Monday, December 21, 2009

Plugs and Sequel Setups: A Rant

Warning: This post contains ranting and bitchiness. 

I think I'm becoming pickier the older I get. Either that, or I have a lower tolerance for bullshit. A few years ago I wouldn't have batted an eyelash when reading this section from His Secret Agenda by Beth Andrews:
"But," she continued when Dean remained silent, "if you have a problem with people who've paid their dues to society, reconsider if you want this job." And really, did she want someone so...judgmental working for her? "One of my good friends spent time in prison and he stops by quite often."

Dillon Ward, Kelsey's brother, had served time for manslaughter after killing their stepfather while protecting Kelsey. After his release, Dillon had battled prejudice and his own guilt. Luckily, he'd gotten past all of that and was now able to move forward in a relationship with local bakery owner Nina Carlson.

Allie smiled sweetly. "I wouldn't want any of his criminal tendencies to rub off on you."
But now when I encounter sections like this? Yeah, now that middle paragraph reads to me like a flashing neon sign, jerking me out of the story for what is an obvious commercial break. Within the space of a couple of pages, the author managed to plug both her previous releases -- although the other plug was a mite subtler than this one -- and had me gritting my teeth. (In all fairness, though, I did enjoy His Secret Agenda and bought both of Andrews' previous books, so clearly I wasn't too annoyed.)

I also have to point out, as I'm sure all of you already know, that Andrews is far from the only author to plug previous books in the middle of a story, so I'm not picking on her specifically. Hers just happened to be the example I had at hand.

Maybe it's just me, and nobody else is bothered by these advertisements right in the middle of the story. Or maybe you all are just as irritated as me and want to shout: Don't plug your other books in this one, because frankly: I DON'T CARE. If I like the one I'm reading enough, I'll check out your other books. So, please, STOP with the commercials.

Then there's the case of hijacking the current story for the sake of setting up the sequel. This really ticks me off. Now, I'm not referring to not-quite-subtle hints that there will be another book in the series. I can generally roll with those. No, I'm talking about an actual hijacking of the plot, such as what occurred in Donna Kauffman's novella Lock, Stock, and Jingle Bells in the Kissing Santa Claus anthology. As I said in my review:
But what really irked me, and dropped the grade a bit, was when the author introduced a subplot midway through. At first I was intrigued, and hoped the author was using it to help bring Sean and Holly together. Uh, no. Turns out that the sole purpose of adding this little mystery was so the author could establish an elaborate setup for a future story. The ending that should have been devoted to Holly and Sean’s romance – you know, the romance in this story – felt hijacked and I felt cheated.
This little "setup" dropped the grade from a C+ to a C-, and had me pretty irritated. When I've put the time and effort into reading a book, I expect a satisfactory conclusion. I don't expect to have the characters' story shoved to the side in favor of promoting a subplot that is entirely irrelevant to the characters' romance and conflict resolution. But maybe it's just me.

With so many books containing obvious commercials, and others featuring obvious series/sequel setups, it's making me wonder if I'm the only reader irritated by this state of affairs.  
  • Do book plugs bother you, or do you like knowing that the author has another book out? 
  • Does it take you out of the story when you read a plug for another book, or are you able to just ignore it? 
  • Have you ever felt that the ending of a book was hijacked so that the author could setup the next book in the series?
  • How do you feel about obvious series/sequel setups?
  • Am I just being a total bitch and this isn't worth ranting about? It's okay, you can tell me.

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