So this was brought to my attention after yesterday’s post about self publishing in a comment by mlfables who said,
I think the third option may be serial novels (the latest book selling technique from Amazon).
Serial novels (where readers pay upfront for the first three chapters and then recieve the subsequent chapters over time) may suit me better than having to write three whole novels then going all out on promotion (which is the most effective way to promote self-published ebooks).
My initial response was huh? Serial novels… on Kindle. And then my curiosity got the best of me and I soon found myself trolling all sorts of pages for the low down on this new form of digital publishing. Of course, as we all know, serial novels aren’t a new thing, but the idea of these being added to something like Kindle is. And the whole idea made me start to think about… well, a lot of things actually.
My second response to serial novels on Kindle wasn’t a thought so much as an emotion. Specifically that of confusion and annoyance.
Now I’d never had much cause to give this type of publishing style a thought before, but I’ve realized something. To me, from both the perspective of a reader and as a writer, serials novels just tick me off.
As a reader my immediate response is No. Capital N o. I am a fast reader and I like to devour my books. I don’t want to sit around waiting for the next installment. When friends recommend book series, my first question is, “Is it completed, or in progress?”. If I’m going to have to wait a really long time, I would rather wait until all if not most of the books are completed and on the shelves of my nearest book store. Why would anyone want to wait for a book to be completed, chapter by chapter? That just kills the experience. I’ll forget things, it will grow dull in my mind, I’ll move on to other works. If I can’t read it in entirety all at once, why read it all?
Looking at this topic as a writer, I’m equally baffled. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of information about this process, and please feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong or missing some piece of information, but I just don’t see how this is a good thing at all.
If the piece is not complete, and truly is being written while it’s being published, there are a number of concerns that I have. Namely, consistency. My personal favorite kind of books are filled with layer after layer of nuances and details which are carefully drawn out through the whole piece. Symbols and sub plots abound, and make these books worth reading again and again because each time through offers some new experience or detail to notice. How can someone possibly create and manipulate a rich environment and stimulating characters when each chapter that’s published, limits the authors ability to revise and insert these elements?
More over some books can take years to craft and complete, and some never see a final product. Do you as a reader want to wait months or years for something to play out, or run the risk of it never being completed at all?
Now I know that the really big “plus” for serial novels, is that it give the readers a chance to have some input on the process of story telling and while this may be a draw for some, I find the whole idea appalling.
The words be careful what you wish for come to mind. If your readers really only care about so and so hooking up with whoever, or Captain whoever catching the bad guy, then by all means, cut out the thirty chapters in the middle and just cut to the final chapters. But they’re not going to be any more satisfied than you will be with the resulting product.
The idea that someone’s comments could or should have an influence on my stories is outrageous. It’s my story. I’ll write it how I damn well please and if people like it great, if they hate it fine. As long as I’m happy with it, then that’s all I care about. I’m not writing for people I’ve never met, half way across the world, I’m writing for me and while sometimes those two things over lap, I see no reason why someone else should have an influence on how my story is told.
After the fact, when the story has gone through it’s own edits and has grown into something I’m proud of, then I’ll take the comments and suggestions from others. But when the story is fresh and immature and still expanding, it’s too fragile and precious to let the masses latch onto.
While I appreciate feedback on my work, I don’t need or want someone messing with my creative process, and though knowing who likes who and who hates this character or what have you is interesting, it won’t make me change my work. I refuse to let others tell me how they think things should go in my own world because if something is happening, or if someone says something, it is because I meant it too. It has a reason for existing and ugh…
I didn’t realize when I started this post how angry I’d get by the end of it. But clearly I’ve met my mark, said more than I needed to I’m sure and if you lasted this long dear readers, I apologize. In any case.
I now need a fourth option for publishing cause clearly I’ve got enough angst to fill up the first three.
As always if you have an comments or care to rant back with me please leave your thoughts below. In regards to this particular topic, if you would like to offer up some explanations as to why this does or doesn’t work for you as a reader or an author, please let me know. I’m interested to see what others think about this topic and how they view the process and their readers.