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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would be very interested to hear your views. Do you use them or not; and, either way, what are your reasons.
 

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Even in KU as a reader I believe them to be annoying at best. I have left several series because they where too obvious.
What works for me however as a reader: finish the story properly. Give it a good end - and then entice me with the opening scene from your next book, to make me want to continue the story. Good feeling for the one end and anticipation for the next.
I think many authors are just lazy in not crafting these two elements.
Also TV shows a lot of good ideas of how to do these "you want to see what is next!!" pulls.
 

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If you're writing a series, I'm not sure how they can be avoided or, if indeed, they should be avoided. The key is to not make them too clunky or obvious. I find some readers don't like cliffhangers, but personally I find neatly tying up a much bigger over-arching story at the end to be more frustrating. I tend to look to great films as a benchmark of how to do it: I think 'Star Wars' did it rather well as it ended one major plot, but hinted that things were not over. It's easier to do if its a self-contained story, but more difficult if you are pointing to a much greater storyline outside of the book. That said, it's necessary.
 

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I avoid them as a matter of choice, but then I write standalones. Even in the trilogy I have just written which has and overall story arc it is not apparant as I leave no cliffhangers in any of the three books, though they have to be read in order.聽

It's a useul tool if you are copying TV series and soaps as some readers will like it, but it's not really for me in literature.
 

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BuckarooBanzai said:
I think 'Star Wars' did it rather well as it ended one major plot, but hinted that things were not over.
exactly that. the films are standalone - but you want to know what happens next.
What people hate imo is when the book promises to be one thing (a love story, a heist whatever) and then the main thing is not resolved but instead it says "wanna find out what you thougth would be in this book? buy the next!"
if it looks like a cashgrab, I believe readers will treat it as such - leave bad reviews as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nicole Simon said:
if it looks like a cashgrab, I believe readers will treat it as such - leave bad reviews as well.
Here in the UK, we have a popular TV series (Peaky Blinders) that always ends on a cliffhanger, esp at the end of each series. Fans, apparently wish they wouldn't do that but nevertheless, we are all dying for the next one to come out.
 

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As a writer, I don't use 'cliffhangers'. I complete a story, but leave it open to the potential of a next book if I plan to write a sequel.

As a reader, if a cliffhanger leaves a story incomplete, I'll abandon that writer. When I read a story, I want that story to end, even if it's a series. Period. Incomplete stories annoy my reading brain.
 

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My books end the arc of the main story conclusively, but create an opening that entices the user to the next. But the principal story is concluded without cliffhangers. Seems to be working OK when I look at the series read-throughs.

Personally, I really don't like books that don't satisfying conclude their arc but instead just end it with a cliffhanger where I'm absolutely forced to go to the next.
 

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My theory on cliffhangers is that if the book is really good they drive sales or anticipation of the next book. If the book is lacking something and a reader was pushing themselves to finish they result in bad reviews about how that person hates cliffhangers.
 

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I don't write them, and I don't read them. If I have the misfortune to read one where the author hasn't stated upfront there was a cliffhanger, I am never buying/reading anything they write again. And if they have stated it, I'm not buying it in the first place.

I expect that a story should have a conclusion. If it doesn't, the author is too stupid/lazy to finish it--IMO--or they are playing games to get me to spend more money. And that isn't going to happen. Ever. That may be harsh but it's where I stand.

I write in series. Each series will be in its own universe but each story is also complete. However, if readers care about the characters or universe, they will read the next book. Because while each book is a stand alone, everything in the universe it moving forward, just like life itself. And readers can typically catch a glimpse of past characters and where they are in their lives.

 

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Don't listen to people who say they hate cliffhangers. Listen to sales.

Are books with cliffhangers selling well in your genre? If so, write a multi-book story with cliffhangers.

Sellthrough is much better with cliffhangers. They should be well done, yes, but they should be there if you want sales.

Most of my books are standalones in a series so I can't really utilize cliffhangers, but I see better sellthrough the more I tease the next couple.
 

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Cliffhangers only work if the material is so compelling the consumers are more enticed than POed.

They are a high-risk strategy, mostly successful when the material is already successful.
 

