Writing lessons all authors should remember.
Throughout my reading career, I have had many favourite authors. The ones that have fallen out of favour, I mean no disrespect to. It may be a simple case of my reading tastes changing.
However, there are lessons to be learnt, for all writers.
I devoured all his books. When I had purchased and read them all in paperback, I began collecting all the books in Hardcover. I still have that collection today.
Then Dean Koontz wrote the Frankenstein series. Originally they were written as a trilogy, the first three I loved. Then the author got greedy and wrote another 3. These were the books that put me off completely.
Until last month I had gone five years without picking up a Dean Koontz book.
In my opinion, the author had cashed out. He had pursued the money at the expense of his writing. I felt let down and annoyed. I then started looking for faults in all his books and stopped reading them.
If you have a great idea for a series write those books. Be realistic though when that series has run it’s course be brave enough to move onto other work. Let what was good go.
J.K. Rowling could have kept writing Harry Potter books for the rest of her life but, she said bravely said goodbye.
James Patterson releases, on average, 41 books a year. No author can keep that pace up and not have it affect quality. James Patterson does co-write with up and coming authors to showcase their skills. Andrew Cross is one author who has co-written with Patterson and produced a career of his own from it. However, the Patterson name is still attached to all these books.
I devoured most of James Patterson’s books, especially his Alex Cross series and Women’s Murder Club. Both these series I have finished reading, I couldn’t digest any more of them. James Patterson writes short chapters with little description. Whether my reading tastes have changed or whether the writing has deteriorated I am not sure.
Your audience may well move onto other authors if their reading tastes change. There is nothing, as a writer, that you can do about this, unless you evolve with them.
I have loved Karin Slaughter books for many years. She is the rare exception to the rule. Having a successful Grant Series she finished the series at the pinnacle of its success. She then started another series, Will Trent. Some of the characters from the previous series appeared in this, however, still a new series. It was as exceptional as its predecessor.
The Will Trent series I love and still wait for every new release. I can’t get enough of them. This, however, is not the same for her stand-alone books. Recently I read her new release Pieces of Her and stopped after 100 pages. The protagonist was awful and the story was laboured and boring.
Don’t be afraid to use what is good with your writing in other works. If you have characters that work they can appear in multiple books.
I started reading Chris Kuzneski books at the start of his career. I loved his two main characters, Payne and Jones. I loved the mix of thriller and adventure with historical facts. Again I was the first in the queue if a new one was being released. Recently, however, I have stopped reading them, I have found that the stories were all too similar. You could predict the end of them based on previous novels. The lead characters also did not seem to evolve it was always the same.
If you have a series that is working it is important for an author to still develop the characters. The characters need to evolve to keep the readers interested.
Harlan Coben for me is an author that defies all these negatives. He has written an extremely successful Myron Bolitar series. When these were not developing he stopped writing them. He concentrated instead on other projects. He was then brave enough to revisit this series when the time was right.
Coben’s stand-alone books are as engaging as his series. He has the ability to write relatable characters both in a series and in a one-off book. All his books are centred around different themes and you struggle to predict an ending.
As a writer, if you write quality work, readers will come whether it is a series or a stand-alone. Adopt a voice and style and use it in everything you write.
Success is hard to obtain
Once you gain that success it is even harder to keep.
Quality will always win over quantity.