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Length and form in genre storytelling

Note: An earlier version of this post ran at Sunita’s personal blog, Vacuous Minx. We thought DA’s readership might be interested in reading and commenting on it here.

 

The first installment in Meljean Brook’s new serialized novel, The Kraken King, was released last week. Brie has an excellent review of it here (i.e., I’m sure it’s excellent, but I have to admit that I skimmed it while peeking through my fingers because I wanted to approach Vol. 1 with as little prior information as possible). I’d heard chatter about the story on Twitter because some of the installments have appeared on Netgalley, and a couple of the commenters agreed with Brie’s positive take on the first four installments.

But the vast majority of comments on the review were negative about the book, the format, the idea of serials more generally, and even toward Meljean. That took me aback, especially the author-directed criticisms, since if anyone has earned the right to experiment with story forms because of past performance, it’s this author. She’s written very high-quality books that respect genre boundaries while exploring them to the fullest, and she takes all kinds of worthwhile risks in her writing. For me, following her to the serial format is a no-brainer even if I weren’t predisposed toward the form.

I asked on Twitter why serial stories got such a strong and often visceral negative reaction and the conversation took off right away. The most common complaint was about price, specifically the fact that buying all the serial installments usually came to more than the price of a book of the same length. There were also a fair number of people who said they don’t like reading in installments, whether these feature cliffhanger endings or not, because they want to read the whole story all at once. And the third criticism was that serials aren’t really serials but are most often a book that’s been chopped up to allow for a cash grab by the author and/or publisher; this is related to the too-expensive argument but not identical.

All of these criticisms are fair, and we certainly see examples of serials that aren’t really serials in romance, erotica, and probably other genres as well. But at the same time, these are criticisms about execution, not the format per se, and they make the instantaneous rejection of The Kraken King (by people who haven’t read it) hard for me to take.

I should stipulate that I refer to Meljean Brook by her first name because she is such a warm and nice person that even I have trouble calling “Brook” in the normal academic fashion, not because we’re friends. I think I’ve seen her once in person (maybe?) and I’ve never corresponded with her or had any one-on-one interactions. My husband is a fan of her work, so I always alert him to her books, and I’ve read a couple of books in each of her big series, but I don’t really qualify as a Meljean fangirl.

Oh, wait. I do have to count myself a fangirl. Not because anything I wrote in the preceding paragraph is inaccurate, but because she wrote this. Anyone who can think up something like this and then blog it for all to see and enjoy has my permanent, undying gratitude. For those of you who don’t usually click through on links, you have to on this one:

Woke up. Googled self. Found a new positive review. Sent quote on to publicist.

Compiled all quotes ever received and sent to publicist. Just in case she lost the last quote. Cc’d to editor, and editor’s assistant. Bcc’d to self, in case they pretend they never received them later. I will know.

Put the best 25 quotes in my e-mail signature, and the signature for all of my Yahoo loops.

Opened Google reader. 1000+ review blogs to read. No mention of me or my work, except one who said “If you like M.B.’s work, you will like this new author’s work, too.” WTF? No one is like me. Made note of blog name. Would delete it from my feedreader but I need to know if she spreads more falsehoods and compares me to another hack.

And that is just the beginning of Diary of an Author. Read all 5 days. Put your coffee cup down before you start, and make sure you’re not eating.

Reading the antagonism to her new serial and to serials more generally reminded me of other price/length comparisons and criticisms, specifically those involving novellas and short stories. Novellas are all over the place in the romance genre these days, the longstanding tradition of category-length novels in Harlequin and the Regency trad lines having been amplified by the rise of ebooks.

But while contemporary and historical category novels adhered to many novella conventions, the new e-novellas frequently don’t. Sometimes they’re not even formally structured stories, i.e., with a beginning, middle, and end, but more like vignettes. And don’t get me started on short stories. A vignette is not a short story, no matter how much you call it a “slice of life.”

I think there are a couple of reasons why novellas are so prominent. For one thing, they seem easier to write because they’re shorter and tighter in focus. An author doesn’t have to do research in as many different areas as for a more complex novel, or keep track of as many characters and plot threads. Genre advice posts talk about novellas as a good style choice for beginners:

If you’re a beginning writer, I definitely recommend trying your hand at some novella length work. A 30k novella is a lot less intimidating than a 70k YA novel or a 100k work of women’s fiction. It’s easier to practice craft, and even if you don’t like the end result, it was only a month or two of writing, instead of a few years.

Romance authors point out the difficulties as well, but I have a feeling the argument that the books are more quickly written is a big draw in today’s market, where authors are expected to churn out multiple pieces of product a year if they are going to stay in the reading public’s eye.

I love novellas. And I love short stories. But I get frustrated when I read them in genre fiction these days because so many are not classically structured novellas or shorts. They are stories that are short, or novels that are short, which is not the same thing.

A friend and I were talking about short stories and the skill needed to write them, and she pointed out how much more demanding they are to read. You can’t look away or stop concentrating, because every word counts and the cognitive effort is more intense. Novellas are slightly less stringent, but only slightly. Think of James Joyce’s The Dead, which falls at the boundary of the short story/novella length distinction. I am not a Joyce aficionado, but that story is one of the most powerful works I’ve ever read. I’ve read it several times, and even when I know what is coming, it never fails to move me. I know the last line by heart, and it’s still shattering every time I remember it, because I can’t think of it without thinking of everything that has come before. And yet, what goes on in this story? Not much in terms of plot, but so much in terms of everything else. Every word counts.

Can you think of a genre novella or short story that has anywhere near that effect? I can definitely think of a few that are very effective. But if you use the “can your mind drift” criterion, the majority won’t pass that test.

And yet, if the novella is cut-priced, we’ll buy it. We’ll reject the short story, the novella, or the serial if it’s not “value for money,” but the value metric is almost entirely determined by price/length ratio. Many readers believe the argument that novellas are “easier,” and obviously they don’t provide as many minutes/hours of reading time, so that makes them worth less.

I don’t agree. There are 1000-page books I won’t read even if they’re free (my time is worth something to me, after all) and I’ve paid $2.99 for a genre short story and not regretted it. Was it “worth” $2.99? It was to me. Not only was it a very good example of the form, it contained in miniature many of the characteristics of the author’s longer stories, and because it was written before those, I felt as if the story provided a window into the creative process.

