Cliffhangers, Trilogies, and Money … Oh My!

IMG_3712Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Voxer.

It’s basically the best app known to man. At least, it’s the best app known to anybody who starts to twitch whenever the phone rings, but also isn’t the biggest fan of texting.

Essentially, it’s a walkie-talkie app. Only you don’t have to talk live.

For all you nay-sayers out there wondering, “Why don’t you just leave a voice message?” or “How is that different than that text-talking feature?” Trust me. On Voxer, you NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOMEBODY ANSWERING THE PHONE.

It’s basically a guarantee that you will always get their voicemail. Even better? You don’t have to waste time while the phone rings and the outgoing message plays. And you also don’t have to waste time calling your voicemail to check messages. AND! You can talk live if you want, walkie-talkie style, without the stress of hooligan children screaming like banshees because they have a hooligan-banshee radar that starts going off whenever mom puts the phone to her ear. With Voxer, I can totally give them the glare of death and THEN play the next message without being distracted by their general banshee-ness.

If you’re still skeptical, that’s okay. This post isn’t about Voxer.

It’s about how I use Voxer to stay in touch with friends. Especially friends who don’t live nearby, many of whom are fellow writers.

And sometimes, we writers talk shop and sometimes, talking shop involves deep and meaningful discussions about readerly reactions to our work.

One author and I have talked quite a bit about a certain reaction we both get when it comes to our young adult fiction. Both of us have trilogies. And for the most part, our readers thoroughly enjoy them.

But like any work of fiction, there are also readers who don’t.

Almost always, when our books get a heated review, it’s to do with cliffhangers.

And often, those heated reviews come with two common accusations.

Namely, that the book in question isn’t a complete story.

And closely following, this idea that we are money-hungry authors out to make a quick buck.

To this accusation, my friend and I try very hard not to laugh. Something other authors will more than likely understand.

Let’s just say, there aren’t very many of us who are rolling in the dough. By and large, most of us authors are average folk trying to pay the bills doing what we love.

With that said, I thought I might add a wee bit o’ perspective:

The book in question (The Gifting) is currently free.

That means it costs zero cents for a reader to download and enjoy (or not enjoy. It’s all subjective, man.) Zero cost. This book I worked on for months and months costs nada.

Now, this is book 1 in a trilogy. The Gifting Series contains three books in all.

So let’s move on to book 2, also a book I worked on for months and months.

This book is sold at $4.99, a price cheaper than the average fast-food meal, which is consumed, on average, in less than 15 minutes.

Last, but not least, we have book 3, another book I worked on for months and months AND MONTHS, because wrapping up a trilogy in a satisfying way is no joke, people. No joke.

This book is also sold at $4.99.

Altogether, you can get the entire trilogy for just under $10.

It’s a trilogy that has provided thousands upon thousands of readers hours upon hours of entertainment, a fact that delights me to no end. There is nothing more encouraging to an author than hearing from readers who enjoy the work we pour so much of our time, energy, and hearts into, and I have been immensely blessed to hear from such readers.

All this to say:

If a reader isn’t a fan, or doesn’t agree with how this book (or any book) was written, that is TOTALLY copacetic. I get it. Such is the subjective nature of literature. Thankfully, there are a plethora of books and authors to choose from and surely one will strike their fancy.

But for the sake of fairness, I don’t think we can accurately accuse an author of wanting to make a quick buck. There is nothing quick about writing a full-length novel. There is especially nothing quick about writing a complete trilogy. And there is nothing money-hungry about selling months and month and months and months and months of hard work (260,000+ words) for $10.

I mean, we spend that much money on a movie theater ticket, and that’s only two hours of entertainment. Don’t even get me started on the price of popcorn. (Yet, I can never resist buying it, which makes me part of the problem.)

Now, onto the other part.

The cliffhanger part. And the assumption that if a book ends in one, it isn’t a full book.

When the idea for this story came to me, it came as a complete package.

An overarching story (like most trilogies tend to be). I knew where Tess was going to begin, and I  knew where the entire thing was going to end and I also knew that it was going to be BIG.

I promise there was nothing sneaky or manipulative about my intentions. I simply couldn’t put out a 260,000+ word novel. Not only would the length scare the majority of my target audience away, the price point would have to be adjusted accordingly, and that would scare people away, too. And thus, my story would languish in sad, sad obscurity.

While I’m not money-hungry, I am one of those bizarre authors who actually wants readers to read my work. It’s why I write, after all.

The solution?

