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.
4 thoughts on “Series or Standalone: What do Readers Prefer?”
If a book leaves me with a cliffhanger ending, I will start yelling–and I will never read anything by that author again.
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I agree. Cliff hangers the product of a lack of creativity or lazy writing. Drives me crazy too! And I will never again read anything by that author as well.
For me, a well paced plot is very important, but most above all, I need to an interesting main character- and that definitely stands whether it’s a series or standalone!
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Hi Chris, yes, for me it’s all about the main character, the depth of character and growth as the character moves through the story. I’ve read that series are easier to market, though I don’t often read series. If the character resonates, I will read the book again.