Posted On July 11, 2011 by Print This Post

Series Business – Three Types of Series by Misty Evans

Have you ever reached the last page of a book and felt a bit bereft because you wanted to read more about a favorite character or storyline? We’re happy to welcome author Misty Evans to the RU campus today for a presentation on three types of series. 

Series Business: Three Types of Series by Misty Evans

I love reading books in a series, don’t you? No matter what your favorite genre, you can find a series that grabs you by the imagination and refuses to let go, story after story. The best series are like Calgon…they take you away from your world and give you a free pass to live vicariously through the characters.

As an author, I enjoy writing series as well. When my muse produces a fun character who takes me on an exciting rollercoaster ride, I hate to write ‘The End’ when their story is finished.  I want to spend more time exploring their world, watching them get themselves in and out of trouble, and help them on their quests to find true love, save the world, or fight the devil. They become good friends who make me laugh and cry, and sometimes, they even show up in my dreams.

There are three basic types of series: serials, sequels and spinoffs.


Serials: The same main character is featured in each book, but each book can stand alone.  Most mystery/suspense and action/adventure series fall into this category. While you learn more about the character as the series progresses, the stories themselves are mostly episodic. A few examples:

Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)

Tempe Brennan (Kathy Reichs)

Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwall)

Spencer (Robert B. Parker)

Eve Dallas (Nora Roberts)

Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris)


Sequels: Sequels have a finite number of books where the plot is introduced in the first book and concludes with the last. Many fantasy and science fiction series fall into this category. While the individual books can be read as standalones, readers get more out of the story if they begin with the first book and follow the series in order. A few examples:

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

Lord of the Rings (Tolkein)

Mortal Instruments (Cassandra Claire)

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

Witches Anonymous (Me, Misty Evans)


Spinoffs: Spinoffs take a minor character, setting or plotline from the original standalone and develop it. In many cases, the series characters are a specific team engaged in a heroic profession. Spinoffs, or ensemble series, work well for romance writers who need a fresh couple for each book’s romance. A few examples:

Troubleshooters (Suzanne Brockman)

Black Ops (Cindy Gerard)

Black Dagger Brotherhood (J.R. Ward)

Dream Hunter Novels (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Rosatto and Associates (Lisa Scottoline)

Super Agent Series (Me, Misty Evans)


One of my favorite resources to find series and sequels is the Los Angeles Public Library’s Index for Series and Sequels: . Type in an author and get a list of books in their series, including the main characters and special notes about location or other important facts. Also, try the interactive search through this library:

For Historical Fiction series, check out:

A great list of Inspirational Series:

Small, but concise Western Series:


Sequels and Prequels to Classic Literature:

SciFi Series classics are listed here (though the site is hard to read):

Even Fictionwise has a series list, although it’s not inclusive to all the series on their site:


Series allow readers (and writers) to get to know fabulous characters and explore their world in detail. Often when a series ends, we feel disappointed and a little lost. The great thing is, there are more great series out there, in every genre, and written by many of our favorite authors under pseudonyms. All we have to do is find them. Check out these lists, then head to your local library, independent bookstore, or online bookstore to find a new series. Happy reading!


Would a likeable character or storyline entice you to read the sequel or spinoff? Please share some of your favorite series and sequels with us!


Literary agent Sara Megibow joins us on Wednesday with her debut column. Sara’s column will appear every third Wednesday of the month.


Bio:  Misty Evans writes the best-selling Super Agent Series and light paranormal Witches Anonymous series. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. To learn more about Misty and her books, visit or follow her on . And don’t miss her two-week online workshop in September on writing a series: Series Business – Is Writing A Series Right For You

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19 Responses to “Series Business – Three Types of Series by Misty Evans”

  1. Hi Misty,

    Welcome to RU! Thanks for the clarification on series. L.L. Foster’s (Lori Foster) The Servant sequel was a great read. Other than that, I’m mostly a spinoff reader. Johanna Lindsey was the second romance author I’d ever read. I devoured her Mallory books. James is still my favorite.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | July 11, 2011, 4:35 am
  2. Hi Misty!

    I think I made it to book six of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’m reading Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Mysteries. They’re terrific. I’ve just started book four, Murder Undercover. I love SEP’s Star’s spinoffs too.

    Thanks so much for being with us today!


    Posted by jennifer tanner | July 11, 2011, 6:36 am
  3. Hi, Misty! Welcome to RU. Two of my favorites are the Myron Bolitar books by Harlan Coben and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Loads of action and fun in both!

    I love Win, who is a secondary character and Myron’s “psychotic Tonto” in the Coben books. I’d love for Harlan to do a series that featured Win.

