Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Series Separation Anxiety

It's always tough on readers when for whatever reason a writer has to wrap up an extended novel series. Because the fans have followed it for so long and/or are so emotionally invested in the story, they never want it to end. That's why the inevitable finale always seems a bit like a betrayal on the part of the writer, especially if s/he is still around and capable of writing more.

On the writers' side of the equation, investing years in a novel series is no easy commitment. You have to gather and sustain a series readership. You have to keep writing in a universe that is hopefully built in such a way that it will hold your creative interest and not become dated. At some point your sales plateau, and these days if they aren't stellar-quality, publishers lose interest, often in mid-series. We all know the only thing that's worse than the end of a series is one that is left unfinished because the writer couldn't sell any more books.

Most readers aren't aware of what goes on behind the scenes, so it's natural for them to blame the writer. I wish readers did know how hard we fight for our series. When you're cut off without a contract, you feel as desperate as they do (I speak from multiple unhappy experiences.) But for the writer, writing is also a business. You write what you can sell. You don't shut down just because you can't sell what you love to write. If you want to stay in the biz, you write something else.

Today's popular solution for disrupted series is for the writer to self-publish. It's an acceptable compromise; one I've taken a hard look at myself. The problem with self-publishing in print is that it's expensive, time-consuming, and the results aren't always on par with what a traditional publisher can produce. It hardly ever pays what you can make via traditional publishing, so it's also an income drain. Distribution is severely limited or non-existent. Electronic self-publishing is the other option, but that withholds the novels from any reader who doesn't care to read books from a screen or e-reader (I'm one of them) and also usually imposes geographical restrictions that prevent overseas readers from purchasing the books.

At some point the disrupted-series writer generally looks at the growing stack of bills on their desk, throws up their hands, says, "There's nothing I can do about it" and moves on. One of my favorite writers has done that repeatedly, and left me with two of my most re-read series unfinished. And yes, I'm still pissed off about both, to the point of where I've seriously considered writing new books and finishing the series myself just so that I could have the ending I wanted.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to yell at series readers for their devoted loyalty or whine about how hard it is to sustain an extended novel series in today's "what have you done for us in the last five minutes?" Publishing industry. It is what it is, and until someone comes up with a solution that suits everyone, or series novels are outlawed, we have to live with it. If you're pursuing publication, and you see yourself writing an extended series, this is something you really need to think about carefully and make some contingency plans.

I've considered self-publishing more StarDoc novels. There were five I didn't have the opportunity to write or publish, and while I do consider the series finished with Dream Called Time, those lost books are still waiting to be realized. I also doubt I'll be able to turn my back on the StarDoc crew; they've been a daily part of my life for going on fifteen years. It's a big, wonderful universe, and I've never gotten tired of writing about it.

But I'm also realistic. Science fiction doesn't have much of a market share to begin with, and while (thanks to my readers) I have one of the longest-running series currently being published in the genre, the sales are slow and long-term. Those are two things Publishing hates. To give you a comparison, my first Darkyn novel sold more copies in the first six months after publication than the first StarDoc book sold in six years.

In addition to the usual costs of living, medical insurance, the growing list of stuff that medical insurance doesn't pay for, helping out family, etc., I have one kid going off to college in a couple weeks and another who will be following in a couple years. As much as I'd love to be artistic about it, there is no contest between writing what I like most and earning a decent income. Decent income always wins.

That said, you know with me it's not all about the Almighty Buck. Once the StarDoc series is officially finished in print, then I think I'll be in a better place to seriously consider what more I want to do from there. Right now I just have to get over my own separation anxieties, which I admit, are pretty intense. And I thought I had a handle on it, too.

Now it's your turn: what would you like to see writers of extended series do for their readers? What do you think the best solution to the problems involved with publishing extended novel series for the writer? Let us know in comments (also, if you want to vent at me about StarDoc ending, go ahead. Just keep your shoulder handy so I can sob on it.)

69 comments:

  1. I believe that every storyline needs an ending and a finite one at that. Every book should be a story, even if there are questions unanswered for a sequel, I paid $7.99 (at least) for that book, give me some kind of ending. I'm not getting into cliffhangers...

