Should I write a fantasy series or a standalone for my first novel?
This is a difficult question for lots of new authors. And fundamentally it comes down to the story you want to tell. But, there are a few practical reasons for choosing a series or a standalone. And trust me, I don't think it gets any easier as authors progress through their career. A new book idea came to me the other day while I was daydreaming and until I figure out the story I won't know if it's a series or a standalone. Below are the different elements I weighed up when thinking about my original book idea for Tenebrasco would work better as a standalone or a series.
Why you should write a series….
1. Building a foundation
When you write a series you build a foundation as an author. You are creating a world, a legacy and a readership. It is a solid foundation and for the first couple of books, so your readers will know exactly what to expect from you.
2. Because it’s fantasy
There’s a reason why most fantasy novels are series – it’s because the genre works so well as a series. As a writer, you do so much work world-building and you invest so much time in creating history, swear words, religion, magic systems, etc. The fantasy genre requires so much work that it almost seems a waste to not expand the world into more than one book.
3. Potential to increase sales
The first book is going to be a lot of hard work, but you can leverage this for the second book and the third etc. So hopefully, once your readership is hooked and starts to spread the word your new readers will be buying not just one book but the entire series.
Why you should write a standalone….
1. That’s the story
If your plot can fill a single novel, then that is your answer. Don’t go any further. I am currently in the process of writing a trilogy because I know that the story neatly falls into three sections. Other stories I have in mind are definitely only one novel long whereas other ideas feel like they need seven books to do the story justice.
2. Easier to sell
A standalone doesn’t require any pre-requisite from the reader. They can buy your book and enjoy it straight away whereas if you are promoting book two of a series your reader has to read the first book. Your standalone novel(s) will theoretically be easier to sell to new audiences and your existing followers.
3. You don’t feel ready
If this is your first novel perhaps it is best to start writing a stand alone. I am self-publishing my first novel as a series and it is very daunting. There is no doubt that I am learning so much from writing and publishing the series. But, there is also no doubt in my mind that it will be easier for me in the future now that I have these skills under my belt. If you publish your first novel you will then be better equipped to apply your skills to your next standalone or series.
I hope you found this helpful. For me when I was starting out writing Tenebrasco I just knew it was a trilogy, the nature of the story and how it fitted together slotted nicely into the trilogy structure. There is no right or wrong answer as there are definitely pros and cons to both.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch!