I’ve been following a lot of series work in the paranormal mystery/urban fantasy genres and it seems to me far too many series start sucking between books 6-8.
Rowling was smart to end Harry Potter on number 7. That was just the right number of books to tell the story she wanted to tell. Right now I’m on book 7 of Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye Mysteries and now they’re just getting cheesy and repetitive. I’m on book 11 of Harris’ Southern Vampire series and I have to admit that I was rolling my eyes by book 9. Book number 7 of Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mystery series absolutely blew (which is sad since I enjoyed the first six).
I think there comes a point where both a writer and editor have to let a series die despite its popularity and despite the money making potential of dragging readers through books the author’s heart clearly isn’t into. Fans, too, must learn to let go. It’s better to end a series with an okay book instead of one that’s completely awful.
I can tell Charlaine Harris lost her passion for the Southern Vampire series in book 9 just as it seems Madelyn Alt is ready to move on to something else, too. Victoria Laurie is trying to keep the passion for the Psychic Eye Mysteries, but judging from her work – she’s into the Ghost Hunter Mysteries now and is only writing the former to fulfill a contract.
I don’t think there’s a set number of books any series should have. Some books stay strong 7-8 books into a series. Others don’t.
So what say all of you writers and readers out there? When reading or writing series work — how many is too many?
Brett (aka Gilroy on FM)
I’ve found that curse falls into more than just one genre. Piers Anthony’s Xanth series died around book five or six. I read book eight and it was obvious he simply wrote it for a paycheck. Though with Sookie and the Southern Vamp series, I’m rolling my eyes in book 5. Must not be my genre.
I think a lot of what makes a good series depends on the writer and the material they have to work with to create the series. David Weber has a great series that’s up to book 12 now for Honor Harrington. It starts to suffer from too much politics in book 10, but its still a strong plotted series that he obvously cares about. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time has many detractors that claim it went 10 books too far. It all depends.