    I also believe that all series' must have a chosen ending at some point (as you say you expected to write 5 more novels, you have, had, are telling the ending you came up with at the beginning). Most series writers do this but then you get the collaborative worlds, like Star Wars Expanded Universe, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Marvel and DC comics. The stories were told and then the fans wanted more and the writers had to do weird things to be able to continue in those worlds. I don't care what they (being the editors and authors) say about Dragonlance, one writer F-d it up so much that they had to bring the original authors back to fix it to something that could be considered a normal world. Spiderman is 45 years old and still lives with his 110 year old aunt because he sold his marriage to the devil to bring her (his aunt) back to life. Batman finally died after fighting crime for sixty years.

    See it on TV a lot too, except they end up repeating themselves. Watch an episode of Pokemon recently? It's exactly like the first season. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6: you just fought a GOD, what challenge can we give you next? I know NERDS (and a witch, thought they fought a witch in like the third episode)

    So right... Endings good... and don't even get me started on cliffhangers...

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  2. I'd be hapy to buy eBooks in PDF, as long as there are no geographical restrictions (I live in Australia, so there often are), and I can pay via PayPal.

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  3. Margaret S4:11 AM

    Hi,
    Maybe you could do them as Stardoc-The Untold Tales.
    This would allow you to work the timeline over the period of the other stories so that they interleaf.
    If the stories are yet to come it could be something such a s Beyond Stardoc.
    All the best to you and your family

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  4. It's better to end a series than extend it just for the sake of extending it. That's a perfect way to lose the buzz (and there's a lot of that going on out there in the literary world right now).

    I'd rather have a favourite series end and leave me with a sad feeling that having it go on and on and on so long you have to stop reading it because the story just plain drags.

    Not that that's the case with your writing, but some of your authorly collegues have succumbed to the temptation.

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  5. I have no answers. I love Cherijo and I'm sobbing with you.

    My comforting thought is that I have yet to read your Darkyn and Kyndred series. They will brighten the dark winter days ahead.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday! :)

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  6. I may have exchanged a few "wah" moments with Shiloh over Stardoc, but I know how hard it is to get a series completed and it is the better choice to go with a definitive ending than to leave readers hanging. I've had my own series disrupted and seen friends hanging on with overseas sales when the US publisher wouldn't continue the books, hoping a solution for US readers would come over time. It's a tough, tough position for a writer to be in. That said, any time you want to write more short stories or books in the Stardoc universe in any format, I'm so there.

    As for earning a living and balancing the creative with the artistic, that leads to tough decisions. It's easy to say "write what you want on the side" but time and energy are not infinite.

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  7. All I want from a series writer is a satisfying ending. If it's over, make sure it really is over. Sure, a writer can plan on spinning off other characters in the same world, but wrap up the storylines in the first series.

    I'm sad to see Stardoc end, but you've done an excellent job with it. It's time to wrap up Cherijo's story and move on. I'm sorry SF doesn't have the market share because I'd love for you to sell more stories in this universe.

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  8. It is sad to see the series ending but I really like that there is closure. I am not a follower of long series. As for Science Fiction I enjoy it but there are a lot of authors I have never read because there are just too many books and I never know where to start. I would love to see other books placed in the Stardoc universe and I do hope some of these stories come to fruition. I really liked the Biospace stories. I found copies of Blade Dancer and have been buying them to share with my friends. That is one of my favorite Stardoc universe books. Cannot wait for the final book in the series and I look forward to reading it. Then I am going to start again with the series and savor it. Congratulations Lynn.

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  9. How can you not be sad about your favorite series ending? Over the years these characters become your friends, it's not easy saying goodbye. It must be very difficult, as an author, to move on. Sure, all good things must end, but do they end on your terms or someone else's? Does it stunt the genius of the author to predetermine the number of books in the series? Does the series evolve naturally or is it forced? If the author has the ability to choose, would it make a better book? Thankfully the author will continue to turn out great books, and we make new friends. The bottom line is that the author has to eat, and you can't bite the hand that feeds you. We, as fans, have to understand that many book decisions are made by the publisher not the author.
    Keep those great stories coming!! Can't wait for what you come up with next.

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  10. I'm also sad to see StarDoc end, but I'm happy to have an ending rather than be left hanging.

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  11. Anonymous9:50 AM

    I'll be sorry to see Star Doc go, but as long as I don't feel like I have been left with no closure, I can deal. Like you, I hate to be left hanging and as this has occurred several times with other series, I am grateful that your intent is not to do that. Perhaps later, you could write more of the Star Doc world as stand alone books since publishers do what they do. One series ended with a teddy bear hanging in mid air and for some reason that has bugged me for years.

