Writer-Talk Tuesday: Are Serials Making a Comeback?
Charles Dickens is well known in the 21st Century for having written some very long classics of Victorian literature: Bleak House, Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities. But when he wrote them, he did so and published them as serials: episodic writing published weekly or monthly in periodicals of the time. And because of this, he was able to adjust the stories based on the feedback he received.
Commercial fiction is no longer published in this manner . . . but with the rise of fan fiction sites and e-self-publishing, serial fiction may be making a comeback.
According to this article on the Dear Author website, the benefit that fan fiction writers have been receiving for years—feedback from readers that can help shape the direction of the story—is now being sought by self-published authors. Some writers are uploading and selling portions of their novels online.
One author who is burning up the charts is self published author Sara Fawkes whose series “Anything He Wants” sells on Amazon for .99, $2.99, and $2.99 for the published versions so far for a total of 111 pages of fiction. Serials can build anticipation and lead to increased word of mouth. The pricing for serials, however, is problematic. Even Fawkes’ fans are chafing about the wait and the price. Says Gina D on Amazon “I guess I wouldn’t be as annoyed if they were all out but I hate waiting. plus 2.99 is a little much for a quarter of a book, .99 cents probably would be more appropriate.” The first entry is #20 in the Kindle store, the second is #63, and the third is #79. It’s hard to say whether Fawkes will lose readership and part of the problem may be the lack of defined schedule.
~”Thursday News: Is the serial revival around the corner? Or a gimmick with a limited life span?” DearAuthor.com
There are obvious benefits to getting feedback as you’re writing a story. That’s why many writers work with critique partners. But there are also drawbacks to publishing in serial format before a story is finished—and that is the problem what a lot of people run into working with critique partners, which is the temptation to endlessly tweak what you’ve already written and not move forward and complete the story.
As a writer, would you want to publish serially? As a reader, would you be willing to pay for pieces of a serialized novel with no indication of when the final installment might be published? Do you see serial novels making a comeback?