How Many is Too Many?

Friday, 1 May 2015





Lately, I have been thinking about the pros and cons to writing a series. The series I have in mind would consist of four books with a possible fifth Christmas title and I have been planning it as one series with the same setting and an interwoven cast for a while now. I have several story lines and character sets which would work well together, but I am just wondering how many books in a series is too many.

Let me start off by saying that I love book series, especially those set in small towns with lots of quaint settings and quirky characters. I mean, you already know that Hart of Dixie is my favorite show these days, right? If a book series can give me a town I want to live in and characters that I want to be friends with, chances are pretty good that I’ll stick around until it ends. 

From what I have read online, though, not everyone feels the same. I decided to do a little research. Okay, it wasn’t all scientific and what-not (I save that type of research for my real job), but I did google and read reviews of book series to see what the general consensus was. What I found was that a lot of reviews seem to lose interest in a series when it reaches the fourth or fifth book. A few blogs I found confirmed it by saying that a series should never go beyond three books. I do not agree. 

First off, I always thought of a set of three books as a trilogy, but not necessarily a series. I was a big fan of the Sweet Valley High books in my younger years. That was a series—there was, like, a gazillion of them! In my own mind, the second book was a sequel, the third made the trilogy, and true series status was achieved with the fourth.

I was surprised at how many reviews and blog comments stated that readers got tired of the same old characters and the same old town. Seriously? Maybe I am boring, but once I find a town and a cast of characters that I like, I don’t think I will ever get bored. Before Hart of Dixie I was addicted to Gilmore Girls (quaint town, quirky characters) and I was devastated to see it end even after 7 seasons.

The thought that readers get bored after the third book worries me. At first I thought it could be explained by a lack of effort or experience on the part of the author, but many of the series reviews I looked at were for very successful, bestselling authors. So, if that isn’t the case, do readers really get bored so easily?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you think more than three books is too many for a series? Is there a set stopping point as far as you are concerned? If you have read a series with more than three books, did you find the last book just as satisfying as the first? Or did you get bored?

Let me know what you think and happy reading (or writing)!

2 comments

  1. I know I posted this on Facebook, but I wanted to pop in to share this to my Twitter feed and add my comment here. I LOVE a series. I've just finished a 5 book series and I feel like I've lost a piece of myself - I want more! I did notice that some of the reviews said they were repetitive, but I didn't think so. Yes, the conflict held a lot of similarities, but these were different people working through different things all in the same town. A group of friends and as the series progressed, I loved finding out more about the different characters. I think for a series based on just the one protagonist, the complexity of the plot should decide how many books there are. It does drive me mad when a series is dragged on for no good reason, with nothing particularly new or enlightening happening. I, like you, become very comfortable with a host of characters who each take the spotlight in subsequent books. Love them!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I agree, I love series and especially love finding one set in a cozy small town. How great is it when you are reading one book and recognize one of the 'neighbors' from another books?

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