    I still don't believe that Gena Hale or Jessica Hall got a fair shake, and they remain on my keeper shelf.

    Whatever you do next, we will be with you.

    Edie

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  12. I tend to grouse at the publishing industry when a favorite series disappears without completion because I know that the houses called it quits, not the authors.

    In my experience, when an author has chosen to finish up a great series, she's done it with talent, love, and great storytelling, so I'm satisfied as a reader.

    That said, I'd rather the series end with a good book, than a less-than-terrific compromise. Many years ago, a popular writer put out three connected Medieval romances that were just terrific. There was an additional character prominent in the second and third books and readers could not wait for him to get his own book.

    When it became obvious that the book wasn't going to come, the wailing and pleading echoed around the world. It wasn't the author's fault. Publishing dictated the decision.

    Years later, the author tried to make it up by placing a similar character with the same name in a contemporary story. There were plenty of nods to the previous books so the readers knew what she was trying to do. I know that I appreciated the effort, even though I didn't love that book.

    On the topic of e-readers. I never ever expected that I would get an e-reader but I freely admit that I now have a Kindle and I l-o-v-e it. There's now serious competition for the title of favorite device on the bedside table.

    I still buy some books in print, but I'm buying more and more in Kindle format to save room in my house. I love reading the stories in either format.

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  13. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I'm glad to see you back -- my thoughts have been with your family and your guy.

    While I tried to start the chant for the 12 book series, I am really happy that you've been able to end it with a story you want. And if you decide to write a collection of shorts from Cherijo's universe, or an occasional e-book or anything else you could think of related (a graphic novel?? an art book???) I'd be first in line for more.

    As a writer who is having a heck of a time getting to an ending in just one story, I am very impressed with your writing, your series, and all you do here for the rest of us. Go ahead and sob on my shoulder. I'd be happy to pat you on the back. Good job. :)

    JulieB

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  14. Just as an FYI, Smashwords is a purchasing option that is available to overseas buyers. It accepts Paypal, which does all the conversion and such for you. It's a really viable alternative to Amazon and it makes MULTIPLE formats available no matter what kind of ereader you have.

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  15. I think that when you have a fully realized world like the StarDoc world the solution kind of creates itself. Even though the Cherijo storyline might end, the universe you created is a large place. Who knows what might happen in the future?

    One of my favorite Sci-fi series is the Vorkosigan saga (of course). I've enjoyed the novels that have branched off the Miles story line, like Falling Free and Ethan of Athos. If she ended the Miles storyline with CryoBurn I don't think I would feel like the whole universe died. Just that there is a realm of untapped potential, waiting for a brave publisher. The same with StarDoc.

    My tongue-in-cheek anwer would be to rebrand the series as something other than sci-fi. Let's see... paranormal romance is already taken... urban fantasy... already taken... futuristic fantasy?Paranormal forensic thriller? There must be something that will immediately sell like hotcakes...

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  16. I would say print-on-demand services might apply here-- the author doesn't have to invest in a big pile of books to begin with. You can offer the book as an e-book to those who like e-books, and direct people to your print-on-demand link for those who like paper copies.

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  17. I really do prefer to see a series come to an ending versus going on forever based on whatever the author comes up with at a given minute. There are some very long series that I love. And MANY others that I've given up on because the story isn't going anywhere anymore, or is doubling back on itself looking for more life. When you can tell the author is stretching to put more life into the same situation it's time to bid the characters a fond farewell. It's said often that you know you've closed at the right place when you leave them wanting more.

    ~J

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  18. Anonymous12:21 PM

    I'm a big fan of books (extended to series if that happens to be the case) that are so good I can't put them down, but I don't want them to end either. As I approach the end of a book like that I start into a kind of push-pull relationship with myself where I make up tasks to keep me from reading, then interrupt myself so I can sit down and read just a bit more.

    If you feel anything like that in ending the Stardoc novels, then I feel your pain.

    I look forward to reading "Dream Called Time", but I do believe that any series needs a good conclusive ending and I look forward to that as well.

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  19. I'm with the other commentors who would prefer the series completed rather than being left hanging. If I don't have an end to things, I feel more cheated than I do when the series comes to an end before I want it to.

