and ask me to never run out of Falcon agents. She loved them all and looked forward to reading stories of the agents I've already introduced. Of course, that's exactly what a writer wants to hear. I asked her how many books she needed to read in a series to get hooked, she said as little as two. She's obviously willing to wait for that next book in the series to come out.

How about you?

9 comments:

  1. Great question, Geri. I'd like to hear readers' opinion on this, too.

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  2. As a reader, I become invested in a series whether it's a family or town or an agency (Your Falcons for one). There have been series in the past that I just lose interest in because it seems like the author lost interest and the series fizzles. As a writer, I write the stories that are in my head. I at least want the character to have been mentioned in the earlier stories though.
    I, too, would love to know the answer to your question.

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  3. This is a great question! As a reader, my mind tends to wander after three and even if I read a fourth one, I often don't remember it. I've read a few that went much further than that, but I rarely finish them.I didn't even read all of Nora Roberts' McGregors, the first series I ever latched onto, because there were so many of them. So, to shorten up my long story, I guess my "magic number" is three.

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  4. Great question, Geri! If the series is about the same set of characters, I get bored after the third book. When the characters are introduced in one book and there is an ensuing story about them, I will read each one. (like your Falcon series). So I guess it depends on how the series is handled.

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  5. Most publishers like initially contract series in books of 3. If they sell well, they'll offer on another 3 books. As a reader, I enjoy a series as long as I don't have to read a lot of back story. A paragraph here....a sentence there is enough, but some authors think they have to rehash the previous book so you can understand the current one. For me, that's a killer.

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  6. Love this question Geri. I have a couple of trilogies out and those seem to do well. But I also have the first five books of the Halsey brothers out, then because readers wanted more Halsey's, I started a trilogy offshoot, and without the next book in the trilogy out, I've had beta readers say I need yet another book in that series to wrap up this latest book AND give them more Halseys... We'll see what the general public says! My philosophy is if the series isn't getting stale for both the writer and the reader then they can do as many as they want. I think your Falcon Agents could go on as long as you can come up with different scenarios for each agent. When a writer uses the same protagonist in every book, I think they shouldn't go on too long.

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  7. I love to read series as long as I don't have.to.go back and.figure out who is who.Some.series I wish.would.keep.going.some.not.So.much.I love.when.I.Can.pick.up a book and I recognize people and.places and can just zip through like I.know.t he.people.I read so many books that I.really love a good.series when I know I will love the.books.

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  8. You nailed it when you said it had to be organic. Good article.

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  9. Excellent post and question. I am enjoying all the comments too.

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