Authors: Stop it with the cliffhanger shite already. Seriously. Just…stop.

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Okay, I think the blog post title says it all.

I GET it. When KU first rolled out back in 2014, some of y’all immediately saw an opportunity to make a little extra change. Take a big book and break it down into smaller chunks so you got more money.

Unfortunately, that got out of hand faster than Trump entering the 2016 presidential race. (Yeah, I went there.)

So then all of a sudden there were countless writers verbally vomiting all of these little serial books into KU and then something really BAD happened.

They forgot that the POINT is to tell a STORY, not to squeeze as many book purchases from a reader as possible.

1932198_10202469460952030_1213719469_nIn the process, they pissed off a LOT of readers. Have your KU sales, or sales in general, gone down?

Have you put out a lot of “serial” books?

Yeah, well, DO THE FUCKING MATH.

There is a MAJOR difference between a STORY ARC left unresolved that plays out over several books and a relationship cliffhanger that leaves your hero and heroine’s HEA/HFN up in the air (or down on the rocks).

The prevailing theory, apparently, amongst the dumbass greedy misinformed writers who should have their Internet access removed until they get their heads out of their asses go back to storytelling basics class is that it’ll get readers to buy the next book.

Uh, no. Most of the time, it’ll leave the reader feeling cheated and wanting to kick your ass and never read you again. And now with KU having switched it up to a page-read versus per-unit percentage payment system, longer books can make out better than shorter books.

Your job as a writer is to first tell a story that a reader wants to read. Again, HUGE difference between a story arc left unresolved and a RELATIONSHIP left unresolved just to try to sell more books.

The only time I’d say there MIGHT POSSIBLY be an exception to this is if you write like a 100K+ book and then “cliffhang” into the next one, which is also long.

If you’re writing these short little stories that barely ping the radar as novellas, then you are freaking GUILTY.

Stop it. Just fucking STOP IT and WRITE A BOOK. Don’t try to milk your damn readers, because I have to tell you, it’s pissing them off big time.

This rant was inspired by a good friend who’s an AVID reader who read an anthology, and one of the stories in it was exactly this, a short story with the HEA left in doubt and a message that said, “To read more about…”

Uh, no. It pissed her off.

And she’s just the latest of countless readers I’ve heard this exact same complaint from.

Maybe there are readers who like those kinds of serials. If there are, good on ya. However, for every reader who says they like those kinds of serials, I’d venture that there are probably at least five more who are shooting you a bird and adding you to their personal blacklist to never buy/read again because they refuse to get conned into paying more for the serials. They might wait until you put the whole thing out as one collected set, which again, means you should have just put the whole thing out at once instead of splitting it up.

Write the fucking BOOK. Release the fucking BOOK. Don’t make it your goal to milk the readers for every last penny.

I’m not against writers making money, obviously. It’s what I do for a living. But here’s the other thing–writers who are offering these little cheap-ass cliffhanger monstrosities are also whining, “Well, it’s hard to get people to pay more for a whole book.”

Uh, DUH, because of SHIT LIKE THIS. You know what? If you sell a COMPLETE BOOK that they know isn’t a cliffhanger, and don’t PISS THEM OFF, and GIVE THEM A COMPELLING READ, they’re more likely to pay a fair price for your COMPLETE BOOK instead of trying to scam them (because, believe me, readers are NOT stupid).

So fucking STOP IT.

(This rant brought to you by less than two cups of coffee…)

(PS: Readers, please feel free to chime in and add your comment to this.)


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25 thoughts on “Authors: Stop it with the cliffhanger shite already. Seriously. Just…stop.

  1. Thanks you for saying what a lot of us have been thinking. I have gotten to the point where I will check the synopsis to see to see if it’s a “cliffhanger”. I just can’t do it anymore. Please, just stop! 🙂 P.S. I love you for not torturing me like this…except with Triple Trouble *biting her nails waiting*! 🙂

  2. I’m to the point where if the title says “Book 1” I check the reviews for a cliffhanger warning. I won’t buy one, because it pisses me off. That’s why I won’t read ***** anymore. I read the first book, didn’t know it was a cliffhanger, and was wrecked when it just stopped.

  3. Tell it, Tymber! Testify!

    This is a huge pet peeve for me. Tell a complete story, dammit!

  4. I have a list of 8-10 authors who write serial books. And it’s the tip of what I read. So no I wouldn’t take on another series and definitely not this type. I want an ending to my story not something fucked up I have to wait for in several more titles. I may be missing out on some tremendous authors but I can’t take on another long series, Piers Anthony Xanth series is a biggie for me. Stand alone or 2-3 in a series no more, I absolutely hate the cliffhanger titles.

  5. If there is a warning that there is a cliffhanger that’s one thing. As for serials? NO I will wait until the thing is done then buy the whole book. But ending with “and she walks away” or something like that. NOOOOOO!!!!! Author goes on the DNR list so fast. I like a series because usually each book is a new set of characters and the plot line all goes together. I can even handle a saga where you need to read them all in a row to understand everything but again new characters with every book. But going along all fine and dandy and the last sentence is they walk away from each other? NOPE! Done!

  6. I hate those serial books. If I know it is a serial but it looks interesting, I will wait and buy the set after they are all out. Usually I just pass on them. I genuine cliff hanger from a larger book that is concluded in another is one thing. Putting out what amounts to a couple of chapters and calling it a book is just bad in my opinion.

  7. Amen! I just refuse to read books like that any more. Some can’t even qualify as a short story. There are a few authors who can get away with serializing their chapters ( Charles Dickens, Stephen King), most cannot.

