Are Standalones Becoming Extinct? | Rants & Rambles

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Rants (7)

Rants & Rambles is a weekly feature where I share my own personal thoughts and opinions about both bookish and blogging related topics. As stated, these are MY OWN opinions and while you can choose to disagree with it, I hope that you at least respect it.


This week on Rants & Rambles I want to discuss:

DINING IN TOKYO (38)

I recently finished One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid and my initial reaction, after I finished balling my eyes out of course, was “DAMN, IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I READ A GOOD STANDALONE NOVEL!” But for real, everyone go read this book! It was so freakin’ good and it changed my whole outlook on soulmates and the possibility of having multiple true loves.

Okay, I got a little sidetracked for a moment, but back to today’s discussion…after I finished One True Loves, I started to think about the fact that I haven’t been reading many standalone books lately. I’ve been binge-reading series after series and while I’ve been having so much fun doing so, I forgot for a moment what it was like to read a book where the story is wrapped up and I have to say goodbye to these characters indefinitely (because there is no way in hell I’m re-reading OTL, TOO MANY TEARS!).

The irony of it all is that when I was a teen, standalones were actually my go-to’s because I never had the patience to keep up with series. But now, it seems IMPOSSIBLE to actually avoid series and I’ve really had no choice but to start reading series. I’m not going to lie, when I started getting back into books again, I was shocked at the fact that there were so many contemporary series out there. It just got me thinking: ARE STANDALONES BECOMING EXTINCT?

So the word “extinct” may be a little dramatic, but I honestly feel like standalones are not as popular as they once used to be. Series have taken the publishing industry by storm and have brought about some new and exciting innovated ideas that have drastically changed the way many people read. Here are just a few examples:

FANDOMS: Why read a book alone when you can read it with a group and then fangirl about it? Series have allowed readers to come together and bond over favorite characters and create hype about upcoming releases. In turn, this helps a series to become more popular because people become curious to see what all the hype is about. Many non-readers have started to read just because they wanted to know what all the excitement was about over a particular series. Perfect example, FSOG. Many people have said that FSOG was the first series they’ve ever read, and despite the fact that that series is trash, it still got people to read. Fandoms are doing a damn good job at providing free marketing and publicity for a series.

BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATIONS: If the first movie sucks, you can always try again with the second book! Another way series have gotten non-readers to read is by taking written words and helping them come to life on the big screen. If a movie or TV show is successful, there is a greater chance that a person will decide to read the books so they can compare the two. But we all know the books are better! At this point, I’m not even surprised when I see that the rights for a series has been opted for a movie or a TV show. All I can hope for is that the writers manage not to screw up the script and try to stick to the original text as much as possible.

SECONDARY CHARACTERS HAVE LIVES TOO: For me, series have helped me realize that I have a slight obsession with secondary characters. There have even been times where I’m reading a standalone and I start thinking about the possibility of a sequel just so I can have more of a certain secondary character. Everyone has a story to tell and I want to read that story. Primary characters need to start sharing their spotlight too!


While I don’t think that standalones will ever become “extinct”, I think it will be a while until they become popular again. We are living in a world where everyone just wants MORE. More books, more characters, more storylines, a little more time to enjoy a particular world. Series will be trending for a while and I am, for the most part, happy that I finally jumped on the bandwagon. The only downside is my massive TBR!

That is all for this week’s Rants & Rambles. I hope you enjoyed my random thoughts!

Do you prefer series or standalones?

Let me know in the comments!

-Ari (2)

20 thoughts on “Are Standalones Becoming Extinct? | Rants & Rambles

  1. I prefer standalones way more than series. There have been amazing series that I love, but mostly the ones I’ve read have disappointed me and felt unnecessary. It’s like they’re series for the sake of having more books than for the sake of giving the story the room it needs. At this point I’m hardly continuing with a series after the first book unless I loved it.

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    • That is totally understandable. Series require commitment and it can be a gamble to spend all this time reading a series only to be disappointed in the end. I’ve read series that started off strong and ended up flopping in the end and I wish I never wasted so many time on them in the first place.

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  2. I definitely prefer stand-alones. I like that the author was able to condense the story into the most important parts, and come up with a solid story. There are some books that I enjoy as a series – Harry Potter for example, but as a general, I think it’s better when there’s only one book.

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  3. Great discussion post! I am a bit uneasy about the fact that there’s so many series now…it’s like the world is becoming over-saturated. I appreciate a good series when it’s good, but get super annoyed when the quality goes down and it’s clearly just for money. It’s made me appreciate good standalones way more. My TBR is intimidating enough with just standalones, let alone series! Though I am a huge fangirl and agree 100% that series are great for fandom development . Again, really good topic!

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    • I feel like series require a bit of a commitment and it’s kind of a gamble because if a series has a disappointing ending, it’s frustrating because then you’ve invested all this time for no reason. I had this happen to me a few months ago and I really wish I had passed over this series because it was just a horrible ending for a series that started out so strong.

      I think my TBR has become mostly series at this point, but that may be because most of my favorite authors tend to write series. But I still try to sneak in a standalone every once in a while because they’re a nice break when I’ve been stuck in the same world for too long.

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  4. I do think standalones are less popular now because series make a bit more money and take a bit less work (i.e. marketing wise). So… you heavily market for and promote the first book, gain a momentum and an audience, and then the subsequent books just ride off that first book’s popularity.

