Want to write serial fiction? I’ve received many questions since we launched the first Serial Fiction Bonanza class. (Update… the class has now closed, but we have an ebook on serial fiction available now.)
So, let’s look at the most common questions which authors have about writing serials.
Important: serial fiction has no “rules”, as such, but…
You can write whatever you like, in whichever genre you like of course. There’s something to keep in mind however.
When readers hear “serial” they expect that you’ll write a long story, which hangs together, and has a major plot. If there’s no over-arching plot, which extends from the first episode through to the final one, you’re writing a series, not a serial.
Now let’s look at questions which authors have about writing serial fiction.
1. How long is a serial?
As a rule of thumb, look at the length of novels in the genre. I’m hesitant to say this, because a serial isn’t a novel, chopped up into episodes.
Readers expect that you’ll have a primary plot, with a lot of subplots (one per episode.) In a sense, each episode is complete in itself, while also carrying forward the primary plot — and while developing your main characters, too.
Your characters will change over the course of your serial fiction, just as they’ll change over the course of a novel.
2. How many episodes should my serial have?
Let’s say you’re writing a romantic mystery.
Novels in your genre are anywhere from 70K to 100K.
Decide how long you want your serial to be. You may consider bundling up your part-work, and selling it as a bundle later.
Let’s say you opt for 80,000 words. You could create ten episodes of 8,000 words each — or whatever suits you.
3. How often should I publish my serial’s episodes?
Create a publishing schedule. It’s best to publish your chapters/ episodes/ parts reasonably quickly. So, you could publish the first two episodes a week apart, then publish a new episode every two weeks.
Decide on a schedule with which you’re comfortable.
4. What if my serial doesn’t sell?
Focus on value. Ensure that readers get the entertainment they’ve paid for with each episode. I know some authors post their first couple of episodes quickly, then use Amazon’s Pre-Order system for the rest. As we’ve said, it’s up to you.
If sales are totally abysmal, focus on promotion. Your readers can’t buy your ebooks if they can’t find them.
Still no sales? Cut your losses. End the serial. Do your best to bring your serial to some kind of conclusion.
Then, be honest, and tell readers why your story only has five episodes, rather than ten:
Sadly, the Adventures of Nick the Green Dragon Hunter conclude with the current episode. We haven’t won the readers we’d hoped. If you love Nick, thank you. Please tell us what you enjoy in your serialized fiction.
5. What if I get bored or get writer’s block and can’t finish?
I strongly encourage you to finish your serial, even if you have to hire someone on Upwork or a similar freelance marketplace to finish the serial for you.
That said, no one can predict when disaster will strike. Should you, or someone close to you become ill, write a post on your blog or author page on Facebook to let readers know when you’ll be posting the next episode.
Have fun with your serial fiction… 🙂
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →
Today, hundreds of thousands of novelists are publishing fiction, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps you're a self-publishing author — or perhaps you're a ghostwriter, and want to offer fiction writing services to clients.
Whatever your needs and dreams, this book, 124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today, will help.More info →
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