Can stand-alone stories work as a series?

JenniferLynne_Bundle_2D_800This month we’re talking single title vs. series. I’d like to find out what you think about book series that are also designed as stand-alone reads, where there is a common theme tying all the stories together into a loose collection based around a defined group of characters, but where each story can also be read on its own – in any order.

Are there advantages to being able to pick up any book in a series – even the latest one – and read it without having to play “catch-up” with the storyline? Are there advantages to being able to pick and choose which books in a series appeal to you and which don’t?

I’m hoping the answer is yes, as I’ve created just that kind of series with my GODS OF LOVE novellas.

When I started writing PLATINUM PASSION, the first in the series, it was going to be a one-off novella featuring a married couple in need of a spark who meet the sexy god Eros on the eve of their twentieth anniversary.

But when I began researching Eros, I discovered a group of gods known as the erotes. Each of these sexy heroes was calling out for his own story, and the idea morphed into a series of stand-alone novellas that can be read in any order, but with a common theme showing that even the gods themselves are not immune from the influence of love.

JenniferLynne_DemonOfEnvy800Beyond the erotes in the first three novellas, I also found space for Aphrodite herself, the mother of the erotes and the goddess of desire, who meets three emotionally damaged firefighters in IMMORTAL SEDUCTION (#4).

The final two (upcoming) releases include DEMON OF ENVY featuring Phthonos, god of envy, and ICE QUEEN, in which Eros himself will have to call upon the strength of the erotes to thaw his lover’s heart.

It was important to me that each of these stories work as a stand-alone, so that readers can sample the series in any order. While there is a common theme and some cross-over of characters, each story is unique in itself and does not require that the reader start at #1 and work through chronologically.

So what do you think? Do you prefer to have one story arc from start to finish in the book series you read, or is there is room for individual stand-alone stories within a wider – and common – world?

When Jennifer is not writing what her family and friends call “porn for chicks” and what she prefers to call “super-hot romance for intelligent readers”, she’s working in the day job, running around after teenage children and trying to find time for her new husband. She is published with Red Sage and Breathless Press, and is indie-published with her GODS OF LOVE romance series featuring erotic Greek gods and modern-day mortals in need of sexual healing. Find out more at her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

13 Responses to Can stand-alone stories work as a series?

  1. I must admit I love a good series, and even if an author says that the books can be read as standalone novels, or read out of order, I will still look for all the books and so I can read then in order from one to whatever. Maybe I’m just a little anal. LOL

    • Hi Karen, I do love a good series too. But I’m probably less concerned about reading them in order – unless there is one story arc, in which case I would always read them in the correct order! I’m reading the Game of Thrones series at the moment, and those books need to be read in order! I appreciate your comment – thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. I am a series girl and I like it when the author gives you the reading order including novellas or short stories because I like to read them in the correct order.

  3. I love a series but I like them when they could all stand alone, but that characters from other books appear always makes me feel like I’m greeting old friends and catching up. But if you come in the middle of the series you don’t feel like you are missing the plot

    • Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by the blog today. That was what I had in mind when writing the Gods of Love series – to allow for readers who might hear about one of the later stories and want to give it a go, but not have to go back and read all the earlier ones first – unless they want to, of course!

  4. I do enjoy being able to pick up any book in a series but I also enjoy revisiting with past characters and catching up with what is going on in their lives after they got their happy ever after.

    • I enjoy that too, Gabrielle. There are so many different ways that an author can present a series, isn’t there? I’ve even read a few “prequels” recently, that were written after the series concluded, and it was interesting having already read the books that came later chronologically. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Yes I think so! Most of the time I acidently start them in wrong order anyway lol!

  6. I like either type of series. If it is one story then I have to start at the beginning. If it is the same characters, it’s nice to start with book 1 but not necessary. When Rex Stout wrote his Nero Wolfe series he stated that he wanted people to be able to pick up one of the books and read it without having to read any of the others so he referred to cases he solved and cases that had no book written about them. It was similar with the Narnia series. People argue that they need to be read in publishing order. Others say the books need to be read in chronological order of the story. The reader will decide how to do it.

    • Hi Sheila, thanks for your comment. I hadn’t thought about the Narnia series that way, but I do think that is one that could be read out of order. I’ve not read the Nero Wolfe series, but as an author it is definitely what I’ve tried to achieve with Gods of Love – a series in which the stories can be read in order or not, depending on what the reader wants to do.

  7. I love a good series but every once in a while I love a good stand alone as well. I guess as long as it is a good book then I love it.