I Don’t Mean Fruity Pebbles

I love cereal.  It’s my comfort food.  Show me a box of cereal and I will show you how fast I can empty it.

But today I’m curious what you think about SERIALS.

When I was in college, I watched Days of Our Lives because…well, because it was on.  (Loved Bo and Hope, hated John and Marlena.)  But I watched it regularly because of the cliff-hangers and the fact that it picked up every day where we left off the previous days.  There was an immediate push forward in the story, no matter how ridiculous the story was.  (Marlena possessed??? SERIOUSLY???)  I was hooked.

And so now, in the immediate digital age, I’m thinking about serial fiction.  I know Stephen King did it with The Green Mile and I know there are a few others trying it, too.  I can’t understand why this hasn’t taken off.

For this reason:  nearly every day for the last two months, I’ve gotten an email or blog comment, begging for the next Noah book and/or Joe book.  The small readership that I’ve created wants more, which is an incredibly gratifying feeling – thank you for letting me know.  It helps more than you know.

But it takes time to write a story, even when I’m a pretty fast writer.  I’m about 100 pages into the next Noah book, a little less than that on the Joe book and I’ve got several other things in different stages of completion.  It’s gonna take a little bit of time to get them up.  But there’s this part of me that thinks I should break them up into smaller chunks and publish them as serials – maybe every two weeks or something like that.  Everyone wins.  I get my work out there, reader demand is met and we don’t have to watch Days of Our Lives to get our serial fix.  I know that for me, there are definitely authors I read where this would totally appeal to me.  Because I HATE waiting a year in between books and if I could have their work to read on a regular basis, I’d be thrilled.   If I could get several chapters delivered to my Kindle or Kindle app of a story that I was really into, well, that would be pretty awesome.

So here’s what I’m curious about – do serials have any appeal to you as a reader?  What structure would appeal to you?

50 pages at a time?

100 pages?

And what would you pay for that?

A buck?

Five?

ONE MILLION DOLLARS?

And if they don’t appeal to you, I’d love to know why.  Any thoughts you have on the matter would be much appreciated.  I’m not saying I’m going to do this, but I’m intrigued by the idea.

And now I’m going to go write some more…and eat some cereal…

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19 thoughts on “I Don’t Mean Fruity Pebbles

  1. Moose

    I can only speak for myself, but as an avid reader, and fan of yours, that does not like to read books electronically, this does not appeal to me. I don’t mind waiting, even if it’s a year or more, for another book to come out in a series. Maybe the anticipation is even part of the excitement. I get giddy for weeks after I pre-order each new Elmore Leonard novel. I’d stick with the hard copies. I haven’t even been able to read your last two releases because they have been only electronically. I realize that the medium, and the world, is changing the way it operates, but some things are better the old fashioned way

  2. Nikki

    I just finished Thread Of Hope. I read it in just over 4 hours (it was that good 🙂 Can’t wait for more from that series no matter how you decide to release it. I will definitely be watching amazon for more from you! Going to download your other titles now.

  3. Jeff

    I’m all up to date with your books. Crais, Coben and Robert Parker (or the AKA Parkers) too. So in search of something to hold my interest I find myself downloading to the iPad some of those .99 cent or $2.99 shorts some authors are publishing. Gives me a taste of their style without the investment of $14.99+ for something I may not like. I’m partial to PI stories but do enjoy other fiction too. So if you published shorts, I’d read them. Probably the day they came out. Although I wouldn’t want cliffhangers. Short complete stories would appeal to me over something I’d have to wait months to get to a conclusion. Just my 2 cents and worth every penny!

    PS
    My HS girls team was the 14 seed. We knocked off a couple of higher seeds and made it to the D1 South Sectional Semifinals before falling to the 2 seed. It was a nice run. How did you end up doing?

    1. Fair enough!

      Congrats on the nice run! We won the regionals and advanced to the state semis…where we then played our worst game in two years and lost. Couldn’t do anything right and other school played very, very well – they ended up winning the whole thing the next night. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…

  4. Andrea

    I love Noah and Joe so I am definitely for your new idea. I keep waiting for new stuff from you to come out. I am a very fast reader,which makes it hard to wait so long for new stuff to come out from good authors like yourself. I am totally for the Kindle SERIALS as you are calling them. Sounds like a great idea. At least 100 pages at a time maybe for somewhere between $1 and a couple dollars. I look forward to hearing what you decide!

