Most writers know that when we sign with a publisher, it’s a crapshoot as to whether the book(s) will be successful. When selling/planning series, it’s a catch-22…as the author, you want to plan a long-term series to build upon, and one would think the publisher would want that, too. But the truth is, with the protracted production schedule of a book, there’s a precarious balance between having enough material in the pipeline to feed a successful series, yet not committing too far into the future if the series doesn’t sell as well as the publisher would like. And when the publisher decides to pull the plug, they don’t really care that all the loose ends haven’t been tied up…that you left off on a breathtaking cliffhanger…and that your readers will crucify you for leaving them dangling.
And more times than not, the author MUST leave her readers dangling, because she’s now scrambling to write something new the publisher will move forward with. And if she’s forced to change publishers altogether, few publishers will want to continue a series another publisher “failed” with, especially since if the subsequent publishing house manages to turn the series around, the first publishing house would profit. And it’s difficult to continue a series for which another publisher has control of the beginning books because the packaging and pricing of those first books will greatly affect the sale of later books in the series.
For these reasons, the literary landscape is littered with the carcasses of dead series. I personally have mourned the death of three series, one with one publisher, two with another (you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson when publisher 2 dropped the first series, but no). Meanwhile, the books the publisher didn’t have time to foster have finally begun to snowball and readers are pelting me (not the publisher) for the rest of the story! And rightfully so…they invested time and money and emotion in my characters and my storylines. (I know too well how this feels because so many TV series I loved were canceled! I’m still lamenting the loss of Terriers, Pan Am, and Mob Doctor.) Luckily, now that self-publishing is an option, authors can finish series our publishers terminated.
IF the author has time. Because resurrecting a series takes plenty of it. First, it means managing backlist while juggling FRONT list–there are always new writing commitments to meet. And because two of my series are rather far back in my bibliography, it’s been a long time since I lived with those characters in those places. Which means re-reading the books to reacquaint myself with the stories and the settings, and trying to recapture the enthusiasm and the flow of when the series was fresh.
I’m doing it, though not successfully…yet. But I’m determined to finish (and continue) series that publishers dropped unceremoniously, because my characters deserve their happy endings.
And so do my readers.
What book or TV series do YOU wish would be resurrected? Authors, do you have tips on resurrecting a series?