Good afternoon, and thanks to anyone who has not only read the first three, free chapters of Tales of the Dying East: Book and Blade, but also bought Tales of the Dying East: First Day, which is now available online. First Day is a collection of the first three chapters of my e-book TODE: Book and Blade with two bonus chapters that won’t be released elsewhere.
Since I’ve decided to publish Book and Blade as an e-book serial or “e-serial,” I’ve had a sustained curiosity in regards to what the market for e-serials is like.
Personally, I love carousing the Internet for anything to read. I may read things from fanfiction.net, Smashwords, or the New York Times Online on any given day. On Smashwords and Amazon alike, I’m finding that more and more e-books are being published in a serialized format…and that made me glad that I was publishing the first TODE work as one.
I was later disappointed to find that many people avoid e-serials because they aren’t full books. According to a 2010 Huffington Post poll, 75% of readers who voted in the poll prefer to read full books instead of e-serials. A 2010 Mobilereads forum post also seemed to back up the negative common opinion of e-serials, regardless of their genre.
E-serial authors may be to blame for the relatively poor perception of e-serials. A moderate number of the e-serials that I have found on Smashwords have chapters that have been incomplete for a long time, as if the poor author had to abandon the series mid-way. Readers are taking a risk when they download e-serials, and as the reader’s anticipation (hopefully) builds through each individual chapter of an e-serial, the reader has to know that their prolonged trust in the story will pay off.
Even if e-serials are a hard sell, I’ll still write them. As a reader, I love reading serialized novels, but they’re great to write because:
The Author Has Freedom of Universe
I like comic books as much as novels. In the world of comic books, the single comics will have their storyline “arcs” and then release an issue that has its own independent story in the same universe with the same main and supporting characters. If Book and Blade was released as one full novel, for example, I couldn’t release bonus chapters about other things in the Dying East universe which pertain to major or minor characters and storylines.
I like to read e-serials because I don’t have to wait a year or two for a good author’s latest work to come out. I’d rather have something short to read constantly than something big to read at once.
More Options For The Reader
By releasing free chapters of an e-serial vs. releasing one large book, I can give readers a choice between just following only what’s needed for the current story arc and following extra things regarding the world that I’ve constructed. A single large book doesn’t provide that kind of versatility for the author–at least not for me.
Greater Story Length
Unlike novels, an e-serial doesn’t have to end at 120,000 words because it can be broken up in so many different parts. Again, it seems easier to read constantly read small parts of a large novel than one massive 500,000 word tome. Much like anything else in a series format, an e-serial can sustain for as long as the creator wishes it to. It’s even better if the serial has been properly broken into volumes because the reader is then able to pick and choose what they want to read from the series.
These are simply my opinions on the e-serial format. If you’re reading this and have an opinion to share, please share it.