Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Chuckles Chat #8: Serial Novels

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

As most of you who follow the blog know, my very favourite genres are apocalypse fiction, prepper fiction and zombies! Yes I also love horror, urban fantasy, Tudor fiction and mountain expedition books but for me, comfort reading is a good apocalypse of some kind! But one thing that is annoying me in apocalypse and zombie fiction is this sudden obsession authors have to chop up a normal sized novel into smaller chunks and then sell those small episodes at roughly the same price of a full size novel. Behold, I give you the Serial Novel!

Sometimes a serial novel starts life as an ongoing series published on someone's blog which becomes so popular that fans want to buy a copy. A kind author will publish these in omnibus form to give you the equivalent of a full sized novel for each omnibus, which is giving you value for money. But sometimes it is published by each small episode and buying the whole series can cost a fortune. That is what I don't like about Serial Novels. You can be paying £2-3 pounds on Kindle or about £5 paperback for 70 pages. I find that to be ridiculous and greedy when I can get a 250 page urban fantasy book on Amazon for just 99p. Being on a budget I know which choice I am going to make!

The other issue with Serial Novels is the repetition. It seems each part of the Serial Novel has to start by going over what happened in the previous one which is annoying in parts that are 40-70 pages each time! You just want the rest of the story not a recap! It's also hard to build up a flowing storyline and tension when the things are so short and you then need to wait for the next tiny part. I find that way too annoying. I want to emerse myself in the story and read the whole story in one book!

Do I buy Serial Novels? No not now. I might try the first part of a Serial novel if it is free, to get an idea of the story or if I might like the author, but after that I will only buy the omnibus if one or more are available so I am getting plenty story for my money. I refuse to be fleeced! The last one I followed was at least giving the story about 100 pages at a time but recent parts have went off on a new story arc, leaving the best characters behind with no clue how much longer it is going to go on at that inflated price and I gave up with it and decided I was done with the Serial Novel for good. I want to spend my money on actual books, not bits of one. I also turn down review copies of Serial Novels as it is hard to be objective about such limited material.

Sadly I see apocalypse and zombie books getting shorter and shorter and more are going into Serial Novel mode which frustrates me. Is it because the author thinks they can make more money out of the reader by mass producing episodes and trying to get the reader to follow them on a very long drawn out journey for maximum profit? Is it because they don't want to take the time to weave a complex web of plot and character over the space of a novel and build up the tension? If you are an author who writes this stuff I'd really like to know why you choose this format. As a reader on a book budget, I spend my money on complete books and I now refuse to even start on anything that looks like a Serial Novel. I have in the last 6 months ignored about 30 new zombie series in this format. I will not waste my time on them now.

Do you read or buy Serial Novels? Do you write them? What do you think of the quality and prices? Do you prefer to read completed books? Do you get impatient waiting for each new part? Do you think it is greedy to have high prices for short episodes? Are Serial Novels less entertaining than full novels? Tell me what you think.

22 comments:

  1. I am not a serial novel person. I don't have the patience to read a section of a book every month or every few months. I think because I am pretty much a one at a time reader, serial novels also don't fit into that mode. Seems like I would always have one on the go. There are a few that have caught my eye, but I pretty much wait to see if they get published as complete novels. Also, seems like novellas are becoming a big thing too. I actually have read some of them and don't have as much problems as with a serial novel, but still, there is a part of me that screams "no" when I pick one up.

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    1. Yeah I think a lot of people want to wait and see if an omnibus of some kind comes out. It's so much easier that way and it doesn't break the bank! Novellas seem to be everywhere these days-I don't mind them if they are between novels or a prequel or maybe an additional book from the view of another character. They are at least generally complete stories.

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  2. With 1 or 2 rare exceptions, I'm not a fan of serial novels either. I tend to wait until there's a bundle available, even if it's not yet the complete story - both for the page count and the price.

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    1. Yeah it can be expensive to follow some of these books!