I paid similar prices for the short stories that comprise Petit Morts, a set of interlinked stories, of which the best are as good as anything we find in our genre. I’ve recommended them to others, but as with The Rifter, the price usually means they don’t buy them. I respect the decision but it saddens me. Another set of linked stories that I found to be exceptional, not exactly a serial but more than a set of shorts, is Dark Soul. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started, but that was fine, because it was more interesting than I would have been able to imagine on my own.

None of these stories are perfect, but they have all stayed in my head long after I’ve finished reading them. Isn’t that one of the core definitions of a good read?

I don’t know how good The Kraken King is as a serial. But while I frequently mistrust the genre as a whole when it comes to formats other than the traditional novel, in this case I trust the author. For me, Meljean has earned my trust, and following her to a new form is absolutely a risk worth taking. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll chalk it up as an honorable failure. And honestly, $16 for 800 or so pages isn’t exactly mortgage-money level risk, if we’re talking price considerations.

As readers we’re frequently bemoaning the lack of innovation and the prevalence of same-old, same-old in the genre, and I’m definitely one of the complainers. So when something new comes along, I’m going to give it a shot. Innovation isn’t free, and it isn’t a sure thing.

Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley. She blogs as VacuousMinx and tweets as @sunita_p.

61 Comments

  1. Kate Sherwood
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 05:37:25

    I wonder if there’s a connection between impatience with serialization and the ‘instant gratification’ mindset of our world.

    I was gathering some opinions about a story I thought would be best told in serial format, and I expressed it to people as being like a short TV series… six or so ‘episodes’, each of which had a self-contained story, but with an overarching romance arc that wouldn’t be resolved until the last story.

    Some people said that given the length of my proposed episodes (50-60K words) it was more of a series than a serial, and they were okay with that. (Is the only difference between a series and a serialization the length of the segments, or is there something more substantive?)

    But others said that they don’t even like series very much. I tried to go back to the TV show connection, and these people said they don’t watch live TV either. They wait until an entire season or, better, the whole show, is available and they binge-watch.

    I can see the appeal of the true immersive experience, just shutting down your life for a weekend and wallowing in the story. But I also remember the sense of anticipation I would have back in the live-TV days, watching one episode of my favourite show and then dreaming about it all week, building excitement for the next episode. And there was more of a sense of community with EVERYONE who was watching the show, as opposed to just the people who were watching the show actually WITH you. No spoiler alerts needed or expected.

    I’ve seen some of that similar excitement with people waiting for the next book in a popular series. I don’t think I’ve ever read a serialized novel in its non-compiled format, but maybe if I were reading as part of a community, all of whom were sharing the anticipation, it would be fun?

  2. cleo
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 08:42:39

    I know I’ve said this before, but I do think that different readers have different lengths they prefer , just like some authors have different lengths that they’re good at writing.

    I wonder if part of the reactions to serials have to do with personal length preference. I love novellas and short stories so the idea of reading a series of novella length serials is kind of appealing. But I can see that someone who prefers longer stories would be annoyed by having it split up.

  3. Ros
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 08:48:40

    @Kate Sherwood: I would expect series components to be complete in themselves. Each one to have an HEA (if romance) or resolution of whatever the major plotline is in other genres, even if there is an overarching plot not resolved until the final book. For a serial, I wouldn’t expect a sense of completion at the end of each component. Some questions may have been answered, others raised, but the main thrust is still onwards. That’s why I think it’s okay that series of books are released with long gaps, but serials need to be released close together because there isn’t any resolution at the end of each component.

  4. Kim W
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 08:50:54

    Sunita makes a great point about paying $16 not risking the mortgage. I’m not all that price sensitive. I’m much more time sensitive. I won’t even pick up free books if I’m not sure I’m going to like the book. Here’s why I’m waiting on the entire Kraken King series to come out: when very much time passes between the episodes, I’m afraid I won’t remember what happened in the previous episodes and I’m going to miss some nuance of the story. I just like to get the whole thing all at once.

  5. dick
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 08:57:59

    I think K. Sherwood is correct; nobody wants to wait for anything anymore. Those of us who are older perhaps got more training in patience. When I was a kid, for example, movie theatres used to have Saturday morning showings of short movies about comic book characters such as Red Ryder, Zorro, and others. They were essentially serials, for the story-line continued from one to another. All of us then talked about the episodes for the rest of the week, extending the entertainment. As I recall, it cost a dime to attend.

  6. Judy W.
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 09:11:44

    I will be perfectly honest and admit I dislike the serial style novel. That’s not to say I haven’t tried them. I read “Clean Sweep” by Ilona Andrews when it was on their blog. I’ve also tried the reverse-a serial converted to book style format with “In The Company of Shadows” and loved it despite the need of a good edit.

    The problem is not the cost, although they seem more expensive, the core problem is time. We have busy lives and the time between installments can be cluttered and this makes the details and emotions from the book fade. There is a “review” period at the beginning of each segment and I have to admit I begin to lose interest. Why start if I know this about my reading style? I am not someone who can read three books at once and I suspect those that do would enjoy the serial style better than myself. I do a disservice to the hard work of an author if I start knowing I’ll enjoy it less to begin with.

    There was a reason the serial movie fell from favor and even TV shows are judicious with their two part story lines. That fine line between building expectation and losing interest. I’ll surely buy Miss Brooks book in the future….when its completed.

  7. Amanda
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 10:24:36

    I don’t think I am suited to reading stories in serial form. I don’t even read the 1st chapters that authors put on their sites for books I am really anxious to read.

  8. Deljah
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 10:39:46

    I don’t mind the serial format. I look forward every week to reading a new installment of a work-in-progress serial on Grace Draven’s blog. However, I am unlikely to buy a serial from anyone else until all installments are published, b/c of bad past experience. The one I’ve bought in the past had long gaps (ie, 5 months or more) between when the installments were delivered, which completely destroyed the sense of urgency in the storyline. A new couple was introduced in each installment, but with little transition and setup and little follow up on previous couples. Wait, I was invested in the couple from the earlier installment! All that investment was destroyed as well, which made me lose trust in the author. The authors tended to tell A LOT instead of showing, and sometimes, crucial things happened off page. I don’t even mind cliffhangers in this format, but don’t keep me waiting too long.

