Series or Standalone: What do Readers Prefer?


What Do Readers Prefer: Series or Standalones?

The advantage to writing a series are many. Marketers like marketing a series. What about readers? According to a survey by Written Word Media, it appears most readers have no preference, though some do prefer a series. This means which ever appeals to a given writer, will appeal to a given reader.

So, whether series or standalone, what keeps a reader turning the pages?

Obviously, readers do not want to be ‘bored’. That goes without saying. So, what really keeps them turning the pages? According to the survey mentioned, they want a plot that keeps them engaged, which means pacing and either tension or suspense. What they don’t want are uninteresting, one dimensional characters and overdone descriptions. Too much narrative or backstory weighs a story down. Grammar mistakes or spelling errors can kick a reader out of their suspension of disbelief. The emphasis needs to be on a well a developed plot and fully dimensional characters. This is essential for both a series and a standalone.

What writers need to know when marketing a series or a standalone.

First, even successful authors realize that offering the first book in the series for free or at a low cost will garner new readers. According to marketers, the economics of writing and selling are easier when authors write a series. This also goes for authors who write standalones. Marketing the first standalone with giveaways or at a reduce cost will garner readers.

What readers like and expect is a book that is in line with their expectations.

This is true from the illustrated cover to the written description of the book. If it is a series, the author must relate this in the description so the reader can expect that some plot threads will be left unresolved. Readers want to be surprised by the unfolding of a story, but definitely not confused by the ending. According to this survey, readers absolutely hate cliff endings. Gently lead the reader to the next in the series. Whether a series or a standalone, unresolved, confusing or unsatisfying endings lead to poor reviews.

Last, though not least, make your books easy to find and to buy. A website with links to your books and reviews will up your readership.


A Thousand Miles of History VII: The early birds and the Tinners Hare

Fantastic art and stained glass in these churches. The beauty is astounding.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

12 Tavistock, church, river, drake, waterfall (74)

We were, as always, up and out early. This time we were on a mission of hope… we hoped the church would be open, as it looked too good to miss and we were meeting the girls a few miles away that morning too.

12 Tavistock, church, river, drake, waterfall (96)

You might have thought we’d be all churched out after the marathon on Saturday, where we had visited seven of them, but each one is an adventure… you never know what you will find. What we found in Tavistock was an open door and morning prayers in progress. Withdrawing quietly, out of respect, we went for a walk through the old town, watched the birds foraging for breakfast… then tried again. This time, we were in luck.

12 Tavistock, church, river, drake, waterfall (94)

The church of St Eustachius is one of only two dedicated to the saint in Britain. Eustachius was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity in the second century…

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The Giant and the Sun – The pattern in the landscape (A Thousand Miles of History)

Fascinating article. History holds so many questions…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Leaving the church, we gathered in the little garden beside it which, so the church’s Keeper of the Keys would later tell us, had been sold to them for the princely sum of £1, with the sole proviso that the garden be used. Beside its gate is another fragment of the old Abbey, bearing once again the symbol of St Catherine’s wheel… which seemed fairly appropriate considering what we were about to do.

The gardens are a beautiful and peaceful spot, tucked under the wing of the church. The air is fragrant with the perfume of herbs and old roses. Apples grow on carefully tended trees and there are bees and butterflies in abundance. We gathered around a small, paved square lined with benches to start the next part of our adventure.

We had been convinced to hold a workshop at Cerne Abbas because of a feeling and a…

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How to Use PowerPoint to Outline your Story into a Storyboard


I love using a storyboard  to outline my chapters. PowerPoint makes this easy:

  • Once you set up the platform design, it is so easy to revise and edit your outline.
  • It is very easy to move individual chapters around either in the storyboard itself or
  • By moving the chapter slides on the left side of the page as you revise your story
  • I love to highlight important elements within the chapters using different colors.
  • Once you are satisfied with each chapter outline, or slide, print it out for viewing.
  • I keep my outlines in a binder for quick reviewing.