    One thing that's a nice touch in this day of blogging is when characters from completed series can come out to play on the blog peridocally. You do it, and there are a few other authors I read who do similar things. I'm sure it's fun for you as well, getting to revisit old friends.

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  20. I like writers to approach a series with a definite endpoint in mind and work towards that. I'm less picky about mystery series whose novels are self-contained in terms of plot, but for a sf&f series in which the story arc spans over a number of books, yeah, I want to see a Book The Final on the horizon.

    Often, I will not pick up a series unless it's complete and all the books are available. I need resolution.

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  21. I like the way Lawrence Watt-Evans is finishing up his Ethshar books. Publishers were more interested in his newer, better selling series, so he has started serializing new Ethshar books online. He takes donations until he has enough money to put out the next chapter, and once the book is finished, he has a deal with a small press to publish it and sends one to anyone who donated over a certain dollar amount (which varies by book so far). He has said that he doesn't make as much money out of it as he does with traditional publishing, but it's enough to be worth his time (and also he enjoys writing them and the fans are asking for more.) If people don't want them, he just doesn't finish them, but at least that way it's up to the readers and not just the publishers/retailers.

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  22. I'm sorry you were forced to finish early. Is Scribd an option for finishing your series? Don't they offer some kind of publishing thing now? Or you could write the rest of the books just so you could finish them, for yourself.

    You mentioned you've been tempted to finish a couple series just so it can end and end the way you'd like to see it. I know how you feel. That frustration is what got me started writing. YOU could probably do an awesome ending for those. Even if it's just for yourself again, it's rather satisfying.

    In the meantime, I can reread the Darkyn series and am loving the Kindred series.

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  23. Your Darkyn e-novellas got me hooked on the series and they also helped let me down easy when it was over. Of course, so did the Kyndred ;0) Since it's in your head, I feel books are so much more intimate than movies or TV. When a story you've invested so much in ends, sometimes I feel a little lost on the moments just after I finish the last page. Like waiving goodbye to someone and going back in to an empty house...

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  24. The last one... sniffle. Sob. The last one... no. No...


    This post was directed at me, wasn't it?

    And while this won't come as a shock... if you're looking for alternate routes, I think you should consider going with some place like Samhain.

    You'd get your books professionally edited (a huge headache you won't have to worry about if you went the self-publishing route with Kindle or any of the other self pub ventures), you'd get professionally done covers, they promo like mad AND they also have one of the best print plans for a small press around. Unless you chose NOT to put the books into print, there is no reason they wouldn't go into print.

    *G* so... there's my two cents on that...

    And damn it, Charli, hush. If we can get a few more out of her... :OP

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  25. Some of the better epublishers do POD trades as well as ebooks. They do all the editorial and cover work as well as put it up at the major aggregators like Fictionwise and Kindle Amazon, and you get a better royalty.

    The print-on-demand trades can be ordered online, and some take returns so that stores can put them on the bookshelf.

    Off hand, I'd suggest Mundania which specializes in sf/f/horror. I'm not certain about Double Dragon's current paper options, but it's also known for really good sf/f/horror.

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  26. Hey Lynn! Good to see you back. Thoughts and prayers to you, your guy and his fam, during this time of mourning.

    I'm with you; a writer needs to be practical. All good things must come to an end (one way or another).

    At the same time, a prolific writer like you, with an amazing fan base, certainly could make print-on-demand work for such a successful series as Star Doc. While I'm not so much into straight SF, I still mourn your truncated Darkyn. My mind just won’t leave Richard’s wife walled up in that room (no matter the evil she did) while allowing Richard to go running about unchecked and with questionable motives. My imagination has even gone so far as to weave its own ending, as a coping mechanism.

    With all the storms of change rocking the Publishing World, it has occurred to me that the end-result may birth the very freedom we writers (and our readers) seek. The freedom to write what we love for those who love to read it.

    :-)
    Nina

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  27. I think it would be interesting to see an ongoing journal of Cherijo or Duncan on a blog like this. Little short entries continuing their story.

    Rebel Ice was my first and still favorite book. After I read it I went back and read the rest then I had to wait on all the rest as they were published. It has been a good series. Blade dance would be a good spin off. I liked it too.

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  28. I've never read your StarDoc novels. I arrived on your site as a fan of the Darkyn, but through each post I've grown more and more curious.

