I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday about book series. She's 13, soon to be 14, and she was lamenting how that by the time the next book in a new series would come out, she might have outgrown it.
She was talking in particular about Rick Riordan's new Lost Hero series, a sort of sequel to the Percy Jackson series. The Lost Hero just came out last month, and it seems she'll have to wait a year until the next one is released, since the second in his Red Pyramid series will probably be out first. But because these books are leaning more toward middle grade readers, she sees that while she loves the characters and the stories, they could soon be "too young" for her.
It's something that as a writer who has published two adult mystery series, I just never had thought about. I don't have to worry about my audience growing too old for my series. They were adults when they started, or maybe teens, in the case of my tattoo shop mysteries, and they will be adults when the series are over.
But as someone who's recently written a young adult novel, my conversation with my daughter struck a chord.
I tried to envision who my readers would be if this book is ever published. My main characters are three teenagers who are sixteen years old. I've investigated the middle grade vs. young adult thing: it seems that most of those books are categorized based on the ages of the protagonist(s). But I do know that while mine are in high school—and late high school—the book might be better suited for ages 12 to 15.
Now, with that in mind, I will reveal that I'd planned a trilogy when I wrote the first book. Granted, it can't be a trilogy if no one buys the first one, but if someone does, then I would like to pursue two more books. But I then face the dilemma of my audience outgrowing them before the next ones are released.
It might be a good idea if middle grade and young adult authors wrote faster. In fact, my daughter is really on board that bandwagon. She thinks there should only be six months between books, and, in lieu of conversation, she's right. As a parent, I'd like her to enjoy a series as long as she can, and as a writer, I'd like her to read all my books without abandoning them halfway because she feels too "old."
As a mystery writer who has written four books in one series in the last two years, I know that this is possible. I know that I could definitely write two more books in my YA series in the next year, maybe less. But in the case of Rick Riordan, who's got two series he's balancing, it might not be so easy. He's just going to have to rely on even younger readers growing old enough to read his series all the way through.
Do you think writers of middle grade and young adult books should try to push the envelope and get their series books out to their young readers more quickly? Do you think adult series writers should step it up a little, too?