    Thanks for hanging out with us today!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | July 11, 2011, 7:40 am
  4. Morning Misty!!

    I love series…Johanna Lindsey, Nora’s trilogies (Chesapeake bay!) Jude Deveraux with the Montgomery’s, Janet Evanovich, Harry Potter. If it’s a series I love, I’ll DEFINITELY buy every single book.

    Thanks for posting with us today!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | July 11, 2011, 7:55 am
  5. Good morning, Misty!

    This is such a timely column because I was trying to explain this concept to a non-writer friend just this weekend. I’ll send her this link because you’ve done a WAY better job explaining than I did.

    As a reader, I prefer serials and spinoffs, but am open to sequels too. As a writer, I tend to take the spinoff route.

    Can you give our readers a little more info on what will be covered in your September class?

    Thanks so much for being at RU!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | July 11, 2011, 8:45 am
  6. Hi Misty – Great blog! I LOVE your Witches Anonymous cover, and it’s a fun title, too!

    I’m an avowed bookaholic, so I read all kinds of series. I wrote my current WIP with the idea that a few of the characters could have their own spinoff books.

    These are some of my favorites:


    Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters

    Anne Stuart’s ICE series and (writing as Kristina Douglas) her new angels and demons series

    Loretta Chase’s historicals

    Nora Roberts’ trilogies – although some of them are both sequels AND spinoffs.

    There are a LOT of serials in the mystery genre, and I read more than I can count. These are some of the authors:

    Louise Penny
    Spencer Quinn
    Tess Gerritsen
    Iris Johansen
    Katia Lief
    Deborah Crombie
    Hank Phillippi Ryan
    Ian Rankin
    Martha Grimes
    Jill McGown
    Ruth Rendell

    I give up – too many to count!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | July 11, 2011, 8:47 am
  7. Oh, I forgot to list J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Virginia Kantra’s selkies, Nalini Singh’s Psy series and Kresley Cole’s series.

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | July 11, 2011, 9:01 am
  8. Hi Misty,

    I’ve read the Eve Dallas and Sookie Stackhouse books. The Girl books by Stieg Larsson were great. I also like Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon books. I’ve been working on a series too. Thanks for the websites.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | July 11, 2011, 9:10 am
  9. Hi Misty! Thanks for stopping by. I took your workshop on Series and it was chock full of great info on this subject.

    Here are some of my faves:

    Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward

    Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price

    The McCloud Brothers by Shannon McKenna

    The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon

    Posted by Robin Covington | July 11, 2011, 9:32 am
  10. @Tracey – Thank you to and Adrienne and all the other ladies here at RU for having me today. I’m thrilled to be here talking about series!

    @Jennifer – I’m an SEP fan, and the Outlander series comes up in all my classes. Many readers enjoy that series.

    @Adrienne – Brockmann’s latest Troubleshooters book is on my TBR list. I love how she has so many characters but they’re all so good!

    @Carrie – a fellow HP lover! My kids have all those books in hardcover and softcover. We’re looking forward to the premiere this week of Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

    @Kelsey – thanks for asking about my online workshop. My workshop in September includes: Examining the pros and cons of writing a series, defining and evaluating your idea, developing a Series Bible to track plot lines, characters and story arcs, developing a Pitch Bible that includes blurbs, synopses and a story arc to market to agents and editors, and turning your series idea into a workable project with tools, templates and one-on-one help.

    @Becke – Isn’t that WA cover great? I was blessed with an excellent cover artist who captured the feel of my series perfectly. You’ve listed several of my favorite series authors, Becke. I have to try Nalini Singh’s series. I’ve heard good things about it.

    @Mary Jo – Sookie is so funny. I love her. That series is definitely on my keeper shelf!

    @Robin – Thanks for plugging my workshop! I enjoyed having you in class. JR Ward’s series grabs you from the first page. She’s an amazing author.

    Posted by Misty Evans | July 11, 2011, 11:53 am
  11. Misty,

    You’ve clarified the differences in a series for me. I never knew what to call the “serial”.

    Thanks so much for joining us on RU today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | July 11, 2011, 8:17 pm
  12. Hi Misty,

    My favorite series, (my favorite books for that matter) would be Harry Potter. When the last one came out I literally suffered from withdrawal:)

    Another set of connected books i Love love love are the Bronze Horseman and it’s two sequels. I’ve never read lead characters that real, that haunting ever.

    Then there’s Julia Quinn’s Brigerttons. That family is just so delightful.

    The Outlanders is in my TBR pile — but with those many books I’m in trouble once I start. I have the sickness of not being able to stop reading series, even when they start to sag.


    Posted by Sonali Mayadev Thatte | July 12, 2011, 1:02 pm

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