    I actually appreciate it when an author stops a series before it becomes tired. (I'm not saying this is the case with your series, just in general.) One of my favorite series of all time has become somewhat of a joke because it keeps going and going and going like a demented energizer bunny hell-bent on ruining my happy memories.

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  29. Susanne5:17 PM

    I just started reading the Stardoc books (I got there from reading the Kyn - books)and it will be a while for me until I have finished all the books. I agree that it is better to put an end to a series than dragging on and on and making it hard for the readers to carry on..sometimes you love the characters but the stories get so bad that you stop reading the series with a bad mouth in your taste. Happened to me with a few authors..sighs.
    Another thing..it is terribly difficult to get your StarDoc books here in germany! I am hunting the net right now for "Endurance"..

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  30. Xander wrote: I also believe that all series' must have a chosen ending at some point . . .

    Agree with you there. Before I signed the first StarDoc contract, I plotted out the main conflict for the entire from start to finish. I outlined the first five novels, but I knew it would take a minimum of fifteen books to tell the whole story. The concept was also an open-ended, generationally-tiered construct, so I could keep going if the readers wanted more.

    The tough part was whittling all that down after it became obvious that I needed to wrap things up this year.

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  31. Tez wrote: I'd be hapy to buy eBooks in PDF, as long as there are no geographical restrictions (I live in Australia, so there often are), and I can pay via PayPal.

    That's my ideal situation for any e-book versions I self-pub. I don't like sites that refuse to sell to overseas readers. It's beyond stupid to deny someone a book just because they live in a different spot on the planet.

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  32. Margaret wrote: Maybe you could do them as Stardoc-The Untold Tales. This would allow you to work the timeline over the period of the other stories so that they interleaf. If the stories are yet to come it could be something such a s Beyond Stardoc.

    The five "lost" books have storylines that occur during specific timeline spots in the series chronology, but there are some secondary characters' plot lines and cterain events that I was never able to explore properly that I could use for future stories.

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  33. I like series that have a definite end. I thought you planned the Stardoc series to be ten books and I'm prepared for that. (No shark-jumping - unlike another series that shall remain nameless.)

    While I shall miss Cherijo, Duncan, et al., I have all the books so I can revisit whenever I need and I know their story is complete; like the Darkyn series.

    Having said that, I know there's more creativeness inside you to develop new worlds for us to explore and sigh over.

    Happy Birthday, L., may you have many more.

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  34. Tessa wrote: I'd rather have a favourite series end and leave me with a sad feeling that having it go on and on and on so long you have to stop reading it because the story just plain drags.

    For me it depends on how it drags out. I don't mind cookie-cutter novelists who write the same book over and over; it's not to my personal taste but some readers don't want anything but more of the same.

    What tires me out are the series where the main characters seem to exist in suspended animation. Standalone conflicts are presented in each book, along with opportunities for the main characters to advance their own storylines, but instead the characters remain in the exact quandry from book to book without the author even trying to offer progression or resolution. I know keeping main characters in perpetual conflict stasis is a popular way to stretch out the success of earlier novels, but for me they gradually acquire all the charm of shambling zombies.

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  35. David wrote: My comforting thought is that I have yet to read your Darkyn and Kyndred series. They will brighten the dark winter days ahead.

    I appreciate the investment as well as the kind words, sir. Hopefully I won't let you down.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday! :)

    Lol, I knew someone would call me out on it. Thanks.

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  36. Charlene wrote: As for earning a living and balancing the creative with the artistic, that leads to tough decisions. It's easy to say "write what you want on the side" but time and energy are not infinite.

    Not when you're a busy parent and spouse, that's for sure. I know from your blog that you've been making a lot of those tough decisions lately, too. It takes a lot of spine to do that.

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  37. B.E. wrote: I'm sorry SF doesn't have the market share because I'd love for you to sell more stories in this universe.

    I had hoped in time the genre would pick up more popularity, but all I see moving is SF Romance, which while fun isn't really where I want to go from here.

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  38. Sandy H wrote: I am not a follower of long series.

    I've gotten away from following most long series, too, because I keep missing books in sequence or there's so much time between releases I forget the storyline. I think the only long series I'm following 100% faithfully at the moment is Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson books, but that's one I helped launch so it probably shouldn't count.

