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Old 03-09-2015, 07:27 PM   #1
LadyKate
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The increasing trend in "serial" books.

I've seen several new authors listed with series that are several books long but with the same name and "episode" (eg: the series is club alpha. The title is The Debt. The series number is six. the title is The Debt episode 6) Each episode is rather short... a chapter or two lol.

This seems to me to be something like the original publication of Dickens novels in episodes in the newspaper.

Was wondering if many people find this "new" method of publishing novels enjoyable.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:13 PM   #2
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I would not buy any books in that forrmat. I like to have a complete story to read. I don't mind series, bUt episodes is too much.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
I would not buy any books in that forrmat. I like to have a complete story to read. I don't mind series, bUt episodes is too much.
Ditto.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:43 PM   #4
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It has been very popular among some authors that I've noticed. While I haven't seen an exceptional success, some do have minor success.

What I've seen is that these authors like publishing the books in what is essentially a chapter at a time. It breaks it down for them and they get input as they go. Usually, they publish it as a novel once they're done with the serial story. It's an effective strategy for those who like to write that way.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:46 PM   #5
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It's just a way for authors to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited.
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Old 03-09-2015, 08:59 PM   #6
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I admit I've looked at these "episodes" and occasionally picked up a few that were free but have yet to read any of them. Despite some of them being genres or topics I would enjoy, I too prefer reading a complete book or better yet, a series.

One of my favorite things is to find an author new to me that has a series or two and devour it. When I find one it is not unusual for me to load the author and read four or five books in one sitting. (It's nice to be able to read for a day or two... not noticing the time)
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyKate View Post
I've seen several new authors listed with series that are several books long but with the same name and "episode" (eg: the series is club alpha. The title is The Debt. The series number is six. the title is The Debt episode 6) Each episode is rather short... a chapter or two lol.

This seems to me to be something like the original publication of Dickens novels in episodes in the newspaper.
Amazon has been encouraging this particular form of experimentation:

http://www.amazon.com/b?node=5044445011

Quote:
Kindle Serials are books published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published. Enjoy reading as the author creates the story, and discuss episodes with other readers in the Kindle forums.
Given that the economics of ebooks allow for a pulpish publishing model (among other things) it makes sense for adventurous writers to give serials a try. (Comic books these days are serials, after all. So are most TV series. And even movies are getting into the serial business, again.)

Serials don't fit all kinds of fiction, of course, but they do work with some plot structures in SF&F and Thrillers. The approach is not used as often as it could be (I can think of a few novels that would've fit the format nicely) but it might catch on...
...or maybe not.

Not all experiments succeed.
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Old 03-10-2015, 05:58 AM   #8
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This wouldn't go well in fantasy books world where books average 600-700 pages, but often there are 1000 pages or more. In fact right now I'm reading 1200 page book. It would take forever to finish a book. A chapter or two? Give me a break. I want the whole story, and if I get lost in it I don't want to have to stop.
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by John Carroll View Post
It has been very popular among some authors that I've noticed. While I haven't seen an exceptional success, some do have minor success.

What I've seen is that these authors like publishing the books in what is essentially a chapter at a time. It breaks it down for them and they get input as they go. Usually, they publish it as a novel once they're done with the serial story. It's an effective strategy for those who like to write that way.
There's a very specific reason that it's done: it makes the author (a lot) more money from services like Kindle Unlimited, where the author gets paid a fixed amount per download, regardless of the normal price of the book. Breaking a novel down into 10 "episodes" means potentially 10x the income from it compared to releasing it as a single book.

As a reader I dislike it intensely, but I completely understand why authors do it.
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:27 AM   #10
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Serials are barely even on my radar. In my humble opinion, they only make sense if a book is being published as part of a periodical. As standalone publications, the question becomes why? Is it a work in progress that the author may never finish? Is the author trying to get the reader to pay more for the book as installments than the reader would be willing to pay for the entire book? (Or earn additional revenues from something like Kindle Unlimited?) As a periodical, the benefit is that the reader is getting longer stories in a publication that they are already subscribing to. What is the benefit to the reader if a serial is published on its own?

Don't get me wrong. I would like to see more short fiction. It's just that I would like to see standalone stories rather than serials.
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:33 AM   #11
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I quite like them. I never read any from Amazon but Worm was almost perfect.
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Old 03-10-2015, 07:09 AM   #12
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No. I don't mind if books form a natural series, but I expect each book to tell a full story of its own. I feel cheated if a book ends on a cliffhanger and I need to buy the next book to continue the story. I've only bought one volume of this kind of episodic series, by accident.
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Old 03-10-2015, 08:14 AM   #13
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I find the long-book (novel) serial format—where the gap between installments can be measured in years—to be much more disruptive and frustrating than a short-format serial where the gap is reduced to a months (or even weeks). But make no mistake; I dislike them both. It's just that the intensity of my dislike isn't based on the length of the installments; it's based more on the length of the gap between them. For instance; John Scalzi's Human Division serial (a couple of chapters weekly) cheeses me off much, much less than GRRM's ASoIaF serial (huge incomplete novels separated by years and years).

I'll take short but consistently frequent over long and sporadically infrequent any day. But I wouldn't cry if the one-story-published-in-multiple-installments mentality fell out of favor entirely. I just find it humorous that many attribute the former to money-grubbing, but the latter often gets a pass because it's obviously only a side effect of art and vision (certainly not marketing!).

Last edited by DiapDealer; 03-10-2015 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:36 AM   #14
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Doing a proper serial isn't about taking any old novel and breaking it apart to charge more.
(The Kindle serials sell as bundles for about the same price as most indie ebooks. See the link above.)

It is a narrative form of its own, much as the old movie serials were an art form all their own rather than chopped up movies. Or, for a more modern example, look to the shorter anime series; the 10-12 episode series.

A proper serial is more like a tightly connected set of short stories, with each episode having a clear narrative arc plus links and developments that fit into the broader arc of the series. Cliffhangers might be involved but aren't required. There's other kinds of hooks that work to tie the bigger narrative together.

This doesn't work with just any old story but it does naturally fit a few, like the "grand journey" or chase stories where the bulk of the story takes place while the hero(es) go from point A to point J, encountering a series of adventures along the way. Stories about serial killers might fit the format or stories about onion-like conspiracies. Space explorers boldly going or space refugees on the run...

It's not just a marketing trick.
But it *is* hard to pull off.

Last edited by fjtorres; 03-10-2015 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:01 AM   #15
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You're right. It doesn't HAVE to be a marketing trick. But for a big amount of what passes for the serial format (be the installments short story- or novel-length), it is. From the biggest names to the never-heard-ofs, it's about franchising.

I find one book chopped willy-nilly into fragments (with no regard for a natural story arc in each installment) to be sucky. Regardless if that one "book" was the length of a single novel or the length of six novels. But if someone held a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd pick the one that puts the whole story in my hand in months instead of decades. *shrug*
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