Series? Standalone? Companion Novels?

Hi community of awesome. I’m Ava Jae and this is bookishpixie. So when you first get a writing idea one
of the things you have to consider once you’ve decided to pursue the idea is how
far you want the idea to go. So do you want it to be a standalone? A direct series? A companion novel series? For a long time, pretty much all of my ideas were series ideas because I really wanted to write a series. That isn’t really the best way to determine whether or not an idea should be a standalone or part of a series though so let’s talk about your options. A standalone is what it sounds like: there’s the one book, and there won’t be a continuation, and what you see is what you get. Stand-alones are great because it’s all contained in the one book, so there aren’t cliffhangers or extended plot threads—it’s all in the book. It’s also great from a writing perspective because when you’re done with that book you can move on to something else. A general publishing rule, however, is that every single book in a series should be able to stand alone, meaning that every book should have a complete plot arc regardless of whether or not you’re going to continue the story in a series. So then let’s talk about your series options. Your two options are a direct series or a companion novel series. A direct series is the traditional series you think of, so a bunch of books in a row and they all have the same protagonists and general cast, and they have one series plot arc from the very first book to the very last. A companion novel series is slightly different. It means you work with the same group of characters but you interchange protagonists and the stories, while connected, aren’t necessarily directly correlated. A recent example I can think of is The
Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is getting a second book which releases next year, however the second book, which is The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, is from the perspective of the protagonist in the first book’s sister. So same cast of characters and same story world but two very different protagonists and Felicity who is the protagonist of the second book is going to have her own story. A big difference between the direct series and the companion novel series is the companion of a series feels more like a bunch of standalone novels that are related. So okay you have these options. How do you decide? The truth is it really comes down to the story and the scope you have for that story. The Beyond the Red trilogy, for example, was always meant to be a trilogy because from the inception of the idea the idea was bigger than just the first book. But not all story ideas have a scope that big and they don’t need to. I’ve got a lot of other ideas I’m playing around with right now and a lot of them are stand-alones, maybe in part because I’m on the third book of a trilogy right now and would like something different—I’m sure that’s playing into it—but also because these ideas don’t need to be series ideas, at least not direct series ideas. So it really comes down to you, and
brainstorming, and asking yourself how big do I want this story? Another thing to remember is there’s nothing shameful or less exciting about working on a standalone novel versus a series book. Sure, writing the series is exciting and
I’ve certainly enjoyed it for Beyond the Red but it’s also a ton of commitment
and hard work, and while it’s great to be able to spend multiple books in your
story world with your characters it’s also harder to sell a series sometimes and honestly it really—it really just comes down to what is best for the idea. So don’t force a standalone idea to be a series just because you want to write a series and alternatively don’t cut down an idea that should have the potential to be a series into a standalone just because —just consider what is the best way to tell this story. So that’s what I’ve got for today! If you liked if you saw, don’t forget to subscribe and comment and I’ll see you guise next week!

22 Replies to “Series? Standalone? Companion Novels?

  1. Thoughts on the (YA) fantasy-genre seemingly getting overflowed with series? Maybe it's just me, but it is very rarely that I see a standalone fantasy novel… It's not necessarily a bad thing (unless of course it's clearly done just to milk the succes of book 1), but it's something I've been thinking about quite a lot recently. Is it because the world building takes so much time and energy that using it in multiple books only makes sense, or is it something else? Does it have something to do with YA novels as a genre? Or am I wrong and just overlooking all the standalone fantasy novels? 😛

  2. I was thinking of just doing a few books about the characters. Not a direct sequel more a series of books. I was a fan of Kathy Reichs who wrote the Temperance Brennen books that they based the TV show Bones on. The book character is way more complex and normal than the TV show. They are all about the same people just different crimes to solve. That's my vision anyway.

  3. All of my ideas are standalones and possibly short. I like to read stories that are fast pace and each chapter have something to make things move forward.

  4. I'm writing a four part series and I think all the best books comr from a series! Replies are welcome for opinions!

  5. I don't even know what my books are anymore. I have a main series but then I also have another series that's linked to it. The other series I guess are Companion books since they are all based in the same setting as both of the series but each book has a different protagonist.
    I don't know, my writing is a mess!
    Sometimes I feel like they have a better layout for multiple linked TV or Netflix series but that's harder to create then books. 😂
    PS: I'm getting Beyond the Red and Into the Black for Christmas. I'm so excited to read them!

  6. My series "Elemental" started out as a companion novel series. The thing is that I don't know if all the stories can work as full novels, so I'm making it kind of an anthology right now. Maybe someday I'll expand them all into full novels xP

  7. When querying, and you want to use a pen name, do you query with that name or mention it later to the publisher and agent?

  8. Thank you so much! I just watched your video "4 mistakes I made as a new writer" Your past self reminds me of my present self, and your video crushed my ego in a great way. I'm currently in 8th grade and have about 37000 words into my second manuscript now. (The first one was an utter failure) Thanks for the reality check, and helping me accept the fact that I may not publish as a teen.

  9. Companion series are my preference, and what I'm going to be writing (on the rare occasion I do a series at all). But thank you so much for clarifying all these points! This video was helpful in any case.

  10. What if you have no idea while you're writing the book? C. S. Lewis didn't know Chronicles of Narnia was gonna be a series when he wrote the first book.

  11. I hear ya. I have a series that I initially conceived as one novel and I am having to rebuild so much that I cut out trying to make it stay a standalone.

  12. Great video Ava!  I saw  someone else on YT and they had printed out their first book (of their series) and on the cover it said 'Book One of Four' or whatever.  And they were JUST completing the FIRST book of their 'supposed' series.  That always scares me as a writer AND a reader.  As a writer, it's like I'll know (going in) that I'll have this MOUNTAINESS thing to create–you know, a WHOLE series.  And as a reader, it's like I'll pick up a book (thinking it's a 'stand alone'), when in fact it's a whole series.  And sometimes as a reader or a writer, you won't be up for that.  It's like as a writer, I'd like to think that my whole creative process is organic to the point where I don't even know if it's going to be a series.  I mean, I think it's great when your story can surprise you and ultimately (turn out) to be a 'series', but I don't know (honestly) if I would want to start a project knowing (before hand) that it's going to be a series.  Sometimes (even more than one book in a series) can be too much.  And sometimes, I wouldn't want that (going in and going forward) with a project.  Again, GREAT video!!!

  13. Tell me or make a videos more about standalone more . if standalone can contain chapters under a titled book about its antagonists and protagonists can I change the characters chapter by chapter by killing them or hiding them . can u explain more abt this

  14. Hello there Ava!

    Aspiring writers here… if you don't mind divulging, how many copies did your book need to sell before your publisher wanted to continue the series?

    Also, thank you so much for posting these videos, they are so helpful to our learning process! We are ordering your book and look forward to enjoying the world you created.

  15. I personally writing practice write now as a teen, and I know that means that I can't just expect to creat gigantic story. As such, I want to write a standalone. And who knows? Maybe I'll pick it up in the future and turn into a series.

  16. I have an idea that might require two books (I'm not entirely sure yet, so I'm writing the first novel and seeing how I feel when I'm nearing the end). It wouldn't include more than that… which I know is rare but could that work? Also what would that be? Just a book and sequel to it?

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