    If I find an author I can trust again, who writes well and with a tight timeframe (no more than 2 months) and good pricing, I might try the paid serial form again. Until then, “ain’t nobody got time for all that.”

  9. Kiki
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 11:33:29

    This discussion interests and surprises me. With the many fanfics out there – which generally come out a chapter a week, if it’s not longer between installments – I would have thought readers would really be into the serial format. Or is it too early to see the effect of that on reading habits?

  10. Ros
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 11:54:27

    I was interested to see the serialisations of Ruthie Knox’s books last year. The free one on Wattpad, I waited until the end and read in one go, but clearly quite a lot of people were reading along and leaving comments on each chapter and enjoying that experience. The paid one seems not to have been so successful. At least, that’s what I assume since the second half wasn’t published serially, but bundled all together into the full book. I do think the pricing was an issue with that – the total cost of all the serial parts was quite a lot more than I would normally pay for a Knox book. But she tried hard to make it work – there was a forum for discussions and lots of promo and such like.

    So, my observation is that many readers do quite enjoy the serial format but not in a situation where they are paying separately for each part at the point of purchase. Serials bundled in with something else (like on TV), or as freebies, seem to be a lot more successful than paid ones.

  11. Sunita
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 11:58:00

    Thanks for the responses! This is something I really want to understand better, because I’m pretty much open to every length (and many stylistic choices), and it’s always interesting to me when people have visceral negative reactions to certain ones (like the Big Fat Books conversation we had here a few weeks ago).

    I think not liking a particular format is totally understandable, so readers who avoid serials because they don’t like the incompleteness of each installment (or hate cliffhangers, which a lot of serials feature) make sense to me.

    And I get that there are people using serial formats as a way to make the total cost of the story higher; I think the other commercial reason for doing them is that they keep the author’s name out front more often. Both of these can result in serials that are chopped-up books rather than serials in the sense I think of them, with each installment having an internal coherence and a specific role in the build toward the full story.

    I’m not sure that it’s all about attention span, though I agree with Dick a little bit on this. We definitely have concentration and attention-span issues these days (which is a whole ‘nother post) and we can lose track of storylines. But people do enjoy some kinds of social watching, like Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and Scandal over the last few years. Not everything is binge-watched.

    And as Kiki says, fanfic is so popular, you’d think there would be a lot of receptivity to serials. Serials are selling to some parts of the romance readership, so maybe it’s just a part that doesn’t overlap with the commenters on blogs I frequent and post on.

    Kate, I do not understand why your series/serial would not be appealing. I agree with Ros on the distinction, but you’ve written series, and you’re a professional who doesn’t go AWOL in the middle of a series, so it has to be some gut reaction to the form.

  12. Nicola O.
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 12:24:32

    I agree with Ros’ definition of serial vs. series. Even in series, I think there is a distinction between related books (more common in historicals) which just have some cross-over characters, and series with an actual series arc, where you cannot read out of order or skip books without losing continuity of plot from one book to the next — more common in UF. To go a step further, not only do I expect serials to not have closure/resolution, I expect them to have cliff-hanger endings. Which frankly, I don’t love.

    I think there is room for serials, for sure, and ereading/epublishing particularly lends itself better than print format. Whether a reader likes it or not is a matter of taste and execution.

    I read a few of Ilona Andrews’ Clean Sweep episodes, but tbh I kept forgetting to go back and read the next one. And I don’t like reading fiction on a laptop or monitor. So I was super-pleased when it was released as an entire work and I snapped it up. Loved it. Happy to pay for it.

    The issue of cost per word (or page) is a whole nother can of worms. I do use it as a rough guide, but I will definitely overrule it for an author I love. I might need to love the author before I’ll overrule, though, depending on how intrigued I am by the blurb/buzz and how spendy it actually is.

  13. Evaine
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 12:49:00

    I think that one of the reasons I’m not fond of serials is that I read all kinds of different genres, depending on my mood. What happens is that even if the serialized story is amazingly good, if I get an installment of say, a contemporary romance and I’m not in a contemporary romance mood, I’m going to set it aside. And that will annoy me. And what if I’m not in the mood for a contemporary romance for a while? The installments pile up. Again, annoyance.

    I’m also going to finish what I’m currently reading before picking it up because that’s how I work. *LOL* Which means I set the installment aside and that will annoy me.

    Another problem I have is that if I’m currently reading something I’m totally enjoying, I end up resenting the serial installment sitting there, taunting me, telling me I’m falling behind. Silly, I know, but it happens.

    I’ve never thought of it as a money grab by the author, nor a publicity vehicle, in fact, I’ve never really given the whole motive thing much thought. I just don’t enjoy serials all that much. However, that being said, I thought that Meljean’s serial was a great idea because of the heroine writing serialized works herself. Still… I will wait for the full thing before I buy it.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t ‘feel’ the same way about my TV watching as my book reading. They are two completely different activities and what I like in one may not be what I like in the other and vice versa. :)

  14. Marianne McA
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 13:19:43

    “But the vast majority of comments on the review were negative about the book, the format, the idea of serials more generally, and even toward Meljean.”

    I didn’t get that idea at all, if you’re talking about the review here.

    People were positive about the book – I did a quick tick chart and 14 out of 22 commenters seemed to be planning to read it, as opposed to 2 who weren’t. (A spin doctor could write that as 87.5% of readers who expressed an opinion were going to read the book.) That’s a positive response, all things considered.
    And, even though the majority were opposed to serials, only 12 of the 22 said they hated the format. (54%) More a slender majority than a vast one.

    I did say I wasn’t going to buy it, but for me it’s a price consideration. And I agree, it’s not too much to pay – seems about hardback price, which I’ll happily pay for an author I like. But I was ambivalent about the only book of hers I tried before (one of the ‘Demon’ series) and I wouldn’t pay hardback price for an author I’m unsure about, however great the reviews.
    However if the first in the series was discounted, I’d be more likely to give it a try. (I know £1.23 isn’t much – it makes no sense, even to me, but if it was £0.77 or £0.99, I’d have taken a punt. And if the rest at the series was priced at £1.30 instead, she wouldn’t lose any money.)

