Prequels, Sequels, and Novella – Are the Authors Milking or Expanding the Series?

milkingexpanding

This post has been a long time coming, but I think this might be the right time to post it, albeit a little bit late.

Prequels, sequels and novellas have been a huge trend in the publishing world. Harry Potter has Fantastic Beast, Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages, and some other novellas. The Mortal Instruments has The Infernal Devices, The Dark Artifices and Last Hours, not to mention the Codex and Bane Chronicles. Percy Jackson has Heroes of Olympus, Trials of Apollo, Demigods Diaries and others. Grisha trilogy? Six of Crows, grisha folktale and the Language of Thorns. Those are some “big-series” for examples, but whatever the series is, you’ll bet there’s some novellas or prequels or sequels attached to it. The only one I don’t know about is The Hunger Games. There’s also the case of adding more books to the series (Lara Jean, Syrena Legacy and The Mortal Instruments are some of the examples), but we wouldn’t talk about them in this post.

The latest series joining the rank of “prequels, sequels and novellas” are The Raven Cycle and Shatter Me. Maggie Stiefvater announced the Ronan-centric trilogy, and while Shatter Me has some novellas in its series already, Tahereh Mafi also announces that there will be trilogy sequel that tells about life after battle, from Juliette and Warner povs.

The reaction of readers are definitely diverse. Some cries tears of joy, others slam table and said ENOUGH. Well, okay, maybe not that dramatic. But you get my point. Most often, the against side accuses the authors of milking the series and only in it for the money.

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While it looks that way for one group of readers, does the author really milking it? Or are they simply expanding the universe of their creation? After all, they created a whole new world, rules, languages, and characters- the grisha verse is an excellent example of it- aren’t the authors have the rights to expand and use more of the materials they created themselves? And don’t you, as readers, especially if you’re a fan of the originals, want to see more of the universe?

This might seem like a blaphsemy to some, but I will do it. Why did no one accuse J.R.R Tolkien of milking LOTR series, instead saying he’s expanding the universe, but accuse modern authors of milking it? And before you throw stones and pitchforks at me; yes, I know the world and character he created were extremely complex and that created a whole new genre, so I can’t compare them. But if we don’t give a chance to authors to EXPAND their world and imagination, how can we expect them to reach (maybe impossible to some) the level other authors have?

Another point is about author writing more books for the money. The last time I checked, being an author is a job. When we’re talking about jobs, everyone is in it to get the money, to be able to fulfill their daily needs. So obviously, they are writing for the money. Is there anything wrong with that? Not as far as I’m concerned. It’s a job. They should be getting money.

Personally, I do not mind with prequels, sequels and novella. Sure it gets tiring after a while, especially if you love the authors but hate the series, that’s why you want new materials. But in that case, I’ll just stop reading the series and move on, and let people that still enjoyed it reading it. No need to shame people who still reading it, or worse, the authors.

What do you think? Are you excited for Ronan Trilogy and the Shatter Me prequel?

tasya

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24 thoughts on “Prequels, Sequels, and Novella – Are the Authors Milking or Expanding the Series?

  1. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    I’m pretty much always happy to read a new series set in a favorite world. To me, it’s the perfect blend—we don’t have to wait through 12 books to get to the end of a series (and to find out what happens to our favorite characters), but we also don’t have to abandon that world we love after just a few books. It’s win-win. And I can always ignore a spinoff if I’m not interested.

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  2. lindseyhabets says:

    Great post! I am definitely one of those people who is excited for the new Ronan trilogy and Shatter Me books. If it’s a series I love, I always love getting more. And yes, there is a risk that I won’t like them as much as the originals, and that it will feel stretched out unnecessarily, but if that’s the case then so be it. I mean, no harm done, I’ll just stick with my originals and the people who love it can enjoy the rest as well. For some reason, I never really read novellas though. But prequels or sequels? Bring them on 🙂

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  3. Marie says:

    That was suh an interesting post to read! 🙂 I sometimes admit that I get a little annoyed when an author keeps on going with a series when it easily could have been stopped before – I’m especially thinking about the PLL series, which would have done great at the end of the 8th book, and it dragged on for…8 MORE books, which was a bit useless and made me stop before the end.
    Whenever they’re doing prequels or novellas, expanding the world and letting us explore new characters as main characters, I always think it’s interesting to see this, especially when it’s a series and characters you love. I’m especilly excited about Ronan’s series, I’m sure it will be incredible! 🙂

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    • Pamela Nicole says:

      I was about to agree wholeheartedly with the post, but I think you’re right on this part Marie, that some series, really, really do not need more books.