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  3. I am not a fan of serial novels either. I want the entire book, not bits and pieces and dribs and drabs. It doesn't extend the excitement for me. It only aggravates me. The only serial I ever followed was King's The Green Mile. I bought all of those mini books and eagerly awaited them but I was young and had patience then!

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    1. I waited for the complete book before I read The Green Mile! I didn't read as much then as I do now though!

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  4. I do buy some but try to wait until all of them are released and buy the bundle when it's on sale. I get where you are coming from about pricing them as novels. I won't fall for that.

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    1. I think not knowing how many there are can be a problem when you are trying to follow a Serial Novel. It's impossible to budget unless you come in late in the series!

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  5. I do prefer to buy a complete book. I haven't come across this much but I would have the same reaction I think. It would have to be really good to make me put up with that. lol Especially with apocalypse fiction where you want to have a sense of dread or build up of tension- how can that happen if the story is drabbed out in little bits? It would be tough I think.

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    1. I'm finding way too many books in the genre getting into this deal. It doesn't help that if it is self published, the price goes up even higher which has me gritting my teeth! That's exactly right...you just can't build up the tension when each episode is short and the next starts with an info dump recap. Gah!

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  6. I agree that serial novels often seem like a way to get more money because the authors charge the same price as a full-length novel for what's often less than 100 pages. And it just adds up to too much money for me to afford. If I'm interested in a serial, then I will also wait for an omnibus edition.

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    1. It is certainly expensive to follow these series if you can't get an omnibus. Self published serial novels are a ridiculous price and will surely put off potential readers.

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  7. I am not a fan of serial novels at all. I would much rather read a normal length story than have it broken up over several installments. I think I have only ever tried it once or twice and stay away from them now. I do enjoy some shorter works like short stories and novellas but those are not the same.

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    1. Yeah most short stories or novellas are written to either ease you into a series, provide a story from a different POV or fill in between books about a side story or something. I'm fine with reading those other than the hassle of hunting them down sometimes! And I like seeing the short stories released in omnibus as well to enjoy again as Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong did!

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  8. I've tried following along with serials, but I can never seem to keep up. I guess I prefer to binge read my serial fiction the same way I binge watch my TV shows - the whole season/collection all at once, please!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Yeah I like to devour the whole story at the one time. Having to wait and read it a few chapters at a time weekly or monthly would drive me nuts! That's why I'm not in book groups either...I need to just keep reading once I get on a roll!

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  9. Nope. I am not even a fan of authors whos books get shorter and shorter yet released more frequently. I had a self pubbed steampunk author I used to enjoy until the books started dipping below 200 pages. I know people got to make money, and if its working good for them, but I don't have THAT much to spend on books.

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    1. I've noticed that a lot of apocalypse and zombie books are reducing in size even when they aren't Serial Novels. You do want a decent length to get your teeth into when you spend your money. It seems to be a trend and I'm not greatly happy about it either. It does hit the book budget doesn't it. If there is a lot of action and I love the books I can forgive a shorter length but it depends on quality. Overall it's not something that I'm greatly happy about.

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  10. I don't mind the format of serial novels, but it does annoy me when they ask multiple dollars/ ponds/ euro's for each volume and you end up paying quite a lot for the whole series. I've seen some authors bundle their episodes, which often do have a reasonable price.
    I've read a few authors who did the serial format well with minimal recap, but you still could easily get back into the plot.
    My favorite serial format series is Susan Kaye Quinn her Debt Collector series, but very few serial novels are as good as those. But I still give them a try now and then if the book catches my attention. I think it really depends on why the author writes them in that format and how.

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    1. I think it is the inflated price that annoys readers. Episode bundles/omnibus are better options when these are made available and I have grabbed a few like that if I liked the free first episode ie Saul Tanpepper. The one useful thing is getting to try a new author free if the first part is made available.

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  11. I find serial novels so unsatisfying! I don't like anything episodic, really -- I prefer to watch a whole TV series than just watch an episode at a time, for example, and I think it works even less well with books.

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    1. Yeah I like to binge read or binge watch! I want to read whole books and not feel the tension in the story drain away as each small part suddenly ends.

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