From Kaw’s Desk:
DON’T DO IT!!! I hate a cliffhanger (especially as a sales gimmick) but when done correctly it doesn’t leave me feeling ripped off. What is correctly? Well, for example, I finished a book last night called Warden… by Montana Ash. It was a good book and I won it for free at a book launch party. It had some writing issues, but it was good. Excellent culture building, excellent conflict, but some minor issues but it ended with the dreaded cliffhanger. Oh nooooooooo! But I wasn’t mad… or as mad because the first book was mostly resolved. The cliffhanger was that now I need to know what a Custodian is.. and how it affects the group dynamic AND the society itself. Which is great! It’s what a cliffhanger should be. Resolution of the current conflicts but an invitation to spend more time in that world. Learn more about it… I gave her 5 *’s even with the minor issues. I also have the next book in the series which I intend to read tonight and if I hadn’t won them both at the event, I would have bought the second one if it was priced in the $2-3 range.
Here’s the problem with a badly written cliffhanger:
When I’ve read a .99 50-100 page booklet/pamphlet that is poorly written and ends with a cliffhanger I get mad. I get mad because usually it’s a gimmick because you know your writing isn’t strong enough to make someone want to buy more without it. Do me a favor… hone your skills, read your reviews and learn from your mistakes, then finish your book, sell it as a complete work. I’d forgive a crappy story and wouldn’t feel as bad about reading it if it was at least resolved. Stand by your story and if it’s crap, put a bullet in its head at the end to at least give your reader some closure.
The problem with well-written cliffhangers:
When a good writer does this, to me it tells me that you don’t have confidence in your writing to let it stand on its own merit. I can understand that for newbies, and if that’s the case? Do yourself a favor, hone your writing skills, read your reviews and gain confidence and for the love of god finish your book!
Even a great book priced at .99 that ends in a cliffhanger can turn me off as a reader and leave me angry. For example, I read an amazing book, the writing was great, the story was awesome, I gave it 5 *’s but then it ended with a cliffhanger after 75 pages. Grrr… but I wanna know what happens next so I’m like.. eh, it’s only another .99 I can handle that for another 75 pages.. which probably will end in another damn cliffhanger.
BUT… when I found installment number two? It was priced at $4.99 What in the actual F? for another 75 pages? Are you freaking high? I pay that for a full-length paperback that I can hold in my hand and feel pages turn! The betrayal was worse and my anger deepened as I realized there were 4 installments all priced at the same amount.
So let’s get this straight, you want me.. to spent $15 for a 300 page EBOOK?? Sorry… not happening. You’re not JK Rowling/Stephen King/ Anne Bishop/ etc signing hardback books or even a paperback for that matter. I respect that you worked hard, finished a book (sort of) and that time is money… but seriously. We are Indie Authors, build a following… get over your ego, and don’t get your panties in a bunch, I’m not saying give it away but don’t over-value your work either.
And if you price the next installment at anything other than .99, I want to find you and beat you with a newspaper. You want readers to come back. You want them to like you, not resent you or feel cheated.
But Kawanee, (you say) some of us can’t sit down and write a whole book all at once and can’t help that it’s sometimes a cliffhanger.
Yeah, I know… and I understand that you’re selling installments of a work in progress, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks as you complete it. That’s fine; I get it…but if you do it that way, at least make it reasonable to buy each installment. And when you finish the book, how about offering it as a complete novel for a lower discounted price? Like .99 an installment for 4 installments and when the book is done, offer the complete book for $2.99-3.50?
I charged $1.99 for a 200-page ebook, I charged $2.99 for 300+ page ebook. If I had broken them down into 100-page increments it would be about a dollar for a hundred pages. That’s my pricing… not saying everyone has to do it that way but at least it’s reasonable. I’ll pay a $1.00 for 75-100 pages.
I read A LOT, and I review every one of the books because it’s important.
The bottom line is this: I will pay a $1.00 for 75-100 pages. I will not pay $1.99 for 20 pages which I recently ran into with another author. I will not pay $4.99 for a 100-page installment in your WIP. Know what you’re worth, but don’t get greedy and don’t gouge your reader. I will leave you a scathing review if you end on an unresolved installment plan of a book.