Author Topic: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?  (Read 1571 times)  

Offline Gareth K Pengelly

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What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
« on: October 28, 2020, 12:00:15 pm »
Most people say to write series as a trilogy, or maybe two trilogies.

I'm already on book eleven of my main series, and don't see many signs of stopping. And after each book, people ask me when the next one is coming.

So question is - how long have you seen series go on for? And what's the longest one you've written yourself?

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    Offline Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #1 on: October 28, 2020, 12:31:59 pm »
    Longest I've written? 6 books, not including related spin-offs.

    Longest I've read? As a kid, I liked the Babysitter's Club books. There were 213 written, but I probably only read about half.

    I've seen a few indie series go on for 30+ books. If readers are still enjoying revisiting those characters and worlds and the author still has ideas, might as well keep 'em coming. Me, I usually see enough drop-off in read through by book 6 that I'm ready to move on to something new. I also get a little tired of my characters by then and feel ready to start fresh. There's always some shiny new idea beckoning.

    Offline Louis_Park

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #2 on: October 28, 2020, 12:40:44 pm »
    Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series is a stonker (14 books). Each novel in it was quite lengthy as well. I know I am a noob at this, but I think if it still sells and it's what you want to do, then it sounds like a good direction to keep going down.

    Offline nightwork

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #3 on: October 28, 2020, 01:11:37 pm »
    ruth rendell's wexford series went 50 years

    i used to collect some of the older books, he was late middle age from the beginning so he aged verrrry slowly

    Online NikOK

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #4 on: October 28, 2020, 01:57:37 pm »
    I read a bunch of Glen Cook's Garrett P.I. books.  Got through I think 8 of them, but there are definitely plenty more out there.  They were fun fantasy/kind of noire detective stories that were my guilty dude pleasure for a while.

    But I don't think I could ever write anything that long.  I respect it a ton, but I always come down with a case of, well, I want to do something completely different.  A trilogy will probably be the longest thing I can work on personally.  It's awesome to me that other people can nestle in and live in one giant expanding fantasy world.

    Offline foxinabox

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #5 on: October 28, 2020, 03:04:02 pm »
    The longest modern series I listened to is Dr. Siri Paiboun. First because I enjoyed the voice actors, then because I liked the characters. Sadly, there are only 10 of 12 books translated until today, so I haven't finished the series yet.
    (Overall, the longest series/ serial I read are Sherlock Holmes' stories. Several times, in English and translated. ;D)
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    Online Patty Jansen

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #6 on: October 28, 2020, 03:14:36 pm »
    I'm writing book 12 in my longest series. There will be at least one more book.

    Long series are a great investment because when you advertise book 1, it flows through the entire series.

    These days, I prefer to write sets of linked trilogies instead of one long series, but it's basically the same thing.

    Online Simon Haynes

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #7 on: October 28, 2020, 03:25:17 pm »
    I have 10 in my main series, with books 11-14 planned and 15-22 existing mostly as titles and a few notes.

    I can pick any one of those ten books, and I guarantee it's earned more than any single book in any of my other series. From a financial point of view it would make sense to just keep pumping more out in my main series, but writing a good novel AND keeping the humour going is very hard, and I'm also terrified of releasing a book in that series which just isn't up to the rest.

    Book 4 was especially good, and I got stuck for 3 years after writing that one. Book 7 killed off my output for 4 years. But as time passed I convinced myself to tackle another and another...


    But yes, I like to take on other projects in between.





     

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    Offline Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #8 on: October 28, 2020, 03:56:24 pm »
    Awesome input, guys. Thanks!

    I've got four or five more series planned, and I'm already 10k words into one of the books. These series are inter-related with the main series though. Basically, they're new series but starring side-characters from the main series, who I felt I liked enough that they deserved more of a spotlight.

    Still got so many ideas rolling around in my head for the 12th in the main one though, lol.

    Your comments in particular, Patty and Simon, definitely make me want to keep going with the main series until it reaches a natural and satisfying conclusion.

    Offline J. Tanner

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #9 on: October 28, 2020, 04:27:35 pm »
    Read? Lee Child's Reacher series is 20 books or so? Joe Lansdale's Hap & Leonard series could be in that range too if you count the novellas. One of those.

    I'm a hobbyist, and mostly write short fiction, so the writing side doesn't really apply well, but most of my fantasy/horror falls into a loose shared universe.
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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #10 on: October 28, 2020, 07:15:16 pm »
    My most popular series is 13 books long now. I write in it about once a year now, when I have a story I really want to tell that I think will be good enough. I think the key is not to start phoning it in. The last few books in that series are, I think, my best books ever. (I'm on book #32, I think.) The first four books in the series are the first I wrote, so the series has spanned my entire career.

    I've also spun off a couple series from that one. One started as a book within a book and became a trilogy; the other was a spin off of THAT series, and I "crossed the streams" a little by having a few characters from the original series appear in one of the new books. Which was a lot of fun. All three of those series have done well in ebook and audio, but the three series are different in tone.

