The Series Trend in Genre Fiction

Do you read Laurie King’s Sherlock series? I was so mad when I finished The Language of Bees and it didn’t finish! (I think that was the title.)

Anyway, breaking books up into a series has been a sales strategy for years. Dickens did it. So did Dostoyevsky. Lately, it was a decent way for indie authors to make a little more money — keep reading, keep reading, only $0.99 a pop.

The new Kindle rules (payment for pages read) should push the cliffhanger over the edge. Yeah.

imagesSo I read yet another book by yet another author (a 1st book by a new writer, published by a traditional big 5 publisher) that ended without warning. As in, the book finished without solving any of the main plot points or character arcs. It was like, I turned the chapter, and bam! The End. Buy the next book please.

Legacy publishers have loved this sort of thing. This guarantee readers will buy the next book. And readers hate it.

Hyperion is still hated by many people, and has hundreds of 1 star reviews, because it doesn’t finish the story in the first book. The main story is that a small group of people go to a planet where a demon like creature lives. And the first book ends right when they enter the planet, ie, where the book was supposed to start!

I knew about this, having read the reviews, which is why I bought the omnibus edition that contains both books in one really thick tome. But most people have sworn to never finish Hyperion.

Holly Lisle says that her editor did this for one of her books– just cut it in half, ending the first book on a cliffhanger. And many years later, she still gets hate mail for it, even though it wasn’t her decision. It is one of her few books that has many 1 star reviews.

. . . .

Recently, I have started seeing Indie & self publishers follow the same tactic.  There is a religious thinking, that looks almost cultish, that says all books have to be written in a series, so that readers will buy one after the other. And many writing “gurus”, including one best seller whose blog is super popular and get millions of hits, say that you must end your book on a cliffhanger, or at least in the middle of action, so that readers will buy the next book.

Read the rest from Shantu here.


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