Serials – Yes or No?

On a Yahoo group that I belong to, someone said she’d written a long book, over 150,000 words, and she wondered if she should split it. I was recently thinking of splitting a book in half or even making it into three books (though mine was much shorter). So I was very interested in the replies. They were all over the place. Some thought she should split it. Some said “Hell no!” One author said to put it out in a 10-book serial. One person said to split it into different books, and also put all the smaller books together and publish them in a bundle.

Touch of FrostAlmost everyone has a different experience, too. I’ve read a lot of YA and paranormal serials. For the most part, like Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series (which is on sale for the month of April!), there is a big adventure and conflict in each book, and there is a win for the main heroine (sometimes just being alive is a win)–but there are also losses. And the big resolve doesn’t happen until the last book.

I’ve read every Mythos Academy book, and I never felt let down because the main conflict wasn’t resolved. I knew that eventually it would come. When it did, it was perfect, and I marveled at how Jennifer tied up all the many different elements. At the same time, I was sad that the series was over. (Luckily, she has a new YA series out, The Black Blade, and the first book of the series, Cold Burn of Magic, will be out later this month and is available for pre-order.)

Vampire+3+in+1+SetIn Dale Mayer’s YA Family Blood Ties series, she also resolves great problems in each book – but then she puts the characters in deeper trouble. So the books do have a cliffhanger ending. But because there was the resolve just before that, you’re still left happy with the book you just read, and you’re eager to read the next one. (And I’m also marveling at her imagination. I wish I had a crazy mind like that!)

Michelle Diener went a different way with The Golden Apple and The Silver Pear. The heroes in the different books are brothers, and the stories are connected. I can’t explain their connection in a short sentence or two, except to say that the books are brilliant and captivating – and once you start reading, you won’t want to stop.

The+Golden+Apple (1)I’ve read romances that were serials, and that doesn’t work well for me. No matter how good the book is, I’m just not interested in reading about a couple who can’t commit at the end of the book. If there are mystery or paranormal elements, I might decide differently. But if it’s just the hero and heroine’s life journey or indecision that keeps them apart, I feel that I’m being strung along.

If the hero and heroine are in another book with a new adventure, that’s a whole different thing. Then I would read the other books.

My book that I was considering splitting does have a mystery element, but I decided that it wasn’t a big enough mystery element to split it into two or three books.

What about you? What do you think about a book that’s mostly romance having a cliffhanger? Would you like it if it were split in two or three books or more? Or would you just prefer one?

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10 Responses to Serials – Yes or No?

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Edie,

    While I do love series (and love the ones you mentioned 🙂 ), I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers. Give me a resolution to the book’s main conflict. If it’s a series, I’ll wait for the last book for series threads to resolve. But I’ve noticed cliffhangers sell well, lol.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! I appreciate it. 😎

    I like series too, but I’m not a fan of serials or cliffhangers. I don’t mind if the author leaves some plot threads hanging for the next book, but I want a fair amount of resolution to the main story in each book.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Dark Heart of Magic, Black Blade #2, coming Oct. 27 …

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Jennifer, my pleasure. I’m eager to read your first Black Blade book now!

      I agree about the “fair amount of resolution.” I think that’s why the romance serials don’t work for me. The real resolution in romances is getting the couple together, and that’s not going to happen until the end.

  3. Tempest says:

    I’m not a fan of cliffhangers . . . You could hear my “NOOOOOOOO” for miles in the middle of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protecterate series — fortunately, for all concerned, the next book was already out so I could move along.

    I can understand in certain situations, a writer might feel compelled to hang us off the cliff. Truly, I get it. If that’s the case, I insist on two things:

    1. Warn me. I want to know before I buy and read the book that there’s a cliffhanger. I’ll wait and buy the entire story. Or, I’ll buy as they come out, but wait to read. If you trick me on this, I’m less likely to trust the author. In one series, the author needed to split the book in two and warned readers about this. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this.

    2. Have a plan. Please have the next book figured out and in process. Don’t hang me off a cliff and leave me there. I’ve been burned a couple of times — incomplete series where the writer gives no indication of finishing. I think this is why I’m cranky on the subject.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Tempest, I read the first book of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series when it was first out. I loved the cover, and I can remember reading rave reviews about the book. I don’t remember the ending of the book; I just remember being put off by it. I haven’t read another of her books since then. Maybe if it wasn’t a serial, or the ending had been more conclusive, I would have read more of her books.

      I agree so much about warning the reader. I won’t even read free books that don’t have a conclusion. And I agree with your number 3, too. Jennifer and Dale are prolific writers, but not everyone is as fast as they are. I wish I were, but I’m not. Definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks!

  4. Amy R says:

    Hi Edie – I have only read one serial and am not a fan. I don’t mind if a series has a series-plot-arc (whatever you call it) but prefer each book I read to be wrapped up with a Happy For Now at least if not a Happy Ever After.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Amy, I feel the same way about romances. Epic stories and fairy tales can get away with serials – for me, anyway – but not romances. Romances need the HEA.

  5. Thanks for mentioning the Dark Forest series, Edie! That was a story that was too big for one book, so The Golden Apple and The Silver Pear were born, but I’m with you, there has to be a HEA or some real resolution at the end of each book for me, and I tried to do that at the end of The Golden Apple, so while readers knew there was still more to come, they had some things wrapped up and the heroine and hero got together.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Michelle, I thought both books were brilliant. You are one of the best writers that I know, and you get even better with every book.

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