Serial Killer: How The Binging Culture Affects Serial Fiction And Its Authors

The blogging world seems to agree on one thing: Pay the writer.

And we should. Without fiction and its authors, what sort of “culture” would exist?

There are plenty who won’t pay the writer, but even those who pay the writer can cause problems.

I’m talking about the practice of waiting for a book series to be completed, before buying it.

The Netflix Binge-Watching Culture has begun to bleed into the book world, and authors and publishers are already feeling the effects of this change.

Would we be able to read the Harry Potter Series today if everyone had waited until J.K. Rowling had finished writing “Deathly Hallows” to buy the series?

No.

If “The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone” had not sold as well as it did, Rowling’s publisher likely would have dropped her, and the rest of the series might have ended up in the endless lower reaches of Amazon KDP, waiting an eternity to be discovered.

Of late, a few people have even had the nerve to suggest that, in this binge-reading climate, that publishers should not acquire trilogies and the like, until the author has finished writing the entire series. I guess these people would have wanted Joanne to stay on the dole for years and years more than she had to. 😈

In these days of shrinking advances, almost all authors have to work a day job, which consumes a large amount of time that could otherwise be spent writing. The general readership, by and large, seems to be blissfully unaware of this situation, and expects authors to crank out a 100,000 word masterpiece of a sequel in a few weeks.

Holding off on buying the first volume of a series “until the author is finished”, therefore insures the author has to continue to work their day job, slowing down the writing of the sequels, and may even doom the series outright if the publisher sees this as simply “bad sales”. Publishers are becoming more risk-averse by the minute, and they want results. The Big Five New York publishers were once known for developing properties they believed in, and giving them time to grow. Nowadays, you’re lucky if any publisher will ‘invest’ in further series development if the first volume doesn’t take off immediately.

All this notwithstanding, there are some compelling arguments for authors not to shop a series around until they’ve completed writing it. Prospective publishers will know in advance 😉 exactly how the series ends, and they don’t have to ‘worry’ about the author going off on some unforeseen wild tangent. Which makes me wonder if The Twilight Saga would have ever been picked up if they had been able to read the completed “Breaking Dawn” manuscript, replete with its gory birth scene, Jacob’s questionable imprinting, et cetera. Even if publishers reject the author’s completed series, the author can upload the whole series at once to Amazon KDP and (if nothing else) satisfy the “binge-reader” contingent.

We live in an impatient, instant-gratification culture, where authors and publishers will have to adjust their perspectives to stay relevant. We do need to educate the reader body that creating a series under these constraints in never easy, and on how readers’ early sales support keeps the books flowing. Publishers also need to keep in mind how the “binge-reader” culture affects early volume sales of serial fiction.

We may be heading for “don’t quit your day job until after you’ve finished your series” territory, nonetheless….

The Main Premise of Star Wars – A Hard Sell to New York

I recently read a literary agent’s page wherein they commented on the sameness of the YA dystopia queries they were receiving. Specifically, this agent received a large number of manuscripts where the protagonist is an assassin protecting their family.

Of course, authors submitting manuscripts to agents are also mindful of the marketing whims of major publishing houses. The implication here is that over two dozen authors all came to a “realization” that a YA assassin protecting her family would be a good foundation for a solid story, and a “safe bet” to market to agents and the Big Five publishers.

My reply comment suggested that the best, most tense foundation for a story would actually be a teenage protagonist battling a dystopia controlled by her close family member(s). One of my “fanboy” theories about the Hunger Games trilogy is that President Snow may be Katniss Everdeen’s secret grandfather. He banishes his son to District 12 and later has him killed. In a case of perfect karma, that son’s daughter ends up being the leader of the rebellion against Snow’s regime.

I further commented that this specific plot might be a “hard sell” to the Big Five, as evidenced by the agent’s mass of querying authors taking a (literally) more family-friendly route.

The “hard sell” plot = A young protagonist ends up leading a large-scale rebellion against a regime controlled by a close family member their senior.

Q: Would such a plot work?

A: “Star Wars”

That’s right, the basic premise of the original Star Wars Trilogy is now something the pack of querying YA dystopia authors has ruled out, as being too hard to sell to the major New York publishing houses. 😈

Vampire Syndrome Sells Out?

Well, folks, I’ve made the big commitment.
The entire Vampire Syndrome saga (the three main books, short stories, etc.) is now contracted to PDMI Publishing LLC.