      I know it’s the author’s creation, but don’t we always say too that the story once out there, if it’s good, it kinda becomes its own thing? Some stories are best left alone. And others we can’t get enough of. I don’t think it’s WRONG for authors to do spin offs and prequels and sequels etc. But sometimes -mostly in the sequels case- it’s just not necessary and can detract from the ending of the previous book.

      Or who knows? It could improve the experience, like with the Grisha world. Most enjoyed the trilogy, but even more people adored Six of Crows.

      Now, when it’s okay and when it may be time to move on? Who the heck knows? 😄 It just seems something very subjective.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lois says:

    I’ve never been all that bothered about authors expanding on the world they’ve created. It provides a chance to explore different angles, meet new characters and just enjoy the world they’ve already created. I especially like it when a series set in the same world as their existing one can also stand on its own and doesn’t require us having to read the series before to understand the mechanisms of the world. For example, I’ve not read The Grisha trilogy but had no problem following the Six of Crows duology because both series can stand as individual entities and don’t rely on one another. Plus if I’m tired of all the spin offs (which is what usually happens) I’ll just not read them. It’s a simple solution to what some people feel is a problem in the publishing industry.

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  5. Krysta says:

    I think that generally authors add more books because the demand is there. If publishers didn’t think the prequels and sequels would sell, they wouldn’t publish them. Perhaps some writers do it more for marketing, but who can blame them? If you’re an author struggling to make rent or feed yourself, market away! We wouldn’t blame other people for trying to make a living off their work. But if you’re Rick Riordan or J. K. Rowling and expanding your world, I doubt it’s about the money anymore. Rowling has so much money she gives most of it to charity. I’d be hesitant to say that she’s writing more purely for profit when a little more cash literally means nothing to her.

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  6. Kelly says:

    It doesn’t really bother me as a concept, especially because expanding on a series isn’t really a new thing- it’s been going on a long time, especially in speculative fiction. A lot of the series expansions going on now are pretty modest by comparison- just look at Discworld, or Dune!

    That said, sometimes an author can wear out a concept, or storyline, and that can be frustrating to read, especially if it started out as a great book or series. It’s one of those things that I think depends a lot on execution.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

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  7. Molly's Book Nook says:

    Love your thoughts. Personally, I don’t care if an author writes more. However, I think where my issue may lie (especially if its a series or author I really love), is that there is the probability of the quality of work not being the same. I’m sure no author WANTS to do that, but I can see that happening. Like, you get the first trilogy the author wrote. Say it’s there first one, it’s their baby. Then several years later after success has hit, they write an extension to it….will it really be the SAME as the first ? That’s where I’ll be skeptical, but for the most part, I don’t really care lol Authors can do what they want, if I don’t want to read it, I don’t buy it. I typically don’t read novellas, and the only series that I read with extension is Grisha (six of crows).

    Side note about Tolkien, he’s my favorite. hahaha So I really can’t have too much of a problem with it since ALL of his work is based on Middle Earth. However, I think an argument can be made with him in that MOST of his Middle Earth books were published after his death by his son (only LOTR and The Hobbit were when he was alive). So, would he had published them if he were alive? IDK. 😛 Just gotta defend my fave lolol but I agree with you.

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

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    • Krysta says:

      I agree. Tolkien can hardly be accused of milking Middle-earth when he was notorious for over-editing and barely being able to get his materials to the publisher because he wouldn’t let go of them. Most of what we have is Christopher Tolkien releasing editions because scholars and fans want them. Christopher is just making materials more accessible to people who would otherwise have to go through his father’s original documents, which isn’t possible for most people. I’m totally in favor of making Tolkien’s drafts and other works accessible to individuals who can’t fly to England and get special permissions, etc. Not milking at all. Plus, I’m not sure where the proceeds go, but I think at least some of them go to charity through the Tolkien Trust? Maybe someone else knows.

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  8. acourtofbooksandfiction says:

    I think it depends. Sometimes I feel like an author adds more books to a series when they really don’t need to, and I kind of think ACOTAR is like that. I don’t think we need it to be a 6 book series when it could have been perfectly fine being 3, but I still have to read ACOWAR and see. I’m fine with Shatter Me, because it’s tied w the Raven Cycle and Harry Potter for my favorite series of all time. Ignite Me ended in a way that still allows for so much more story to be told with the next 3 books, and I trust Tahereh Mafi so much with my favorite characters. Same with the Raven Cycle. I just love the characters and the world, and I want to be back in it, so I’m perfectly happy with a sequel trilogy!!

