Monday, October 11, 2010

Where Are the Stand Alone Books?

While I was doing my library inventory (yeah, I typed up every book in my library) I found that I had maybe book 1 or a few books from a series. Which led me to look over my list and I saw that the majority of my books were part of a series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, Haunting Emma by Lee Nichols, Maximum Ride by James Patterson, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Num8ers by Rachel Ward, The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa and Fins by Tera Lynn Childs just to name a few that are found in my library.

This led to my question: where are all of those stand alone books? These days, more and more authors are writing series. Everywhere I see: book one of this series or a new series by whomever. Honestly, I can only name a few authors that I know who have stand alone books: Sarah Dessen, Susan Colasanti, Elizabeth Scott, Lauren Oliver, and many others (whose names fail to come into my head as I write this!)

I have to say that I miss stand alone novels. Why? Okay, with a series, when one book ends, we start thinking of things that can happen and who the character will chose. Then, when the second book comes out, we find out what happens and who the character chooses and the story continues. Now in a stand alone, the reader can finish the book and whatever he/she thinks will happen next is up to them to decide and not the author. Of course the author would never leave us with a cliff hanger in a standalone…but we all have those minor characters we want to know more about. Not to mention the burning question: What will happen next?

With a standalone, I loved imagining what would happen next and I didn’t need to think “the author will come out with a new book and I’ll get to see what happens.” With a standalone, I had the liberty to kill off a character I didn’t like or change the ending in my own way.
Then again, there are reasons I can think of as to why there are so many series coming out:

1. The Plot
As a read and book reviewer, having a good plot is a must. But have a plot period is also a must. So I guess when an author thinks of a story idea, a plot comes with it. The author will also realize that the story will not be able to be told in one book alone and therefore, a series is needed. I remember with The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, it was supposed to be a trilogy but he was unable to finish it with three books, so it is no longer a trilogy.

2. What Will Sell
I’m not too sure about this one, but again, this is all my opinion so here goes: there might be many series out there simply because that’s what will sell. Many readers what more and more books about the same characters so why not give them what they want? After all, they are the ones who determine if your book will sell or not, right?

3. The Length
This kind of goes back to the plot but then it doesn’t. Why? Basically because no matter how un-detailed or detailed the plot is written down, most of the times the book is different. Some things just change when the author is writing the actual book, so the length of the book changes. Take, again, The Inheritance Cycle. There were supposed to be three books but with the length, it ended up being four. So no matter how amazing plots are, sometimes, the books have their own minds.

4. The Genres
This one might surprise you a bit and it surprised me too! I was tweeting with @AReadersRecord and she talked about Urban Fantasy and Paranormal books. This got me thinking: a lot of the UB and Paranormal books are part of a series. So does the genre of the book have anything to do with whether it’s a series or not? I think the answer is yes. A lot of YA books like contemporaries can be just one book and not necessarily a series. We can have characters and conflicts and the conflicts can be resolved at the end of the book. But when it comes to UB and Paranormal and Dystopian and even Steampunk books, we get introduced to characters with powers or living in a world that co-exists with ours and there is no way an author can pull of writing just one book…it turns into a series. Do you know what I’m trying to say? Like The Hunger Games, a Dystopian by Suzanne Collins. Do you think she could have written only The Hunger Games and not the other two books? The Hunger Games has one conflict in it that is resolved at the end of that book. But then another conflict arises and we need a second book to resolve it. 

So that's about it! I hope this doesn't sound too much like a rant because it's not. It's a discussion topic! So now my question to you is:

Why do YOU think there are more series' than stand alones these days?

And if you guys know of more authors with stand alone books, please let me know! I prefer YA authors (it can have UB and Dystopian and stuff) but all authors will do!  


  1. You named exactly who I would have given as exampled had I not been continually constricted by 140 character limits... which still leads me to the whole most of YA standalone titles seem to be in the Chick Lit category.

    Perhaps it also has to do with during chick lit we that is centered around a romance it tends to have the meet-up, the getting to know you, the struggles, then the falling in happily-ever-after-love (sometimes not, but lets keep this basic.) With the Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and those alike genres you seem to have a complex series of plots.

    With romance you only want to see so much kissy-kissy and there is only so much we can see. But when there is supernatural forces at work we have a lot more option.

    I don't know. I tend to flip flop in what I am in the mood to read. Sometimes I devour series whole and sometimes I need a stand alone.

    -Stacey @ Flippin' Fabulous - A Reader's Record

  2. I want to find the standalones too! Where did they go?! I love what you said about killing off characters, haha.
    *raises hand*
    I do that too!

    Awesome post!

  3. I was totally just thinking about this recently when I was looking through my book collection.

    I like series but I do crave stand alone's lately, but sometimes you get curious about what happens next!

  4. Natalie Standiford's Robot book and Robin Brande's Fat Cat are two that come to mind.
    Alison Can Read

  5. awesome post!! you are so right about everything. i definitely see more series happening with urban fantasy and not really contemporaries.

    but you're so right about reading a standalone and being satisfied with the ending without saying-when does the next one come out!!

  6. I know! Most YA books are in a series *sad. Well, I don't like having to imagine the ending myself, I prefer the author to decide, but that doesn't mean I need a series. and I absolutely HATE HATE waiting for the next book. By that time I probably forgot lots of details. -__- Some series can be read as standalone though, like the Numbers by Rachel Ward, and Simone Elkeles books, since they have different main characters. LOL I don't really know many YA authors with standalone books, I only know Sophie Kinsella (other than Shopaholic series, hers are all standalones), Cecelia Ahern, Nicholas Sparks, and I don't know who else. :D

  7. I must admit, I've always been a sucker for a series--will even prefer that format over a standalone most of the time. This is because I find myself getting deeply invested with the characters. If there's a way to believably continue those characters' stories, then I love having the chance to revisit both them and their world! (This is also the reason why I prefer TV shows over movies, heh.)