I saw a question in a fiction writing group on Facebook asking why authors decide to write a trilogy from the beginning, rather than just writing a single book. Why not start off with a book, and try fit it all in? I have some answers.
First of all, the story may be too large to fit in a single book. It may be a single story, but split into three. Why not just put it in one book? I don’t think many people want to buy a 1,500 page novel. That’s why. They’re more likely to try out the 500 page first book, like it, then buy the other two.
That leads us to the second reason. People like to read series or trilogies. Not everyone, but there are many people who love to read them. I’m one of them. And it also makes economic sense for the author. Incredibly long books may be hard to sell, but shorter ones tend to be more attractive. And that means if people buy and like the first book, they will likely buy the other two. That’s tripling the income!
And finally, a series may involve related, completely self-contained stories that simply cannot be written as a single book. This is what my first trilogy is like. They’re separate stories, but they all lead into each other with a final conclusion. I also have a fantasy series of four books planned that has three parallel stories that lead into a final book. In a single book, it would be a complete mess.
Those are my reasons for writing trilogies or series. Standalone books have their own advantages, too. There are many I’ve read, and they work perfectly fine. They end at the end of the book. There is no continuation.
What do you think? As a writer and a reader, do you prefer standalone books or trilogies and series? Let me know in the comments below.