I’m attached to my characters. All of them.
I’m even attached to the ones that readers write to me about and say “I love every single one of your characters but … .” Guess what? I love the “but,” too. I don’t ever really want to end a series but it’s inevitable and I would rather pick the right time than let something linger longer than it should.
As an author, you walk a fine of trying to make readers happy but doing the story justice. I can’t tell you how many times people have written to me and said that my series should be no more than three books. Each and every series. If it goes longer than three books I’m a hack who is just out for money.
On the flip side, a lot of people write to me that they never want a series to end. They want it to go until the end of time and if I ever stop writing the series they’re going to hate me forever. That’s great in theory, but it’s not so easy (or pragmatic) in practice.
The longer a series goes you risk tipping into “diminishing returns.” What is that? At a certain point you stop sucking in new readers for a series and you start losing them. That happens to everyone.
Now, I’m not someone who pays much attention to diminishing returns. I am lucky enough to be able to write full time and I never end a series before I decide it’s done. I always have an idea of what I want the end of a series to look like, a set story so to speak, but some of the stuff between can be more vague. I try not to focus on the money angle over everything else. That’s why I keep my books at $3.99 and in KU.
Other authors or publishers give a series one or two books and then yank it without an ending if it doesn’t perform. I don’t do that. I always finish everything. I’m a bit of a completionist.
Take Hardy Brothers Security, which I wrote under my pen name. That series didn’t sell well and I still wrote twenty-four books. I was attached to the characters and had a specific story I wanted to tell.
I don’t know anyone else who would’ve written that many books in an underperforming series. That’s simply how I’m built.
Now, when it comes to series like Wicked Witches of the Midwest and Mystic Caravan, I’m honestly not sure how long they’ll run. I know I have quite a few stories still to tell. I “kind of” know how they will end but I have a lot of room to play in between.
My grim reapers, however, will go nine books. That means they end next year. I already know how they’re going to end. In fact, I know what the final line in the book is going to be. That doesn’t mean I won’t revisit the series at some point. That’s not something I just say either. Covenant College folks can attest to that. I had a set five books for that series and then had a fun idea and added six more books in two follow-up trilogies. That could easily happen to Aisling Grimlock. However, right now it will be nine books (although the grim reapers are most likely going to pop up in my Charlie Rhodes series and another series I’ve been working on outlines for) and then there will be a break before anything else is decided. It’s always nice to step back for a little bit, because when I have ideas for new series (or a continuation of an old) it’s usually when I take a step back.
As for Avery Shaw, I keep going back and forth. I believe she’ll go fifteen books but she’s honestly my favorite to write (yes, I know other people hate her, you message me all of the time). She’s essentially me, though, so when you write that you hate her it’s kind of like you’re hating me. Luckily for you, just like Avery Shaw, that only makes me stronger. Anyway, if Avery Shaw goes longer than fifteen books – and that’s honestly up in the air – it will turn into a series where there is only one new entry a year. Like I said, I keep waffling on that one.
Why is this important? Why do you care? Unlike other authors, I have more ideas than I can write. I honestly have outlines done in another twenty series or so because I have so many ideas. Whenever I have an opening and can start a new series I’m excited … until a great war wages inside of me to pick a series to focus on. I just had another idea this past weekend I’m dying to write but I don’t have time.
The thing is, I never want to stop a series because I love the characters. However, I do want to get to know new characters and series going forward, too. It’s honestly a double-edged sword (I have two future series where swords would make regular appearances, by the way). I do give it a great deal of thought, though.
So, what do you think? How long do you think is too long for a series?
4/24/2017 05:12:31 pm
I hope Avery goes on forever! LOL! I love the series! I love her and her family! Even though I love her and Elliott I would love to see her and Jake together! But that's just me! Hoping the new book comes out soon! Thanks fir keeping me laughing while going through cancer treatments. Another round is coming hoping the new book comes out soon.
4/25/2017 07:58:57 am
I totally agree. I've already read all of them twice. I could go on forever!
4/25/2017 07:13:22 am
I'm one of those who never wants Wicked Witches to end. I love the stories and characters and get a kick out of the humor and relationships. Keep on truckin'. Love it.
4/25/2017 07:16:10 am
No such thing as too long. If I love characters I want to keep dipping into their lives - I don't want to say goodbye to them just because a story arc has been completed...Keep all of them forever haha!
4/25/2017 07:20:27 am
How on EARTH could Hardy Brothers been under performing? I've been terribly sick the past two weeks with the energy to sleep and read- and in that time, since I've read almost everything in your name, I started the Maddie Graves series (and am not so patiently waiting for the next), got caught up on Ivy Morgan (only needed to read two at that point) and started Hardy Bros and an currently on #7. In the past two weeks!! I love you as an author and cannot put my kindle down when I have one of your books open. I'm already dreading knowing that Hardy's will end, but I know it will be fantastic. I hate hearing that the Grimlocks are halfway done as they're probably my favorite but I smiled when I read that you're open to revisiting them.
4/25/2017 07:37:16 am
A series needs to end for me when there is no growth. If you are the exact same person dealing with the exact same issue with the same exact people in book 10 as you were in book 1 then I'm done. As long as the stories are good and the characters are growing- and the series doesn't suddenly become a hardback- I will stay reading until the end.