  5. Bryon Quertermous

    The NY Times had some success with this recently until the whole business collapsed. I know a lot of people bought the paper to specifically read the new installments of stories by Elmore Leonard and Laura Lippman and Michael Connelly among others. I think you’d have to write it with a serial in mind, not just break up a regular novel into equal chunks. I think the NY Times sections were 3000 words which i think is a great length. I’d pay a couple bucks for each installment if it was good.

    1. I totally forgot about the stuff Laura and Connelly did for NYT – duh. And I think that’s a really good point – has to be written as a serial from the get go. Can’t just bust up a novel into chunks. And I can’t believe we just agreed on something.

      1. Bryon Quertermous

        Eh, I don’t care enough about you to go out of my way to disagree with you so eventually we’ll agree on a few things just by random chance. I’ve got to get that Jeffrey Allen guy on my side because he REALLY doesn’t seem to like you at all.

  6. ~V

    I would prefer a book, even if I have to wait for it.
    One of the joys of reading for me is to get lost for a couple hours in a book.
    When I have read short stories, I sometimes feel almost “cheated” out of what “could have been” if only it was a book.
    Even at a bargain price a serial would not be for me, I read daily on my Kindle, so if I were to read a serial I would have to constantly go back and reread previous installments to keep everything clear in my mind.
    Of course, I would not protest in the least as long as the story did not involve Joe and his adventures.
    I promise to be patient.

  7. Mo

    I read two to three books a week and I love to curl up with a book for hours on the weekend. While I don’t mind waiting a year for a good quality book I hate not being able to finish any book within a day or two of when I start it. I love your work but serials would not work for me. I would probably buy them as your release them, save them up until the entire story was done and then read them in one weekend.

  8. David V

    Personally, I think when people publish 3 books in a month, I get very annoyed. Writing, IMO, should take time, should be edited and honed, and it shouldn’t be possible to publish a publishable book in less than a year.

    That said! I think e-serials is a great idea. I certainly wouldn’t publish more than once a month, but it could work. It could also be a very interesting experiment, if you take a story, and write it one chapter at a time, with only a vague notion of where you’re going, as long as each and every chapter is well written and drives the story forward, even if it’s in a dead end direction.

    I agree that I have no idea why this hasn’t caught on. In the old days, many books were published as serials. I think David Copperfield and Moby Dick were two of them. No pressure though.

    Be a trend re-setter, Jeff!

    P.S. (and $1.)

  9. I would be very impressed if you could do this! It would make me very nervous as a writer to publish sections before I was done with the book, since I usually finish a book and then go back and rearrange everything. That said, if you’re confident you’re not as indecisive as I am, then I think a serial is a fabulous idea! I read the serials in the NY Times Magazine, and I looked forward to reading them every week. I don’t think enough people are doing that. You could totally start a trend.

  10. Jessica

    I just read “Thread of Hope” and enjoyed it immensely. I plan to read more of your books soon!

    Serials don’t appeal to me much, as I enjoy a long book that keeps me occupied for hours. With that said, I’d be willing to try it out. If you offered the first installment or two for free and I enjoyed them, I’d probably be happy to pay a dollar for each thereafter. Also, if you do post a serial, please also offer it as a complete book when it is finished for those who prefer to read it all at once.

    Whether you decide to do a serial or not, please keep writing!

  11. Chad

    I feel that with writing a serial you would have to change your writing style somewhat to keep a reader wanting to come back. Would you have to throw in an unnecessary plot twist to end that specific part on a ciffhanger to ensure the reader comes back?

  12. Connie Davis

    Personally, I LOVE serials. I love watching characters grow and mature during their various experiences; I love learning new–and sometimes not so wonderful–things about them. I Kindle (my new verb) because I (and I am ashamed to say this) am the sort of person for whom immediate gratification takes too long. I also love books..the feel, the solidness of them…everything. My current “won’t you please write a sequel and soon” plea is regarding Joe from “Thread of Hope” which I have just read for the second time. I need to know in order to have a happy life, if Joe is going to find his daughter and if the central characters are going to live at least semi-happily ever after. Other storied after that would be wonderful, but this one is essential. So…how soon can you do this? *lol*

    Your idea of publishing piece-meal is intriguing to me; I had never thought of this before. As one who hates to wait (see above), I could go for this! What would I pay? Hmm…Perhaps a fourth of the value of the finished book, per section? Of course, if it’s about Joe, please write me for my VISA number and name your price!

    Love your books!

    Best wishes,

    Connie Davis

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