Genre Talk / Uncategorized

Genre Talk: Serial Novels, Yea or Nay?

LowRes-Rough LDD CoverHappy Monday…or is that an oxymoron? I’m over at My Book Addiction today, taking part in a talk about serial novels (with a giveaway, so check it out), so I thought I’d bring that discussion here as well.

Just to bring you up to date, a serial novel is a full-length novel released in “episodes,” usually a week apart. Think of it in terms of a season of your favorite TV show. The story continues from week to week, probably ending on something of a cliffhanger to ensure that you’ll tune in next week to see what happens. Anywhere from nine to thirteen episodes makes up a television season. In the world of serial novels, those episodes add up to a full novel.

I have written two serials. The first, Storm Force, was a paranormal romantic thriller, released in nine episodes of about 10,000 words each. The second, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, a romantic thriller minus the paranormal elements, released in eight episodes of about 12,000 words each. Both came out as regular novels after their serial run, or LDD will, as of late June.

They were So. Much. Fun! I loved the writing process, which plays to my style as a writer who plots books out ahead of time, at least in rough outline form. I also write pretty clean, which is good because the pace of a serial–where the author is often writing the back part of the book even as the first chapters are already in readers’ hands–eliminates the opportunity to revise.

Would I do another? I’m honestly not sure. They might be fun for me, but I’m not sure people who read paranormal fiction or romantic fiction–people like me, in other words–will ever love the format. We want to lose ourselves in a story, which is hard to do when it’s coming in thirty-minute reads a week at a time. Great for commutes or lunch hours, but not so much for the whole “lost in a good book” experience. I’ve had readers who balked at the format who ended up enjoying them (thank you!). But they’re hard to market and ultimately I had two books I really loved that sort of got lost in the shuffle.

But I see more publishers dipping a toe into the serial novel waters. What say you, authors and readers? Would you want to write a serial? Would you want to read one? Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of Storm Force or Lovely, Dark, and Deep–and don’t worry…they’re full novels now so you get the whole thing!


16 thoughts on “Genre Talk: Serial Novels, Yea or Nay?

  1. I have mixed feelings about serials. With both your novels, I read the first two installments and then ended up waiting until all the installments were out to finish reading them. Ilona Andrews has a second serial out now that I will read as the serial comes out on her blog because it will be too long before the whole thing is available. Meljean Brook just released The Kraken King as a serial. I think I would have preferred the whole novel at once. Once I am introduced to the characters of a story, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    • Thanks, Liz. I didn’t know about Meljean Brooks’ serial but did know about Ilona Andrews doing a second one. I think Seanan McGuire is doing one too (or has done one). I have to admit, they’re more fun to write for me than to read. I downloaded a couple when I started my first one just to see how they flowed, and having to stop made me crazy!

  2. i have mixed feeling too. First serial are rarely available for international so it can equal a lost in a part of the usual readers then the time between the release is also important. in your case i really enjoyed that we had quite a lot of material and only one week between teh release but some reklease each episode with one month between and then yes perhaps we get more chapter but that’s too long if theren’t a sort of beginning and ending… if it end on a cliffhanger it get on our nerves because that too long and and if it doesn’t conclude in some way we tend to forget lost in other “full book”

    now i would definitively contionue to follow yours^^ but i’m picky when choosing to read a serial for sure

    • Thanks, Miki! I think that’s my biggest problem with them–by the time the next episode comes out, I’ve gotten out of sync with it and have to go back and remind myself where it stopped. So it can be a frustrating read for those of us who like to get lost in a story 🙂

  3. I read Kresley Cole’s The Professional as it was released in serial format. While I loved the book, I hated the format. I am not a fan of cliffhangers and the break off points drove me batty. I went back and re-read the book once it was complete and I liked it even more.

    I can’t say that I won’t read another serial book, but I can say it won’t be read until all parts are available.

    • I think that’s the way a lot of folks are reading them, Mel. I know when I was writing them, a few times when I’d finish an episode I’d say “the readers are going to kill me” because it was such a cliffhanger!

  4. I’ve never read one – I’ve read most of your books but not these. So I have no idea – there – mark me as a definite “maybe”

  5. Suzanne, really interesting! I haven’t read a serial either, and I don’t really want to. I have so little time for reading as it is, I need the books to be available on my terms. Even with T.V., I usually have a backlog. DH is frustrated with me b/c I haven’t let him start the latest season of #GOT. I just haven’t been in the mood for dark high-fantasy type violence lately 🙂 I have to stay off Twitter to avoid the spoilers!

    • I think you’re like most readers, Amber (including me). Even with my current schedule, which allows no more than a chapter a day, I like to plow straight through a book. They are fun to write, though 🙂

  6. I absolutely love serials! They are my favorite format, either as they are coming or after the fact ( I still read them in parts). I love having something new to look forward to and often skip full legnth novels because I don’t want to get lost in a book/ suffer through the hangover, but still want something to read. I’m always looking for something new. I actually just put out a call asking for suggestions for new ones. I will definitely be checking out yours!

  7. I Haven’t read a serial novel, yet, and I think I’d find it frustrating. I’d probably read one or two episodes, then end up waiting for the whole thing.

    • Janie, I’m guessing at least half of the folks who subscribed to my serial to take advantage of the $1.99 price (it went up to $3.99 when the whole book came out) waited until the whole thing downloaded before they read it….which is exactly what I did with the serials I’ve bought!

  8. Congrats Suzanne on the new release and serials! Ummm… I’m too impatient to wait for serials yet I’ll wait til they are all released and buy the bundle… I recognize the weirdness in that… but I’m a book glutton and prefer to have it all 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  9. Your books look great, Suzanne! ANd I love your writing. But I confess I don’t ‘get’ serials. I endure enough ‘hehehe, you’ll have to wait until next week!’ on TV. I’m the kind of person who wants to read the story the whole way through.

    And cliffhangers – the artificial kind – just make me want to hurl a book at the wall. I think it’s a lame technique as a writer, and I hate it when authors do it for cheap suspense.

    But hey, most serials aren’t available in my country anyway 🙂

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