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Author Topic: How do you feel about stand-alone books?  (Read 16070 times)

Offline Raptori

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2015, 11:08:40 PM »
Yeah each WoT book so far (currently reading #6) builds towards its own climax, but it does feel like one continuous story more than separate ones.  :)

ah.  you're about to hit the go-nowhere-land-of-subplots that are books 7 through 11.  the story and the world just had so much going on that it kind of spun out of his control.  have no fear, tho.  once sanderson picks it up, he storms through, tying up most of the loose ends.  and the last couple books roar through to a close, all packed with adrenalin and stuff.
Yep! I'm prepared to soldier on through it, since by now I'm invested in the characters and the story (plus we've already bought the books) - though I guess that 1.5 million words into a story you'd kinda expect that!  ;) That's where Malazan lost me really, I didn't care about anyone or anything that was happening so I moved on to books that I did care about.  :P
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2015, 11:20:16 PM »
Hmm, when I think of all my favorite books, I guess you could say I prefer stand-alones over stories that span multiple books. I think the better answer is in that last idea, in that I prefer stories that are relatively finished in one book.

Not a fan of cliff-hangers (not since I mostly got out of YA), but that's an entirely different discussion.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #32 on: July 10, 2015, 12:42:35 AM »
Humour may work better for standalones than other types of fantasy. Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, while being part of a larger series were all largely standalone. A. Lee Martinez has written over 10 books and none of them are sequels. They're all short standalones. One of the more epic, but still short by todays standards standalones is Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword. There's also Charles G. Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao, very short, definitely standalone and will stay with the reader for a while after having read it. The trilogy seemed to be established for high fantasy after the publisher broke The Lord of the Rings up into 3 volumes for marketing reasons.
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Offline Hedin

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2015, 01:22:41 AM »
Humour may work better for standalones than other types of fantasy. Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, while being part of a larger series were all largely standalone. A. Lee Martinez has written over 10 books and none of them are sequels. They're all short standalones. One of the more epic, but still short by todays standards standalones is Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword. There's also Charles G. Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao, very short, definitely standalone and will stay with the reader for a while after having read it. The trilogy seemed to be established for high fantasy after the publisher broke The Lord of the Rings up into 3 volumes for marketing reasons.

Despite the themes of LoTR I have always felt like it's biggest influence on the genre was that it gave a precedent to trilogies and beyond (even though it was intended as one book).   If it had been published as just one long novel I do wonder if we would have the series structure we have now.

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2015, 04:52:56 AM »
I enjoy sequels, trilogies and series. If I fall in love with a world and character in one book, I usually want to see them again. And given the amount of time that goes into building worlds, it's hardly surprising that fantasy writers want to create long, elaborate histories and epic struggles that allow them to set multiple books in each universe.

Having said this, though, stand-alone books are nice too. Sometimes I want to try something that is complete in one novel without committing to multiple volumes.

And a book that end on a cliffhanger when the next book in the series isn't available to me yet? That drives me nuts.

Offline Francis Knight

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2015, 12:27:40 AM »
I love reading standalones as much as I love series, maybe more

But sell one? Unlikely*


Fantasy readers (as a whole)love a series. so they get what they want



*maybe when I am Abercrombie...


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Offline YordanZh

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2015, 06:33:45 AM »

Fantasy readers (as a whole)love a series. so they get what they want


Yeah, but here's the thing - most people that I talk with about it (both in forums like here or in person) say that they actually love/like stand-alones and that there are just not enough of them out there. I've worked selling books for a while and everyday I'd have customers asking me for good fantasy stand-alones.
Yes, many of us (me included) like/love series as well, but it's not often you hear someone say "No, I don't like stand-alones, I read only series". Yet we buy mostly series.

Offline Francis Knight

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2015, 10:30:44 AM »
I suspect it is one o' them there circular things, and also suspect that it comes down to one simple thing

Series have better sales figures, so they put out more series.

Unless your name is enough to get people to pick the book up anyway, because your name will bring in the sales.

Bit of a bugger really*, but there you are, series are easier to sell than standalones (not that it's impossible to sell a standalone but)



*I love love love writing standalones
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2015, 06:36:24 PM »
Series have better sales figures, so they put out more series.

Unless your name is enough to get people to pick the book up anyway, because your name will bring in the sales.

