Guest Post: Series or Standalone? by Chele Cooke

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart time author and full time fantasist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.
While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people’s worlds wasn’t enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.
With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele’s first novel was published in 2013. She currently has three books published: two books in a sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth.

Series or Standalone

The question of series vs standalone in books is quite poignant at the moment. With the highly discussed upcoming release of Harper Lee’s sequel to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the question of need for the continuation of stories is going to be of interest. Also considering the previous ‘there won’t be any more Harry Potter’ statement from JK Rowling, we’re now receiving rather regular updates and additions to the world created.

I believe that there is a pressure put on authors to expand on a successful idea, just like there is pressure for successful television shows and movies to keep going past their original premise. (Which Fast and Furious movie are we on now?) I’m not a fan of this pressure, not only because I have enough stress as it is, but I feel it dilutes the power of the original story. I can imagine that had The Great Gatsby, one of my favourite books, been released today, Publishers would be clamouring for a sequel, something to tack money on. And here we are, back to ‘Go Set a Watchman’, the To Kill a Mockingbird sequel. Sixty+ years later and we’re still clamouring.

However, there is no doubt that a series of books will often be received better than a standalone story, especially in genre fiction. We are asking readers to give up their time, which is expensive these days, to immerse themselves in a world. If we give them more of that same world, they are more likely to continue with that than they are to pick up an entirely new world. We feel an obligation to ourselves to see it through to the end.

I love standalone books. There is something incredibly satisfying about a well created complete story, all in a single volume. Admittedly, when I’m comfort reading, I’ll often pick up standalones.

Reading a series is more of a commitment and, should the author leave you waiting too long, lead you to being committed. How many times are we going to hear that the next ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ book will be coming next year? I know a lot of people who now refuse to read a series of books unless the last book has a release date. We don’t want to get lost in a world, only to have to wait for the conclusion. Waiting a week between episodes of TV shows is about as much delayed gratification as I can take.

I say all this, but writing single novels is actually much more difficult for me. I’m afflicted with NIELE (Novel Ideas Exceed Life Expectancy) and the more I write on a project, the more ideas I have for it. Generally, what starts out as a single story turns into a series all on its own. Writing Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Paranormal fiction, that isn’t always a problem. As I said above, genre fiction is often almost expected to have a series of books. Some self-publishers will purposefully choose to create series ideas instead of novel ideas, because they understand the pull of the series for readers.

While I have about 4 novel ideas currently lined up to be planned and written, shiny exciting ideas that I can’t wait to get started on, I’m holding back. I’m keeping these ideas locked in the bottom drawer because I know that, no doubt, once I start writing I will fall in love with the characters and their stories. I’ll immerse myself in that world and one book will multiply before my eyes. They’re somewhat like viruses that way. Hell, writing in general is a virus. You start out with one idea and you feed it with writing. You give it a warm comfortable imagination to live in and before long it’s taken over, multiplied and spread, and writing is your entire life. It’s a good life, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I wish I could write a standalone and leave it at that.

Teeth started out as a bit of fun. I had an idea that I wanted to write out and so I did it. Vampires spread through my imagination, siring new characters and new ideas as they went. Now, I have a trilogy lined up. No doubt, by the time I reach the end of that, I’ll have five more books with ideas for. I just hope there will be someone with enough sense to hit me over the head with all the previous books and tell me ‘that’s enough’.

I’ll even provide the books to hit me with if anyone wants that job.


Teeth: The First Bite is out now, and available at the following links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

You can find Chele at the links below.

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website

There’s also an ebook giveaway running as part of the Teeth Blog Tour! Check out the goods at the Rafflecopter page.


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