i on Romance: Serials

Posted February 7th, 2014 by in Blog, Features, ionR / 27 comments

i on Romance: Serials


Today I’m going to talk about Serials.

Personally, I like them, as long as they fit certain criteria.

  1. Knowing ahead of time that they are a serial

  2. The pricing is much lower than a self-contained book

  3. The frequency with which they are released is consistent

  4. They aren’t spaced out too long apart

  5. andthe number of volumes will be a reasonable amount

I recently had two interesting and not so good experiences with serials that I enjoy reading.

(Author’s note: I’m not going to call out these authors, but you’ll probably know who I’m talking about. Please respect
them – don’t call them out in the comment section. I enjoy both authors and only use them to illustrate my point)

I started a serial by an author I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve read serials penned by her before, and they fit all of my criteria, so I felt jumping back in wasn’t a risk. A year later, and it’s still running. I’m spending an inordinate amount of money on the story, and this issue was probably my last. I feel like the plot is getting very thin, and perhaps the author is just stringing it out to make a buck. I’m being unfair, because deep down I don’t think that’s true, but when things like that happen, it’s a logical thought to have.

The other disappointment I suffered was an abrupt and surprising jolt indeed. I read a serial by an author I enjoyed, but I had never read any kind of continued series written by her before. In fact, I’m not sure she ever took the leap into this area before either. I knew going into it that it was a short (five book) undertaking and it was going to come out quickly. What I hadn’t heard, was that it was going to be the first “season” of several. So now, with a HUGE cliffhanger, I “get” to wait several months before I get some sort of resolution – and even then it will only be a partial one, as the next part will also be pieced out.

Overall, I think of Serialized novels are somewhat like Soap Operas – which definitely have their place, as long as people that read them know what they’re getting into. If you want a bit of drama and to play a waiting game, it can really be fun. If you get surprised – maybe not so much.

So, do you have similar experiences? Do you avoid serials like the plague? Have you jumped in without realizing what you got yourself into?

Let us know in the comments!

Foot Note: This article is about Serials not Series’.

Serials are a series of volumes that make up one story. It’s usually longer than a normal book, but features the same two protagonists (Hero/heroine).

A Series is a group of books that are – for the most part – self-contained stories that feature different characters in each book, but are centralized around something like a town or a group of people.

Omnibus – loose definition:
A collection of shorter works by a single author may be an omnibus. It is commonly used to let the reader know that the volumes contained within were released in serial form.

27 Responses to “i on Romance: Serials”

  1. Debra A

    I find that the stories start to cost more when done in bits and pieces than a whole book. That being said I try to stay away from them. I know I miss out on some great story lines but I have to think about the bottom line of cost for me.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      Yup, that’s a HUGE factor for me too. That’s why they have to cost a LOT less. I try to get the ones that cost 99 cents only, but I’ll go a bit higher sometimes. I regret that decision in some cases. 😉

  2. Sue G.

    I find that they do end up costing more. I’d rather have it all together for one price. What’s hard is when the first one is free, second one really cheap and then higher priced.

  3. Leanna

    I love reading series. I would say I read more series than standalones. With standalones I feel that sometimes there maybe some characters in a book that you feel deserve their own book. I don’t like a lot of time between books but I also understand authors can’t write a book every month and keep the quality high.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      Definitely a double-edged sword. Love the spinoffs, but then if they stick to the original two characters, sometimes things can get drawn out a bit *too* much. Even if the writing stays high-quality, the story may suffer.

  4. ki pha

    Serials….I never heard of them till this past spring of 2013 so I haven’t touched on it much. But I have read two different serials by two different authors of different genre. They were good because they were short and I didn’t have to wait long for the next release and they were also very short; trilogies. But I do tend to stay away from them now just because I hate the long wait and emptying of my pockets. I will also wait till all of the serials are out before I commit to reading them especially if I have to buy them separately. I would rather have them come in a bundle after all of the serials are released, though that might be called for as a rip off of readers who started from the beginning but it would be nice. One of the author I read did that with her serial so it was nice because I bought it in print.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      That is a *REALLY* smart way to read them. I’ve also done that (gotten the omnibus) Notably with Hugh Howey’s “Wool” – as I hadn’t heard of it until the series was complete.

      Also, when you buy them as a bundle, they may also be cheaper. Nice point. I should’ve thought of that when I wrote the article. 🙂

  5. belindaegreen

    Karen, you have hit one of my hot buttons! I like serials because they are satisfying in looking into the lives of favorite characters in a book. To me the fun is immersing yourself in the series until the end. Your mind follows along nicely. However, when the books end with huge cliffhangers and you have no idea when the next book is coming, makes me crazy!!

    I’m now at the 1 year and counting waiting point for a few series. In most cases I have to go back and re-read the previous book(s) to refresh my memory. I hate that!

    I’m an avid reader and read tons of books a month and want books that are complete. If I know up front that it’s a series, I have learned to wait until all the books are out then buy them.

    I too got sucked into the parts thing as well. One was 10 parts at 2.99 each was a bit much, Especially since each part was only about 50 to 60 pages and ended at a crucial point (cliffhanger) That was it! Never did the parts thing again. This one to me was gouging the reader. I have never purchased anything else from that author since I saw that this was a constant occurrence.

