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And the light dawns

Day before yesterday, I downloaded a bunch of books. They were of different genres. Some were from traditional publishers. Others were small press or indie published. My goal was to simply sit back for an evening or three and read. I haven’t done that in a very long time and looked forward to it.

Of course, as with battle plans not surviving the first encounter with the enemy, those plans went up in flames, at least metaphorically speaking. The first book, which sounded so good from the blurb and seemed well written from the sample, soon fell flat. There wasn’t a trope the author didn’t like and embrace to the point where I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Fortunately, it was one I’d gotten as part of Kindle Unlimited. It was returned.

On to the next book. This was a traditionally published book. It was a free promo which is good. Otherwise, I’d be asking for my money back. It was so derivative that I found myself looking to see if I already owned it. I didn’t, but it was basically a “change the names and locations and write the same book” sort of thing.

Deleted.

Then came the third book. I almost hadn’t downloaded it. But, I was quickly going through the books and decided to give it a try. The blurb and sample were promising if not groundbreaking. Still, I wanted a new read and was willing to give it a try.

Until–and admit it, you knew there had to be an “until”–I read the author’s intro to the book. This was first in a series. My eyes narrowed and I reached for my phone. Warning bells were going off. I quickly opened my browser and navigated to the author’s Amazon page. There was the book I’d ordered. The book I was about to read. Publication date two years ago. Indie published. So far, so good. Right?

Wrong.

There were no other titles.

Not a single one.

Definitely not a follow-up to the book I was about to read.

GAWD!!!!

The reader in me, frustrated because there was no indication the author had another book in him (much less the sequel) wanted to wall my Oasis. I didn’t, mainly because I can’t afford another one right now.

The writer in me drew up short and swallowed hard. I understood on one level why there hadn’t been another book in the series. There was no guarantee the author had made any money on this first book. He might have had medical problems or family conflicts that have prevented him from writing more. But, because of the fact there was no follow-up, I was now hesitating reading the book. What if he hadn’t ended the current plot? What if it ended in a cliffhanger?

Then I started thinking about my own work. I have one series (well, a series within a series) that has been left hanging much too long. The reason is I can’t figure out how to move that particular interior series forward, especially since the overall series has been moving forward without it. The only saving grace is the characters from that one novella show up in other books in the main series, so they haven’t been orphaned or forgotten.

Yes, I want to finish the story arc, and I plan to. I just haven’t been satisfied with my previous attempts to do so.

Then there are my other series. I need to put out new titles more quickly than I have been. My experience last night taught me that readers and their expectations are changing. We know we don’t have to wait a year, or more likely two, between books in a series. We aren’t willing to wait that long except for a very few favorite authors. instead, we want a quicker turn around. After all, there are so many authors out there we have access to now that Amazon and the other platforms have opened their stores to indies and small presses, why wait?

So how do we deal with these new expectations from our readers?

And isn’t that the million dollar question?

Some authors do it by writing at least three books in a series before releasing the first one. Others do it by writing shorter works and getting on a set schedule where they release either monthly, every two or every three months. Some do it by writing and publishing in installments, sort of like the old movie serials. Still others do it by dropping the lower performing series/books they’d written and focusing on just one, possibly two, series.

And, yes, series are where a lot of authors are going now. Readers like them. As a writer, they really are easier to write in some ways because you already know the characters and you don’t have to recreate the world in every book.

But where does that leave me?

To begin with, it gave me a huge kick in the pants, one I needed. Between the mental and physical exhaustion I’ve been suffering the last couple of months with Mom’s injury and subsequent surgery, I’ve gotten little writing done since May. I have some very rough drafts (more like notes) for a couple of novellas/novels but nothing close to where they should be. Others, books that should already be out, have been hanging in limbo.

Yesterday morning, however, it was as if the dam burst. Before noon, I’d written more than 10,000 words. Yes, my hands hurt and my brain was numb. But, and this is what’s important, I finished the draft for Nocturnal Revelations. Everything that seemed to hang me up before suddenly became clear. I saved out the draft, backed it up off my working machine and then printed it out. I’ll look it over in the old-fashioned way and then send it out to my alpha readers. Fingers crossed they think it was worth the wait.

But that doesn’t address what to do about the other series and how to get books out more quickly. I know what I’m going to do with the next two Eerie Side of the Tracks titles. They are already plotted out and they are fairly quick writes. I can probably do both of them in a month, once I sit down to do them.

What isn’t as easy or quick to write are the Honor & Duty stories or the last book in the Sword of the Gods series. The former because of the research involved and the latter because I hate ending a series. But that was never meant to be more than three books. Looking back at it now, I know I should have written all three books before releasing the first one. This is my learn from my own mistakes moment.

