To Serial or Not to Serial…

Something I’ve noticed recently is this trend of authors releasing novels in serials. Actually, I don’t know if this is something recent or if I’m just noticing it because my reading has been more varied since I started blogging. Either way, I’m not a fan…

I’m not talking about a series like Outlander, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and (yes…sigh) Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray.  All those were full length novels that were/are part of a larger saga. Something that occurs over time. Each book is a complete story within the larger story.

I’m talking about authors who take a stand-alone novel and release it in segments. I unwittingly got caught in this trap with one of my favorite authors and I was a bit perturbed, to say the least.  

From a marketing standpoint, it’s genius! It builds suspense and anticipation. It leaves the reader hanging on, breathless for the next installment. Eager to shell out their pennies to get their fix. And then there’s the cost. Each serial is sold at $1.99 to $2.99. A three part serial ends up costing the reader $5.97 to $8.97, whereas releasing it as one full novel the price would likely be $2.99 to $3.99. Possibly a little more depending on the author. It absolutely makes sense from a monetary point of view…if you’re the publisher/author.

From a reader/customer point of view…not so much.  Why pay two to three times more for a novel when it’s released as a serial, rather than a single novel? As a consumer, I felt swindled when I paid for a serial without realizing that was what I was buying. There was no warning that said the serial ended in a cliffhanger. Don’t get me wrong, there are authors I will 1-click on principle alone, but I would hesitate if they released a novel as a serial.

As a blogger, it’s hard to provide a concise review of the story as a whole since I review each segment separately. Imagine if you had to provide a review of The Wizard of Oz, but only the black and white part before Dorothy goes to Oz. “Her dog got taken away from her by this mean woman, but she got him back. Then Dorothy ran away and got caught up in a tornado.” It tells you nothing about the overall story.

I commit to review each segment separately when I sign up for for an ARC – there is no waiting until they have all been released. But it’s limiting. I’ve tried to provide an overall review of the book after reading the final portion in instances where I’ve reviewed a novel this way. Each time I’ve struggled, though. In one case the first part was great. It left me on the edge of my seat. I was mad I had to wait for the next installment. But by the finale, I honestly felt a little let down. In another instance, the first part left me feeling rather ambivalent, there wasn’t a lot of set up to judge the book as a whole. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t leave me reeling either. Then, by the end of the book, it all came together and now I can’t wait to see where the author takes the series. 

So those are my personal feelings on the matter. It’s not a negative against authors who chose to go this route, it’s just a personal opinion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you’re a fellow blogger, a recreational reader, or an author.  

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