    Offline Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #11 on: October 29, 2020, 12:26:54 am »
    My most popular series is 13 books long now. I write in it about once a year now, when I have a story I really want to tell that I think will be good enough. I think the key is not to start phoning it in. The last few books in that series are, I think, my best books ever. (I'm on book #32, I think.) The first four books in the series are the first I wrote, so the series has spanned my entire career.

    I've also spun off a couple series from that one. One started as a book within a book and became a trilogy; the other was a spin off of THAT series, and I "crossed the streams" a little by having a few characters from the original series appear in one of the new books. Which was a lot of fun. All three of those series have done well in ebook and audio, but the three series are different in tone.

    Exactly what I'm hoping to do with mine, too! New series starring side-characters, but with cameos from fan favourites. :) Thanks!

    Offline Arches

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #12 on: October 29, 2020, 09:37:26 am »
    My longest series so far is five books. I would write a longer series if I come up with a group of characters that readers wanted to keep following.

    The longest series I've read, and my favorite , is Nora Roberts' In Death series which has over fifty full-length novels and maybe a dozen novellas. The series is a mashup of crime thriller and sci fi with a lot of romance . The pen name is JD Robb. Definitely worth a read for those who like crime novels.

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #13 on: October 29, 2020, 10:26:10 am »
    My longest is eight with a three book spin off (probably four, though book four is still up in the air).

    I also have a five book series with a five book spin off.

    TBH, my spin-offs have always done worse than the original when they were branded as spin-offs/branded similarly to the original. I would not recommend writing spin-offs and branding them as such. Branding them as a totally new series by the same author is fine. But not as a hard spin-off. It turns off new readers.

    I do get pretty good sellthrough on the eight book series, from book two onward, but I did see sales fall around book six. And the spin off was a big step down as well.

    As far as reading, I used to read Sweet Valley High: Senior Year and I think I made it into the 30s. I was a teenager right when YA was starting to take off, before it really exploded. There were 3-4 bookshelves in B&N. Ah, those were the days...

    Online alcyone

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #14 on: October 29, 2020, 11:08:55 am »
    More a reader than a writer  ;D. As a kid, I read (and reread) all of Walter Farley's "Black Stallion" books until the books literally were falling apart.

    As an adult, I read about 75-100 books per year, and I prefer standalone novels. I'm not opposed to a series, but I'll read other books in between. I think the longest series I've read as an adult was 4 books.

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #15 on: October 29, 2020, 02:47:59 pm »
    I will note that except for one trilogy featuring the same couple, all of my series are stand-alone novels. I think that makes it much easier to sell a longer series. Any book can be an entry point and a funnel, and readers can pick and choose which they read.

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #16 on: October 29, 2020, 06:17:59 pm »
    My longest is eight with a three book spin off (probably four, though book four is still up in the air).

    I also have a five book series with a five book spin off.

    TBH, my spin-offs have always done worse than the original when they were branded as spin-offs/branded similarly to the original. I would not recommend writing spin-offs and branding them as such. Branding them as a totally new series by the same author is fine. But not as a hard spin-off. It turns off new readers.

    I do get pretty good sellthrough on the eight book series, from book two onward, but I did see sales fall around book six. And the spin off was a big step down as well.

    As far as reading, I used to read Sweet Valley High: Senior Year and I think I made it into the 30s. I was a teenager right when YA was starting to take off, before it really exploded. There were 3-4 bookshelves in B&N. Ah, those were the days...
    Agreed. My three series are branded very differently, as they're quite different in subject matter and tone from each other. They've all done well.

    Online Patty Jansen

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #17 on: October 29, 2020, 06:25:38 pm »
    I will note that except for one trilogy featuring the same couple, all of my series are stand-alone novels. I think that makes it much easier to sell a longer series. Any book can be an entry point and a funnel, and readers can pick and choose which they read.

    I don't actually know about standalone volume series being easier to sell. I suspect that standalone series novels are a mainstay of romance series, since every book demands a HEA.

    But on the retailer pages, you're often still required to add a "series number" (except on Kobo) so if you put that it's book 3, for example, people will see this. No amount of screaming at them in the blurb that the series can be read in any order will convince them not to start at book 1. People are like that. They see it's a series. They have to start at book 1.

    I have two series that can be read out of order. Literally no one does. Everyone starts at book 1.

    On the flip side, a standalone series is much easier to abandon (or forget to read) because of the lack of clear cliffhangers or teasers. Of course you pull people through when they like the book, but if the book is a standalone, it's easier for the reader to set the series aside and read something else for a bit.

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #18 on: October 29, 2020, 06:33:11 pm »
    Romance is by no means all standalone titles. Series featuring the same couple are very popular. They have a longer story arc, that's all.

    I often get new readers picking up a book 2 or 3 or even 11 or 12. Same as in thrillers or mysteries that have the same protagonist. I think readers in genres where standalone-in-series is common know that they can do that. It seems much less common in something like fantasy or sci-fi, where a series is normally a continuation of the same story. (From what I know.)

