Random Thoughts of a Romance Blogger: What’s a Series?

Posted September 2, 2016 by Francesca in Random Thoughts, Under the Covers / 18 Comments

randomthoughts

What’s a Series?

 

Sometimes we assume that everyone has the same perception of things as we do, and when we realize that others see things a bit differently it always makes me wonder what’s right and what’s wrong.  I had a conversation with a friend of mine earlier this week, and later on with Annie as well, about what do we all consider a series should be.  And I’ll admit we all had the same idea.  So it makes me wonder how and why the concept of a series of books can be seen differently by other people and I’d love to hear your opinions.

To me a series is any collection of books that can follow the same characters throughout one large story arc that takes a few books to unfold (like most young adult or urban fantasy, and some contemporary romances), or (as with most other romance series) it’s a collection of standalone novels that are based on some sort of a common thread.  Maybe they are set in the same world, or based on a group of related characters such as friends or families.  I can’t wrap my head around the concept that if it’s a separate couple getting their HEA and for all intents and purposes you can read it without reading the others because they aren’t necessarily mentioned, that it shouldn’t be considered a series.  To me that’s still a series, and as with most blurbs or reviews, the author or reviewer can mention that the book can be read as a standalone.  I have no problems with that.

The problem once you don’t list the connection and make it a series is that for one, it takes away the element of a reading order for the people that do want to read them all so that it’s easy to know which one goes first.  This has made me have to go look at release dates for certain books to figure out which one I need to read next.  Major pain in the ass.

The series reader in me would much rather read a series of interconnected (even loosely) standalone novels.  Those are my absolute favorites.  I also love series with a continuing story arc for the same characters such as is the case with urban fantasy.  And I also love reading series with individual couples per book where the romance has full closure at the end of the book but there is overall plot that spans several books in the series and these should not be read out of order, like it’s the case with most paranormal romances.  I am NOT a fan of contemporary romance series that follow the same couple.  Most authors drag these books out so much that I end up not enjoying a couple that I would’ve otherwise liked had it been wrapped up quickly.  All these options are all still considered a series in my opinion.  I have seen people consider the interconnected standalone novels as regular standalones instead of a series.  Do you see it that way?  If so, why?

A standalone to me should be exactly that.  Standalone.  I shouldn’t see characters in that book from another book, nor should any of them be related, or all visit the same club in town.  A perfect example that comes to mind of that right use of standalone but with such a slim and almost unnoticed cameo is COCKY BASTARD and STUCK-UP SUIT by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward.  Yes, there’s a tiny glimpse of a guy walking a goat in the latter, but other than that, those stories stand completely alone.  There’s not a single thing tying those characters together, so I don’t consider them a series.  A lot of other books though, I think are not classified properly.

 

So my question to you guys is… which side of the equation do you fall on?
What would you consider a series, and what shouldn’t be in your opinion?
And for that matter, what do you prefer to read?
Series (and if so which kind) or standalones?

 

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Francesca

Blogger/Reviewer at Under the Covers Book Blog
I’m a 30 something sun lover living in the Big Apple (read New York).I’m a book and coffee addict and lover of all things elephants.

I get easily distracted by pictures of sexy guys and have tons of book boyfriends.I keep all my alpha males chained to my basement and guard them fiercely.*Back off bitches*I like to see Jason Momoa as a lot of those boyfriends, because ….. mmmmmmm JASON.MOMOA!

I’m a part time graphic designer (yes, everything you see on UTC has been done by me), run my husband's business from home and on a good day I’m a self appointed superwoman (she who can do it all).I love blogging with my girls and I couldn’t do it any other way!My first love is everything paranormal, but in the past few years I’ve re-learned to love contemporary romance.Every once in a while I like to mix things up with a historical romance, a steampunk or an LGBT book.Because I need variety to avoid book slumps.I don’t always need an HEA although I prefer one, and I love authors that can rip my heart out and make me ugly cry.
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Sharlene WegnerAmy RAmiKristen @ Metaphors and MoonlightGinelle Recent comment authors
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Minnie
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Minnie

Hey Fran:

I’m completely with you. I need to see a tangible connection between books, be it characters or a place, for me to consider it a series. And I do love my series. But like you say I can’t read a series of books (specially contemporary) that follow a single character or couple. That is doubly so when it is in first person POV. But I do love a series of books that have different couples in them like Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers (m-f) series or Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley (m-m) series.

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Under the Covers Book Blog

Yes! Exactly that. BTW I’ve had the Nightkeepers on my TBR forever!

