Series can be stand alone or continual
One of the great things about romance series is the variety. There are generally two different types of series; Standalone or Continual.
Standalone series make it possible for you to dip into any book in the series, whenever you want. It’s not necessary to read from Book 1 – you won’t miss any critical story turns or developments because each book in the series is self-contained and has enough backstory to bring you up to date on the previous storylines.
Continual series are just the opposite. It’s important that you start reading from Book 1, read the books in their correct order and not miss any book. Story developments from previous books have an impact on the next book’s plot development, and the author doesn’t stop to explain (the sometimes lengthy) character and plot entanglements that came before.
Tip: To find out if a new series you’re contemplating reading is a standalone or a continuous series, and the book’s description doesn’t tell you, read reviews for books later in the series. Very often, reviewers will mention if previous books need to be read first, or not.
Romance “series” generally feature different heroes and heroines
Romance series are unique in the publishing world. The vast majority of romance series feature two (or more) different heroes and heroines in each book.
Other genres (science fiction, mysteries, thrillers) tend to feature the same lead character(s) in all books in the series, and mysteries and thrillers in particular specialize in one central character being the focus and glue for the entire series (consider the Alex Cross series, for example, by James Patterson).
There are very few romance series that feature the same hero(es) and heroine, because of the Happy Ever After (HEA) rule: It’s difficult to portray the same loving couple in the next book, because that would involve introducing conflict to the romance…which undercuts the HEA ending of the first book.
But, there are some out there, and they make interesting reading.
Series are different from serials
Don’t get your terminology confused. A series is different than a serial.
Series are self-contained “episodes” (i.e. books) connected together by place, character, and often, theme.
Serials are usually short installments (short stories or episodes), that link together to make one story in total. There is little or no attempt to catch a reader up on previous developments as it is expected they will have read all the installments to date.
Tip: Romance Serials are now available on Amazon. Here’s an example. Try searching for “romance serial” to find more.
Series titles are usually more popular
Romance series tend to sell better and more than standalone romances.
When you read a book by a new author, if you like the book, do you go and buy more by that author? Series enhance that habit twofold – same author and same characters…it’s hard to resist the lure of series.
There are series in every sub-genre in romance
Series are so popular, there are series available in every sub-genre in Romanceland, including the once-stand-alone short contemporaries from Harlequin/Silhouette. What’s your favourite genre? Do a search for “[your favourite genre] series” on Amazon or even Google, and brace yourself….
Series are always set in the same fictional universe
Possibly one of the best things about series, and what glues a group of books together to make them a series, is the fact that the setting remains constant throughout the series. So if you’ve absolutely fallen in love with that little medieval village, or the sleepy coastal seaside town where everything seems to happen, or that little town in Louisiana and the busy bar that seems to be the heart and soul of the place, then you can keep visiting book after book.
It doesn’t hurt that, often, you get to visit with your favourite characters even after their stories are resolved, and get to play with them longer, learn more about them, and find out what happens to them once they’ve fallen in love.
Most popular romance series
According to Goodreads, the three most popular romance series overall are:
- The Fifty Shades Series, E.L. James
- The Crossfire Series, Silvia Day
- A Neighbour From Hell Series, R.L. Mathewson
While Amazon rates the most popular series (by reader review) as:
- The Kathleen Turner Series, Tiffany Snow
- The Penton Vampire Legacy series, Susannah Sandlin
- Bachelors in Demand, Brenda Jackson
Finding the next book in a series (tips)
If you’re confused because books aren’t marked clearly and can’t figure out the order of a series, or which book comes next, there are a few ways you can find out the full details on a series:
- Find the author’s website. A Google search should bring it right up, and if the author has any sense of promotion, they should have a complete listing of their books, including details on series (order, titles, etc.).
- If you can’t find the author’s site (it happens sometimes), then head to Amazon, and plug in the name of the series, or the author’s name. There’s a good chance the author has an Amazon page, where all her books will be listed, and Amazon is good about putting series information in a title.
- Goodreads (http://goodreads.com) is another useful place to find series information.
- If the series information isn’t clear on Amazon or Goodreads, search the author’s page on either site for contact information and email them and ask them what book comes next. The author will be eager to outline the series titles and their order for you or to point you toward a page where the information exists. (And who knows? Your email may prompt the author to take steps to publish that information somewhere, too, so other readers can find it.)
Many authors make the first book in a series very cheap or free
Thanks to the Indie revolution, authors can control the price at which their books are sold. That means that many authors have made their first book in a series a “loss leader” – and permanently marked the price down to a ridiculously cheap “giveaway” price, or made the book permanently free.
Other authors offer the first book in a series for free at regular intervals (5 days free for every 90 days for the Amazon Select program).
This means you can sample the series for low or no outlay, before investing in the rest of the books.
Tip: On Amazon, to find the cheap and free series starters, first head to the romance series sub-category. Sort the books by “Price: Low to High” (see the drop down menu on the top right of the page.) The first books to be listed will be the free, and then the cheap titles. Enjoy!