Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do YA publishers hate series titles?

Maybe I'm just late to the party, but I've recently noticed that many YA novels don't have series titles on the covers. If you look at the first book, it's just a title and an author a name and maybe a blurb, like it's a standalone. And then the second book, instead of saying "Book 2 in the Whatever Series/Cycle/Saga/Trilogy/Etc.", says something like "A [Title of First Book] Novel."

Why is that? I'm really curious. Because the ones I've read that follow this trend all end on cliffhangers, so they're clearly meant to be part of a series. Are readers series-averse these days? Is it meant to encourage people who might not want to invest in a whole series to check out the book anyway, then, once they're hooked, leave them with a cliffhanger so they'll get the next books?

Here are some examples:







And then there are the series that don't even bother to tell you what series it's part of, relying on its fame and branding alone...



Here's a question from a somewhat frustrated bookshelf browser - how in the world are we supposed to know what order the books go in? I guess they're usually listed inside somewhere, but I miss being able to just glance at a cover and go "oh, here's parts 1, 2, and 3 of the trilogy."

I know, I know, this is a little bit pot-calling-the-kettle-black for me, since the covers of the Jane Colt books don't have numbers or series titles, thereby also being guilty of causing a moment of "what order do I read these in?" In my defense, when I wrote Artificial Absolutes, I thought it was going to be a standalone, and when Book 2 came around, we went with thriller method of calling out the main character as the series name...


But I digress. Any ideas as to why so many books lack series titles nowadays?


  1. That is a good question. I hate that mystery assumption that maybe you will pick up the second book (or third or fourth). I get it if you write a book and you think it wont be a series, but if you write a follow up, then label that bastard, so I can eagerly await a third (or fourth or fifth!).

    Honestly if I am luke-warm about a book, I am more likely to pick up the second one by the author if it is in a series, call me a completionist. But if it is stand alone, I wont bother. If the book is amazing, I will actively search out the author but it helps if they say somewhere, "hey this is a series" and then I can make sure I get them in the right order.

    I don't know if it is a marketing ploy, or if ya authors just think, YA is big right now, doesn't matter, they will read all of it, we don't need to write that it is a series, they will keep reading.

    1. It feels a bit dishonest to me. If the first book words as a standalone with a complete story arc (like, for instance The Hunger Games), then I get not having a "Book One in the Whatever Series" on that cover and then just writing "Sequel to Whatever Book" on Book 2. But if it ends on a cliffhanger and is clearly meant to be the first book in a series (like Divergent), then the only reason for not saying so is because they want the reader to assume it's just one book, so they're more willing to take a chance on something new (I know personally I get intimidated by long series, since it's such a commitment!)