by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries and thrillers
Amazon has a new—or more accurately, revamped—program called Kindle Serials. The idea is to write and release a digital novel in 10,000 word chunks every two weeks, and for readers to discuss the story as it's being written and give the author feedback.
Author Roberto Calas blogged about his experience, which seems to have been good for him. Other authors have released books, as serials, that were entirely written first and have reported mixed results.
My eighth Jackson novel is completed, and my Amazon editor has suggested that I release it this spring and summer as a serial—rather than wait until next February to release it in a traditional format.
As much as I hate waiting, the serial aspect makes me nervous. Even though serial books are
clearly labeled—so readers should realize they're only getting chunks of
the story at a time—the books often get bad reviews. Many readers hate
waiting for the next episode and give the novels one-star ratings.
They also use much of their review space to criticize the format.
My editor thinks it's an opportunity to take advantage of advertising
avenues that aren't offered to other Amazon books. He thinks it could
expand my readership. I like both of these ideas. And I love my editor.
He's been right about many things. But I’m worried about my current
readership. They like to read my books in a couple of big gulps. And I
like them to rave about "not being able to put it down."
Of course, readers don't have to buy it as a serial. They can wait until
all the episodes are released and buy the whole book in the fall. But
that still means waiting three months to buy the book, knowing that some, or
most, of it is already available. If you buy it as a serial, it's only
$1.99. I believe you pay full price ($4.99) if you wait.
But my biggest concern is that many readers will not understand the serial
process. I've never released a Jackson book that way, so the sudden change will be unexpected. Readers might
just see the new story and buy it—without reading all the disclaimers.
Lovely, loyal people that they are. But two or three chapters in, the
book will stop, and they'll have to wait two weeks for more.
I don't like to read that way, and I suspect my Jackson fans don't either.
So I'm leaning toward saying no.
Readers: Does the
serial idea appeal to you, especially if you'll get the story sooner? Or
would you rather wait and get the book all at once early next year?
Writers: Have you released a Kindle Serial? What was your experience?