  8. Thank you!!! I’m also at the point where I search everywhere to make sure the word “cliffhanger” is nowhere to be seen, even if it looks like something I love I won’t buy it, I’ve been disappointed too many times by this trend and it completely influences what and who I read… as you said, if it’s a series, as in a full book with a cliffhanger of some sort, that’s a different story. As far as whining about prices? Kindle books are still way cheaper than a hold in your hand book and we don’t get the benefit of sneak peeks. Thank you for writing this, I hope writers start getting it.

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you as an avid reader and reviewer nothing pisses me off more than serials or as I refer to them pieces of books. I am so over this crappy trend.

  10. Absolutely!!! It’s annoying especially when the author looses the plot and stops writing the serial mid season. Finish it lady I stuck by you!

  11. OMGOODNESS! THANK YOU! There is an author that does this, she recently released a book that sounded amazing, but because she had tried to scam more money from me by making me buy 6 “books” to read 1, I refuse to buy it. I do not care how good it sounds. Everything you said, YES. It actually turned me off of trying to find new Indie authors. Too many were doing it. So now I buy from the indies I know and trust, and everyone else gets punished for greedy asshat people. It may be wrong, but you can only be burned so many times.

  12. I agree with this but I also disagree with this.

    I write an entire series with complete stories that end on sort of a cliffhanger but not really. LOL, that sounds weird, but the reader gets a completed story.

    I’m not one to tell authors what to write. I personally don’t invest in many books that are a part of a series because of the cliffhanger aspect. I want a complete story. Give me a standalone. Let me know that once I read something, the couple’s story is done.

    Short stories can be told to completion. I’m not a fan of drawing out a story for the sake of making money. If an author is going to pen a short, they should do it keeping in mind that the reader should be left with a satisfied feeling.

    • @Harper – I agree that there can be story arc or plot cliffhangers, but when it comes to the main characters in the story, especially in a romance, that needs to be resolved. The story contained in that particular book needs to be complete, even if part of an overall and far-reaching story arc. There needs to be satisfaction for the reader, not just an incomplete story.

  13. Amen sister. One anthology I bought (which sucked BTW( was 14 or 15 novellas…NONE of which had HEA. Yep, every damn one of them was part of serial with a cliffhanger. I read four then said fuck it, I’m done and took it off my kindle. That is NOT why I read. Damn it, I want my HEA.

  14. I definitely have to share this. This happened to me with two authors. One of them is on my permanent sh** list. The other I might buy from if I get a freebie from her sometime. I will absolutely not buy/read a cliffhanger unless I’ve agreed to do a review on it for an author. It’s why I never bought comic books as a kid. I hate serial stuff.

  15. Huge AMEN Tymber!! I have hated this trend well before it even became a trend. I remember back to the days of print publishing, before ebooks and Kindles etc. There weren’t ANY books that ended on cliffhangers. The story arc was resolved and then if there was a continuing story arc it was continued in the next book, not installment. I have been caught out too many times and absolutely hate cliffhangers with a vengeance!! One particular author has, as far as I know seven parts so far and the main story arc hasn’t been resolved and she keeps introducing new ones and her excuse when I mentioned this in a review was that it was supposed to be like a Honky Tonk soap opera and that her readers had asked for more stories – yes maybe, but all cliff hangers, I seriously doubt it!!! I now refuse to read any story that is a cliffhanger – unless the ENTIRE story is ready to be be read at one time, as a story should be read IMHO, and sadly that applies to authors who might once have been auto buys for me! Thanks for writing this – it needed to be put out there!! It has gone on for too long and authors who are doing it need to realise what their readers think!!

  16. Serials = good. Cliffhanger = bad. The end. (Thank you Tymber!)

  17. Thank you for explaining this. Figured money somehow played in to this. I bought one such series and hated what was done to the story. So now if I see a book is part 1, etc I DON”T buy the series. Truly do not like reading piecemeal….want the COMPLETE story, start to finish!

    • @Joyce – It’s one thing if it’s a series where each book has a complete story that is part of an overall story arc, but if the story itself isn’t complete, and just a way to get people to buy more books, that’s the problem.

      • And especially if they don’t warn you!

        I read a book like that just a couple of days ago. No sign whatsoever that it was a fragment of a serialized story — and then it had no arc at all, just a gradual buildup to a very abrupt ending. ARG.

        I can forgive them if they give clear warning in the blurb. If I have the info, I can make my own choice. But when they don’t warn you, it’s a dishonest bait-and-switch.

  18. Tymber, oh my gods ‘n’ goddesses, yes! Additionally, other than in the world of Amazon’s KU, what is the point of publishing serial novels? Let’s face it, it has to be for financial reasons but do they, in the end, really pan out? Perhaps, there are readers who would rather pay small amounts of money for each installment than a larger chunk of money for the entire novel but how many of the readers drop out of the purchase-stream because they have moved on to other books, have waited so long to buy the next installment that they would have to reread the previous one (which was not worth it in the first reading [because of the cliffhanger], so why reread it), don’t enjoy being left hanging, feel cheated or unfulfilled, or some other reason(s)?

    I understand that in the world of comic books and graphic novels or back in the day of Penny Dreadfuls, serials made sense. Even one of my favorite writers has written a couple of serials. (Rhetorical rant coming up here.) I don’t understand why, as popular, entertaining, beautifully well written, and professionally edited as her novels are, she wrote even one serial? I am guessing here but doesn’t she have to submit all installments to her publisher before the first is released? If this is the case, why not publish the entire *fracking* book? She is a best-selling erotic romance author who has some free titles available on her website and free “vignettes” on her reader forum. So, even new readers can “try her out” before buying one of her full length novels.

    Phew. Thanx, I needed that!

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