Monday 15 September 2014

You Consider Serialising Your Novel to Increase Exposure

The situation: counting your gold before it hatches.

The symptoms: greed.

Cheap eBooks sell better than expensive ones. The more titles you have out, the more exposure you get. On paper, it seems like splitting your novel into six parts will sell more copies and earn more money.

Sadly, many readers hate this. If you read the critical reviews of serialised novels, you will see people who rated the first part one-star simply for being part of a serial.

In one case, I wrote a novella that was a self-contained story with a tidy conclusion and a plot I never intended to continue. However, it was more popular than I expected so, as an afterthought, I wrote a follow-on novella. The publishing of a sequel did not affect the content of the initial story, yet the very existence of book two led to a negative review on Goodreads, describing it as, ‘Yet another serialised novel.’

Some serialised novels will do better than others; for example those that were always intended to be sold in parts (as opposed to sliced up later), those clearly marked as incomplete sections, those where the additional parts are reasonably priced, and those where each part contains a self-contained story. A few loose ends to tease the reader are common sense, but only if the reader knows beforehand that what he or she is reading is not going to be the full story. Nobody likes to invest hours of their time reading a book, only to find they have to pay an additional £10 to see how it ends.

However, you should not let the vitriol against serialised novels force you to go too far in the opposite direction. Do not start your blurb with ‘This is a full-length book with a tidy conclusion and a happy ending.’ Firstly, this looks totally unprofessional; secondly, it wastes your valuable opening sentence; thirdly, you’ve just spoiled the ending.

If you really need to get across that a book is self-contained (for example, you’ve written an optional sequel), then mention this in your blurb after your synopsis. A simple ‘This book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read.’ will do. There’s no need to tell readers, ‘Whilst a secondary character does die, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the outcome for your favourite characters.’

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