Book Series: One Release at a Time? Or All at Once?

I love to get lost in a good series, and one of my favorite things is to “discover” a series that’s already several books in so I can wallow in multiple volumes back-to-back.

I found the Harry Dresden series about book six. Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series (which subsequently became the Sookie Stackhouse series) was on book seven. Kim Harrison was on five. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson on three. Simon R. Green’s Nightside series on five or six. TheBlack Dagger Brotherhood on four or five.

Okay, so I’m kind of slow.ย  Of course, now I’m all caught up and have to wait a freakin’ year between releases.

But what about new series? Do you wait till a few are out before you give them a try, or do you read the first and patiently wait for the second?

An interesting thing that has been happening with series in the last couple of years–or at least it’s the first I’ve noticed it–is that publishers are releasing two or more series books in a very short time frame, hoping people like me will go ahead and take the plunge at book one, knowing the second book will be out in a month or two instead of a whole year.

Example. Ben Aaronovitch’s new urban fantasy series featuring Constable Peter Grant, who can speak with the dead, kicked off in the U.S. in February with the release ofย  Midnight Riot. A month later, we have the second in the series, Moon Over Soho. The third, Whispers Under Ground, will come out in October.

I’m about to begin revisions on the second in my urban fantasy series. The first one, Royal Street, will come out in April of 2012 if all goes according to plan, with the second, River Road, following…well, I don’t have a date yet but probably not too far behind.

So what’s your preference on series? Do you wait till several books in a series are out before you read, or do you jump on a new series as soon as the first one’s out, as long as it sounds interesting? You’ve seen my list, above, of the series books I either preorder or snap up as soon as they’re released. What is your favorite series you’ve followed from book one?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

14 thoughts on “Book Series: One Release at a Time? Or All at Once?

  1. I have a great love for Urban Fantasy books, I’m totally in love with The Mortal Instruments series. It is just as good as any book that I’ve read. Once I read a book and liked it i’ll totally read the whole series. The Mortal Instruments is a big exception I’ve read it so fast I didn’t even want to end it ๐Ÿ˜‰ btw the 4th installment is coming out this April can’t wait!

  2. I normally don’t like to read books in a series back to back. I like to stretch them out to make them last until the next one comes out.
    I’m bad about letting them sit in my TBR pile for a year or so before I read them.

    There are a few exceptions to that. One of which is Raven Hart’s Savannah Vampire series.
    Whenever there is a new release on this series, I will read it as soon as I have it in hand.

  3. I used to be like you, because I lived so far from a bookstore that I had to stock up for awhile if I wanted something to read. Now with my new location and the advancments of the internet, I can get books as often as I like. I’ve also developed a passion for signed books, which means that I either pay a lot of money after the book comes out or get right it when it comes out. Needless to say, I’ve learned to love new books and even debut authors.

  4. I am a big fan of multiple releases (heh). I find a series I love, read everything, but then by the time the next one comes out, sometimes I’m in the middle of something else, and then by the time I get back to it, I’ve lost my place, and then I have to decide if it’s worth going back through everything to catch up…such a dilemma! I have a little book of series lists now, which helps me stay on track.

  5. I have found several series already a few books in, loved them and gone back and gobbled up everything until I was caught up and waited (im)patiently for new releases. (Simon R. Green, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Jackie Kessler, etc.), but I prefer to start with interesting book 1’s and HOPE they do well enough to keep being written.
    Case in point: Two authors I love have NOT gotten further contracts for their series. So I only have 3 books of Mark Henry’s snarky zombie Amanda Feral to enjoy. And Anton Strout’s poor, beleagured Simon Canderous has only 4 books. ๐Ÿ™
    Waiting for “all” the books in a series to be released may backfire… Not enough sales from the get-go (especially from debut authors) = no more contracts = not enough books in a series you love that ‘might’ have lasted for years…
    Oh sure, already established authors may have more ‘wiggle’ room on sales, but I *love* to discover new authors and watch them (and their characters) grow with experience. Having to wait a year for the next book is a good kind of agony… Because there *is* a next book – the author gets added to my auto-buy list, and all is right with the reading world. Unless… unless they didnt make that magical number of sales to get contracts extended… And then I don’t get to have any more adventures with those fabulous characters. ๐Ÿ™ They just end. Boom. Over. Done – but not ‘finished’. ๐Ÿ™
    It’s different if it’s the planned end to a series. There, we have loose ends tied up and story arcs completed (unless there’s a spin-off planned), It’s sad to say goodbye, but it’s also OK. You know that author is now one of the established ones and you’ll be enjoying their new ideas soon enough. But that debut author who didn’t make enough sales? You may not get to read ‘anything’ else from them, much less that first series you fell in love with, because they might not get picked up for a new book or series, ever. What you read may be ‘it’ for myriad reasons.
    *sigh* Sorry this turned out so long & ramble-y. (Writing this on my iPhone, too, and I can’t figure out how to edit it, so please forgive misspellings, run-on sentences, etc…)
    My main point: READ NEW AUTHORS. Jump in whenever you meet them, whether established author on book 4, or debut author’s book 1. Buy their books from the beginning if you can and support them with word-of-mouth. That debut author may be a gamble, but I would much rather have too many choices than too few. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. @TheJay2xA — Congrats on your book win! You’ve convinced me to move the M.I. series higher in my To Read pile. I’ve heard such good things about it!

