To Serial… or Not?

My eighth Jackson novel is completed, except for the Thomas & Mercer editing process. When I submitted it in early December, I expected it to be released in the fall of this year (2013). But the T&M schedule is full, and Jackson #8 isn’t slotted until next February (2014)—a full year after Jackson #7 releases next month.

Waiting makes me (and most of my readers) crazy, so this schedule isn’t good for me. My editor offered me an alternative: release the book as as a Kindle Serial this spring and summer, which means it will be on the market, in full, by this fall.

But 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 traditional books. He thinks it could expand my readership. I like both of those 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 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 think you pay full price ($4.99) if you wait.

But my biggest concern is that many readers will not understand the serial process. Because I’ve never released a Jackson book that way, they 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 a week or so 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. What do you think, 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?

9 Comments
  1. I’m afraid I’d have to keep going back and reading the earlier bits to remember what was going on.

    But what do I know?

  2. Whenever I see “free chapterrs” floating in computerdom I won’t read them because more than likely I won’t keep up with the pace of when they’re released and just consider them spoilers of the real thing. I want to read the whole book at one time. Your detective jackson series is one those books — don’t want to read it in dribs and drabs. Just my honest opinion. I hate to wait until 2014 to read the next one but if that’s what it takes to get the entire book at one shot then that’s what I will have to wait for! Keep writing — you have a real gift. Best wishes for your continued success. Marilyn Anderson

  3. Serializing is a bad idea. You’ve pointed out all the reasons why, and I agree with every one.

    Paul

  4. With Mr. Levine, you’ve pointed out the reasons not to and I agree. As a lover of the Detective Jackson series (so much so that I constantly try and get “new e-readers” to subscribe to you as the queen), I would absolutely hate if you do this. There is another author that does similar stories and I’m always confused about what I’m getting, a book, a story, ya never know. It’s getting so cumbersome to “filter” through the junk that it’s becoming no longer worth it. That author is about to lose me as a fan. Please don’t do that. I love reading your books whole!!! Thanks for listening to the readers and not the editors.

  5. Thank you for the feedback. Including the email I received on the subject, I’ve decided against the serial. Maybe if Jackson #7 sells well enough, they’ll find a way to squeeze #8 into the schedule this year. 🙂

  6. I’m a fairly new reader of your work, so for whatever they’re worth here are my thoughts on this. I would probably NOT read a book that was “serialized.” I don’t like short stories or “partial” books. I want to read a book when I want to read it, not on someone else’s schedule. So I’d either wait for the entire book, or move on to another author. Either way, whatever you do, good luck. JMHO….

  7. I would not like the serial- I love your books and want to read the entire thing at once! I live in Eugene and your books really come to life for me!

  8. Hi, I have just finished reading all of your books including ‘Rules Of Crime’, they are all totaly amazing. I happened across them when I was playing with my new Kindle, bought the first Detective Jackson book for 99p and like Kera, fell in love with Wade Jackson. I wouldn’t like to read in ‘snippets’, (although, my busy lifestyle sometimes means I have to…) but I can’t wait until #8 is released.

  9. waiting impatiently for Jackson #8. wouldn’t get the serial version so have to wait. excellent books. just found them when rules of crime was a kindle daily deal got the rest and am reading liars, cheaters and thieves

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