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  39. Dana wrote: How can you not be sad about your favorite series ending? Over the years these characters become your friends, it's not easy saying goodbye. It must be very difficult, as an author, to move on.

    As a professional I'm expected to produce and earn, not become attached and weepy. Hopefully someday I'll figure out how to do it all. :)

    Sure, all good things must end, but do they end on your terms or someone else's?

    Most of the time someone else's, but this series I ended on my terms. Very good feeling, too.

    Does it stunt the genius of the author to predetermine the number of books in the series?

    It's not an easy thing to plan out, especially when you're looking at ten to fifteen years of work ahead. But it can be done, and in such a way that it doesn't wreck the writing experience for the author. I'm proof of that, I think.

    Does the series evolve naturally or is it forced? If the author has the ability to choose, would it make a better book?

    I know too many organic writers who struggle with planning ahead to believe we all get a choice in the matter. You have to be either very hard-headed or somewhat cold-blooded. I think I'm a little of both.

    Good questions, all, though.

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  40. Darlene wrote: I'm also sad to see StarDoc end, but I'm happy to have an ending rather than be left hanging.

    I feel the same way. I also like the growing sense that I'm finally getting my story away from Publishing and from now on I'll be able to keep it where it belongs -- between me and the readers -- without any more outside worries or interference.

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  41. Edie wrote: I still don't believe that Gena Hale or Jessica Hall got a fair shake, and they remain on my keeper shelf.

    Gena and Jessica were victims of the romantic suspense market overload of that time, I think, but I learned a great deal from the experience, and it helped me make better decisions for Lynn (and when I start talking about myself with three different names, it's definitely time to switch to first person.)

    I'm sorry I was never given the opportunity to finish out the last JH trilogy, but like so many others Caine and Moriah's story is still waiting patiently in my proposal file. Once I get the rights back for the first two books then I'll be in a better position to write the third, and maybe self-publish all three as a set.

    Whatever you do next, we will be with you.

    Edie, I know as a faithful reader you've been through a lot with me, but always remember that you're also the reason I refuse to give up. Your loyalty over the years has been both a driving force and a great comfort in my life; honestly I wouldn't know how to go on without readers like you.

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  42. Mary wrote: There was an additional character prominent in the second and third books and readers could not wait for him to get his own book.

    I know the books you're talking about; that was one of the two unfinished series by that particular author that I mentioned in the post. So if I ever do write his story for myself, do you want a copy? ;)

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  43. Julie wrote: And if you decide to write a collection of shorts from Cherijo's universe, or an occasional e-book or anything else you could think of related (a graphic novel?? an art book???) I'd be first in line for more.

    Those are some great possibilities worth exploring; I've also considered writing a screenplay version of StarDoc and shopping it around. Since a screenplay I co-authored made the semi-finals of Project Greenlight I know I can write one; it's just a matter of deciding what direction to go.

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  44. Kait wrote: Just as an FYI, Smashwords is a purchasing option that is available to overseas buyers. It accepts Paypal, which does all the conversion and such for you. It's a really viable alternative to Amazon and it makes MULTIPLE formats available no matter what kind of ereader you have.

    Seriously, I did not know that. Thank you, Kait, this is terrific info, and in my current situation, extremely helpful.

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  45. Vorpaks wrote: Just that there is a realm of untapped potential, waiting for a brave publisher.

    Not many of those around these days. But hey, I'm brave. :)

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  46. Same wrote: I would say print-on-demand services might apply here-- the author doesn't have to invest in a big pile of books to begin with. You can offer the book as an e-book to those who like e-books, and direct people to your print-on-demand link for those who like paper copies.

    I like this idea a lot. E-books with a POD link for those who want it in print would cover all the bases for the readers; I just wonder if there is an e-publisher/print publisher willing to sell to the overseas readers. Will look into it.

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  47. Janastocks wrote: It's said often that you know you've closed at the right place when you leave them wanting more.

    As long as it's not a series that ends with an impossible cliffhanger, I'll agree with that.

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  48. Anonymous wrote: As I approach the end of a book like that I start into a kind of push-pull relationship with myself where I make up tasks to keep me from reading, then interrupt myself so I can sit down and read just a bit more.

