Simon & Schuster will be releasing an online, serialized novel, Loser/Queen where readers (young adults) get to vote on what will happen next. Having been a huge fan of the choose your own adventure books, I can see the appeal to such a format. But as a writer, it stresses me out.
Readers vote by 5 pm Thursdays. A new chapter is posted on Mondays. That’s pretty quick turn around. I assume that, like a television show, multiple chapters are already written, but the fact that there are two choices at the end of the chapter, and who knows how many chapters means that a lot of content would need to be pre-written that will never see the light of the computer screen. Additionally, based off of reader responses, minor characters could take on a more major part if the readers are particularly drawn to a character, which leads to even more changes. If writing a traditional book often seems like an out-of-control beast, I can’t imagine what this project must feel like to the author, Jodi Lynn Anderson. That’s a lot of creative control she is giving up. But then, the price is a huge platform ready and waiting when the book publishes. It’s not even finished and you can already pre-order the paperback edition.
Will Readers Buy a Book They’ve Already Read for Free?
I’m inclined to say yes, because people like owning something they were a part of. The readers voting on the book will feel that they invested something into it, and they will want the hard copy to show their hard work. But will those who didn’t vote, or who came in on the final chapter, feel the inclination to buy it? Will potential readers who did not have the opportunity to vote feel left out? And isn’t this just adding to the technology addiction that’s running rampant across society?
I’ve gotta say though, Simon & Schuster did grab my attention, and I will definitely be following along with Anderson’s readers to see where it goes.