Strangely the brick wall had nothing to do with style, subject, genre or author.
The single negative aspect of these books was the number next to the title.
It's not that I have anything against a book series. It's just that they have become more and more ubiquitous over time. And unless you get in on the ground floor with book one, you will have a lot of catching up to do. If I want to purchase a free-standing novel, enjoy the story and move on, I should have that option.
Series are nothing new, I suppose. My first series was Lord of the Rings. My second Shannara. Then came Clan of the Cave Bear, Xanth, Dune, Pern, Kushiel, Foundation and Elric. I love them all.
Later I discovered Ender, Dark Tower, Wheel of Time, Odd Thomas, Worthing, Warbreaker, G.R.R. Martin and more. Right now I'm digging the future of Peter F. Hamilton. (Phew!) I even read the first two "Dead" books from Harris... um, but if you ask me about that later, I will deny it vehemently. Do yourself a large favor and just watch True Blood.
For my 9-year old son, it's Diary of a Whimpy Kid. For my 11-year old daughter, it's 39 Clues.
My point is I'm open to a decent series of stories. When done well a long series can provide a much deeper story experience.
But my other point is that those single shots - Jonathan Franzen's Freedom is a good recent read - have become more rare.
So what's a writer to do?
Do we write with a series in mind?
Do we formulate a story that can extend itself, that has the legs to become six books, or fourteen, or twenty-six (referencing Sue Grafton's alphabet books there.)
I'm a genre high-concept writer, where the series like to live. I'm not a literary writer.
The easy answer is, "Stay true to yourself." Ugh... that's not advice, that's a dismissal.
What do you read? More series or more stand-alones? What would you like to see more of?
I'll probably just keep writing whatever comes to mind and hoping it's a successful creation.
Thanks for reading, off to write!