Makes sense... I imagine it probably works like this: A reader is more likely to buy a book in the same world as a book they liked, therefore they are more likely to buy the next book in a series, than to buy a book by an author they don't know. Similarly, a reader is probably more likely to buy a book not in the same world, but by the author they know, than a book written by an author they don't... Essentially, I'm sure it's much easier to resell the thing your reader is already familiar with (be it the world or the author), than it is to sell them something new. Especially when the thing you're trying to sell is an assurance of quality.

Offline tebakutis

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2015, 10:09:50 PM »
I'm sure someone has mentioned this already, but from what I know about traditional publishing (I know a number of authors who've been published through Tor and other publishers) it's rare for traditional publishers who sign a new author to ever sign a deal for one book. I understand three book deals are the norm, with the publisher evaluating their relationship with the author after that based on how they sold. So, the fact that you're seeing so many trilogies is probably related to that.

For my part, I think the first book in any new world (whether it is standalone or series) should stand alone, regardless. I don't like first books that don't tell a complete story ... if an author can't tell at least one complete story in 120,000 words, I worry the series will be a slog. IMO, the best trilogy model is the first three Stars Wars films. Star Wars stands alone (it sets up the universe, but tells a complete story), while Empire Strikes Back is obviously a series book (with the cliffhanger ending) and Return of the Jedi wraps everything up.

So ultimately, my *only* real dislike is if a first book in a trilogy ends without resolving the immediate conflict it introduced. Once I pick up the second book in any series, I've basically signed up for the fact that this story will take place over multiple volumes ... so I'm not going to complain about cliffhangers at that point.

Some examples of series books where the first book stands alone (BTW, you should read these if you haven't already!):

- American Craftsman by Tom Doyle
- Iroshi by Cary Osborne
- Crossover by Joel Shepherd
- Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks

Offline Francis Knight

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2015, 11:59:20 PM »
The standard advice is to write/pitch a book as "a standalone with series potential" to cover your bases

Ofc people like Abercrombie just make a mockery of that :D

Personally, I like every book to wrap up a main plot thread, even if it leaves an avenue for a sequel ( as said, a la Star  Wars)

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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #41 on: July 12, 2015, 12:16:42 AM »
I like standalones as a reader. I've yet to figure out how to write one. Sure, I can write a book in which the main plot is resolved and there's a satisfying conclusion, but there's always more story for me to tell afterward.

If I wrote a standalone, it would probably be really, really long.

Offline Elfy

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Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #42 on: July 12, 2015, 01:28:37 AM »
I think Francis hit the nail on the head when she said 'with series potential'. There's different types of series. Plenty of series have books that can standalone, but they're still part of a series. Discworld is a great example of it, so are the early Harry Dresdens. They're complete stories. If there was only one available and you read that, you'd still get some sense of closure from it. You can continue if you want to, but don't HAVE to. The polar opposite of that is A Song of Ice and Fire. Each book ends on massive cliffhangers, and if you want the rest of the story and some sense of completeness you HAVE to read the next book. I know J. V. Jones said when she pitched her first book it was part of a trilogy and she said that she rather cheekily didn't tell anyone it was a trilogy until she'd secured a deal, because she didn't think that they'd pick her up if they knew it was a trilogy. So tastes and and what people want change over time. I'm personally a bit fed up of the cliffhanger series now, and like to read something that is relatively self contained, so that I'm not kept hanging on to see what happened after the final page of that installment. Some standalones also turn into series later on when the author releases a new book. Do we call Katherine Neville's The Eight a duology, because years later when books on different subjects with other characters didn't work so well and she wrote a sequel? (The Fire is an awful book by the way, it should be burned in a fire, and ranks as one of the worst books I've ever read). Is The Hobbit part of a series, because it's in many ways a prequel to The Lord of the Rings?

Offline Lejays17

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2015, 05:54:26 AM »
I like both series and standalones, I go through phases of reading both types.

I've just finished a standalone Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and am perfectly happy with this being a one-and-only book set in this world.

Like Elfy said, Discworld is a series that can be read as standalones as well.  I tend to dip in and out of that (I have particualr favourites that I re-read a lot)
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Offline YordanZh

Re: How do you feel about stand-alone books?
« Reply #44 on: August 09, 2015, 07:06:02 PM »
Hay fellas, thanks for the input! I recently wrote a blog post on the subject - largely thanks to your opinions - and today I finally translated it into English (after two weeks delay):
http://yzfantasy.com/2900/long-fantasy-series/
Cheers!