  15. Charming Euphemism
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 13:41:48

    I hate serials. I do read a lot of fan fiction and online fiction – but practically never until they are complete. I did make exceptions for Last Pure Human and Greg the Vampire, and yep – stalled out. I am not mad at people who gave me something for free and had life intervene – I just don’t want to repeat the experience.

    I rarely even read series until they are finished. Psycops is good enough to convince me and so far has repaid my trust, but how about the Sookie Stackhouse books? So glad I quit reading those halfway through.

    I don’t like cliffhangers, I don’t trust authors to stay on course, and I don’t want to read on someone else’s schedule.

  16. Fallen Professor
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 13:58:37

    @Sunita:

    Echoing earlier comments, I’m very interested in serials but want to know I can trust the author. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to be well acquainted with the author’s previous work beforehand, but rather that there’s a fixed, regular schedule for release; just stating that the next part will be out “soon” doesn’t do it for me.

    I understand that readers might be feeling burned by authors who do take advantage of a form they perceive is easy to write and profit from. That’s why I appreciate features like Amazon’s allowing me to read a sample before I buy; sometimes, even if a book comes highly recommended, it might just not be my style.

    So I did preorder all the parts Meljean Brook’s serial, because (a) I’ve read her writing and enjoy it, but also because (b) the parts are coming out once a week, which is a fixed timeline and a short enough interval between sections for me not to forget what came before.

    I’m not new to serials (I loved Naomi Alderman and Margaret Atwood’s collaboration on Wattpad, The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home), and am old enough to remember having to wait for TV series to offer resolutions in the pre-Netflix, pre-internet ecosystem (who shot J.R., anyone?). Wow, now I feel like I have to go outside and yell at someone to get off my lawn, haha!

    And @Sunita, I’ll have to check out The Rifter. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! And yes, The Dead is a masterpiece of short fiction. Short does not mean easy; if anything, it can take more skill to construct a tight story with beginning, middle, and end than to ramble on for thousands of pages (yes, I gave up early in The Wheel of Time series; so shoot me). A well-written short story or novella is like a small yet lovely gem that can brighten my day; a well-crafted serial will string these small jewels together, giving me both the pleasure of the moment and a luminous piece at the end of the work.

    Okay, I’ll get off the metaphor train now. So yeah, I like serials, but I need them on schedule.

  17. Julia
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 14:07:18

    I don’t allow myself to read serials as they are released. Throughout the years I have started so many TV shows/book series and watched/read all that was available (not binging, just an episode/book a day or so), but once I’m caught up and have to wait for new releases… I just… don’t. It’s like I lose my emotional connection or something, and no matter how many friends tell me I need to catch up, I just can’t find the motivation. I’m a really fast reader, so I’ll probably read something else in between the serial installments and get emotionally committed to that instead, and then I struggle to get back into the serial. So I don’t read them until all the installments are released.

    I think Sunita’s comments on genre short stories are really interesting. I’ve heard people complain that short stories get lower ratings because readers are comparing them to novels and expecting the same experience. But I think most of these people don’t really get just how difficult writing a short story is. I’ve read a bunch of classic short stories that still have a huge impact on me and I’ve yet to really see that from a genre short story. I am very wary about paying $3 for romance shorts. Like Sunita said though, I have encountered a few that were worth that price to me.

    I’ve never read “The Dead,” I’ll have to go do that. Yay Project Gutenberg!

  18. Fallen Professor
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 14:24:10

    @Julia:

    You’ll love The Dead, and even more so if you read the preceding stories in Dubliners, of which The Dead is the final story, bringing all the rest together.

    And I’m with you about certain short stories having a big impact sometimes. Off the top of my head, I can think of two – Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” – that have stayed with me many years after having first read them. And for me, the beauty of these stories is that they’re much easier for me to re-read than a long novel when I wish to revisit them (but I’m a slow reader).

  19. Sunita
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 14:43:55

    @Marianne McA: I think we may be counting using different criteria? I was struck by the number of people who took the opportunity to talk about how they didn’t like the serial format (I should have used “and/or” in my sentence, not “and,” which confused the meaning). Of the 32 comments, over half of the ones that talked about whether or not they would read the book said that they would wait because it was a serial, and several were annoyed that it was put out in this form. A smaller number said they wouldn’t read it at all; there was one comment that said “shame on you, Miss Brooks” and another that said “No matter the reasoning behind adopting this format, I find it manipulative.” That, added to the Twitter convo (which I probably conflated in my mind), made me think that there is a pretty big group out there that dislikes serials and will blame the author.

    ETA: I think what also made the negative comments stick out in my mind is that DA’s commentariat doesn’t usually go out of their way to register dislike of something (there are exceptions, of course, but it’s usually about tropes/subgenres, and not usually as comments to a review).

  20. sula
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 14:47:39

    Count me in as a reader who is wholly uninterested in the serial format. If I am sitting down to read a book, I want to be able to read all the way through to the end in one fell swoop. If it’s an author I like, I would consider waiting until the entire serialization is complete and then buy the whole thing, but not if the price is more than that of a single book. I would never buy and read individual installments bit by bit. I don’t really care how good the author is. The concept has zero appeal to me as a consumer.

    Incidentally with the advent of Netflix, I find that I don’t have any interest in waiting around for a week for a TV series either. My husband and I will go on series binges in which we’ll watch back to back episodes over the course of a week, weekend, etc. making it feel like we’re involved in one long epic movie. Does that mean I have a short attention span or maybe a long one? I dunno.

  21. Sunita
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:00:54

    @Fallen Professor: @Julia: The Dead is really amazing and very accessible. I also want to recommend the film version, which was John Huston’s last and stars Angelica Huston, Donal McCann and an incredible (mostly Irish, I think?) cast.

    FP, I hope you enjoy The Rifter!

    Thanks for all the comments pro and con about serials, everyone. I think binge-watching and reading at one sitting takes lots of concentration too, and I don’t think one is superior to the other. I am just enjoying hearing what people have to say, because this is one of those topics where my imagination/empathy doesn’t help me understand without your input.

