on Career Authors:
One of the first decisions a novelist makes is this: Series or stand-alone?
I tried to write a stand-alone – and failed. I had this terrific idea for a mystery: Helen Hawthorne is on the run, working in a dress shop for cash under the table. When a shop associate is murdered, Helen has to find the killer before the police figure out who Helen really is. I wanted to call the mystery The Dead-End Job.
My editor had a better idea: She said, “Make The Dead-End Job the name of your series, and come up with another name for your mystery.”
The new mystery was baptized Shop till You Drop. It was the first of a twelve-novel series featuring Helen Hawthorne. So far, I’ve written thirty-one mysteries in four series. Book thirty-two, the seventh in the Angela Richman, Death Investigatorseries is due at my publisher August 31.
What about you? Are you torn between writing a mystery series or a stand-alone? Sue Grafton and Sir Conan Doyle certainly made series work for them. But Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful stand-alone Gone Girl, sparked a movie, as well as a slew of mysteries with “Girl” in the title and an avalanche of unreliable narrators.
So which way will you go with your novel? Here are ten tips to help you decide.