To serialise or not to serialise

So to serialise or not to serialise that is the question.  Whether it is a  truly new trend or just something I’m only now cottoning on to, it does seem that serialisation is becoming more commonplace in indie publishing.

Now the concept itself is nothing new.  It was a favourite of Dickens and Dumas to name but two, and it has been done numerous times since, with the writers only later binding up their bits to make the wholes we now all know so well.  Indeed the advent of portable, personal devices and time poor readers arguably makes it all the more an attractive format – short enjoyable parts of larger tales neatly encapsulated in bite-size chunks.  Plus, let’s be honest, it is a useful marketing tool, and it can also give breathing space for the author whilst maintaining profile. Financially it works too, often times the initial parts are offered for free, or at a really low price to hook the masses, but then subsequent parts are priced more traditionally.

Now I’ve seen complaints about this process.  Rip off some shout.  Too short others cry.  The naysayers take the view it is all a cynical ploy to extract cash. Now of course in some cases this will be true, but the kicker is that whatever the financial model the story is still king.  If a story grabs you and you want to see what happens next then that is just great story telling.  So-what if you then have to pay for the follow ups; what is the difference between a free first morsel of a serial and a free sample of a novel? Time and sweat has still been expended creating those words, and if people are willing to pay for follow up then that’s great.  Surely the best form of attack is not to make a lot of noise but rather simply not to buy.  If appropriate the approach will then wither of its own accord.

Bottom line is good stories are good stories. Even the oral tradition saw its espousers rewarded in some way. Perhaps with a warm place to sleep or good food – barter is barter. It works both ways, there is after all no such thing as a free lunch.

Now I take the point that mathematically you may end up paying a bit more for a serialisation overall as opposed to a single ebook of the same length, but authors are not daft and neither are readers – once complete we do see some binding up their collections and pricing them competitively. There is therefore a choice, and this retains the ability of others to dip into the series via the serial releases or to take a punt on the whole lot in one go.

Either way I see no reason to think serialisation in any form is at risk from the boo hiss brigade. They are now too long in the tooth for that.  Ironically the only ones that can do it harm are those of us who consider it as an appropriate release medium for our work. The cardinal rule is unchanged - as authors we need to ensure we always produce a quality product, something to make the people come back for more, otherwise we’ll just spoil it for everyone. But then this is not just a feature of serialisation, it’s a risk that runs through all indie publishing …

Ebook Review – Revolution

Revolution, by Paul Palmer-Nelson

 

Rev coverIn 1947 something not from our world crashed in a remote desert – in 2032 its legacy will threaten mankind’s very existence.

30 years from now a small organisation watches over Earth separately from the influence of nations.  Armed with technology hundreds of years more advanced than our own designation 115 picks his own ideology and decides mankind has had it’s day…”

 

I found Revolution on Smashwords a little while ago now, when I started trawling for interesting looking sci-fi books to read on my Kindle app.  I was intrigued by the potential for the story as it had the makings of a great human/alien mash up, and, yes I admit it, I was drawn in by a tantalising half-reference back to an old weather balloon from all those years ago

As it turned out it was not the most subtle or nuanced of stories but an in your face action tale with plenty of action, explosions and alien tech.  Being a not very subtle or nuanced character myself I must say I loved it.  There were lots of booms and the brother on brother aspect of the tale gave the story some character – albeit there was not much depth to it all and things did turn a little too TOS soft focus for me when the love interest came into play and the pace of the story suddenly and incongruously seemed to slam on its brakes a little too hard.

Whether or not it was intended, the story appears to draw massively on classic games from my youth – mainly the XCOM Enemy Unknown turn based work of genius (recently rebooted of course – twice) in that the team of soldiers in the tale draw heavily on alien tech, purloined by the shadowy organisation that runs them as agents, for everything from armour to weapons and transport – but there were also elements of the original Syndicate in there which saw us in charge of clone cyborgs walking the streets raising all kinds of havoc with the civilian population.  Both are firm favourites of mine so Revolution hit all the right buttons.

Praise done with, I can see that for all the same reasons I enjoyed it some readers might find the story a little too simplistic and without much, if any, depth.  The ending was also more than a little clichéd – but then so are most of the great action movies.  However, just like those movies whilst you might come away having enjoyed the explosions and seat of your pants action, as things subsequently start to replay in your mind hours and days later, you begin to pick them apart because of the incredulity of some sequences or the way the narrative too loosely hangs together, and in places may even break apart.  This is in no way a fatal flaw but one that may see some readers turned off if they’re more than just casual sci-fi readers, scratch too deeply beneath the surface of the tale, and/or don’t buy into the feasibility of humanity reverse engineering alien tech so completely and yet fail to iron out such a big flaw.  One other critique I should make is as to the nuts and bolts of the writing. Whether it was a lack of any editing, or simply a poor job having been done, the need to provide a polished product was not entirely appreciated here.  There were sadly numerous spelling mistakes, grammatical and formatting errors, all of which did detract a little from the reading.

Overall though I can say, without reservation that I thoroughly enjoyed the story and even with the irksome textual issues I would still give it a solid four stars.  As I said, not all may agree with me but then I think I am solidly in the demographic Nelson was targeting and I can forgive a lot if the story is as engaging as Revolution and its flaws don’t render it unreadable.  Check it out and let me know if you agree.

_4 stars

 

 

 

Get it on Amazon and Smashwords now.

 

 

 

 

smashwords