    In saying that, many contemporary books can function as a stand-alone even when they’re technically in a series if they’re more about the secondary characters. So essentially a new story, but with characters you’ve seen in a previous book. I know Sarah Dessen does this loosely but her books are never said to be in a series. 😛

    Great discussion post, Ari!

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    • Publisher’s have found a way to keep readers invested by pumping out series after series, which is good for authors and bad for us since we’ll just all be broke.

      Although there are some contemporary series that can be read as standalones, the one’s I keep reading don’t seem to follow that same rule because most of the time they will pick up where things left off, only just with a new couple. It’s how they suck you in so then you have to read all the books to see how things end >__<. One of my favorite series does that, but I really love these characters so I put in the effort and time for them. But I have to say, Dessen is a genius because I love how she manages to include previous characters in her current book. The first time that happened, I just re-read the scene over and over again because I've never seen an author do that before.

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      • I wonder though, even with all these books an author is supposedly publishing, how much money do they actually make? Like in many cases they only get like 10% of royalties… and say like a book only gets read by 2000 people, and each book is $15, that’s $30,000 – from which authors only get $3,000. Which isn’t a lot AT ALL. I dunno, feels like the system’s kinda broken to me but I also don’t really see how else to solve it. /end tangent/

        Ooh, what’s this favourite series of yours? Yeah, I think Morgan Matson does it a bit too, but I’m not as into Morgan Matson as I am Sarah Dessen, haha. I think for me, in general, it’s novellas that feel more like money-grabs to me than subsequent books in a series. 😛

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      • The system is definitely flawed and I think that’s why many authors have two jobs because the money they make writing books alone does not provide them the means to live comfortably. My sister is a writer and my parents worry that she won’t be able to make a decent living, but she loves writing so much and I think that drive is why many authors continue to write. If you truly love something, then money doesn’t matter and you’ll find a way to be successful.

        My favorite series is Marked Men by Jay Crownover. I initially did not like this series, but the author does something interesting where she continues the lives of previous characters in whatever book your reading. So you’ll see some couples get married and have children or sometimes events from the previous book will affect the plot line of the next book. I really love how all the stories end up tying together and brings these characters closer. I totally agree that novella’s are away to get readers to pay out more. But I’ve gotten lucky where some authors will sometimes make their novellas free to download for a week and I just wait until then to read them.

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      • Oooh, it’s so cool that your sister is a writer! What does she write?

        Yeah – not to mention that it’s REALLY HARD to even get your books out there, and many books are very quickly forgotten several months after their release date. I do some freelance writing myself (or well, used to when I was less busy) and it’s not a very steady income unless you really work at building your client base, pitching, etc. Success takes a LOT of time and effort.

        I haven’t ever heard of Marked Men but I’m definitely checking it out! I dunno why but I don’t generally like seeing a lot of characters from previous books live their lifes after the HEA, haha – like their story is done with, I don’t wanna know what comes after. 😛

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      • Thanks! She writes poetry and short stories and I know that she has had some published on the academic level so she’s making a name there. She’s also currently editing a book she wrote last year and she wants to see if she can get that published. But she’s still in college so that’s her primary focus right now. But she’ll find a way to make her work suceessful. She has that “never give up” type drive so failure is not an option for her.

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  5. I love series and standalone for different reasons. I love being able to dive into a book knowing I don’t have to make time for 3-6 other books in the series. But I also love getting to really know characters in long series. Just not in contemporary series. Long series only work in Urban Fantasy, Fantasy or Paranormal books. Like the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill is 13 books long and it’s one of my favorites. But when EVERYONE starts to freaking have their own book, it gets very annoying very fast.
    Side note: One True Loves was AMAZING!

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    • I feel the same way about contemporaries. Contemporaries were my go to for when I wanted to read a standalone but now everyone has their own story. Some of the story line even becomes repetitive because you’ll see one couple facing similar problems that a previous couple faced and it just becomes too obvious how the story will end. I kind of wish NA authors would cut back on turning every first book they write into a series. It’s a great marketing method, but I don’t need everyone to have an HEA.

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  7. I thought about this recently, while I was trying to finish up the series I was already in the middle of (to make way for other series…)
    I must say, I agree. Standalones are becoming less popular. At least, in the YA umbrella. I love your examples, too. Fandoms are HUGE. Sometimes terrifying, too… The people that obsess a little too much… And movie adaptations are hard to do satisfactorily, but it’s also really fun.
    I LOVE getting to know secondary characters!!
    I also feel that, on the authors’ side as well as the readers’, it allows you to open up way more, a series. It lets the writer expand and create awesome worlds from their own heads into brilliant stories more effectively than standalones.
    I do like standalones and am trying to read more in YA. I also feel like, sometimes series can struggle if the story and world are stretched through too many novels sometimes. But series are a lot of fun.

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    • I didn’t understand how big fandoms could be until I started blogging and I admit that I too am terrified of them. I just can’t fangirl obsessively over a book or movie or tv show like that. But it’s still a great way to bring people together who have a common interest. I totally agree that series can help author’s too because I’ve read some series where the books have just gotten better and better and the author’s writing improved with each book. Those are actually my favorite types of series because I am rarely ever disappointed by the end.

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      • Yeah, so true. Like, I can get VERY excited about things if I truly like it and I love discussing it, but not GETTING INTO A WHIRLWIND OF BASHING AND CRAZINESS that some fandoms become. It’s like a war zone out there.

        Yes, I LOVE finding series like that!

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