book series
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Why Read a Book Series? (Included: Tips to Write a Good Book Series)

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some series are amazing and keep you wanting more, and others lose their hold over the reader in book 3 or perhaps even 2. It all depends.

Why Read a Book Series?

Reading books in a series provides a detailed knowledge about the character(s). When you start book 2 you already know the main character(s) and you can understand their thoughts and actions, even anticipate plot directions. You get close to them and root for them throughout the series.

You care about the characters, have empathy for them, and perhaps it can even lead to empathy for others in your immediate surroundings if their situations relate.

Why Read a Book Series? (Included: Tips to Write a Good Book Series)
Photo by Vinicius Muller – on Unsplash

Especially prequels can give the reader so much more intimate background details and provide a better understanding of the world the author built in his/her book. For example, by the time you get to book 2 or 3 in the Harry Potter series (which is the most bestselling book series in history, by the way) you already know the Quidditch rules, some of the Ministry of Magic’s laws, and the Weasley Family’s quirky home appliances.

It is an author’s dream come true when readers dive into their books and follow their character’s journey through books 1, 2, and maybe even 3. I once read a ten-book series. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I finished it in two weeks. Not every series can achieve that, however.

What Makes a Good Book Series?

  • First of all, figure out what type of series you want to write.
    • Serial: the books have to be read in chronological order
    • Episodic: the books can be read in any order
    • Interlinked: the series takes place in the same world, featuring a cast of characters
  • Describe and expand your world, make the reader familiar with the world you have created.

    Relationships between book characters
    By Everton Vila – on Unsplash
  • Focus on relationships, not only between the characters in your book, but also interlinked between several books. For example, in an episodic series, books 2 can feature the descendants of the characters in book 1, or perhaps the cousins could show up.
  • Give depth to your characters. Show their internal struggles or issues they have with other characters they are close with. Show their moments of triumph, their personal growth.
    moment of triumph
    Photo by Matt Canon – on Unsplash

    Some side characters can also grow on the reader and you can surprise your reader by giving them a heroic role to play or making them an important part of the plot.

  • It’s very important that each book satisfies on its own. No fillers, no repetitions with different names and places.
  • Find unique ways to recap events from past books. Instead of just telling what happened, have a character from a previous installment make an appearance and remind the reader of the role he played in book 1. It could be anything.
  • When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Do not stretch this series endlessly if you have already come to the end. The end is the end.

Final Thoughts

I think that especially the last point can ruin a series. Write because the series isn’t over yet, and there is still a part of the story that needs to be told or perhaps there’s a character who needs his or her story told.

Do not write another book in the series just for the hell of it, to increase sales, for marketing purposes, or any other reason that has little to do with the story or the reader.

I think that a reader can tell when a book in a series is superfluous or might have been written for reasons of marketing. Of course, you can’t blame anyone for wanting to earn more money but not at the cost of your readers. If they love your characters or the story, then do not stretch it endlessly to get more book sales.

You can, of course, write spin-offs if a side character is so intriguing that he or she deserves their own book. It would be separate from the series plot and could be read as a standalone book. I once did that when I loved a side character in my first published book Aurélie – Survival (the first edition was published in 2013) and decided to tell his tale in a separate book.

Now that I’m working on The Fall of the Stone, the last one in the Stone Series, I know it will be goodbye after that book. There won’t be any more installments in this series. I do, nonetheless, love my harpies and their world I created, and it will be hard to say adieu to them. However, I guess it will be time to let them be for now 🙂

Have you ever read a great series where it was hard to leave the characters at the end? Or have you ever read a series that could have done without book 4 or 3? Let me know in the comments.

The Path of the Stone

8 thoughts on “Why Read a Book Series? (Included: Tips to Write a Good Book Series)

  1. Matt

    I used to read a chief medical examiner series(The Scarpetta Series) when I studied at university. I was intrigued by the storyline and keen to know who the murderer was for each new novel. The author tends to write about irrelevant plots that get you confused and lost, but later on, you will understand that all the pieces will connect. The series was good, but there have been no new books published since 2016, which I am still waiting for… 🙂

    1. Christine

      Hi Matt,

      It’s interesting that the author hasn’t published any new books since 2016. I wonder why. It reminds me of Harper Lee who didn’t publish a book for 55 years after she published To Kill a Mockingbird.

  2. Ceci

    Serials are absolutely delightful books to read. I love them – most of the ones I have read anyway – The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood, Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis, Roman Count Down by David P Wagner are a few. It takes an author with great skill to keep churning them out – and not for marketing purposes. However, a good writer knows when to end a series as you rightly stated.

    What are good examples of Episodic books that can be read in any order.?

    1. Christine

      Hi Ceci,

      To be honest, I’ve never read an episodic series before. I just went on Google to research some and I found “the Vlad Taltos series” as an example. Those books can be read in any order.
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Maylynn

    Hello Christi,
    I used to read book series a lot. One that really comes to mind is Dune. I believe there were 7 books in all. It was a fantastic story. Another one I read was a vampire series, but I forget the name. It was years ago. The gunslinger by Stephen King is another I enjoyed reading. And the Earth’s Children series was great story, starting with Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Aul. Still have the hard cover copies of that one. Anyway, great article. Write on!

    1. Christine

      It looks like you love to read 🙂
      I’ve never read The Gunslinger or Dune before but I heard that they both are very good.
      Thank you for stopping by!

  4. William

    Hi Christi, Great article on ‘Why Read a Book Series, Tips to Write a Good Book Series’. I do love to read. I used to read only non-fiction, but in my 40’s I guess it was I started to read fiction and fell in love. I have hundreds of books, mostly hard copies, but now my digital collection is expanding. I must admit I haven’t really read any book series, I’ve seen series movies, ugh ! haha. I think after reading your post I am going out to search for a series I can really get into !

    1. Christine

      Hi William,

      That’s great, I hope you find a book series to your liking. There is nothing better than to fall in love with the characters of a book, and then to be sorry to say goodbye to them when you reach the end of the story, right? 🙂

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One harpy rebellion. Two parallel stories, two different worlds, even two different centuries -- In Camden Town, London, Eva leaves a party with a stolen jacket, followed by her ex-boyfriend, Darryn. She has no idea what dangerous item is hidden in her pocket. When her hand closes around it and its heat sears her skin, the ground splits open, whisking her and Darryn away into an underground time tunnel. Darryn’s brother Daniel, who is the only witness to the strange event, retrieves the Stone, unwittingly unleashing its owner, Aeron. Aeron, a creature of darkness, weakened by the loss of the Stone, is set on killing Daniel and recovering his lost power. However, Calliope, a wayward harpy, puts a stop to his plan, snatching Daniel out of his grasp and whisking him away into the world of harpies.

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