Serial rants

Pardon me for a moment. I need to rant.

You see, there is a “unique new project” afoot at Tor. John Scalzi’s next book, The Human Division, will be published as a weekly serial before being released as a print book and eBook.

…does this sound familiar to anyone out there?

Yeah.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love Tor; I buy and read a lot of Tor books. I adore Scalzi. I respect and admire Patrick Nielsen Hayden. But I want to throttle whoever decided to market this project as something “unique” or “new.”

Because you know what? There are a LOT of authors doing serial fiction online. Off the top of my head, I can recommend Chrysoula Tzavelas’s Nightlights, Claudia Hall Christian’s Denver Cereal, and Dwain Smith’s Super Serial.

There are also companies doing exactly what Tor will be…only better. And yes, I am talking about Candlemark & Gleam here. Because Tor has this to say: “we’ll be doing our best to make it so that buying the book in serial form costs about the same as buying the full e-book. There may also be some small extra material in the full-length book.”

Right. C&G offers serials for the same cost as an eBook, with optional upgrade packages that get you everything from bonus stories to the paperback. Oh, and did I mention that our serials come with the complete eBook at the end? From what I’m seeing here, I suspect that Tor’s readers may have to go out and buy the compiled eBook separately (although I hope not).

So yes. I’m really quite irate at the moment. My eyes may end up stuck looking at my own optic nerves because of how hard I’ve rolled them.

All I can do is sit here and say, “We did it first, and we did it better, and we’ll continue to do it better.” And then hope that Tor’s marketing clout and cash will expose more readers to the idea of the weekly serial, and therefore validate our model and our choice to offer serials. Because, I’ll be honest, serials are a hard sell. People don’t seem to understand the model, no matter how clearly or often it’s explained, and it’s tough to get them to plunk down their cash for something that takes time, rather than offering immediate gratification. With Tor doing the explaining, perhaps it’ll be possible for us to keep offering serials in the future, should we get more submissions that warrant that treatment, instead of shutting the program down.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m going to go see if I can unstick my eyeballs from where they’ve rolled, and look into some medication for rage-induced high blood pressure.

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  • http://groovesinorbit.dreamwidth.org/ Patti

    Yeah, I was thinking about you when I saw Scalzi’s post the other day. Serials are an awesome format, I think, and you do a great job with them. I really loved Hickey of the Beast. :)

    I was also a little surprised that Tor or Scalzi didn’t bring up The Green Mile. Okay, not electronic when it came out, but still. Nobody was doing serials in print form back then either. Seems like Tor wants to get all the credit for this “brand new” thing.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    I get the feeling that someone in the marketing department decided that they had to be “groundbreaking” and now they’re ignoring everything that’s come before…

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