I was looking for some books to read on my new Kindle this evening when I noticed some interestingly condescending reviews referencing an author's decision to use the literary device of a cliffhanger leading into a future installment in a series. Note: I haven't actually read this book, as I just recently purchased it, so I'm not sure to what effect this device was used, but I'll let you know.
Regardless, it got me thinking. In perusing the many self-published selections available on Amazon, I've noticed many authors do tend to work in trilogies or even series. Typically the first book is discounted, or even free, and the second and third installments are priced slightly higher - perhaps a dollar or two more.
And, personally, that's just fine with me. The books are still discounted compared to their mainstream counterparts, and making up a dollar or two after gaining a reader with a discounted price is just good business sense that places value on the author's hard work.
Yet, I do see the reviews that criticize this kind of practice. A book ends without a full wrap-up of the remaining issues, and suddenly the author is accused of just trying to sell more books with the next installment.
My response to this: Well DUH.
Let me back up a bit. I am all for "write for the love of writing, not for other people." I think that's a great philosophy. But I'm also a fan of being able to feed myself, pay my student loans, and, OH YES, support myself so I can write more in the future! I'd love nothing more to be able to support myself on writing alone. And in order to do that, I need to sell books. And I'm sure many authors feel exactly the same way. It's tough to be an author + something else; so turning it into a self-supporting system is often highly ideal. There aren't many other industries where people get accused of the crime of trying to make a living.
Furthermore, it's an interesting double-standard. Is there criticism out there of mainstream authors that are accused of just trying to sell more books when they write in a series format? I'm sure there's some, particularly with the really big names, but I haven't heard that about the stories I like to follow.
I'm sure this post sounds far more defensive than I mean it to be. Part of that is a product of PMS. But regardless, I think my main point is this: even if you love your craft and you write for that primary reason, writing is still a bit of a business. And that's okay! Better to be in business for something you love than something you don't.