I don’t have the answers–yet–and there’s no guarantee when I do that they will be the right answers. But I’m going to try. Fingers crossed.

So here’s my question for you: do you tend to hesitate to buy the first book in a series from an author you aren’t familiar with, especially an indie author, if they don’t have a solid publishing history behind them? How long are you willing to wait for the next book to come out before you either forget about it or move on to the next series or author?

Here are the first books in some of my series:

Nocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.


Witchfire Burning

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?


Sword of Arelion

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.


Vengeance from Ashes

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

 

Featured image via Pixabay.

30 Comments
  1. mrsizer #

    Being first is a first. I tend to buy/read in batches then wander off to another series, then come back and see what’s been added. I think Pam Uphoff is a good example. I’ve read everything (I think), but I usually do it a batches of three or so. Then move on to something else. After a couple of months (usually spurred by a post here), I go pickup all the new stuff and read that. It doesn’t even need to be in-series. Lawyers of Mars was a pleasant surprise.

    I think, but wouldn’t bet on it, that I’m up-to-date on the Nocturnal series. I know there is at least one book in the Duty series I haven’t read. I need to re-read the previous one, first, and just haven’t been in the mood. Ash is a hard character for me to relate to (I would have told the government to [string of expletives deleted]). I do like the story, though, so it will happen, eventually.

    Waiting years between books doesn’t particularly bother me because I will just forget about the series. For the author, it’s bad because it’s lost sales. For me, meh. And there’s always the chance that I won’t find that series until it’s finished – even if it took years. I actually prefer that.

    That’s one thing I don’t like about “excerpt from next book” at the end. If the next book is already published, I need to page through it to get to the “buy next in series” button. Recommendation: When you publish the next book, update the previous one to remove the preview.

    November 20, 2018
    • Lawyers of Mars is one of my favorites. It’s just fun.

      I’ve only read some of the Wine of the Gods but my impression is that they don’t tend to be overly sequential… no? But maybe they need better labeling that a person *doesn’t* have to read them in order?

      It’s trad pub which put me off buying or reading books until I have all the installments of a series. There are a few that I’ve bought and collected and never read after the first book. I don’t want to read and then wait for a year but three years later, even if I bought all the books as they came out, I’ve completely lost interest. Completely.

      What I prefer are “series” such as the Miles Vorkosigan or Honor Harrington books. They’re a series. A person probably ought to read them in order. But they are *complete* books. It’s quite okay to read each one a year apart as they come out.

      November 20, 2018
      • For whatever it’s worth, I quit reading Honor Harrington when that quit being true.

        November 20, 2018
  2. TonyT #

    Everything old is new again – many novels were first published, chapter by chapter, in serial format (e.g. Dickens), which was a great size for reading on say a train trip. Maybe that’s a good fit for our times, too. Or maybe think of it like a Korean drama or US TV series, on paper.

    I doubt I’m a typical reader – I don’t have time to read a lot now (a book a week if I’m lucky). I also don’t devour series (instead, I’ve been switching around between authors), so I’m not bothered by books not being series or how long new ones take.

    November 20, 2018
  3. Carrington Dixon #

    I can see, at least, two kinds of ‘series’. One is a group of books, each of which is complete in itself. A decade or more ago a bought a paperback book called On Basilisk Station; I do not recall that there was any indication of further volumes were planned. When further volumes appeared, I was ready and eager to purchase them, but I should not have felt I was missing something had they never appeared.

    Compare this with The Fellowship of the Ring should the following volumes have been somehow lost to posterity, LOTR is not so much a series as a long story in three codices. I am less sure that I would buy the first of this type of series without some assurance that I should see the subsequent volumes in a reasonable time.

    November 20, 2018
    • It seems to me that LOTR was written as a single volume, no? The publisher decided to publish it in three separate bindings.

      November 20, 2018
      • Clint #

        Yep. And they were all published within a bit over a year, rather than being several years apart.

        November 20, 2018
        • Ben Yalow #

          And there are now single-volume editions, since the only reason the book came out in three volumes was that the binding/printing technology made that pretty much necessary.

          November 20, 2018
    • Mary #

      Yes.

      I have seen questions about whether a first book stands alone.

      November 20, 2018
  4. The (evil dreaded) Wheel of Time series really damaged my desire to read series unless the whole series is out. The exception to that is authors whom I like, and have a good track record of putting out books.

    First book in what looks to be a series, by an author I don’t already trust to keep writing? Um, no thanks.