    @Daelith–Your TBR pile sounds like mine. I’m behind with a couple of my favorite series. They’re all just piled up ๐Ÿ™

    @Lindsey…Authors love readers like you! I have to admit since I’ve started keeping up with new releases, I’m finding more debut series making their way to my TBR pile.

    @Teri Anne–we are separated at birth, I swear. It killed me to read Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon because I wanted to start with the first book and read the series through before reading the new one, but there wasn’t time. I might have to halt everything to read BDB from the start again before tackling Lover Unleashed at the end of the month, though!

    @Rissatoo. You are absolutely right, and I’m glad you pointed this out. I have taken a whole different view of series since I began writing one (thus today’s topic). I have such plans and dreams for where my series can go that if the first two contracted books don’t sell enough–meaning my publisher won’t contract any more–it will be heart-breaking. It happens to a lot of series, including a few I have picked up early and really wanted to read more of.

  7. I hate waiting for things I want, so the less time between books in a series I love the better. That said, I notice I burn myself out of an author if I binge on all their books at once (which I often do if I find a new author I love) and then don’t buy their future releases, or at least don’t buy them as soon as they’re out. If I have to wait six months between reads, I’m more likely to be eager for the next one and buy it as soon as I can.

  8. I started recently to follow and discover new series from book one, thanks to internet shopping and sites like amazon or book depository, so I’m keeping up with new and old releases. I live in Italy and I hate to wait for translations, also becase many great books aren’t translated! what a shame…
    I’ve recently started Kim Harrison’s books and love them and one of the series I started followinf from book one is The mortal instruments a:)

  9. I’ll start with book one then wait for the next. If I find out a book is from the middle of a series, I have to get the previous books before I can read the one I have. I liked how Rex Stout did his Nero Wolfe series. You can read it in any order. He makes references to other cases Nero and Archie solved but also makes references to cases that they solved but were never in books. Each book is a complete standalone title.

  10. @Reading Mind–Being able to buy books online has helped me a lot too, since I live in a smallish city with limited genre shopping. So I too am trying new authors. And I really must read the Mortal Instruments series!

    @Kat: I either give up on an author or just wallow. And sometimes it takes two books to hook me. The Dresden series, for example, has gotten progressively better with each book.

    @She–I can’t stand to read in the middle of a series either. Once a series gets on my radar, I have to go back and start at book one. And I hate to admit it but I’ve never read any Rex Stout!

  11. I’m usually reading so many different series in different genres that I read books as they come out and as I can get to them. I always seem to be at least one book behind in two or three series.

  12. If I discover an author in mid series, I will find the first book and start with that one. I hate reading from the middle. I definitely will try a new author who only has one book out in a series. If I like the book, I will put it on my must buy list and keep an eye out for that next installment.

    Rissatoo had a good point, too, about there being a kind of positive agony of having to wait for that book to come out. I always have in the back of my head, this author’s book comes out this month and that author comes out next month and so on. Keeps me happy and in books! LOL!

    Another interest comment Rissatoo made is about not getting contracts. I spoke w/ a multi-published paranormal romance author whose editor passed up on one of the books in her series. She is going to self publish it even as others in the series continue to be published by that publisher. As a reader, with the other books in the series and waiting for this character’s story, I don’t care who publishes it. I want to read it. So although the authors Rissatoo mentioned might not have contracts, if they have enough of a following perhaps they can try it on their own. At least the digital age has expanded opportunities for authors.

    Sorry, my reply became long winded, too. ( :

    Btw, Suzanne, finished Chenoire and thought it fantastic. I’ll be looking for your book in April!

  13. If a book sounds interesting, I’ll jump right in and start reading. If it’s a good book, the wait for the next in the series can be agonizing but it also gives me something to look forward to. Those are the books I usually buy the day they come out. Just did that with Brigg’s River Marked.

    If the book is part of a trilogy, as opposed to a series, I will read the first but then wait until book 2 and book 3 are both out before continuing. I’ve found that book 1 in a trilogy usually has some sort of ending while book 2 ends in a cliffhanger and I am too impatient to wait to find out what happens. I had Catching Fire sitting on my bookshelf for a year but waited until Mockingjay came out to start reading it.

    I’ve noticed that sometimes publishers will release the first three books in a new series in three consecutive months. I love this.

    There are several series I have been following since book 1 but, right now, I’d say my favorite is Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series.

  14. I’m late to this post, but I’m one that tends to come to the great series late. And for the most part, I’ve enjoyed reading them all at once. However, there’s one popular series I won’t continue with because reading a bunch in a row emphasized how the author used the same description for every hero and heroine in the series. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oops.