    I do that with favorite authors who are slow writers or who don't publish very often. I can make a Patricia Briggs novel last almost a month. :)

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  49. Nicole wrote: One thing that's a nice touch in this day of blogging is when characters from completed series can come out to play on the blog peridocally. You do it, and there are a few other authors I read who do similar things. I'm sure it's fun for you as well, getting to revisit old friends.

    I do have fun here sometimes with my characters, but not as often as I'd like. I should make Cherijo or Lucan write the blog for a week. Those two always have got something to say. :)

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  50. Rabia wrote: Often, I will not pick up a series unless it's complete and all the books are available. I need resolution.

    I do that with a couple of television shows people have hooked me on or ask me to watch -- I wait until the season is over and buy the entire set on DVD, then watch it straight through without having to wait week after week. Saves time and is immensely satisfying.

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  51. Theo wrote: Is Scribd an option for finishing your series? Don't they offer some kind of publishing thing now?

    Scribd still hasn't paid me a dime of my portion of the sales from the last book I sold on their site, and they refuse to sell to overseas readers, so they aren't an option for me.

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  52. Chuk wrote: He takes donations until he has enough money to put out the next chapter, and once the book is finished, he has a deal with a small press to publish it and sends one to anyone who donated over a certain dollar amount (which varies by book so far).

    I did hear about this venture last year, but for philisophical reasons I don't like asking for donations from readers. I'd rather give it away.

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  53. Bunnie's Mom wrote: When a story you've invested so much in ends, sometimes I feel a little lost on the moments just after I finish the last page. Like waiving goodbye to someone and going back in to an empty house...

    Exactly. Sometimes I go through a kind of spiritual withdraw, too; I feel depressed because I know there won't be any more books and even while I completely understand why there can't be more, it still gives me the blues.

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  54. Shiloh wrote: This post was directed at me, wasn't it?

    Nope, although I have shipped a case of Kleenex to your house, just in case.

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  55. Marilynn wrote: Off hand, I'd suggest Mundania which specializes in sf/f/horror. I'm not certain about Double Dragon's current paper options, but it's also known for really good sf/f/horror.

    Thanks for the recs; I'm making a note of both.

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  56. Nina wrote: With all the storms of change rocking the Publishing World, it has occurred to me that the end-result may birth the very freedom we writers (and our readers) seek. The freedom to write what we love for those who love to read it.

    I admit, I have been waiting to see how the dust settles from this latest slugfest over e-book pricing and author self-pubbing. I am over-cautious, but I've learned that watching and waiting pays off more often than jumping on bandwagons.

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  57. Mike wrote: I think it would be interesting to see an ongoing journal of Cherijo or Duncan on a blog like this. Little short entries continuing their story.

    I did try that once, years ago, but some unsavory characters duped the serial story I was writing and started charging people overseas to read the installments, so I had to shut it down. Was not the first time I had a blog pirated, but because I was giving it away for free it made me furious that I couldn't stop them from selling it.

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  58. Jackie wrote: One of my favorite series of all time has become somewhat of a joke because it keeps going and going and going like a demented energizer bunny hell-bent on ruining my happy memories.

    I think I know the series you mean, and it killed me to see it, um, start beating its own drum that way. I actually stopped reading it so I could preserve my happy memories.

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  59. Susanne wrote: Another thing..it is terribly difficult to get your StarDoc books here in germany! I am hunting the net right now for "Endurance"..

    The first three StarDoc novels were translated into German-language editions, although I'm not sure if they're still available. Many of the books have gone out of print over the last year, but you can still pick up some readable copies from online auction sites like eBay -- I just wouldn't pay the outrageous $$$ they're asking for new copies. Last one I saw wanted like $150.00 for a new copy of book 2.

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  60. I'm glad Kait Nolan brought up Smashwords again. Both I and another blog reader mentioned it in comments to one of your earlier blog posts, Stats

    but I guessed you must have missed it. I was especially enthusiastic about Smashwords because they are open to overseas buyers and I've bought ebooks from them without any problem. I also listed some of their other good features in my comment to that Stats post.

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  61. helen9:54 AM

    Is there any chance of all of the stardoc novels being bundled together for e-book sale? Over the years my copies have become dog eared, and are falling apart at the spines. I'd love to get a refresher copy of the whole series for my nook.