Next year is the time for PDMI and “Vampire Syndrome” to Rock And Roll.
The risks are big, but so are the rewards.

I couldn’t be happier to be signed with a publisher on the right path of expansion, ready to reap the rewards of the Big Five’s ever-increasing weaknesses regarding new/midlist authors, as the Big Five tighten the reins on any acquisitions that do not fit into their ever-more-rigid, bottom-dollar-driven marketing formulas.

This gap is becoming so wide, the Big Five are letting potential number-one best-sellers slip through their fingers, leaving these authors to the wilds of e-book self-publishing.
Or right into the arms of an ‘indie’ publisher who is preparing to make the big leap to a larger scale of operations.
The time is right for a company to be what the Big Five used to be decades ago.
A company devoted to quality, with a belief that quality work can succeed.

I would now rather be on PDMI Publishing LLC than any of the Big Five.
Yes, I mean it!
PDMI will support my artistic vision far more than the Big Five ever would, and PDMI is now poised to reap the rewards of success in a way they never were before.

And I can honestly say this for one reason: I know enough now to where I could re-write Vampire Syndrome to be a sure-fire Big Five contract-getter.
But I don’t want to.
With PDMI behind me, you get Vampire Syndrome the way it was meant to be.
Not a version crippled to fit the Big Five’s narrow templates. And what scares even me is that 90+% of Vampire Syndrome’s basic plot is retained in the “Alt” storyline… 😈
And, without further ado, here is that version:

***

Seventeen year old JACQUELINE KENNEDY (“Jackie”) WENDELL, high school state champion track star, prom queen and class valedictorian (and NOT differently abled); dances at the prom with a Prom King who has Down Syndrome. (the “token nod” to the original project, as often seen in bad Hollywood movie butcherings of novels)

Later that night, Jackie succumbs to the charms of outlaw Vampire gang member JAMES PERRINO. Jackie’s one-night stand with James transforms her into a Vampire (note that the sexual transmission method of vampirism stays!).

Chief Venator DAMIEN TEPESH sights Jackie with James and targets the pair for death. Damien kills James and the rest of his outlaw comrades, but Jackie escapes, because she is now the world’s fastest-running Vampire.

Vampire President LILITH MORRIGAN secretly sympathizes with Jackie’s plight, due to her own marital troubles. Lilith sequesters Jackie in the Secret Room, and begins to realize Jackie’s incredible potential as the world’s fastest-running Vampire.

Damien contacts Romanian Venator ZETANIA VINESCU to hunt down Jackie. Lilith assigns Zetania to protect Jackie. Once they meet, lesbian Zetania immediately falls in love with Jackie. Bisexual Jackie consummates this mutual attraction with Zetania.

(Note here that Jackie’s bisexuality serves as the “controversial, daring and ground-breaking issue” to ‘replace’ Jack’s special-needs status. The YA target audience is very accepting of bisexuality, and the inevitable pockets of parental controversy add a ‘cool’ cachet. Zetania is also reduced in age to physical-equivalent eighteen years old, since this worked for Edward Cullen in Twilight.)

Zetania and Jackie, now a couple, encounter Jackie’s former track coach RON PEPPER and his wife DIANE during a cattle mutilation investigation. Jackie discloses her Vampire status to the Peppers. Damien and Lilith visit the Peppers shortly thereafter, and transform the pair into Vampires via a “vampire wife swap”.

Jackie receives a telepathic message from Pure Vampire MEL’AG, who is hiding in the distance. Mel’Ag runs to her boyfriend TIVOR’S truck and escapes the human Vampires’ pursuit. (Note that the reason for Jackie’s telepathic ability is never explained in this version!)

Jackie and Zetania go to the Vampires’ headquarters, and are presented with bravery medals by Damien and Lilith.

Jackie’s plans to move to Romania with Zetania are rudely interrupted when Mel’Ag and Tivor break into the compound and kidnap Jackie. Damien, Lilith, Zetania and others leap into their cars to pursue Mel’Ag and Tivor in a wild car chase through US 285. Jackie escapes her captors and runs to the Peppers’ car.

Jackie and Zetania fly in Lilith’s jet to Romania to live happily ever after, which of course they won’t. As they walk hand-in-hand inside the gates of the Romanian compound, Jackie gets another telepathic message. This time. it’s from the Pures’ leader GL’AG.

(the end of “Alt-Version” Volume One)

***

Thanks to PDMI, you won’t have to suffer through reading this kind of butcher job. 🙂