4/25/2017 07:57:51 am
I adore the Hardy Brothers- love that series. The Grim series is my next favorite. Love Avery- and the witches. You are a great writer. I hate to see,my favorite series end- but they are your stories. I know I'll be reading them all.
4/25/2017 08:41:41 am
Avery was the first book I read of yours and although I'm a fan of all your series... she's my favorite. I'll hate to see her go, but I think a series should last as long as there's a good story to tell. When there's nothing new to add... STOP ✋ I've read series that started off strong, then it just seemed as if another writer had taken over because it ended up being garbage.
4/25/2017 09:36:10 am
I don't think the number of books is important, I think that if it becomes the same old story or scenario then it loses my interest. I have read series than had a bunch of books like more than 10 and I never read the last one. I guess it depends more on who has my interest at the time the book comes out. Keep up the good work, and thanks for making them kindle unlimited!
4/25/2017 09:57:17 am
You are the creator of these wonderful characters, so only you should have the last say when a series ends. You are not obligated to continue a series if the stories are no longer genuine or if you there is no joy in the writing. I love it when I can "hear" your laughter after reading a particularly snarky comment or conversation in a storyline. I would miss your joy and enthusiasm if you wrote as a duty. Follow your heart and instincts!
I love the Avery Shaw series. I like her snarky independent ways. At first I wanted her with Jake but Elliot is perfect for her. I would like for Jake to find someone though. Maybe someone Avery gets in trouble with occasionally. 😉. I also love the Grimlocks. I was fortunately a winner in one of your contests. Once I received it I was hooked. Like someone else mentioned as long as the characters keep evolving keep on writing.
4/25/2017 10:05:52 am
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your books. Granted I have my favorites, we all do, but when the story is done, it's done. I don't like goodbyes anymore than anyone else, but I do ask a favor. Please, please, please, never leave us hanging, unless it's something beyond your control. I don't necessarily have to have a happy ending, I just need an ending to the series I read, both from you and others. I hope that's not asking for a lot. I don't want to be yet another one of those fans who place demands on the authors.
4/25/2017 10:25:39 am
I think when the read can tell, the author is no longer excited by the voices inhabiting the story - the series is too long
4/25/2017 03:59:51 pm
For me it isn't the number of books it's the POV changes. I like one character's view, the first one I'm introduced to. I know others are fine with multiple main characters. I like your writing, esp. The reapers, but for Midwest witches I read only books with Bay as POV character. Just my preference.
4/25/2017 04:48:55 pm
This is short but you should continue a series until you decide to end it 😊
4/25/2017 05:10:52 pm
I absolutely adore your Hardy Brothers Security series and am truly shocked that it didn't sell well. It is easily my favorite series of yours, and probably in my top 5 favorite book series overall. I SOOO appreciate that it went 24 books even though it may not have made the most financial sense for you. I also continue to hope that the characters may pop up again, especially Mandy and James! But I know what you mean, there are some series that have just run their course, yet the author continues to pump out new books with the same old story (or even worse, run the characters into the ground). It's certainly a fine line, but your creativity amazes me and you also seem to have a story to tell!
4/25/2017 05:22:56 pm
I think you should go as long as you have ideas for the series. If and when you get to the end please do not leave us hanging. I have read all the series and I am working on the reapers now. I have also read the book under the other name as well. I love you weighting and the way you tell the the story. Thanks and keep up the good work
4/25/2017 06:01:56 pm
I loved the Hardy Brothers series! I also love all of the other series as well. I think it is up to you when you are finished telling their story, but I will miss each one when they are completed.
4/25/2017 06:14:38 pm
For your series...NEVER!!!! I started with Wicked Witch series and binged read it until there weren't any left to read I didn't think I'd like the other series as much as that one but I have! I like to binge read them and I probably become a bad mom and wife because I become so obssessed! I'm so happy you shared the Hardy Brother series because now I've been reading that until there is a new release
4/25/2017 09:05:35 pm
I think a book series should end when the characters stop growing and/or plots start resembling previous plots. That said, I love all of your serial stories and could read them forever. I'm sad Aisling will bow out sooner rather than later. But as long as the ending is fulfilling, I'll look forward to whatever conclusion you have in mind.
4/26/2017 06:45:27 pm
As long as the characters are evolving, the series can last as long as the author comes up with good story lines. It's when the characters become stagnant or story lines start repeating that I stop reading a series. I love Avery Shaw (snark and sarcasm are second nature to me) and like how she's maturing. The Witches are still growing up and learning new ways to adapt to Aunt Tillie and the moms, not to mention the boyfriends. These series still work for me.
4/12/2020 06:27:38 am
There are lots of series that were better off with one installment. what could be the remans behind this? It is because it could have been better to have it stayed that way! As a writer, there was a pressure on you if ever you were inspired to put a second part of the story you wrote first. But as writer, you must know when to end a series. If you know that the story is not working anymore and it would bet better to put an end to the story then you must do it. I am sure that you are doing the right thing if ever.
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When I was a kid, I was torn between whether or not I was going to grow up and be the Incredible Hulk or Wonder Woman. I flirted with being a Jedi Knight for awhile, but I wasn't up for the intense travel associated with the gig. In my teens, I settled on being a writer -- although I had no idea the effort that would entail.