Monday, 20 February 2012

Standalones vs series by Kait Nolan + Giveaway

Button made by the very talented Susi! Thank you!!

Until quite recently I wasn't too fond of YA (understatement of the century = I avoided them religiously), but then I read three YA books that not only changed my mind but gave me back my faith in the category. One of these YA novels was Kait Nolan Red. I loved Elodie, its mature and smart heroine and that coupled with an exciting story, a wonderful and handsome hero and Kait Nolan's vivid storytelling made Red one of my favourite YA books. When I interviewed Kait for the release of Red the question begged to be asked: will there be more stories about Elodie and Sawyer? Today Kait is here to tell you more about the answer to that question.Please give her a warm welcome! :-)

Standalones vs series
by Kait Nolan

I first got the idea for my YA debut, Red, when the heroine, Elodie, literally woke me up in the middle of the night. Three in the morning and the girl is saying, “Wake up! You have to tell my story!” I was not, what you would call, sympathetic to her plight, as I value my sleep. The house was not on fire and nobody was dying, so I was Not Amused. But I made notes since she was being a pest and wouldn’t let me go back to sleep otherwise. As I was winding up another project, she kept talking. And that was different from every other book I’d done. Many, many things about Red were different from what I’d done before. It was first person. It was YA. And it was a total standalone.

For someone who tends to write and think in trilogies or series, it was this last point that was strangest. I’d become accustomed to thinking in huge plot arcs or with wide casts of characters that made for natural spinoffs (because, gee, that’s what I read all the time). But Red was very specifically Elodie’s story about coming to terms with who and what she is, and her budding relationship with Sawyer. No extraneous cast, everything resolved nice and neatly by the end of the book. It was fun and new and exciting, because as much as we grow to love our characters while writing a book, by the time we’re finished, we’re usually ready to move on to someone new.

I thought it was pretty obvious that their story was finished on the last page. As author I looked at the conflicts—they were resolved. Any wondering I did about what happened to them after that was idle play with brain dolls that wouldn’t make for anything more and a handful of scenes of pure fluff. So imagine my surprise when the first emails began rolling in from fans asking (and in many cases demanding) to know when the sequel was coming out.

Initially I found this really exciting. People really liked my story! They liked my characters and wanted more! So I politely thanked them for their enthusiasm, said I was so glad they liked it, and informed them that there wasn’t going to be a sequel, but I was definitely going to be writing more YA. The longer the book has been out, the more of these emails I’ve gotten. To the point that I’ve added information to my website hoping to stem the flow. Why? Because fans are disappointed that there’s no sequel. To a book that, to my mind as author, has nowhere else to go. Elodie and Sawyer got their happily ever after, and I’m not really interested in messing with that.

It got me thinking about the whole concept of standalone novels. This used to be the norm in publishing. You had to get it all told in one book. If that book sold well, you’d be fortunate enough to get a contract to write another. That’s just the way the business worked for ages. Then sometime in the last decade or two, traditional publishers wised up to the appeal of series and trilogies and quartets. This is particularly true in the romance genre, where we now get to read all about families and friends and whole casts of folks falling in love. Even in YA you’ve got multi-book series where people have totally fallen in love with the characters and they want more. The Mortal Instruments. The Hunger Games. The Iron Fey. The Twilight saga. The Stephanie Plum novels. Any of Nora Roberts’ trilogies.

From a business standpoint, this makes total sense. You create characters that readers engage with, storylines that they can’t put down, and you guarantee (insomuch as anything in publishing can be guaranteed) that author’s success and marketability. This has become so much the modus operandi for publishers that readers are now conditioned to expect that everything is part of a series or a trilogy. And they’re disappointed when it’s not.

As an author of a standalone novel, I find this troubling. I am not setting out to disappoint readers. I really think I did my job in terms of delivering a complete story. But if their expectation is of a series where there is none, this sets up a potential problem. I even had one reviewer drop a star on the rating because the sequel wasn’t out yet. Um…okay?

Now don’t get me wrong—I love series. I adore getting to spend more time with characters I’ve fallen in love with. But I also hate waiting. It’s frustrating to have that first love of a book, only to have to wait a whole year before the sequel pops out.

I really love standalones for this reason. I love that I get a whole, complete story, no cliffhanger ending, no threads left hanging. It is more satisfying to me to be able to read a book and not have that dissonance of unfinished business nagging me in the back of my mind. It’s like a form of literary indigestion where you’re just not quite done yet. A standalone is like the perfect meal—appetizer through dessert. Just right.

So readers I’d love for you to weigh in on this. Do you want nothing but series to read or do you enjoy a nice, well-rounded standalone for a change in pace? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Her debut YA paranormal, Red, is currently available from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstoreSony, Diesel Ebooks, XinXii and All Romance EBooks. It is available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository (free international shipping!) and Createspace.

Every fairy tale has a dark side…

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

Buy it at Amazon - Book Depository - Kindle


Kait has generously offered an ebook copy of Red to a lucky commentator!

To be entered all you have to do is:

1. fill out the main form so I have your contact info (just once, if you have already filled it out for a previous giveaway that's enough)

2. leave a comment and answer Kait's question:  Do you want nothing but series to read or do you enjoy a nice, well-rounded standalone for a change in pace? 

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 15 March 2012.

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