  22. cleo
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:14:34

    @Sunita: “I think what also made the negative comments stick out in my mind is that DA’s commentariat doesn’t usually go out of their way to register dislike of something”

    That makes sense – I was also struck and surprised by the “I don’t like serials” comments when I read the review. And, now that you point it out, it’s because it’s relatively uncommon at DA. (I know I went through a (short) period of reading NA reviews at DA and commenting “this is why I don’t read NA” or some similar thing – and then I realized that nobody, including me, cared about my lack of interest in NA, and that I should just skip the NA reviews.)

  23. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:15:56

    For me, it’s going to depend on the author…always on the author. If Nora Roberts, Ilona Andrews, Lynn Viehl, Stacia Kane, etc… some of my faves did serials? Yes, I’d give them a try. Others? I don’t know. It would depend on the story…whether it caught my attention, that sort of them.

    I can believe that Meljean caught some negative feedback, though. I’ve caught some over the way I do my small town suspense stuff and it’s not even serialized.

  24. Christine E
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 15:46:36

    @Ros: I also waited for the Roman Holiday bundle to be completely finished before picking it up. I love everything Ruthie Knox writes, but I have no patience for short length serials either. I read easily 3-4 books a week, and reading a chapter or two here or there isn’t enough for me. However I love series books, with crossover characters (like Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbour books) as long as each book has it’s own HFN or HEA ending. Serials that are of longer length, ie 50,000+words per installment might get bought by me individually if it’s an author I really love, but it’s more likely I’ll wait for them all to be out.

  25. Kate Sherwood
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:07:55

    I think the fanfic connection may be one of the things that has made me a bit wary of serials, because of being burned by WIPs that were never completed. I remember several really gifted writers who seemed to every ability except for the power of finishing a damn story! And of course, the better the writing, the harder it was when the story was abandoned.

    In a pro-fic context, and with the understanding that serialization has more to do with story completion than segment length, I’m currently one of the many getting antsy about the Song of Ice and Fire series (serials?). I appreciate that George RR Martin is not my bitch, but neither am I his, and I’ve resolved not to read further in the series until it’s complete, just because I’m tired of waiting so long between instalments (and have trouble remembering details from book to book, when there’s so many years between).

    Those hesitations aside, though… I think I might try reading a serial! I’ve not read any Meljean Brook, I don’t think, but maybe that’s where I’ll start!

    Damn, no. Even as I was typing that I was thinking to myself “You can PRETEND it’s a serial if you buy it all at once and take a nap or something in between segments.”

    So there is something about the format that I’m shying away from. But, sorry, I can’t say exactly what it is!

  26. Nicola O.
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:26:31

    @Julia:
    “I’ve heard people complain that short stories get lower ratings because readers are comparing them to novels and expecting the same experience. But I think most of these people don’t really get just how difficult writing a short story is.”

    I think, in genre fiction, the short story format does not really have the same goal as a standalone, dare I say “literary” short story. Most of the ones I’ve read have been a short piece that’s written as a part of a longer series — maybe a character or event that didn’t have a strong enough place in the overall series, but adds a bit of charm or color to the series for the fans. I love character-driven fiction, which I think most romance and lots of UF is, but that is a tough fit for a short format. Not impossible, but not easy.

  27. Carolyne
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:36:54

    I like serials, though I get why some people can’t stand them. I have a fondness for episodic, long, long form stories, whether it’s pulp fiction, TV, soap operas, Dr. Who, or Dickens. (I’ve watched about 21 years’ worth of one particular BBC soap opera, even when it gets so silly it hurts, because in the back of my I-still-believe-in-make-believe mind I feel like I live on that street.) I also like that serial novels are a way to get something very, very long from, for example, a publishing house that sets a limit on novels of 100K words but has no such restrictions on the serials it publishes. You can get the sort of stories that house specialises in, at any length at all–the story can be as long as it needs to be.

    But I do hope for there to be a pacing, rhyme, and reason to how the installments are split. A natural flow that keeps me thinking about the story and brings me back to it each week, or however often a new piece appears. Not just an OMG!!! cliffhanger.

    For pricing, I’d like to see some authors experiment with the reverse of what I *think* is the model: have it add up to less, buying the story in installments, than it eventually costs to buy the whole story at once, as a sort of bonus to readers who take the chance with an ongoing story before the last chapter is published. I can see why the prevailing model would be that you pay the premium to get the installments when they first come out, and why another model is to offer it free then offer it all gathered at once. Different situations may call for different models.

    Short version of above: I like long stories.

  28. Carolyne
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:40:58

    Another post eaten? Sadness. Short summary: I like long stories. Serials give me a way to get that from authors that I like, and from publishers I trust but that otherwise limit the lengths of novels to a certain word count.

    There was more, about pricing models–what if it cost less to take the chance on a serial in progress than it will cost afterward to purchase the completed collection?–and Dickens and Dr. Who and BBC soap operas and blah blah blah. But that was the gist.

  29. hapax
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 16:54:07

    @Charming Euphemism: Totally off topic, but you did know that AggyBird posted a most delicious Greg snippet on her Tumblr, right?

    (Here it is)

    I hate serials, but I just love that story, even unfinished.

  30. library addict
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 17:00:18

    Well my comment seems to have gotten lost in cyberspace…

    I’m not a fan of serials at all. But my main problem with the latest craze of them is that they are really one book chopped up into multiple parts and sold separately. Harlequin is selling the digital versions of the 36 Hours book this way. They are taking each book in the series, chopping it into 3 parts, and selling the parts individually. Supposedly they will be for sale later as complete books. To me a true serial has complete “episodes” with each installment and if there was an author I liked I may be tempted to buy them, but would probably wait until it was all done before reading. But I would much rather have a “complete” book.

    I think the people have no patience is a big cause. I remember when Nora Roberts released her Key Trilogy back-to-back-to-back. Then she released the Circle Trilogy in consecutive months, So when she returned to releasing her trilogies with six months or so between books a lot of people complained. I was amazed (not in a good way) at how rude some of the comments at ADWOFF were.

    I think part of the reason I don’t like serials is from reading fanfic. Many a fanfic author took the “I won’t publish the next chapter until I get x number of comments on my most recent chapter” attitude. It got old very quickly.

  31. Ros
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 18:15:53

    @Nicola O.: For what it’s worth, my second-biggest seller is a standalone short story of about 12k. I think there is a market for short genre fiction. A lot of people like a book they can finish easily in one sitting and still get the emotional satisfaction of a longer novel.