    Online Patty Jansen

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #19 on: October 30, 2020, 03:06:51 am »
    Romance is by no means all standalone titles. Series featuring the same couple are very popular. They have a longer story arc, that's all.

    I often get new readers picking up a book 2 or 3 or even 11 or 12. Same as in thrillers or mysteries that have the same protagonist. I think readers in genres where standalone-in-series is common know that they can do that. It seems much less common in something like fantasy or sci-fi, where a series is normally a continuation of the same story. (From what I know.)

    Ha. I see we've both been shifting the goalposts a bit on what we mean by standalone book. To me, a book with different characters in which the previous characters make cameo appearances, but which has a complete plot arc, is a standalone. Especially when you don't need to read book 1 to understand book 2.

    That basically describes the maximum level of standalone-ness my books are ever going to achieve.

    Especially fantasy is notorious for the verrrrryyy biiiiig story chopped into however many volumes won't end up too dauntily voluminous. I usually  do three, but have done six. There is absolutely zero way that you can start anywhere other than at book 1.

    However. Amazon, and most other retailers (not Kobo, but most others) require us to input a number in the series. So whether the book is  one of the standalone-with-same-characters series type or the big-story-chopped-in-parts type, both look the same to your average order-obsessed reader who feels incomplete if they don't start at book 1. The reader *can* start elsewhere, but not that many do, bc OCD about reading stuff in order when a book is labelled at number x in a series and x>1. So this is an artefact forced upon standalone-series writers by retailers that force us to number the books.

    Offline Louise Bates

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #20 on: October 30, 2020, 05:44:21 am »
    It used to be that Brian Jacques' Redwall series was the longest I'd read, at 22 books, but now I can say that Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver detective series, at 32 books, is the longest. Mystery series do tend to run to long length more than many other genres, though.

    For writing, I have seven planned for my fantasy-mystery series, with perhaps an eighth to wrap things up, perhaps not. I'm only on the third book now, so I have some wiggle room for how it develops. My mystery novella series could go for six, or twelve, or more, depending on how soon I get tired of my protagonist!
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    Online Simon Haynes

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #21 on: October 30, 2020, 06:13:38 am »
    Ha. I see we've both been shifting the goalposts a bit on what we mean by standalone book. To me, a book with different characters in which the previous characters make cameo appearances, but which has a complete plot arc, is a standalone. Especially when you don't need to read book 1 to understand book 2.

    That basically describes the maximum level of standalone-ness my books are ever going to achieve.

    Especially fantasy is notorious for the verrrrryyy biiiiig story chopped into however many volumes won't end up too dauntily voluminous. I usually  do three, but have done six. There is absolutely zero way that you can start anywhere other than at book 1.

    However. Amazon, and most other retailers (not Kobo, but most others) require us to input a number in the series. So whether the book is  one of the standalone-with-same-characters series type or the big-story-chopped-in-parts type, both look the same to your average order-obsessed reader who feels incomplete if they don't start at book 1. The reader *can* start elsewhere, but not that many do, bc OCD about reading stuff in order when a book is labelled at number x in a series and x>1. So this is an artefact forced upon standalone-series writers by retailers that force us to number the books.

    I just found out the other day that you can put a series name and leave the number blank on Amazon. That's for series where you don't have a particular reading order. (Says something about it in their help.)

    Doesn't work on the UK amazon store, where they'll still be displayed in publication order, and of course CA and AU don't even have series pages.



     

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    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #22 on: October 30, 2020, 10:28:24 am »
    Most people say to write series as a trilogy, or maybe two trilogies.

    I'm already on book eleven of my main series, and don't see many signs of stopping. And after each book, people ask me when the next one is coming.

    So question is - how long have you seen series go on for? And what's the longest one you've written yourself?

    They will often ask for more but unless you do this as a hobby, sales determine whether you should write more.

    Online Crystal_

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #23 on: October 30, 2020, 10:30:10 am »
    In romance, standalone series are most common: series centered around a group (family, band, business, friend groups, etc) or location. Each book features a new couple but the series features the same cast of characters (though not necessarily in every book) and same world/continuity.

    Readers often pick up a later book but they are sometimes reluctant to pick up book two onward, even if it's labeled as a standalone.

    Same couple/multiple books series are also popular, though it's not as common. I would 100% recommend cliffhangers to anyone writing this way. But you do need to be careful with your cliffhangers in order to lure rather than turn off romance readers. This is an idea I'm still investigating, as I'm considering a same couple/multiple book series to mix things up (I have one now but it has no cliffhangers/is really a complete story in each book... Not good for sellthrough).

    I will probably make it a 3x3, with three brothers, each getting their own trilogy (if the first does well). So it will have a bit of both.

    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: What's the longest series you've written? Or read?
    « Reply #24 on: October 30, 2020, 11:37:08 am »
    I have series in the 17-18 range for my main name and up to 24 for my pen name. I keep writing as long as they sell well. It's about balancing diminishing returns with launching something new. I always keep it spinning.

    As for reading, one of my favorite series is the In Death series by JD Robb and that's in the 50s now.

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