Monday, May 2, 2011

When to End a Series (When It’s Up to You)

Ranger's ApprenticeI’ve mentioned before that I have a tough time keeping my teenage son in books. He reads quickly, he’s always reading, and he’s a picky reader. It’s tough.

One of his favorite series is the Ranger’s Apprentice series. He reads all the books in John Flanagan’s series over and over again.

Finally, on April 19th, there was a new release in the series. I’d pre-ordered the book and got it as soon as it was available. Unfortunately, as I was ordering it, I saw that the book (book 10 in the series) marked the end of the series. The author was embarking on a new series, which is to launch in the fall.

Apparently, I shouldn’t have told my son that he was reading the final book in the series. He kept saying, “Mom, all I keep thinking about is that this is the last book! Why would he do that? Aren’t the books selling?” (He’s pretty aware of the importance of sales, with a mom in the biz.)

The series is a New York Times bestselling series…poor sales isn’t the reason. I’m sure that Penguin/Philomel would probably be delighted to publish as many books in the series as John Flanagan wanted to write.

I tried to locate an online interview with Flanagan to hear his reason for ending the series, but couldn’t find one. I decided to placate my son by telling him the reasons that I could imagine that an author would want to end a popular series (most times the publisher wants to end a series, not the writer). To my son, it was like he’d lost his fictional friends.

I don’t know why John Flanagan ended his series, but I can imagine reasons that authors decide to call it quits:

The characters have all been completely explored and there’s not much more room for growth.

The author wants to finish the series while it’s still popular.

Possible storylines during brainstorming sessions don’t seem as sound or interesting as previous ones (quality control).

Lack of inspiration or new direction.

Wanting a new challenge, new setting, and new characters to explore (boredom…or just an exciting new idea that won’t let go.)

What are your thoughts on when series should end? If you’re writing a series, what would make you end a series and start a different project? *********

Sign up for the free Writer’s Knowledge Base newsletter and be automatically entered in a June drawing to receive K.M. Weiland’s CD (or MP3) Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration CD. (Current subscribers will also be entered.) The newsletters include top writing articles, blogger spotlights, and interviews with industry insiders. Sign up here: (You can unsubscribe at any time, and your email address is never shared.)