    I have lately been trying to find at least one book (or series) from authors here on (MGC) that I haven’t read. Not all of it is in my wheelhouse, but that just adds the bonus of expanding my reading frontiers. I just finished “A Pocket Full of Stars” by Margaret Ball, and found it excellent, for instance, and last week I read the Shikari series (books I and II) by Alma Boykin. Well, more like DEVOURED them. LOVED THEM! Can’t wait for book III (If there will be a book III?)

    November 20, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      There’s a III, and IIRC a IV coming, probably.

      November 20, 2018
    • Luke #

      The Wheel of Time mostly convinced me that I’m not interested in clothing, the tugging of braids, or female exasperation.
      Of course, I quit the series before the book where only two things actually happened…

      I don’t really pay much attention to whether a book is part of a completed series. Except that I make sure to start with book #1 if it is. Or shy away if it’s a long series and the author hasn’t written books outside the series.

      I’m actually not at all a fan of extended series. To my mind, most of them start strong, but get bogged down after the third book as holding disparate threads together (and authorial padding) overwhelm the overarching plot. (Or get walled for having the same character saving the world *again*.)

      The examples I recall that worked tended to be episodic, without much carrying over from story to story. Detective stories are a great example here.
      But take Glen Cook’s “Black Company”. It’s a long series, but it’s broken up into trilogies and stand-alones that follow different members of the same organisation as they do different things, under different circumstances, in different places. And even then, it was a mess by the last couple of books.

      November 20, 2018
      • I LOVED the “Black Company” books, although I do agree that by then end they weren’t quite as good.

        When reading the Wheel of Time series, I can’t even count how many times I wondered if there was a woman somewhere whom almost every female character was based upon, that had a very shallow range of expression.

        “…mostly convinced me that I’m not interested in clothing…”

        Hmm… Given my natural inclination towards nudity (that I never get to practice because daughters, and societal taboos) I didn’t notice a declining interest in clothing that could be linked to the WoT series. But if you did… I don’t judge. You do you!

        November 20, 2018
    • Book III is in cover design and revision for a *taps wood* December release, with Volume IV in Jan or early Feb. Then two more Merchant books, and the last Colplatschki book (which could stand alone, since it is the first in world chronology.) After that I’m not certain. My writing time is severely crimped between January 6 and June 22, 2019.

      November 20, 2018
    • Some manga has done that for me; gonna be hard for me to get all of Bleach though… or Black Butler, without winning a couple of thousand dollars in the lottery or something… ~_~

      November 20, 2018
      • Luke #

        I gave up on Bleach when the girl with the fairies was kidnapped, and I decided that I really didn’t want to repeat the same basic story.

        November 21, 2018
    • Mary #

      I feel lucky that Wheel put me off on the first book. (That I had already heard horror stories didn’t help it, of course.)

      November 20, 2018
      • I think people just like to bag on WoT. Some of it is deserved, some maybe a little exaggerated. It was an interesting story, rather more epic than it needed to be. There were some good, and quite unique, characters, but there were a few character traits that were over-shared. Like the for-mentioned braid tugging (quite a few female characters did that when they got mad), and for the boys (eventually men) it seemed like every single one of them was constantly wishing he understood girls, like ____ (name another male character). Over and over and over. It got a little old, and has made me sensitive to reading the same information being repeated again and again.

        The biggest problem with WoT, and why it was brought up here, was WAY too much time between books. At one point, I bought what I thought was the next book off the New Releases shelf at the book store, and it turned out to be the same book I read a few years before, they did a RE-RELEASE of the hardback (I’m guessing so that anyone who didn’t get it in hardback when the book was originally released could get it in hardback), before the next book even came out!

        Then, of course, was the problem that Robert Jordan died before he finished (I’m sure he didn’t intend to). I think Brandon Sanderson did a good job of matching the tone of the earlier books, but I think the end of the story was a bit abrupt and unsatisfying. (Yes, I finished the series, if only to get closure). I don’t think that was Sanderson’s fault though. I think he was given Jordan’s notes, and x amount of time and y number pages to fit it all in. So he did what he could.

        November 21, 2018
        • Luke #

          I think the biggest problems with WoT were padding (it seemed like every perspective shift started with two pages about what the girls were wearing, and there were books where not much actually happened) and the lack of resolution (at great personal cost, the heroes defeat several major enemies, only for the reader to learn they’re being replaced and/or resurrected.)
          At one point, I loved the series. But the heart really seemed to go out of it when Moiraine sacrificed herself. I kept going for another couple of books, but it became a bit of a slog, and I wondered why I was bothering. (To find out what was going on with Matt, to answer my own question. It’s unlikely anything could have lived up to the anticipation, but…)

          November 21, 2018
          • Yep… The whole 265 book series (exaggeration is fun) really could (should?) have been maybe 4 or 5 books MAX (I almost wonder if it could have been shrunk down to a trilogy). I liked how rich the world was with the Ogier, Aiel, Sea Folk, etc. And how the individual characters (Mat was a favorite of mine also) were so completely different, but they didn’t lose that “just a kid from a village” feel.

