It has happened to all of us at least once while reading. We will find a wonderful book that starts a series… only to discover the series died with the first title. Without fail, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Long before I was an author, I was a reader, and nothing disappointed me quite as much as the death of a series. I prided myself on reading obscure titles, but with the obscurity came a higher percentage of series that died partway through.
Why does this happen? What can we, as readers, do to stop it?
It wasn’t until I became an author that I really understood the death of a good series. With the growth of self-publishing, some series die because their author has lost interest in the books—or their circumstances have changed. For example, a romance author may abandon a series because of a divorce in his or her life.
What made them write the books in the first place was snuffed out due to real life. Some authors pick up the pen later in life. Some never return to the series they left behind.
There are lots of reasons an author might choose to abandon a series—or be forced to quit it. In the traditional world, the publisher holds the contract—and they can dictate whether or not a book will see the light of day. If an author signed a three-book deal but the first book flopped, the remaining two books might be lost to purgatory for a few years.
Once freed from contractual obligation, there is a high chance the author has moved on to a new series—or they quit writing altogether.
The death of a series is something that still happens today, and it happens for the same reasons they did in the past. Sometimes the author abandons the series for personal reasons.
More often than not, they abandon the series for financial ones. Either their publisher doesn’t have faith in the stories—or readers simply aren’t buying the books.
If you are enjoying a series and you want to see it stick around, buy the books. Leave a good review for the author and potential readers. Tell your friends about the book.
The effort of one fan can turn the tides for a good book.
A publisher recently released a diagram showing the anatomy of a bestseller, and the source was extremely surprising. It began with a single review by a prominent member of Goodreads. From there, the review spread, and people began buying the book. It snowballed. As more readers picked up the title and left reviews, more readers bought the book.
A single title became a runaway bestseller in less than two weeks, all because of a single review from a person who loved the book and had the courage to say why.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.