Sara is giving away to one a copy of SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES! How do you enter go to her website www.sararamsey.com
Come back here and in the comment section tell us something you found of interest on her website for a chance to win. Winner will be picked on 7/10
My Muses of Mayfair series is a set of standalone books connected by a secret club for female artists. When I originally planned the series, I envisioned three stories…and *only* three stories. The first, HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE, involves a heroine who is secretly an actress, and it released earlier this year. My second heroine writes Gothic romance novels and starred in my April release, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES. The third heroine, a painter, will come out later this summer.
So far so good, right? Readers are used to trilogies and secret clubs, and this all feels like a neat, tidy package. But now that SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES is out, readers aren’t clamoring for the story that I planned as the third book in the series. Oh, they still want the third book – it was set up in the first book, so much so that I was worried that readers would view her as “series bait” to keep them engaged and get them to read the second book in the interim. But even my beta readers are quietly saying that they must *immediately* have more about the fourth member of the Muses of Mayfair – a book I hadn’t even planned to write at the start of the series.
As a reader, I have always loved linked series – it’s fun to revisit characters whom I grew to love in previous books, and it’s also fun to guess what will happen with secondary characters in future stories. The trend toward linked series is so prevalent that I can’t think of any romances I’ve read recently that were truly standalone. The challenge, though, is knowing when a series should end – and not dragging a beloved character through a dozen books as “series bait” to keep the audience engaged until the bitter end.
Now that I’m writing books rather than just reading them, I understand better why some series continue past their expiration dates. I already feel pressure to come up with more stories that might appeal in this particular milieu, and ideas have cropped up for expanding the Muses of Mayfair membership, or for novellas based on peripheral events in the series. It’s certainly easier to keep going with this series than it would be to develop a new one – I already know the world and the characters, and so I just have to brainstorm one hero and heroine rather than build an entire society for them to play with.
Still, for every long, multi-book series that works (Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is my favorite example), there are many that don’t work (but you won’t trick me into naming names . It’s a tricky balance – readers love to see familiar characters, but like any sitcom, eventually the jokes get old and the major situations have all been played out. That’s where “series bait” comes in. If there’s still a central character or question that needs to be resolved, the core audience will stick around.
So I suppose I’m doing something “right” by creating a character people are eager to read more about, even though the fourth Muse wasn’t originally a main character, let alone bait! But I assure you, she will definitely star in the fourth book – I don’t want to violate my “no series bait” rule so early in my career
What do you think about the shelf life of linked series in romance? What long, multi-book series have worked for you? And do you tolerate “series bait”, or do you eventually give up in disgust?
Sara grew up in a small town in Iowa, and her obsession with fashion, shoes, and all things British is clearly a rebellion against her hopelessly uncool youth. She graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in Symbolic Systems (also known as cognitive science) and a minor in history. Sara subsequently worked at Google for seven years in a variety of sales, management, and communications roles. She left Google in 2010 to pursue her writing career full time. Read all about her Regency obsessions and upcoming works at www.SaraRamsey.com. Or, follow her slightly ridiculous Twitter feed, @Sara_Ramsey.