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Should you have multiple endings to your book?

Posted by Maria Murnane | September 17, 2013

I recently received this e-mail from Sara, a loyal subscriber to my newsletter:

I’m nearing the end of my book, and it has possibilities for three different endings. I’m considering asking people I know to read all three versions and give me feedback on which one they like best, and why they prefer one over another. I’m also considering publishing this as a novella in three different versions, with each version having one of the three endings. Would you consider this to be a good way to start, for a first-time author like me? If so, could you discuss this in one of your blog columns?

I recommend sticking with just one ending

I think asking people she knows to read all three endings and provide feedback is a fantastic idea. However, I don’t think Sara should publish multiple endings. Here’s why:

1)  Sara is a first-time novelist, which means no one knows who she is. If she were famous for some other reason, or if she were Stephen King, I’d say go for it! But it’s hard enough for a debut author to get the word out about one book, much less three versions of it.

2)  Sara is going to confuse potential readers. For example, if she puts all three versions up for sale as an eBook, how is she going to explain them to people who are just browsing for a good read?

3)  If Sara publishes three different endings as an independent author, she’s going to need three different covers, editors, proofreaders, and designers, and all that costs money.

Writing, publishing, and marketing a book is hard work, especially when it’s your first one. So my advice is to stick to one story and do your best to build an audience for it. If over time you develop a loyal fan base, perhaps then you can play around with multiple endings. For now, however, I’d choose one and stick with it.

-Maria

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

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