  32. Marianne McA
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 18:42:06

    @Sunita – yes, it’s all the way you process something, isn’t it? i think I was just surprised because I’d come away from that thread with the feeling people were (on the whole) hugely positive about the book, and I’d been feeling a bit atypical. I’ll chalk it up to confirmation bias on my part.

  33. P. J. Dean
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 18:56:29

    Not all stories can be neatly packaged into one tome. Some require several parts. And unless you are a self-pubbed writer, you have no control over where your work falls on a publisher’s schedule. Getting another part out in a serial by the same author every few months is not something many publishers do. The delay is not always due to writer’s block; publishers like to fill their calendars waaay ahead. I like serials. They draw you in and you have to pay attention to the characters and their place in the plot. Plus, a serial gives you time to watch characters’ growth. If they are written well, you’ll remember them when the next book appears. I’m really not that crazy about the shorter stuff. There are few that I have read that did not feel rushed and undone. Which is the gripe I have against a lot of NA. Tons of issues and angst blended not to well sometimes and served too soon. I am surprised the Harry Potter franchise survived a public’s notoriously short attention span.

  34. Kate Sherwood
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 19:03:33

    @P. J. Dean:
    Re: Harry Potter’s success – I wonder if there’s a critical mass, or at least a critical concentration, of readers required for a series/serial to be successful?

    The really appealing aspect of reading a serial story is, to me, the opportunity to share anticipation with a community. If it’s just me, reading alone, I’d like to get it all over with at once – eating take-out over the sink. But if I’ve got company, people to talk to and analyse with and share excitement, a serial could be fun – a multi-course meal at a restaurant.

    So maybe Harry Potter, or whatever other series gets popular, can actually INCREASE its audience through stretching things out – the crowd of readers all talking about the next instalment can drag new readers into the mix. It becomes more than a story; it’s an event.

    I’m not sure it works so well if the reader is in isolation, though.

  35. Kate Sherwood
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 19:06:19

    Comment lost to spam filter. Was it because I’d commented before too recently?

    I’m too lazy to retype it. And, you know what? It was BRILLIANT! You all are missing out on a treatise for the ages! The spam filter has deprived humanity of a rare example of insight that was both insightful AND compassionate. It was a comment for the ages.

    Damn the filter. Damn. The filter.

  36. Charming Euphemism
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 19:30:26

    @hapax:

    I can’t find it. :-(

  37. hapax
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 19:53:28

    @Charming Euphemism: Sorry, my fault for trying to be all clever and html-y and whatnot.

    Try cutting and pasting this: http://aggybird.tumblr.com/tagged/greg-the-vampire

  38. Lana Baker
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 21:13:14

    Price is an issue for me, but memory is a bigger problem. I don’t like buying a “book” and finding out when I get to the end that it’s not actually the full story, because I feel cheated, but more, I won’t remember what happened in one part long enough to read the rest, even if it’s good enough that I want to finish the story. And that’s a big if.

    The older I get, the more I am a binge-watcher or binge-reader for series, whether books or TV. It’s the only way I can consume them without getting confused because I forgot something important. :(

  39. Charming Euphemism
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 00:39:21

    @hapax:

    Thank you!

  40. Sunita
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 07:30:08

    Sorry about the spam monster eating comments. It is working overtime these days (dozens of comments or more per hour yesterday) and I was on a deadline and could only go in and look every so often. I managed to rescue a couple but not all.

    @Marianne McA: I’m glad you raised the point because it showed we were coming at the question from different priors, which is often the case but it’s nice to have such a clear example of where that can lead in a discussion. I remember reading your comment and thinking “well, that makes sense.” As Cleo says, it was more that those kinds of comments about the form in general rather than the book, combined with the unhappiness about this particular example, that stood out to me. NA is one of the big exceptions, but even on some pretty controversial topics we usually have the more general discussions in op ed comment threads rather than in comments to reviews.

    @Kate Sherwood: I’m glad I could dig your comment out because it was indeed brilliant. ;) The point about the social aspects of serial reading is worth highlighting. Nicole Kimberling said that she decided on the serial format for The Rifter in part because she wanted to recreate that sense of water-cooler discussion, and there was a lively group on Goodreads that did a readalong. I stayed away because I was usually an installment or two behind, but when I went back to read the entries it was clear people were very much enjoying getting to talk about the story as it unfolded.

    When I ran the Rifter reviews a couple of years ago there wasn’t the same volume and intensity of antagonism toward the format, or at least I don’t remember it that way. I think that the increase in (expensive) serials and the increase in commenters who talk about their disappointments with fanfic installments that aren’t delivered predictably contributes to the change. And it’s completely understandable. You can’t be sure these days that a serial will be completed, or that the price you pay for installments won’t be quite a bit more than you’ll pay for the completed book (or a different, non-serialized book).

  41. AH@badassbookreviews
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 07:41:56

    I was lucky enough to get the ARCs for the first 4 installments in MelJean Brook’s Kraken King. They are well written and almost stories within a story. My personal preference would be to have the entire book at once because I am a quick reader and I hate waiting for more. That’s my personal preference. That being said, I can see that the serial could work if it is done right – appropriate length and an engaging story that leaves the reader wanting more. I hate serials when they are extremely short and lacking substance. I would also like to see a full book available once the entire serial has completed so that the reader has the choice to purchase a book by installments or whole.

  42. Laura Jardine
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 08:17:32

    I would only read a serial if it was by one of my absolute favourite authors because I’d read anything they wrote. Anyone else…no deal. For certain reasons, I am struggling with my memory right now. It is coming back, and I can read a novel, but…I imagine a serial would be trouble. What’s the fun in reading something when I can’t remember what happened last time? But if I loved the author, I might give it a try.

    I noticed Tiffany Reisz has a serial novella coming out, and she’s not one of my most favourite authors, but I do like her quite a bit. I wasn’t too pleased when I heard about the serial, but later I noticed that the five parts are coming out in consecutive days, so it wouldn’t be all that different from reading a non-serialized novella. Just a slightly slower pace than I normally read. But if they’re all coming out the same week, why not just wait until they’re all out and get them all at once?

