Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
While it’s tempting to talk about the excess rain and devastating floods here in Nashville, I’m turning to things more bookish–due in part to several proposals I’ve seen lately. Authors often present their project as having potential to be a series. Aside from the quality of the writing, several considerations shape my response.
For nonfiction, it’s important to ask:
Does the topic lend itself to further exploration? If an author has a nonfiction manuscript that covers a decisive moment in a person’s life, the chances are good that it’s a one-book treatment. On the other hand, if that moment was the first of several that impacted later generations, there’s opportunity for a series.
Is the author an authority on the topic or have lengthy experience that could reasonable be extended to a series? Churchill’s four-volume set History of the English Speaking Peoples comes to mind, but there are countless others, especially political and war accounts. However, note that David McCullough wrote the single 1776 and did not extend it to a series–or hasn’t yet. The Ansel Adams’ three-book series, The Camera, The Negative, The Print, is a perfect example of an authority writing three detailed books on a subject that perhaps no other person had the public’s respect or the fame to write in the early 1980s.
Is the topic one that would interest contemporary readers? This may be the hardest to gauge. I wonder how many people would have guessed that a book about marriage relationships like Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages would be so popular and so needed as to spawn three more books. In this case, it’s not hard to guess that love and marriage are interesting topics, but the approach and the analysis were new, and the author had sufficient credentials to back up his content.
But making the decision about the aptness of creating a series is the combination of reading tea leaves and praying that makes publishing the fun enterprise it is!
Tomorrow, we’ll look at fiction series. Stay tuned.