    I’m still not clear why authors choose to do these things. If you write great stories you will cultivate loyal fans for life. I am a loyal fan. Trying to pull one over on the readers, I promise you, will be an authors down fall. Just remember that old saying about a “house of cards”!…

    Ok, off my soap box! 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    Belinda G

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      Hey, you’re welcome! I’m grateful that Sara has given *me* this soapbox – so if I can allow you yours in the comments, YAY!

      I’m right with you. I think we may be sisters from different misters when it comes to serials. $2.99! Wow, I think that’s quite a lot, but I can see where you’d get sucked in if it’s an author that you like. And then to get burnt… again, it turns you off that author.

      Double-edged sword indeed.

  6. marcyshuler

    I’ve only read one serial and I went into it knowing it would only be three parts, spaced one or two (I can’t remember now) week(s) apart and each part was 99 cents. This author did also pub this later in book format (with another novella included) and also as an e-book with all three parts together. I read it while being a part of her FB reading club and I was happy when she wrote additional parts to post there that we (the members) voted on.

    It was a good experience for me, but for the most part I don’t like serials since the waiting can be frustrating and usually the cost is too much.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      See, I think that’s perfect. The full book (omnibus if you will) is essentially $3 once you shell out for the whole thing. Completely affordable. And you know up front.

      And it looks like the author was in tune with her readers. That’s the way to do it. I dig hearing stories like that. *THAT* is how you build and keep an audience.

  7. infinitieh

    No serials for me, never, ever. Since I *loathe* cliffhangers, I avoid all serials. I haven’t read any since I was a child (it was in a magazine that I used to read) and now that I know better, I refuse to. They’re not suited to my reading style.

  8. Cynthia Sax

    I’ve written serials, series, and single stories. I ONLY write serials when it makes the story stronger. IMHO… the pause between stories should serve the overall story. There should be natural breaks, not simply one big story chopped into pieces.

    I’m also really concerned with pricing, being fair to readers (3 x 100 page stories should never cost more than a 1 x 300 page story), and discuss this with my publishers before contracting.

    All of the stories of a serial are written before the first story is published. The publisher must agree to publish the entire serial.

    I don’t think serials should be used as a marketing or sales tool. It is a story tool. I’m thrilled that publishers are offering serials to readers (my first serial sat under my bed for years because no publisher wanted to take a chance on a serial). More choice is always good.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      Hey Cynthia!

      One of the examples in my article is being written ‘on the go’ as it were. She puts out a volume, then she writes the next one. It’s quite frustrating. Makes me wonder if she knows where it’s going.

      I too think it should be completely finished before it’s published, but I’m not an author/editor/publisher, I’m just a reader (and amateur reviewer). I prefer the story to be polished because if it’s not I just get the vibe that it’s being done to string us along for the bucks.

      Thanks for responding! It’s awesome to get feedback from the other side of the coin!

      • Cynthia Sax

        Publishing stories in a serial before the entire serial is completed would frighten me to death, Karen.

        Some stories simply don’t work and often I don’t know this until the entire story is completed.

        Plus what if I get abducted by hunky aliens? What happens to my reading buddies then? If my publisher has all of the stories, reading buddies are assured that all of the stories will be published and the characters will have their HEA.

        In Romanceland, the readers come first.

  9. Chanpreet

    I don’t really have a lot of patience when it comes to waiting for a book. I mean there are always books to read while I’m waiting for another to come out, but I’m not a big fan of serials. Most end up costing too much. I find that even though it’s hard if I wait I can pick it when it’s finally published all in one place and read it with no problem.

    • KarenL (@Aleveria)

      Yup. I prefer serials if they come out quickly. Once a month is okay if it’s – say – five volumes? I read one that was short and it came out weekly. That was amazing. It was actually like leisurely reading a regular but long book. Ended up being about 10,000 locations (I have no idea how many pages that is, but it’s a long book).

      Otherwise, I do tend to be impatient. I read a lot though, so I can put the volumes aside until they’re all released and read them straight through if I want. Made the mistake of reading ahead of time on the long one though, not sure what I’m going to do with that one.

      I totally sympathize on the money front though. I’ve learned to go through hubby first with my book purchases – it can be addicting otherwise. He keeps me in check. 😉

  10. Taryn Elliott

    What a great bit of discussion. I’m nervy with the serial idea I have been thinking on. (I have the story already written, but it’s super long and suits the serial format) The pros and cons are definitely a consideration I’ve been mulling over.

    Thanks for the great discussion. It’s helped me with the decision making.

    • Klindsay

      Hey Taryn! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

      I’ll be first in line if you put out a serial – just keep us informed on the twitter mah-sheen, yeah?


  11. Sharlene Wegner

    I read one book recently, that I thought was self-contained, and now there is a serial coming out from the other person’s POV. I also read another book that I thought had a definite end, until it said “for now…” and I found out there are 2 more books till the story is over. I had enjoyed both of these books until I found out there were continuations, now I have no interest in reading the sequels. The other thing is, that I find a lot of the serial books are e-books, so that wouldn’t work for me, since I prefer print & don’t own an e-reader.

    • Klindsay

      So is there a definitive cliffhanger? Because I’d be totally miffed.