    As a writer, well, pretty much every romance I write turns out to be novella length. I wish I was better at writing novels, The only romance novel I’ve started is stuck at 50k out of maybe 70/80k. It is, however, my favourite piece of my writing, even at the first-draft stage. But there’s a lot going on, and I just felt like I lost control of the story. One of the reasons I wish I wrote longer works is that Carina’s minimum length for submissions is now 35k. Since pretty much everything I write is under that, I can’t submit to them.

  43. Christine E
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 09:57:04

    I was thinking about this last night, and I decided that whole books (and by that I mean a minimum of 200 pages long) written as serials don’t bother me at all. For example the Harry Potter books, or the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, or the Wheel of time Fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and numerous other fantasy series) – I expect these books to have a year (or 2 or 3) between them, because they are monumental in scope and story. They take time to read and to savour, and they don’t end on cliffhangers, but each story is complete in itself (even if there are unanswered questions to lead you to want to read the next book). And they take time for the author to write!! What bothers me are serials that could be fit into one story length but are split up a few chapters at a time. Those are the ones I wait to buy until the end, not those types I’ve mentioned above that are complete stories in themselves.

  44. Evaine
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 10:32:31

    As I’ve already stated, I am not a fan of serials for the most part. And I’m about to be maybe a bit persnickety. :)

    I think we do authors of both well-done serial fiction and well done series of books a disservice by lumping them together as a similar format. They are not at all. Comparing The Kraken King or The Rifter to A Song of Ice and Fire or the Harry Potter books or John Jakes’ Kent Family Chronicles is, to me, like comparing apples and oranges. And I find myself wondering if the plethora of novellas and novelettes and 12 book long series about every woman in the wine club getting her hero have made this comparison common? And in doing so, could that give rise to much of the antipathy towards serialized fiction? One serial installment does not equate in any to a full novel. The installment is only PART Of the story being told and I think that by blurring the lines between the two, serials and series, we end up doing the serialized novel a disservice.

    I wish I was able to to explain my thoughts in a more clear fashion. *LOL*

  45. Christine E
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 10:50:41

    @Evaine: I agree wholeheartedly. I wasn’t sure how they were distinguished from each by name because they are to me obviously different as well so I like the “serial fiction” vs “series of books” differentiation. I don’t think of them the same way at all.

  46. Sirius
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 11:03:01

    @Christine E: Harry Potter were series I thought, not serial? if it was a serial, I am very confused about what the serial is then :)

    But since Harry Potter was mentioned, I think I have something to add to discussion what I did not say on Sunita’s blog. I came to HP fandom (to a tiny corner of it – Yahoo group called HP for Grownups where we discussed canon for years and years :)) when GoF (book four) was just out and then we had to wait for three years before OOP came out.

    Now, it is true that it fostered fantastic discussions about the directions where the books will go to – people came up with the most imaginative theories ever and debunked them with the supposed support in the books, and did it again, and again and AGAIN. I never got tired from those discussions on one hand, on another hand, I just wanted the darn book and was so sick of waiting (with all respect to the writers taking all the time they need to write a book, do not get me wrong, but I think between the like minded people I was fully allowed to entertained my selfish desire for a book now. :)).

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I think that as much as I look fondly at my years discussing Harry Potter ad nauseaum, maybe it contributed to my dislike of long long wait for the series and dislike of serials.

  47. Christine E
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 11:06:35

    @Sirius: yes, thanks, I wasn’t sure of the proper definition. As I mentioned in another comment I like series books, but not serials as much.

  48. Christina
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 14:22:17

    I find the serial aspect of the Kraken King mildly annoying. I like the story, but to my mind it’s not an “authentic” serial. Most of the content I consume, that is produced as serials, come out in installments because each installment is the very newest piece of content that has been produced. The rest of the work is withheld because it does not exist yet.

    This is patently not the case with The Kraken King. The reason why the rest of the story has not been released is because the author/publisher does not want us to have it yet, not because the material does not exist or isn’t quite ready yet. So in my mind I have this image of a little girl, in a flouncy dress, jumping up and down with malicious glee saying: ‘I am keeping it from you because I caaaaaaan.’ I know this is slightly irrational. There are probably good reasons why a serial format was chosen, but all I am getting from it is a mild sense of annoyance.

    I don’t mind serials if they represent the fastest/most reasonable way of getting content across. For things like web comics or fanfic they make a great deal of sense. I just find the serial format irritating when it is used for other reasons.

  49. Meljean
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 15:00:14

    @Christina: Actually, I’m still working on Parts 7 & 8. As a complete story, it wouldn’t have been ready for publication before Fall 2014 at the earliest (given print publication scheduling.) I chose to publish it as a serial so that I could get it out before then, and because editing/formatting turnaround is much quicker for 25K-word installments than it is for a full novel (or a book that’s going to be 170K+ words, as this one is going to be).

    There’s no “neener neener, I’m going to screw my readers because I can” going on here. I swear.

  50. Christina
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 15:55:36

    @Meljean: Well, woops, I stand corrected. I should probably research these things before I make assumptions. Sorry about that.

    *whistles*

    Is now a super awkward moment to mention that I love your books? It probably is ….

  51. Barbara
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 15:56:34

    I hate serials. Hate them. There are several reasons: I’m an impatient reader who cannot abide cliffhangers; I do believe that in many cases the price points of serials are a money grab (more on that in a bit); unless there is a very clear number of books with a very clear story arc laid out, I don’t trust that the author isn’t going to leave me hanging and finally, unless it’s an author I’ve read before, I rarely trust that the author can deliver quality and continuity through the entire serial if they’re writing it as they go along.

    I do make some distinction between trad pub and self-pub serials. I know trad pubs set their own prices, their own release dates and (yay!) usually have an editorial process in place, so I expect the cost to reflect that. A self-published serial by someone who’s never published a thing before, sells for $1+ more, hasn’t gone through an editor and has murky release dates is another animal as far as I’m concerned. There’s only one self-published author I will ever buy a serial from and she’s also been trad pubbed an I trust her to write a good story (Kristen Ashley). Beyond that, not only will I not buy serials, I won’t buy full-length books from authors who write serials unless I’m a fan of their other work already.

    I’ll admit, I was quite upset about Meljean’s decision to write hers. I love the Iron Seas series and it’s been so long since Riveted was published, I thought this was kind of a crap, gimmicky move (sorry, have to be honest). I’m coming around very, very, very slowly but only because she’s one of a select few authors I trust to get me through the entire story.