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  62. One more thing, Lynn you mentioned sci-fi in general has sales that do not show well in comparison to fiction in general (paraphrasing here). Do you think that is because of the way books are shelved? If there were no categories (sci fi, romance, mystery, mainstream etc) and everything was shelved together do you think it would do better? What about those authors who write the urban fantasy stuff that is shelved in sci-fi do they have the same type of sales as general sci-fi (briggs, hunter, harrison etc) and if not why not (since they are shelved in the same "category". What makes people refuse to give sci-fi a try?
    Another question-have you noticed if there have been increased sales generally in sci-fi in recent years or are they stagnant? When I go to the bookstore I usually see at least one other woman perusing the shelves..in the past it was me... and either no one or one or two guys, never any women.

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  63. I have done a bit of research on the epub side, so here are some figures. Lulu offers both print and ebook.

    This is an iPad centric list, be warned.

    Lulu to iPad
    Option 1 - Submit proper ePub file to Lulu -
    Free ISBN - Lulu publisher, you're author
    Listing in iBookstore
    Automatic Monthly PayPal payments.
    Apple gets 30%
    Lulu gets 14%
    You get 56%

    You also then have your book listed through Lulu for print copies.

    Option 2 - Lulu converts for you
    Converting to EPub - minimum $100 (book up to 250 pages - whatever that means - they should do it by word count. Longer books cost more, $250 and up! If your 200 page eBook sells for $10 you would have to sell 18 books just to pay Lulu back for the conversion. And that is the minimum. It could easily cost more.

    Other same as Option 1 above.


    BiblioCore
    http://www.bibliocore.com/
    Require an ISBN and ePub file that passes the ePub check program. They take no money per sale, but charge a fee. You need to submit a bunch of info to find out what the fee is.

    Book Baby
    http://bookbaby.com/
    They take no money per sale, but charge a $49 fee, plus $19 per year after the first. If you don't have an ePub file they can make one for $49. If you don't have an ISBN they will sell you one for $19.

    Constellation
    http://www.perseusdigital.com/
    You need to submit info to find out what the fee is.

    INgrooves
    http://www.ingrooves.com/digital-publishing
    You need to submit info to find out what the fee is.

    Ingram
    http://www.ingramcontent.com/Apple
    You need to submit info to find out what the fee is.

    LibreDigital
    http://www.libredigital.com/apple
    You need to submit info to find out what the fee is.

    Smashwords
    http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_ipad_ebooks
    You submit a specifically formatted Word .doc file.

    Smashwords takes 10% of the retail price.
    Apple gets 30%.
    You get 60%.
    ISBN options:
    Your own - but it must be unique to the ePub version of your book.
    Free - but Smashwords is listed as Publisher, you as author.
    $10 - You as Publisher and Author.
    They distribute to Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo, and soon Amazon.

    If you don't want to do everything yourself, Smashwords sounds pretty good, especially with the $10 ISBN.

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  64. Lynn, I'm really sorry Scribd turned out to be so...lacking in the follow through department. *sigh* But in that case, I certainly don't blame you! I wouldn't either.

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  65. Other writers are continuing series to finish off what their publishers pulled the plug on. And they are making it financially worth it. Hopefully you would find it worth it, as well.

    Smashwords for international e-books, plus distribution to all sorts of channels (Kobo, Apple, B&N and others). Amazon you can put up yourself for better terms.

    POD of some sort, like Lightning Source who goes through Ingram for paper books along with the distribution needed to get it out there.

    Just ideas. :)

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  66. An idea i have had for quite some time (if the author has already written installments that are unpublished or even dropped) does involve self publishing but without the financial drain on the author.. is a kind of commission system.. a reader requests the installment, pays the cost of printing the book through what ever self publishing/printing company as well as any shipping costs and of courses so the author makes some sort money out of it, a set amount extra for profits sake..

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  67. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I'd stay away from Mundania Press. Piers Anthony's site says that they're horribly slow in putting out books and unless you want to wait years you'd be better off seeking other options.

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  68. Atari Kid10:07 PM

    My little local bookstore had ONE copy of Dream Called Time on the shelf (as is the case every time a Stardoc novel is released) Got my copy early as usual and loving every page so far!

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  69. Coming in late to say mine is on its way, and while I'll be sad to see the end of the series, you definitely provided the entertainment I asked for on the way. However, don't rule things out on the self-publishing front. With the book espresso machines and kiosk publishing just around the corner, you may be able to self- or small press-pub those other novels in both ebook and reasonable print quality.

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