Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dividing stories into serials

I'm looking for honest opinions...

Contrary to much the the "rule" that you don't divide a full novel into a serial if each part isn't resolved in its own right, I did that with Spirit Blade and saw good results. It fit to divide into five parts (with the middle a little awkward to cut up). However, the progressive pricing with the first two parts free has led to decent sales on it, despite that the pricing on the parts is more than the $4.99 complete novel price. It's a hard series to sell and I think this has helped a lot to get people to try it. I kept the same cover and for the parts added a "Part 1", "Part 2", etc. at the bottom of the title.

I'm considering doing that again with Awakening, which would easily break into four parts. I could release a first part now, as it is ready after editing. (Note: those edits are not yet uploaded to the sites that have the full novel available for pre-order. I'm waiting to finish the final edits completely before updating it.) Those who pre-order the full version will only pay the special price of $0.99, which will go up to $3.99 soon after it's released.

Do you think I should try breaking up Awakening? The first part is ready for release and I don't foresee any more tweakings of the cover, except to indicate the parts, as I did with Spirit Blade.

What do you, reader and author friends, think of this? Do you dislike serialized novels or would a graduated pricing for each part make you more likely to sample a story?

Please share in the comments.

Thank you!


  1. As someone who has read stories that were never completed (to the best of my knowledge), I'm more likely to avoid a serialized novel until it's completed. It so happens that the free preview offered by iBooks and Kindle is often enough for me to determine if I like a story or not. In truth, if I'm not interested enough to read until the end of the preview, there's no way I'll be able to finish the full book.

    Every book I've bought I previewed first, even if they were free or just 99c, because if there's one thing I hate, it's having a book I don't like showing up in my cloud-based library. The simple fact that the preview for a long book is generally longer than that for a short book only adds to the appeal of waiting for a completed novel.

    1. Thanks for the input. I have a question regarding completion. If you knew a completed novel would be released on a specific day, would you be more willing to give a free first part (longer than the sample) a try? What if you didn't know the author but it stated in the description that it was "Part x of y"?

      The big problem here is readers don't always want to pay an author for their work, being too used to subscription services and all the freebies available. If a reader gets to sample a book free, $0.99, $1.99, etc. for each chunk of book (parts consisting of multiple chapters), do you think you'd be more willing to try a new author?

    2. My other question is on pre-orders. Would you be more willing to pre-order a full novel if you could get a large chunk of it free ahead of time?

    3. As someone who generally doesn't use subscription services, with the exception of Safari Books Online (a technology and programming books library) and Digitally Imported (a traditional internet radio network), I'm always happy to pay authors and other media producers what they ask for.

      The answer to your first question, even if I knew a finished novel was coming out on a given date, and the description stated that it was part x of y, I'd probably still wait for the full book if only to avoid duplication in my library. I would be guessing that others who aren't as picky as me would easily go for it.

      As for trying new authors, the title and description are the biggest factors in whether I even preview a book. I only look at the price tag when I've decided the book sounds interesting, but before I grab a preview. As someone who can drop a grand on a new iPhone when it has enough new and interesting features without thinking too hard about it, I'm always willing to gamble up to $20 easily if I enjoyed a book's preview, and pay up to $50 if I *REALLY* enjoyed a book's preview, $100 only if the book is non-fiction, important enough for me to justify spending such a large amount, and highly rated.

      As to your second question, I find just the first chapter or 2 (not a prolog) is enough to decide on whether or not I want to pre-order a book, and plenty of authors do post the first chapter or 2 online during book promotion to drum up reader interest.

      Funny thing is, I actually discovered your writing after listening to a science podcast and deciding to try find a book on astronomy using the keyword star, which of course came up with your Starfire Angel series, and like with everything I enjoyed reading, I knew it was going to be interesting within the first chapter or 2.

      Bottom line, I am probably not today's "average" reader. I buy content when I want on-demand access to it and generally avoid most "flat-rate for unlimited access" subscription services. I grew up in a time before consumers were handed on-demand access to everything on a silver platter for a flat-rate subscription.

    4. You may not be an "average" reader, but your opinion is still valued. I appreciate all the time you took to answer my questions and provide your insights. And, of course, I can't thank you enough for giving my books a try. It is odd how you came upon them. That's an interesting story.

      I'm trying to balance out luring in readers to a new series without giving away a whole first book as I've done in the past, but it's not an easy decision. There are a lot of factors to consider. The biggest drawback to me is editing changes down the road. If I find an error somewhere, I have to change it in not one file but two (the segment and the full novel). Releasing in parts is a lot of extra work, but at the same time, there are readers who are more likely to follow through with a series when they get a significant portion for free. I wish more readers were like you and me--I see a book, sample it, and buy if it interests me. (One caveat--half of what I end up buying is already recommended by someone I trust. The rest is either continuing with authors or sampling new reads.)

      I wish more people would comment on this dilemma, but I wonder if people just don't care enough either way to have strong feelings. I think reader behaviors are changing overall.

    5. heh If you think how I found your books was odd, I found Martin Millar's Kalix series (the first book is "Lonely Werewolf Girl") through a series of connections starting with the movie "Pitch Perfect". First, I was looking for a version of "Party in the USA" that had a backing track and came across a power music workout album. From there, I heard a song called "She Wolf" that I enjoyed, which prompted me to do a Google search for stories starring a female werewolf as the protagonist, and came up with "Lonely Werewolf Girl". I think going from "Pitch Perfect" to "Lonely Werewolf Girl" is stranger than how I found the Starfire Angels series. :P

      For the record, I'm into the positive werewolf and dragon stories, not so much the dragons who can shape shift into human though. I don't know what it is, I just like dragons and werewolves, and think both have the potential to be good, not just "scarey monsters".

    6. You and my oldest child--totally into anything with good dragons. I've run out of options for her, and she's even delved into the first two of my white dragon books...she's only eleven but a very advanced reader (and her younger sister is surpassing where she was at the same age). If you have a list, I'd be happy to look into more books of the likes of the Wings of Fire, Last Dragon Chronicles, and Dragon Keepers. She also likes Wolves of the Beyond, Spirit Animals, Horses of the Dawn, Ever After High, and the Familiars.

    7. By "white dragon books" did you mean the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey? That and the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini (which some reviewers claim to be a Lord of the Rings rip off with dragons added) are the only 2 book collections I've come across with any good dragons. The suitability for an 11 year old of either collection I'll leave up to you as a parent. I wish I knew of more books.

  2. She's read Eragon and didn't want to read any more of that series. I meant my own white dragon series. I won't let her read Pern yet--AM follows a formula and 99% of her books have content that I don't want an 11 year old to read. At least with my books, I know what's in them and can guide my daughter through things (and warn her off, which I tried to do when she read Spirit Blade).

    1. I'll have to give your White Dragon series a spin then. But first, I'm reading the Revelations part of the Starfire Angels series. I had to talk myself out of staying up all night to finish the first book. I know from previous experience that the sleep deprivation is never fun once the book's finished.

    2. Well, every other story so far has been short in that part, so you should be able to catch up on some sleep in between full novels ;)