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Publishing Idea #5: The Unknown Ending

March 26, 2010

Have you ever been completely immersed in a great book, there’s all this conflict and awesome characters and multiple plotlines leading to what appears to be an amazing ending, and you truly didn’t want to know how many more pages until the end of the book?

The tricky thing is that you always have a pretty good idea of the number of remaining pages. You know that you’ve reached the final twist because there are only a few pages left, or you know that something big is going to happen immediately because of the limited time remaining.

Me, I like this aspect of books to remain a mystery. I don’t want to see the ending coming. I want it to hit me out of nowhere, and I want to be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t. I offer a few solutions, and I’m sure you can think of others.

  1. Add extra pages at the end. I don’t mean blank pages (unless they’re covered in invisible ink). I mean pages with author interviews, sample chapters from the next book, a short story, things like that. I think Penguin does this with their PS books. I love those PS sections.
  2. Publish the final chapter(s) online. Think about this. You’re reading a book. You think you’ve reached the end, but on the last page, it says to go to a protected private link online for the final chapter(s). Sure, this could be annoying if you’re on a plane and just want to finish the book, but how cool would it be to be blindsided by that? You could have a forum in following the final chapter online for people to discuss the book–it’s an automatic community.
  3. Use ebooks. This seems like the easy way out, but the fact of the matter is that you can turn off the page number function on ebooks (well, Kindles, at least, but I’d be bewildered if you couldn’t do this on the iPad too).

What do you think? Do you want to see the ending coming, or is ignorance bliss?

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