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Author Topic: Serial novels
wetwilly
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I think, this Summer, I'm going to take a crack at publishing an online serial, see where that takes me. I'm intrigued by the possibilities of the format, and I've got an idea that's been brewing that would lend itself well to serialization, I think. I figure best case scenario, it garners me an audience, worst case scenario, it ends up being a fun exercise and that sharpens up my craft. Any of you folks ever tried your hand at this? I'm sort of going out on a limb here, exploring new literary waters, and I'm curious if any of you have had any experiences with this.

(I'm planning on publishing through JukePop, by the way, for what it's worth.)

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extrinsic
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One high-hung fruit consideration for serials, is an over-complication arc for the series is essential, as well as a congruent complication arc per installment. Another franchise form is same milieu, maybe same central character cast, maybe same settings, and different complication event sequences and probably themes. Not per se a serialization, which is somewhat sequential -- a non-sequential, non-serial collection.

[ June 03, 2015, 10:58 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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I haven't.

However, an author I follow, Susan Kaye Quinn, has what appears to be a fairly successful serial, Debt Collector. You might want to take a look at something like that. I know the first "book" is free.

She also blogged about doing the serial while she was writing the original. That might be useful, too.

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Robert Nowall
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I suppose a serialized novel is tolerable, so long as it doesn't turn into an endless series of novels---but think of all the fans who'll give up and never make it to the end!
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wetwilly
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Robert, those are drawbacks I certainly can't argue with. I will continue my efforts in more traditional writing at the same time, though, so I'm not losing any of that. This is just a fun writing experiment that may or may not lead somewhere. Since I'm unpublished so far, which means I have no writing career at all at this point, what have I got to lose?
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Disgruntled Peony
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I think it would be a good exercise in meeting deadlines, at the very least. I say go for it. Whether or not you put it up on social media like Facebook, I recommend that you set up a full-fledged website so people can look through the archives. It will also give you a place to market your other writing.

It would also be good to have at least two or three chapters' worth of backlog so you can maintain a regular update schedule. That way if something comes up and you fall behind one month you still have plenty of time to catch back up and the readers don't get impatient or frustrated.

[ June 03, 2015, 11:24 AM: Message edited by: Disgruntled Peony ]

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Denevius
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There's a couple of drawbacks. Your work has a unique voice, and if you're patient, you can probably eventually get it published through different online eJournals that might pay you something (even if it's token), but may already have an established audience (even if it's small).

I guess there's a chance you might get an audience on your own, but just think of how many serials you're actually reading right now, and imagine most other people reading less than that. Plus, anything you put in a serial will be almost impossible to publish anywhere else even if it is good.

Serials do seem to be the latest trend in self-pubs, though. Just the other day, someone on my Google Plus list announced a serial he's releasing.

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wetwilly
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quote:
Your work has a unique voice, and if you're patient, you can probably eventually get it published through different online eJournals
Thank you, Denevius. I'll still be pursuing those avenues. For the time being, I'll keep focusing on short stories in my traditional publishing efforts. I've got enough ideas that excite me that I'm not too worried about burning one up on this experiment. Like I said, if it leads to anything positive writing-career-wise, awesome. If not, it's a fun experiment that's bound to teach me at least a thing or two about writing, right? If it amounts to nothing more than an unofficial, unpaid internship in writing, then it's still worth it to me.
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Disgruntled Peony
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This is going to show my amateurity, and I feel silly even admitting it, but I got started on fan fiction. XP It was for a show very few people have heard of, and it vanished after two seasons. I was a teenager and I loved the characters enough I wanted to write for them, so I did. It was pure silliness, but I enjoyed it and I found a community of fellow fans who were also interested in writing. I spouted off 150k words in various fanfics, most of it drivel, but I had fun writing it and it gave me the leg up to eventually feel comfortable writing my own characters.

That's not the point I'm trying to get at, that's just the setup. After the series ended, a number of my fellow fan fiction writers and I got together and wrote a twenty-two "episode" virtual season for it.

I had to quit after the first VS because I burned myself out. During that first year, though, I actively wrote or cowrote four different stories of about 30k to 50k words apieces, was on the editing team for all 22 'episodes' and ran the website. It was basically a full-time job, but I was 17 and unemployed at the time.

I think what I'm trying to get at, in the end, is that I learned a great deal through the collaborative process of that group effort. One of my fellow writers actually worked in the publishing industry as an editor, and she taught me a lot. I got to work with more experienced writers. I got to help less experienced writers hone their craft.

It wasn't all fun, by any means, but I look back on those memories with fondness because despite all the trials we experienced we managed to accomplish our goal. We wrote an entire virtual season as a group: twenty-two interconnected works of fiction that stayed true to the characters and the preexisting canon of the show while introducing new and interesting conflicts for the characters. I never got paid a dime for it, and I don't even know how many people read it, but I still feel it was worth doing.

Sometimes, the end goal isn't to get paid. Writing is writing, and it can *always* be a learning experience. Do what you're passionate about.

Sorry, ramble over.

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wetwilly
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Thanks, Disgruntled One!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I'm impressed, Disgruntled Peony. That kind of commitment is great, especially since it gave you such a wonderful learning experience.

I participated in writing derivative work for several "universes" and enjoyed it.

No writing is wasted if you can learn something from it.

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Robert Nowall
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Nothing wrong with writing fan fiction---other than whatever legal problems arise. I did it myself, at a much older age, well after I'd begun sending stories to market. A conscious decision, that if I wasn't going to make any money at writing I might as well have some fun.

It was fun. I never expected to be paid, I came out of the experience a better writer than I was when I went in, and I got considerably more feedback on what I wrote than I ever did from submitting. (I don't push my stuff or promote it here, 'cause I don't want to involve anyone here in the "legal problems" issue. But anyone can find it---I put it out under my own name.)

One thing that plays back on that "serial novel" topic, though. One of the things I wrote was a series---the cliche of the futures of the characters---that eventually ran five parts. I was very careful, though, that each part told one story, and that nobody had to read any other story in the series to understand what went on in each story---and everything reached a conclusion in each story so nobody was left dangling.

I read a number of busted series where the writer, for whatever reason, set something up in the course of one or several stories, then "gave up" (for whatever reason, difficulty or boredom or distraction or whatever) and left us followers disappointed. I wanted to avoid that at all costs.

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