            You are so right about there being whole books where the plot didn’t seem to progress enough to make the book worth while, and as soon as you finished, the long wait began for the next book.

            November 21, 2018
  5. Yeah, Indie’s not only do-it-yourself it’s do-it-again. Right now, I can’t decide if people want shorter, less complex works that they can read in bits without losing track of who’s who . . . or if they want goat gaggers.

    I’m considering omnibus versions, breaking up the collections of short stories and slotting them into the right places. Which is fine for ebooks, but in print get pretty heavy and unwieldy.

    But for KU, they’d be excellent. I *think.*

    And by next year it’ll all change.

    November 20, 2018
    • People are people. Some will one thing, some will want another. So write to your heart; at least that’s what I’m trying to do.

      November 20, 2018
  6. Have you ever thought of one titled “Nocturnal Omissions: Things That DON’T (or DIDN’T) Go BUMP In The Night.”

    November 20, 2018
  7. We writers are spoiling readers. 😉 We release too quickly, and then readers want more-more.

    In all seriousness, I think that was an unintended consequence of KDP, Kobo, Nook and other self-publish options. Because we ARE able to publish at our own pace, and so many people launch books, catching and keeping eyes is harder than when readers were trained to wait at least a year, often longer, between books. The faster I publish, the faster readers want the next book. When I can write a book in six weeks and get it out the door, that’s great. I’m a little concerned what will happen next year when I can no longer do that because of Day Job demands.

    November 20, 2018
    • Mark #

      Speaking strictly for myself, If I like the author, I am willing to wait however long it takes. Example: PC Hodgell’s Kencyrath Series, which I have been following since 1982 when the first book, God Stalk, came out. She averages 1 book every 2 years, and she has said that she hopes to finish the series in 2 or 3 more books.

      I, however, get extremely annoyed when the author says: “Hey, I expect to have the book up on Amazon within…(insert whatever time period), then they don’t.

      Now, having said that, there is one exception – when the author notifies their fans/readers that due to family issues, health issues, deployment, etc., that the book can’t be released as promised, but will be as soon as possible.

      I just went through this with Christopher Nuttall’s “Schooled in Magic” Series, where his new book: “The Broken Throne”, was delayed due to him being diagnosed and treated for aggressive lymphoma. Likewise, another good author, C. R. Daems, is having to slow his writing in order to care for his ailing wife.

      November 21, 2018
  8. Ana #

    As a reader, I don’t mind beginning a new series of books that might not be completed if the individual books have a complete plot, that’s now the usual in urban fantasy and thrillers/detective stories, but I’m more weary with fantasy, the WoT and other classical series were more tied between the books. I remember reading through the years the books of The death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, borrowing from the library which made the waiting more painful, and when I finally read the 7th book I felt like throwing it to the wall: there where incomplete threads left in the previous books, I couldn’t even point all the details because it have been years since I read them.

    November 20, 2018
    • Mary #

      Even if they were issued rapidly there comes a point when you quote Aristotle

      “Again, a beautiful object, whether it be a living organism or any whole composed of parts, must not only have an orderly arrangement of parts, but must also be of a certain magnitude; for beauty depends on magnitude and order. Hence a very small animal organism cannot be beautiful; for the view of it is confused, the object being seen in an almost imperceptible moment of time. Nor, again, can one of vast size be beautiful; for as the eye cannot take it all in at once, the unity and sense of the whole is lost for the spectator; as for instance if there were one a thousand miles long. As, therefore, in the case of animate bodies and organisms a certain magnitude is necessary, and a magnitude which may be easily embraced in one view; so in the plot, a certain length is necessary, and a length which can be easily embraced by the memory. The limit of length in relation to dramatic competition and sensuous presentment is no part of artistic theory. For had it been the rule for a hundred tragedies to compete together, the performance would have been regulated by the water-clock- as indeed we are told was formerly done. But the limit as fixed by the nature of the drama itself is this: the greater the length, the more beautiful will the piece be by reason of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous. And to define the matter roughly, we may say that the proper magnitude is comprised within such limits, that the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad. “

      November 21, 2018

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