I say both. That’s right, both.
There’s a line to walk here in publishing – what to write versus what you want to write. Sure, we have to please the readers and we have to a plan that can be executed. But don’t forget, in the back of our minds, we are writers. We have stories, ideas, and we need to share them.
I saw something the other about a writer questioning whether to finish a series first or publish a stand alone. I say do both… why?
Becuase there are so many readers out there you can’t think narrow. Some people don’t read series. Some people aren’t interested in getting into a series half way through it. And plus, our goal as authors is to produce books. So produce.
Look at Kind and Koontz for example. Kind’s Dark Tower series took 30+ years to complete. And he published in between that time (obviously). Same for Koontz. His Frankenstein series took half a decade and he put out other books in between.
In fact, in terms of marketing, a stand alone in the middle of a series could help you. How?
Let’s say a reader sees your series. A reader knows that by reading Book One, they may be forced into the remaining books… but what if they don’t like the writing? Or the story? Well, if they can grab a stand alone to get a sense of your style, they’ll be back for more.
I swore against series for a long time – as a reader and writer. I didn’t like the idea of being stuck in a story. But one day, I had a gift card, and I saw Dark Tower (Book One) sitting on a shelf. I grabbed it just to see what it was about and it changed my life… a series is an amazing thing to offer readers. It’s your bond with the readers, taking them on a journey nobody else can…
But the stand alone novels are just as crucial.
So if you’re in the mix of a series and you find yourself wanting to write a stand alone, I say do it. Nothing wrong with a break from a long project to clear your mind. Write, edit, publish… that’s our business, and never stop.