Lisa Richards
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Lisa Richards

First thing you need to do is bookmark https://www.fantasticfiction.com/. This is my go-to source when unsure of the right sequence for reading a series and if the author considers certain books as a series. I consider it a series if they take place in the same world or follow a family/character. I don’t mind it they can be read as a standalone or if they are so closely connected that you MUST read them in order.

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I have the same definition of a series, but some authors don’t. And that’s my point, is when the author DOESN’T consider their books a series and they should, it makes things more complicated than they should be for readers. Meaning you won’t find the reading order posted easily anywhere because it’s not really considered a series unless some reader takes it upon themselves to put them in the proper order for others.

Kathleen Bylsma
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Kathleen Bylsma

Agree….connectivity….depends on the book….but hoping Charlaine Harris writes another Midnight Texas!!!!!!!!

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I was so disappointed with Sookie Stackhouse that I never picked up the Midnight Texas books.

Lynnette
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Lynnette

I agree completely with you about what defines a series. Even with standalones that have a loose connection there is normally reference to a couple who came before. I can only think of 1 contemporary series about the same couple that I didnt and still dont get bored by. I think thst though is because the story is detailed and not drawn out and there are some major events that they have to get through. I think even if an author doesnt consider their works as series they should make it easy to find the published order so that those… Read more »

Timitra
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Timitra

I totally agree with you Francesca. I love series doesn’t matter what genre I also love standalones provided they don’t leave me wanting a secondary character(s) to get their HEA

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I agree with your distinction between what constitutes a standalone and as opposed to a series… what I dislike are spin-offs… when I’ve come to the end of a series, I’m usually ready for it to be the end…I’m not against a ‘where are they now’ after time has passed though

Pansy Petal
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Pansy Petal

Oh my! This is such a complex question with, as you suggested, the complexity being the definition of series. Mostly I agree with what you say – a series needs some connecting thread. My issue or question – how does each story end? Does the couple/mystery/whatever of the story get resolved leaving only an overarching background thread hanging? OR is there an overt cliffhanger? Cliffhangers, in my opinion, are not series. They are serials. I don’t care if the book is 25 pages or 725 pages. If you leave me hanging it is a serial. It ticks me off and… Read more »

ML
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ML

Yes! Authors, please list your series and reading order on your website. And there is a big difference between series and a serial. I detest the latter, and I’m with you–the writing of serials becomes such a soap opera that by the time you’re at the end of the serial, you just don’t care about that couple anymore.

Sophia Rose
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Sophia Rose

I would agree with you and many times did an ‘override’ in my review on how the book was labeled by author or publisher as a result. I typed in that the book was connected to such and such book/s by characters, plot, or setting and (if I knew) which one should be read first chronologically. The publisher or the authors many times have books listed as standalones that are not (imo). But I also distinguish between what ‘series’ means. A duo or trilogy or serial fall under the series umbrella for me, but I distinguish them from series much… Read more »

Jonetta (Ejaygirl)
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Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

I’m with you to a T!!! It’s very annoying these days when authors feel some sort of pressure to sell the next book as a standalone to increase sales to new readers. All that ends up happening is the uninformed reader ending up with a lukewarm experience because they were unaware of the connected books.

I’ve written about this before and I’m hoping to see this distressing trend by publishers and authors cease.

Ginelle
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Ginelle

I consider a series anything that has to do with the same characters or same town. A group of books that have the same-ish theme. Stories told until the end is finally revealed.

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
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Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

I do refer to them all as series, but I feel like there should be another word for those series that follow different MCs in each book because they’re just a completely different thing to me than series that follow the same characters with one big story ARC. And I don’t like those kinds that have different MCs, so I’d like to know ahead of time what I’m getting into. I hate that I have to take extra time and effort to go look at the blurb for the second book just to see if it mentions the same characters.… Read more »

Ami
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Ami

I totally agree with you … a series should have at least similarity in either same characters or same world-built (which includes small town where the couples happen, or a group of friends/siblings, etc, as often happen in CR). I like both series and stand alone. I mean, most urban fantasy I read are series and they can be very satisfying as I read about the character’s progress. But yeah, I don’t like to read CR with same couple. They tend to be boring. At least in UF/PR usually there are threats that the couple should work on.

Amy R
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Amy R

I agree with you about what a series should be. I also prefer the connected series (like Lauren Dane’s Brown Siblings) or series that have a story arc per book plus a continuation story arc ( like the Mercy Thompson series) vs one large story arc that takes several books.

Sharlene Wegner
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Sharlene Wegner

I refuse to read book “series” that follow the same lead characters in more than one book. I want a couple to have their own book that ends at the end of that book with a HEA. I like connected series books in which the different couples are relatives or friends. I agree with you that a book is a standalone if the couples do not appear and interact in the other books. I am actually relieved by standalone books sometimes because you can just read it & be done!