The fact that I have to be ready to wait for continuation of story just because the books are not out yet, have to get three or more books in order to finish a story or have to double or triple check if I’m really buying the fist book in the series (and if the story is serialised) has been bugging me for a long time. What is the point of having books serialised, if each book is 300 pages in large font and the word count is really low? I am not working or in any way related to the publishing world, so all my musings here are guesses only, yet I would love, if you would give your pros and cons to my theories as well as introduce your own and tell me, if you share my (small) frustrations.
As I said, very often something that could have been one book is stretched into three… and stories that could have been a trilogy are turned into six books. I haven’t read all the series obviously, but this tendency is a quite recent one and I am wondering why it is so that I have to buy three books instead of just one.
First things first: more than often I have heard from many reviewers that the second book in the trilogy was the worst in series and felt like a filler book. Which might be just right! I have heard that the Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, Fifty Shades and Divergent could have been one big book opposed to trilogies. But nevertheless, new series are springing up like mushrooms after rain and I have to check every book to see, if I will be alright by reading ‘just this one book’ or that I haven’t by mistake bought the wrong part of a book… And it is all fun and games, because I am following releases and partially can remember series and stand-alones I’m interested in, yet there are many casual readers, who just buy a book based on its description and might not look out for series. Or is it by design? A casual reader will buy the second book in the series and then realize he has to buy the first one?
I have a few guesses, why series are so popular among publishers in the modern days and more or less it all comes down to money.
So, if a publisher agrees to publish series by an author (even if author intended it to be a stand-alone), the publisher still has the emergency exit… If the book is published and it doesn’t take off, the publisher can just decide not to publish the rest of the parts and not lose money that those extra 600 pages would obviously be. That is one of my guesses, but it doesn’t seem to hold true because some of the unpopular series have gotten all the books out and even the Throne of Glass series are known for getting better with each book.
The next guess is the author’s popularity. If the author writes a splendid masterpiece, selling it in small chunks keeps him popular and afloat for few years, thus the readers will want to know and make a fuzz and buzz two more times (for trilogy) and the author will still have time to write something new for his fans once the first series end. Waiting is part of the excitement and excitement is part of the liking!
But if it would be just in one big book and the author doesn’t write a new story to captivate his audience, author’s popularity would eventually die out. Also, if a big story is divided in parts, the reader will associate himself more with the writer and want to read the next book. For some readers it is also easier to read short books, which means that by publishing one big story, the author kind of writes himself off for those readers who are up only for short novels.
Could it be that some books have not been written and that’s why they are serialised? I highly doubt that it is such a life or death situation that it couldn’t wait. Besides I’m pretty sure that most of the second parts are in progress and some even in editing, when the first one comes out or is announced. What’s the problem in waiting?
And my last guess goes back to the publisher, which is a fairly obvious assumption in my opinion – the more books, the more readers have to buy – the more money for the publisher.
If I would have to buy one book (lets imagine Hunger Games), if we reduce the font size (at least my copies were in large fonts), we get probably 600 pages (we might even ditch some of the filler text and reduce it more, but lets stick with 600). That would be what? About 10, alright… maximum 15 quid? Yet, when serialised, I have to buy three books, which is at least 7-10 quid each, that makes it to be minimum of 21. Of course, if you don’t buy the books straight away they get cheaper, but most readers don’t want to wait, they want to know what happens to their heroes and loved ones. So obviously the publisher has to make a separate PR campaign, design and print a separate cover, yet they earn more money, if, of course the series have been widely appreciated.
But all this doesn’t mean that fair share of the books that are published in series shouldn’t be series, no, there are series that wouldn’t really work as one book, for example, A Song of Ice and Fire (obviously)…
So what do you think, why books are serialised so much nowadays? Do you have any thoughts on the topic or maybe some insights from the publishers? Do you feel like some of the series you have bought were not worth the money? Or series you think could have worked as one or maybe even two books? Have you ever given a thought to this type of publishing that has become mainstream? Let me know your thoughts and if it frustrates you too, not as much because you can’t read them, but because you have to double and triple check, to not buy the wrong part or because of the long waiting time…