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As a reader I loathe cliffhangers. And by cliffhangers I mean the kind where you're just getting to the climax and the book ends, and there's a message that says "If you want to find out what happens, read the next book." IMO, ending a book like this is either the result of laziness, an author who can't be bothered to craft a proper ending and then tease the next story, or it's a cash grab by an author who thinks they can force readers to buy the next book when they wouldn't otherwise have bought it. Either way, I'm done with that author. When I buy a book, unless it's labeled as Part 1, or is otherwise labeled in such a way to let people know it's part of a serial, I expect to get a complete story (beginning, middle, and end). If I don't get a complete story, and I wasn't forewarned about that I feel cheated, because by not warning readers that the book isn't complete, authors are making a de facto promise that it is.

I'm totally down with the main story conclusion + teaser, though. Those drive me crazy, but in a good way, because I hate waiting for more of what I loved in the first book, but the anticipation can be fun as long as it's not tainted by that feeling of being cheated.
 

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It kind of depends on how you define a cliffhanger. For me, it's fine to have loose ends. It's fine that the story is going to continue. But there's a way to do that while still giving the reader a proper ending. A literal cliffhanger ending is something I hate so much that I won't read another book by that author. It feels like a "gotcha" and a money grab, and as a customer, it's not something I like or appreciate.

(If a writer is upfront and honest that the book ends on a cliffhanger, I won't buy that book, but I would still be open to reading other books by that author.)聽
 

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I think they are just overused and it leads to a little disappointment when you see it.聽 The first time I read a great cliffhanger I was like, oh my, give me the next book now.聽 The second time I read a great cliffhanger I thought, oh, this.聽 And the third time it was slightly infuriating.聽 But I don't have any problem with a story that wraps up and leads into new and exciting things.聽 To me a cliffhanger is stark. Like, when the author starts an idea and then purposely cuts it off.聽 If the book ended, "The two of them rode off into the sunset, and then a dragon swooped down and went, bleeeeh" I'd have problems.聽 But if it ended, "The two of them rode off into the sunset, and they weren't sure where they would go, but they knew that their next adventure was out there" it would be fine to me as a reader.聽 I want to see how characters grow and how one book leads into another.聽 I'm just not a fan of being shown the carrot on a stick at the end.
 

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Something I've seen is a series of 4 novellas that were later combined into one novel. I enjoyed reading the first set I came across - they had sort of mild c!iffhangers at the end of each part - and it was quite a good way of trying out a new author, but once I'd discovered I liked the author I really wanted to read the whole novel instead. Perhaps this is a possible strategy for attracting new readers? I don't think I'd do it myself though.
 

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Here's the problem as I see it from a reader's POV and that is it is not uncommon for indie authors to give series cliffhangers a try after hearing its a honey pot for earnings, then abandon later books if they don't earn enough. That leaves the reader with a bad taste, and sadly it happens all too often.
 
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People say they hate cliffhangers (and some do) but my best sales are for one long story broken into three parts. My co-author and I were clueless when we started the story and realized it was getting 'too long' so we stopped and started the next book.

However, I put this is a serialized story with cliffhangers and the series is now complete at the very top of the blurb. We had some upset reviewers when we first published, but after the fair warning most readers enjoy the story! If they don't like cliffhangers, they can easily move on to the next free first book in series.

ETA: I think you can look at a story like a movie, a mini-series, or a TV series. Decide how you want to market it and let readers know what to expect.
 

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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] said:
ETA: I think you can look at a story like a movie, a mini-series, or a TV series. Decide how you want to market it and let readers know what to expect.
I think this is key - letting readers know what to expect. Being up front about what you're selling can go a long way toward tempering disappointed expectations.
 

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Nicole Simon said:
exactly that. the films are standalone - but you want to know what happens next.
What people hate imo is when the book promises to be one thing (a love story, a heist whatever) and then the main thing is not resolved but instead it says "wanna find out what you thougth would be in this book? buy the next!"
if it looks like a cashgrab, I believe readers will treat it as such - leave bad reviews as well.
I wonder if this isn't more a problem with the blurb, then? I find this interesting because I often see people saying that in the case of a series, you have to advertise the series as a whole and point to the first book. But that, it seems to me, would create precisely the situation you describe, building anticipation for something that will actually happen over the course of the whole series rather than just that one book?
 
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