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  9. Lais says:

    i get excited when authors decide to release more books, such as prequels and sequels, but at the same time, i get a bit skeptical. when i think about a trilogy i love, i tend to imagine it as a finished product. adding more books will change the story – and if i don’t love the new books, may also change how i feel about the whole thing as well. for example, if we’re talking about TV shows, they’re likely to expand the series for as much seasons as possible. but because of that, shows that i used to love on 1st and 2nd season became my least favorite things in the world after four seasons, because too many things changed and i didn’t like the characters or the plot anymore. i think this is the biggest fear for many readers: that these new books may change how they view their favorite series. but i agree that every author has the right to expand their world, and this was done marvellous countless times, like heroes of olympus and the infernal devices. (and i’m very, very excited about a ronan trilogy. he’s the most interesting character to me and i can’t wait to see how stiefvater will explore that!)

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      this is an amazing analogy. i also feel the same when series dragged too much, i guess that what happened with throne of glass where people complained celaena has changed, the characters and the goals are also different. often times when series keep dragging on and on, obviously the authors need to keep develop new plots and that can take the main story away from the characters! 🙂

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  10. Jane the Raincity Librarian says:

    I tend to assess on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, sequels and prequels allow authors to write the stories they always wanted to write, but couldn’t until they were successful and given more freedom by their publishers. Sometimes authors (and audiences) fall so in love with worlds and with characters that there just has to be more written about them. But sometimes even authors can’t stand having to write more books in a series – Arthur Conan Doyle got so sick of Sherlock Holmes that he killed him off, but got so much negative feedback (including death threats!) that he had to bring the character back from the dead for more books! So, I try to keep an open mind and assess each case on its own merits…even if my own instinct is to say ENOUGH ALREADY, COME UP WITH NEW STUFF!!! 😉

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      Ahh yes, that’s a good point too! Just like To Kill A Mockingbird right, where Go Set The Watchman was actually the original book, not TKAM. I totally forgot that point where the prequels/sequels are the original story, but the editors think something is more interesting. And yeah, I think the whole Sherlock thing was so funny, people were such a rabid fan for him that they thread Sir Arthur xD

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  11. kozbisa says:

    I actually am VERY excited about more Ronan and Warner, and I’m telling you right now, if Kagawa had more Iron Fey stories in her, I would go back to the kingdom. There are just some worlds you love and want more of, and some you don’t. I do loathe novellas though. I have read many, that I KNOW are the trimming of the fat from the book. Therefore, I refuse to read them any longer, but I love that the option is there for the rabid fans. And yes, writing is a job, and they want to earn money, and people should not take issue with that.
    Sam @ WLABB

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  12. Bentley ★ BookBastion.net says:

    Honestly, I think it’s milking it. I get that building an entirely new world and new characters from scratch is difficult, but that’s really what you’re signing up for when you become an author. I feel like no one complains about Tolkien’s expanded universe of stories, or Brandon Sanderson’s for that matter, because the stories are each unique and centered around uncovering more of the world. With a lot of series being expanded today, it feels like less are driven by creativity and more of just trying to cash in on hungry fanbases.

    A lot of it also feels like afterthoughts. As though the author suddenly remembered something important they wanted to say about a character but forgot to include, so they shove it into a new series or novella. When I find out that a series that was a planned trilogy is suddenly getting 3 more books and a few novellas, I instantly get turned off from even starting the entire first series. I don’t need to see the characters going about their lives in a prequel short prequel story. Give me that characterization in the actual book instead.

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      Thanks for your opinion! Good point, Tolkien and Sanderson showed us different part of the universe and expand them rather than using “same plot different aspect” technique some authors used. And yeah, when I know a series get expanded, I also get turned off from starting it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. matxi_books says:

    I vote for milking!! That’s what makes me not like Cassandra Clare, although I DO like the shadowhunter world she created.
    I know it is a job and so it should be paid but still I feel like some authors instead of coming upwith new ideas are milking the old cow for all it’s got. What I don’t think is that this is the author’s idea. I prefer to think, and actually believe, that the publishing ocmpanies are behind this. Like you said after all, this whole thing is a business!

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  14. Anushka H. says:

    I think it’s somewhere between the both. The author, having created a world of its own, has the liberty to write anything in the world and fans may construe it as a treat. At the same time, I feel like sometimes some authors might find this way to be ‘easy’. The world already exists, so they don’t have to make something new again, and since fans of the world already exist, the new books will most probably sell. I think it depends on the reader and how he perceives it. I personally do not like expansions or spin-offs of anything.

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