Dann's Dictum for Authors

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Posted on : 9/24/2015 12:49:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

My reading lately has slowly helped to develop the opinion that there are far too many book series being published.  Authors will develop a fictional world and a cast of characters.  They will then use those developments to create a series of stories.

This makes sense from an author's perspective.  World building takes time.  Character creation takes time.  Re-using the product of those efforts means less work needed to produce each book.  This process also enables an author to tell longer story arcs.

This also makes sense from a publisher perspective.  One successful book in a series is usually sufficient to ensure reasonable sales of other books in the series regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) in each individual book.

This preference for serialization only places the reader at a disadvantage.  Picking up book 4 of 6 (or 12, or....) means that the reader will not possess the knowledge of events in the preceding books.  This forces the reader to go back to the beginning of a series whenever a later book is recommended or otherwise achieves some measure of notoriety.

If every book in the series is a superior piece of artisan effort, then the only real harm is the time spent with a series of enjoyable books.  However, the more books in the series fail to favorably compare with the rest of the series, the more the reader's time and money is wasted just to remain current with the series.

This leads to Dann's Dictum for Authors.

Write one good book.  And then move on.

Do not offer a series unless you have the capacity to have every installment achieve the same high level of reader satisfaction.

This Dictum does not preclude telling multiple stories in one fictional universe.  Dragonlance was home to a great many good stories and several good series.  However they were usually crafted so that one need not be overly familiar with other books/series from that fictional world.  The Star Wars universe would be another decent example.

Authors, I entreat.  I beg.  I appear.  I conjure.  I implore.  I plead.  I supplicate.

Please write the best book you can.  And then move on.  Do not undertake a series unless every installment can be superlative.  Just as a short fiction author who lacks the ability to write books should avoid doing so, an accomplished book-length author that lacks the ability to craft a series should avoid that monumental task as well.

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