Life Lyrics

Her Heart     Life Lyrics ©2020

Her mind-numbing life

her relentless job

ringing up groceries

him sauntering up

slapping down a pack of gum

winking at her

with a bold brown eye

her blue eyes fluttering

him licking his lips

making his move

Metallic blue eyeliner

lips the color of a bruise

he smiles

thinking he knows her type

Now she’s gone and done it

caught his eye

she looks younger than she is

sweet youth, dewy-eyed

an object of desire and jealousy

vulnerable at times

but she is a keen observer

of sly grins and brown eyes

knows the pitfalls and potholes

fearless sometimes

most often desperate

He is not her dream

but he is here

wanting her

brown eyes

drawing her in

she’s been here before

on the losing end

He promises everything

gives her nothing

but a single drawer

and crumpled sheets

covers her with hot kisses

While she tastes

his lying breath

He wants more

always more of her

brown eyes slant

his lantern jaw tight

a curl of fists

She is caught

against a wall

biting her lip

Her hands shaking

she covers bruises

colored purple

applies makeup

fingers to swollen lips

painted red

She smooths the cheap

yellow dress he bought

listens for his steps

knows the odds

are against her

praying he’s forgotten

his black mood

with every beat of her heart

He sneers a grin

pulls at her

hands hard against

her blue veined skin

breathless she awaits

his snores

She’s saved cash

a fist full of crumpled green

enough to take her

somewhere, anywhere

away from him.

The grimy bus windows

fogged with gray rain

reflect a ghost

her backpack with

everything she owns

caught between her

muddied sneakers

the miles passing

with every beat of her heart.


A Must Read: Becoming Lili, by Julia Blake


Julia Blake has crafted a story, not only rich in details, but equally rich in the characters you wish were your friends. The story begins as a coming of age story of a lonely young girl neglected by her self-obsessed parents, and who suffered unimaginable bullying at school. The one constant good thing in the girl’s life was her grandmother who gave her the love she so desperately needed. When her grandmother dies, she bequeaths her considerable fortune and her beautiful old home to her granddaughter. This is the catalyst that jump starts the girl on her road to transformation.

However, it would take more than money for this lonely girl to begin to believe in herself. It was a vision, a moment out of time, that Phyllis glimpsed what her future self could be. From that moment on, she steadfastly went about changing herself into the vision she’d glimpsed. And that future girl’s name was Lili. Lili was elegant, self-assured and surrounded by dear friends.

Her own lonely, beleaguered past filled the new Lili with insight into others’ desires and loneliness. Like a magnet, Lili drew these disparate people to her. Their problems, loves and trials became hers. And they became devoted to her. They became the family she never had.

One night, at an engagement party for a friend, Lili meets a man who she instantly feels is the love of her life. She is crushed to find him already married. Lili has never had a boyfriend, never been in love, yet she loves this man with a woman’s heart. She tried to forget him, though time and circumstance brought them together again and again. Their mutual attraction binds them, yet Lili refuses to be the catalyst that destroys a marriage, even a marriage that is hollow and full of lies.

This is a remarkable story of love and sacrifice; a story of friends who become a family; a story of love lost and found again. This is the kind of story that resonates long after the last word is read. I totally fell in love with this wonderful novel. It’s the kind of novel you will read again and again.


How to Write Unforgettable Endings

How to write endings


Five Rules for Choosing an Ending:

1-An ending should seem inevitable without seeming predictable

2-An ending should be satisfying to the reader, that is, it makes sense.

3-An ending should be unforgettable.

4-An ending is not about what happens, but how it happens. Loose ends should be resolved in a meaningful way.

5-The ending should illuminate the context and characters in the story.

How to Choose an Ending:

Writers spend hours if not days agonizing over how to end a novel, when basically, there are only 5 possible endings! This is based on your protagonist being happy, unhappy or have changed what he or she wanted or didn’t want.

1-Happy: The protagonists sets out to accomplish what she desires and succeeds. She’s happy.

2-Unhappy: The protagonist gets what she wants but decides it doesn’t make her happy.

3-Happy: The protagonist doesn’t get what he wants. Still, he is happy because he got something unexpected, something he likes better.

4-Unhappy: The protagonist doesn’t get what she wants because of her own flaws. Such as, she doesn’t realize until it is too late what she has lost forever, her true love.

5-Neither happy or unhappy: The protagonist changes his mind about what he wants and is content to keep searching for what he wants, or sacrifices what he wants for someone, or something else.

Endings to Avoid at all Costs:

1-The No-ending Ending: This is when the story ends without explanation. The writer makes the reader guess. Ugh. No one likes this ending.

2-The Twilight Zone Ending: The writer doesn’t compose an ending that evolves out of conflicts the characters face; instead, the writer slaps on a twist ending, a contrivance.

Synopsis from Fiction First Aid, by Raymond Obstfeld