I found a way to split that overarching story into three separate stories that address three distinct story questions.

The Gifting (book 1) is, in fact, a complete book. The story question in book 1 (Is Tess crazy?) is completely resolved by the end.

Then we have a widening, where the story world grows larger. Readers are enticed to read book 2, which begins a new story question and a new story adventure that is resolved in book 2, followed by another widening, an enticement, and a third story question that is resolved in book 3.

I didn’t do it to be tricky or manipulative. I did it because I had a story to tell and this was the best way to tell it.

If you’d like to try it out at no cost to yourself, The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert (that’s moi) can be downloaded at any of the major online book retailers (follow the link to download from your favorite one). If you don’t want to spend money on book 2, that’s all bueno. Rest assured, you will know whether or not Tess is crazy by the end.

Interestingly enough, book 2 ends on a higher note of suspense than book 1 (similar to how Catching Fire ends on a higher note of suspense than The Hunger Games, and Insurgent ends on a higher note of suspense than Divergent.) What’s interesting about this, to me, is that The Awakening doesn’t receive the heated reviews (in this respect) that The Gifting does. I have theories on this, of course, but these theories are too big in scope for this particular post.

Perhaps I’ll save that for another day.

Have thoughts? Please chime in. I love reading comments. You don’t even have to agree with me. Just please be courteous!

14 thoughts on “Cliffhangers, Trilogies, and Money … Oh My!

  1. Brooke M

    I always find it fascinating to hear an author’s perspective on some of these “issues” that readers have with books. I LOVE trilogies (and lots of YA readers must as well, given the sheer volume of them out there!). However, I don’t always love to wait a year or so between installments. Knowing this about myself, I often wait until the entire trilogy is out and then dive in and read them all back to back. Sometimes I can’t wait, and then I just have to force myself to be patient and possibly re-read the previous installments before diving into the new one (so I can refresh!). But that’s my quirk, and I know that about myself. I certainly don’t fault talented writers for writing trilogies!

    1. Brooke – I’m the same way!! I about died while waiting for the next Harry Potter books, and would go back and re-read them while I waited. <3

  2. My only issue with a series is remembering anything that plays a large role in the next novel. I read so many books it’s a little difficult. Is there a way to gently remind us of the previous story without bogging down the current tale?

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Oh, girl, I feel ya!! I love it when the author knows how to give subtle reminders without retelling the whole story.

  3. Mmm-hmmm! Girrrllll! I feel you!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I knew you would, Voxer friend! 😉

  4. “There is nothing quick about writing a full-length novel.”
    ^^Legit, this might be the truest thing on the internet.

    Interestingly, I just finished a novel that was the first in a trilogy and it ends with just about zero resolution…AND I WAS NOT MAD. It made me that much more excited to pick up the next one. It helps that I started the book knowing it was part of a trilogy…because as a reader I actually read the blurb and did my homework and paid attention to what I was getting into. I kinda have zero patience for people who get mad about not realizing something is a series when all they had to do was read the blurb!! (That is, unless the author or publisher did some kind of sneaky biz and didn’t market it as such.)

    And cliffhangers aside, yeah…getting three books, a whole series for under $10…I cannot understand complaining about that!!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Melissa – preach. What’s crazy to me, is that the people who are angry, at least some, are adamant that a series/trilogy means each book needs to stand completely on its own. I guess we’re not reading the same trilogies. I understand that SOME series work that way, where books within the series can completely stand on their own, but many don’t. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings, Divergent, Hunger Games to name a few. 😉

  5. I love series, and I love cliffhangers–it’s like a good TV show season finale; if there’s a cliffhanger, I’ll make sure to tune in when the show returns. And yes, “The Awakening” has a massive cliffhanger–I actually yelled, “You’re kidding me!” when I realized the book was over. But I wasn’t mad–I just knew I needed to read the next book. What I DON’T like is the serialized novels where you have to pay for each “episode”–so I just choose to avoid them.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      <3 <3 <3 <3 Love this! And I love that you yelled. LOL.

  6. Melony Teague

    I cant thank you enough for not making your readers wait like a year between books (HAPPY READER HERE!!)

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Happy readers = happy authors! And you are very welcome! Perhaps I’d have more irate-ness going on over book 2 if I had a year in between. I was so glad I didn’t have to do that!

  7. Alicia Hall

    I love series! More to read! I’m so sad when I read one book that was fabulous but then it’s over:…( Who can say no to more books:) Not this girl!

    Keep it up!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Thanks, girl!


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