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Fed up with Instant Series books


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Showing 1-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Jan 2013 20:01:27 GMT
I was looking through my book recommendations, wanting some new authors to try out, and got seriously sick of titles followed by the words 'the Such and Such Chronicles' or 'a Character You Never Heard of Before novel'. I don't think I'm that out of touch with the world of fiction but there were literally dozens of series with six or more novels in them, based around characters or settings I had never heard before and that from publication dates were all issued at the same time. Maybe it's just me but I find it arrogant and offensive of publishers (be they big companies or individuals self-publishing) that we are going to love volume one so much that we'll dutifully buy all the rest automatically. Time was volume one came out as a tester and if it succeeded, then volume two might show up in six months or so. I'd love to know what everyone else thinks about it.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jan 2013 21:04:40 GMT
gille liath says:
Maybe it is arrogant, but it must work - or they wouldn't do it.

I agree, I wouldn't touch anything that is 'first of the Such & Such Chronicles' with a bargepole - except maybe Barchester.

Posted on 6 Jan 2013 21:23:50 GMT
monica says:
(edit to gille liath's post: for 'Barchester', read 'Proust'.)

Chinatown, fair play for starting a novel thread. I suppose I just assume that any story written later than Marcel P's that takes up six or more volumes is genre rubbish, and that any written later than 2010 is vanity-published genre rubbish. I'm rather alarmed though by the idea of a book being written to test the market for it; I can't imagine an author who submits/publishes a book thinking 'hmm, if this sells I'll make it the first in a series' being worth reading.

Posted on 6 Jan 2013 21:36:43 GMT
Ethereal says:
I don't have the loyalty to read series, period. I like to try different stories. But I can see authors putting out one as an experiment, career writers that is. I imagine other authors loved writing the first so much they went on to write more and perhaps didn't get published until several down the line or self-published all at once. I gather in self-publishing it's best if you have a few books to put out, then one can be free to attract readers and reviews, and if enjoyed then sales of the others may follow.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jan 2013 21:37:38 GMT
gille liath says:
Proust didn't actually bill his book as The Daydream Chronicles though, eh? I presume the term Barchester Chronicles was retrospective, though - I doubt if Trollope has such a thing in mind at the start. And even then, they aren't all that wonderful.

I'm not necessarily against having a series of books if the material justifies it. It's just annoying, as the OP says, if a ten-volume series has been set out before we even know if the first one's any good.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jan 2013 21:38:16 GMT
gille liath says:
It certainly has to help with the marketing. But maybe that's just the problem.

Posted on 6 Jan 2013 22:36:05 GMT
I Readalot says:
Big publishers don't take this kind of risk, they can't afford to, why should they spend time and money editing, proofing etc a series of books with no track record in this case if the publication dates are all the same it is probably because they are reissues with new and updated covers, this recently happened with the Game of Thrones books and frequently happens with a series of crime novels.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jan 2013 07:02:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jan 2013 07:02:30 GMT
M. Jolliff says:
And there I would have to disagree with you Gille, and the OP and everyone else. As an extensively genre reader I have got sick of the current insistence on never ending doorstop series that drip feed volumes every year or two and whose author dies or loses heart/ becomes senile before completing. I would far rather know that there is an end before I invest my time and money, and just how far away that end is, and wether the journey is worth making. At least old L Ron let you know it was a ten volume series from the start so you could ignore it and spend your time to more purpose.

Posted on 8 Jan 2013 19:28:44 GMT
Monica, I wasn't suggesting that all past novels were written as precursors for a series - just that, in past times when a writer had ideas that might run to more than one book nobody printed volume two until they found out if there was a demand for it. They don't just reissue a whole set, check out some of the sequences Amazon is offering and see if you can find a past history for them that suggests they even existed prior to the success of whatever they are mimicking. It makes it harder for writers to break into the market because when the publishers set up their print runs with ten volumes of 'the YaddaYadda Chronicle', that's nine other ones who don't get a look-in and who might be a damn sight more original. Ebooks have helped offset that a bit but sadly there is a tremendous amount of dross being published that way so it gets very hard to wade through the quagmire. And M.Jolliffe, I'd rather have an author who writes the odd stand-alone book, then you get a beginning, a middle and an end all in one book.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 07:08:08 GMT
M. Jolliff says:
CB
I would rather that too. What I really want is publishers to not print series that are incomplete unless they are composed of stand alone novels like Discworld. If the author needs to write twenty 1000 page volumes to tell the story then let them do the leg work and finish before publishing volume 1. I don't want to invest the time, get to volume 9 and discover they've got bored or died and I'll never find out the end. I want the choice to give up before the end (or the start) if it doesn't appeal but getting stuck midway is massively irritating.

Posted on 9 Jan 2013 07:32:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jan 2013 08:52:31 GMT
Ethereal says:
On the other hand, is it very different to so enjoying a particular author's work the reader can't wait until they bring out the next one, even though there's no story left dangling? One could argue the practice keeps the readers keen and is good marketing ...
Having said that, I do think main storylines should be tied up even if some loose threads are left. Many stand alone books don't tie everything up neatly.
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Posted on 9 Jan 2013 16:44:08 GMT
I Readalot says:
Some stories just take more than one book to tell. Harry Potter is one of these series books and I can't see anyone complaining about them.

Posted on 12 Jan 2013 15:12:11 GMT
I don't mind that. Lord of the Rings took three books, Zelazny's classic Amber series took ten. But there's a difference between an author having a story to tell which is good enough, and complex enough, to take multiple volumes, and one spinning out a concept that is exhausted in one or two novels into ten or more just to keep the cash coming.

Posted on 12 Jan 2013 18:01:54 GMT
Helen says:
If it was good enough for Charles Dickens.

From Wicki:

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication.[4][5] The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback.[5] For example, when his wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments.[6] Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon;[7] His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes.[8] In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life - Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from 'Looney', a beadle at Salisbury Square.[9] His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives.[10] Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha'pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.[11]

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2013 20:02:32 GMT
I Readalot says:
Really the best thing is just to ignore them, I got fed up with all the paranormal fiction that filled the shelves a while back and now all the Shades of Grey clones are becoming a bit tedious, then there was all the Da Vinci Code lookalikes. Fads come and go all the time, some people like them and some don't but there are plenty of other books to choose from.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2013 20:25:54 GMT
gille liath says:
LotR was really a single book, split into three (very reluctantly) for various practical reasons, eg the paper shortage after the war.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2013 20:27:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Jan 2013 20:28:20 GMT
gille liath says:
Again, Pickwick Papers is a single book. And it's highly debateable whether the instalment form did Dickens' books any favours artistically speaking - though it certainly worked from a business point of view.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2013 21:04:32 GMT
I Readalot says:
Also he was taking so long to complete it and the publisher were desperate to satisfy all the readers clamouring to hear more about Hobbits and start to make some money.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2013 22:38:09 GMT
I agree with your comments. Most writers shouldn't write series. They don't know what it takes. Writing a series takes a specific type of talent and multi-level writing that most don't consider.

The issue is best highlighted by watching a soap. I was once addicted to ER. I know whose wife died, who's had a affair with who, which character had a termination, and which character was an alcoholic. Subsequently, if we sit down and watch series 7, I know why the characters interact the way they do. You can't keep telling and reminding me - you'll bore me to death. However, the show must remain interesting to all new viewers. It's no different for a novel. If I pick-up the third of a series I've got become engaged despite being ignorant of the two volumes of backstory.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  19
Initial post:  6 Jan 2013
Latest post:  12 Jan 2013

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