Over the past year, we’ve had many questions about how to write serial fiction.
Should you write serial fiction, or write a novel?
In essence, a serial is a part-work. Instead of writing a novel of 100,000 words, you publish your novel as “episodes”. You choose the number of episodes. You could write ten episodes of 10,000 words, for example.
The big benefit of serial publication is this: it keeps you writing. You stay motivated. You can see the “finish” line from the first word of an episode.
That makes writing 100,000 words much easier. Writing 100K words is intimidating. When you have a good day’s writing, and write 3,000 words, you can’t get excited. You still have 90,000 (or whatever) words to write on the project. With a serial, on the other hand, 3K words in a day means that you only have 7K words to write in that episode.
I love writing novels, but I know that I’ll lose motivation. Not simply because I risk getting bored, but also as I’ve said, writing a novel, no matter how much you love it, can be a slog.
You can also make more money from serial publication. However, that’s rarely your primary reason for writing serials.
Your primary reason is that you publish faster, and you publish more regularly.
These days, the more often you can appear in Amazon’s New Releases listings, the better. You’ll get a sales bump for all your fiction each time you publish.
“Can’t you just split a novel into episodes?”
I’m often asked this question. The short answer is no, and for any number of reasons. The big reason is that a novel has a structure. It has a beginning, middle and end, to put it simply. A serial on the other hand, has elements which motivate readers to keep reading.
In Fiction Writing Basics: Scenes, Narrative and Chapters, we discussed the challenge of chapters, and said:
“Either end your chapter with suspense: “Eve turned around. The man was holding a gun.” Alternatively, foreshadow something in the final scene of the chapter which intrigues the reader so much that he must keep reading to see what happens next.”
If you replace “chapter” with “episode”, you’ll get an idea of how serial fiction works. You need to motivate readers to look for, and buy, the next episode of the serial.
This means that writing serial fiction is different from writing a novel. I think it’s easier; your mileage may vary. 🙂
You can use serial fiction in another way, too. You can use it to market your books.
You can use serials for marketing: boost sales of all your ebooks
You may write a serial for any number of reasons. Some authors use them for marketing. I’ve ghostwritten short serials, of just five 12,000 word episodes. In one instance, the client wanted to boost sales of his two-novel series.
In another, the client wanted to establish himself in a new genre. He hired me to write a quick five-episode serial. He published the serial, while he completed his first novel in his new genre. You can do the same, if you want to get established quickly in a new genre.
Is writing serial fiction for you?
Only you know the answer to that. 🙂
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 →
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.
You can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that your new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
Resources to build your writing career
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