    Hopefully that wasn’t too rambling. The bottom line is basically that serials suck. :)

  52. Barbara
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 16:02:26

    I just want to add that one of the reasons I’m considering reading Meljean’s serial is that I’ve been made aware of why she’s writing it in that format. Otherwise I’d absolutely have waited until the full book came out at the end of the year-ish, even though I really want to get to it.

  53. Meljean
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 17:04:00

    @Christina: I can’t really blame anyone for assumptions regarding author intentions, because I think a lot of readers have been burned by the format before. And to be perfectly honest, I would have probably written this one as a serial anyway, simply because I personally like the format when a story is written as a serial rather than just a chopped-up book, and it fit Zenobia’s character. In this case, it just had the added benefit of being able to publish it sooner than it would have been published all at once, so that heavily tipped my decision when I chose how to write it.

    (Although if it *hadn’t* been written as a serial, it would have also been a different book with a different plot progression, and probably not as long overall/wouldn’t have taken me so long to write. But either way, the original release date of August 2014 would have been the earliest possible day it could have come out in compiled form, and I blew that deadline.)

    Regarding format and length, I will be really curious to see the reviews when it’s compiled and read all at once. I wrote each part as a single episode that used Zenobia’s letters as an introductory device to each installment, so I wonder if it will seem incredibly and repetitively episodic when read together or if it flows well.

    I think that’s my primary concern about the format — trying to keep each installment satisfying on its own, yet making sure it all seems cohesive when read as a novel rather than a serial. It’s been tricky finding that balance, and of course I can’t really judge if I *did* find it. Reader response will be the best indication of that.

    So that’s a very long way to say: I can’t promise that I wouldn’t ever write a serial even if timing and release dates weren’t a factor. It’s been a fun experiment for me, as a writer, and I enjoyed the challenge. If I discover that the compiled story significantly suffers for the format, though, I’ll be more likely to never do it again. Because I appreciate readers like crazy, I understand their frustrations with the format and pricing and all of it, but the number one priority for me has to be the story. I think for this book, the format really brought out the best of what I can accomplish as a writer. I’m sure some readers will disagree, and that wouldn’t be true for every book in the series (the format has to fit the story I want to tell, after all) but I do feel this particular romance and plot is better for the change in the way that I wrote it.

    But, say, I went back and took THE IRON DUKE and chopped it up? Blech. I would never want to read it like that (although I have to wonder how much different it would have been if I’d *written* it like that). And the next book might suffer for a serial format, too. So it all depends on the story itself.

  54. AH@badassbookreviews
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 17:33:42

    @Meljean: I think that in the case of your book, the serial works because it does fit in with Zenobia’s character and there will be a full length novel published in the future. You’ve also explained your choice to publish this way quite well on your blog, so readers like me know what to expect. So in the case of the Kraken King, it works.

  55. Melisse Aires
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 18:12:53

    I am a long time fanfic reader (wrote fanfic a decade ago) and always sort the search engine on a fanfic sites for completed stories. Won’t even start an incomplete one– how many times did I get burned in the past by an unfinished story! I might buy this new serial but I’ll wait until it is finished and compiled in an ebook bundle.

  56. Jenny
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 20:45:18

    I won’t read serials. I don’t care who the author is, the answer is no. Once the book is completely finished and bundled if I’m still interested I will buy it (which was the case with the Ruthie Knox serial.) I don’t like the format and I don’t feel like I have the same emotional connection to the book when it’s broken up into installments. There is a good chance I will lose interest before we even get the final installment. And despite the fact that $16 isn’t the end of the world, for those of us on a tight book budget it doesn’t always make sense to spend the limited budget on part of a book.

    That being said, I don’t have any negative feelings about authors that publish serials and hopefully they don’t have negative feelings about readers that would rather wait until the book is finished before purchasing.

  57. MaryK
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 11:01:58

    I’m one of the “they want to read the whole story all at once” readers. I’m impatient and don’t like to wait. But I have to admit I’m tempted by this serial. I like that it’s intentionally written as a serial with episodic construction rather than just chopped into random pieces. I think having closure to each episode would satisfy my instant gratification tendencies. I haven’t read much of her work, just some of her novellas, but what I’ve read I really liked. I need to check if this is a stand alone or if it’s better to have read the previous books.

  58. cleo
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 11:13:18

    I think one of my reservations about serials comes from reading a couple books that were originally serials and feeling like the story got away from the author – like they had a revelation about the story midway through writing it, but couldn’t go back and change the beginning to make it fit the new idea because the first episodes were already released. I guess that’s an execution issue, not necessarily an inherent limitation, and that’s kind of what happens with tv shows and other mediums too.

  59. mb
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 17:45:20

    I’m not a serial lover. For several reasons:

    1. Too expensive for the time it takes me to read. I don’t think they’re worth the price.
    2. I read voraciously, and across genres depending on my mood. By the time the sequel is published, I’ll already have completely forgotten the previous story.
    3. I find them unsatisfying. They’re too slight and with little catharsis. I’d compare it to eating cotton candy, there’s no almost no lasting nutritional value.
    4. I’ve been burned too many times by bad quality or oversold contents.

  60. Junne
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 04:32:30

    Sorry, can’t stand serials. Unless they are connected books and every installment has its own satisfying ending ( without a cliffhanger), won’t read it.
    How can I know that the author won’t leave us hanging after x installments?
    Plus, there’s the price issue. Even if they are 1$ each, if there are 12 novels for example, it’s still more expensive than a standalone book.
    Also, my esteem for the author will be diminished quite a bit. I feel like I’m being used as a cash cow.
    Nothing personal against Ms Brook. It’s just how I feel.

  61. MrsJoseph
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 15:50:50

    Count me as one of the people who doesn’t like serials. I just don’t really care for the format that much – but I don’t really care for a lot of short stories, either.

    I have been burned by vignettes – I bought the Last Call series not really paying attention to page length. 5 stories, $0.99 each and each less than 30 pages. That one really hurt.

    I enjoyed Ilona Andrews serial but I preferred it as a single book.

    I probably will not buy the serial version of the Kracken King and wait for the full book as well.

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