Random Essay: Canceled Series

This weekend I had a chat with my pen pal about a series of books that was the reason for our friendship, and I was like hmmm, the second installment to the adult spinoff of that series should be published soon.  And for that matter, the author had another series that I was interested in catching up with.

One trip to said author’s blog later, I found out that said series had been basically canceled—ones first draft was being released for a small fee for charity ( a first draft, mind you is probably riddled with grammar and continuity issues, which even though the profits were going to a good cause sort of made me wrinkle my nose that she was charging a fee for this when some author’s have released free proofed content—in some cases entire books) and the other was partially done and being released as well.

The reason behind these cancellations, the author didn’t like the way they turned out and the author’s “heart” was no longer there.

Needless to say,  I did a major eye roll then and promptly started having an interesting chat on Messenger about it with my Pen Pal.

Unfortunately, this author isn’t the only one whose series have mysteriously came to a halt, and for that matter won’t be the last one who pulls stunts like this.  But it really had me fuming and thinking about unfinished series in general.

There are numerous reasons a series can become unfinished: Contract negotiations fail, a publisher decides to not purchase the next installments in a series, the author becomes incapacitated or dies, etc.

I remember before the last Harry Potter novel was released, Rowling mentioned that she had the ending to her bestselling series someplace safe should something happen to her.

But with book series, we don’t usually think that they’ll be suddenly cancelled like television series are.  I think as a television viewer, I’m halfway ready for a show to end at any time.   Let’s face it, series futures are precarious things.   And  it almost seems like the show’s writers are scared too, since a lot of television shows end each and every year’s season finale on a note where it could be the last episode.

But not so much with YA books.

Most YA books series half an arc built to fit a trilogy.  You have the first book that has the general set up with a relatively mild cliff hanger (just enough to get the audience to read the next one, and start presenting the series arc), the second one is the buildup book (and often fails as a result of this) and ends with a very tense cliffhanger, and the third book of course is the finale.

Screeching a series to a half after the first or second installment is obviously going to cause a lot of heartache.

In the two series that I found out were randomly dropped this week, one of them had a more dramatic cliffhanger than the other.  The first series, while there was a definitive ending, there was enough room to move on to the second book.  However, I heard that the first draft that is being released for a small fee is supposed to have one hell of a cliffie.  The second series—the adult spinoff— that was cancelled had one of those nail biting ending, and was in general just a tease.  It was like watching a reunion show without getting to the good characters.  I kid you not, the book ended with the true stars of the series just appearing as the designated cliffie.

Needless to say, I wanted more especially from that second series so finding out that the book has been randomly cancelled leaves me and I’m sure other fans down.

Interestingly enough, sometimes series get picked up years later after they end.  Most notably Meg Cabot’s The Mediator and 1-800-Where-R-U series were picked up years after their first publisher decided to end them because of low sales.

Of course, by then Cabot was a household name amongst YA and there was quite a following amongst these books.  One of the series had a more proper send off than the other, but regardless it was nice to see both series come to a close.

I don’t know why a series cancellation hits me harder in book form than TV.  Maybe in the case of the two series that were recently cancelled it just seemed to come out of left field.  With TV shows, you sort of know when the end is near.  The programming scheduling will get jacked up, the writers will do really crazy things with the show, and the gossip mills will be talking about the various actors looking for other work.  But with books the cancellation is usually not imminent.  There have been a few times I’ve read a book that was supposed to have a sequel that never appeared, and I wasn’t surprised.  But usually even the worse YA series get a proper send off—cough, The Halo trilogy, cough.  So, it really is flummoxing.

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