Why I hate cliffhangers…Serials vs. Series 2
So the new self-publication model has a lot of pros and cons. Among many of the cons is the trend of writing serials instead of stand-alone novels. At least it’s a con to me. As an avid reader of books, I HATE cliffhanger endings and serials novellas. There are a few that I like, but those are rare instances when the talent of the author transcends the form. I can think of several examples of excellent serials, but chances are I bought it after the fact when the stories were bundled for a reasonable price. And in most cases they didn’t need to be serials. They could have been stand-alone novels and novellas without breaking them up into chunks to be sold piecemeal.
So this is my opinion, but I don’t see the serial trend as anything more than authors trying their best to monetize their product in an increasingly competitive market. They give away the first installment to readers as an inducement to buy the rest of the series. With all the free/low-cost content out there, I get why they do it. Authors want to make a name for themselves and compete. But speaking as a reader, it doesn’t work for me.
If I download a free e-book and find out I have to buy the next story to find out what happens, then I stop reading it. Maybe it’s petty and I should be shelling out $$$ to finish a story, but most of the time I’m not impressed enough with it to do that. There is simply too much of this kind of thing out there. Or maybe I’m biased against the story cause it was a serial in disguise. I’ll admit that freely.
So maybe some authors have envisioned their grand opus as a serial and it works best that way. If that’s what floats your boat, more power to you. But I’m not going to buy pieces of your book. Maybe if it’s got a lot of good reviews and you’ve bundled it together somewhere down the line. But not before.
Now a serial is a very different thing from a series. I love me a good series…provided the author doesn’t drag it out too long. There are many a beloved series that just went on too long and fell apart. I’m not gonna name names, but I’m sure you can think of multiple examples without even trying. I find that this degradation happens when the series is based on just one main character. You give your hero or heroine an awesome happy ending, but if you keep going with the series, eventually you’ll have to take it away and make him or her start all over again. And again and again.
Drag out a series too long and you’ll essentially be torturing your main character over and over to keep that drama going. Now if you had a lot of success with that character I can see why you did it. But sometimes ending the thing at a reasonable point and starting a new series would have been the better move for your readers (ahem Sookie Stackhouse). Damn. There I go naming names.
I can’t say I’m never going to do these things I’m ranting against. My writing career is just getting started, but for now I have no plans to serialize any of my novels. Hopefully, my reasonable prices/meticulously crafted stand-alone storylines will be enough to win me readers. Paying readers.
I guess only time will tell.