I'm a little under a month away from going live with my playful stab at e-publishing my serial fiction (while letting my full length novel cool down on my electronic shelf before editing). Each issue will be right around 100 pages in length and have its own cover, story arc, and contribution to the overall narrative.
As I'm designing a site to make it look like I know what I'm doing (other that discovering the "publish" button in PubIt), I keep running into one problem. What do you call a book that isn't a book? The best analog I can think of for the kind of fiction I'm writing is comic books. That wouldn't be right, though, because these have no art besides the cover.
"Read my serial fiction" sounds horrible. Books? Misleading. Works? Too ambiguous. Stories... are for campfires and children. Issues? For my psychiatrist. Short stories also aren't right - these 1) aren't self contained, 2) aren't that short; 25K is higher than the submission cap I see on most short fiction sites.
What would you call each member of a collection of short stories, all of which are tied together sequentially by plot, character, and scene, but each of which is a contained "episode."
I intend for them to be very much like TV MiniSeries. Without TV. Or actors. Or special effects. So, just the series part.
* I do call each individual item "Series Title, Issue #N : Title of issue N. I'm not worried about what to put on the covers; I'm worried about how to write about them in my blog. "Hey everybody, come check out my... issues?" I need to fill in that last blank better.
Seems like "series" would be a good one. Just take whatever title you have planned and make it "The (title) Series". It would also fit with the episodes.
You could also use some archaic or less-used name for it. Jim Butcher has a series called "The Codex Alera". Codex, Archive, Collection, Compilation, Histories, Chronicles, Tales, etc. All could be used in a title to give the right impression and add some spunk to the name. I have a fanfiction series of shorts called "Tales from Konoha."
[This message has been edited by Natej11 (edited June 08, 2011).]
Any issue with the novella/novelette names? They mean something specific - slightly different word counts as I recall (I think novelette is longer and more appropriate for the length you're talking about, but I don't know.)
You could also speak of it as a "serialized novel" which people sort of know what that means. Their expectation would be that the pieces tie together eventually and would/could be bound in one volume (electronically or physically, doesn't matter.)
Novelette is technically too short for the word count. Novella fits the bill, but most of the examples they give on wikipedia of novellas are self-contained stories - if you read Those Who Die Young, Issue #1: Shelter From the Storm, you wouldn't expect the major plot issues to be even halfway resolved (as you would with Animal Farm, which is a novella, according to the article).
I'm going to stick with calling them issues on the cover, but I wouldn't invite readers to check out my issues. I think that's the blank I'm really trying to fill: "My friend Mike is a writer. Take a look at one of his ____."
I feel like episodes doesn't fit well at the end of that sentence; it sounds like it would work better if the person was addressing a doctor: "My friend Mike is having a seizure. Take a look at one of his episodes."
Similarly, I don't think Series fills in the blank. "Take a look at one of his series" sounds like someone wants the reader to look at 10 issues.
If I were telling you about Uncanny X-Men, I'd say you should pick up an issue or two. Check out this comic I found by the same guy who did Spider Man...
So far, Book feels the most right, but as someone who recently spent three years writing a 250K book, it feels almost cheap to call City of Magi (book) and Shelter From the Storm (Issue 1 of Those Who Die Young) by the same name.
I kind of liked Natej11's suggestions. Could you name (or rename) the set as "The Chronicles of . . ." or "Tales of . . . " or something along those lines. (Kind of like Rothfuss' KINGKILLER CHRONICLES )
Then each one could be Chronicle or Tale # . . .
[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited June 08, 2011).]
@Robert Nowall - I don't want to give the potential customer the idea that they're buying a portion of a product, at least any more than buying Uncanny X-Men 373 is only a portion of the "full" X-Men story. Asking a reader to buy chapters (to me) sounds like a miserly writer parceling out his works piecemeal to suck more money out of his readers.
@asprit Downloads will technically be correct (I'm only selling them online), but it doesn't pass the sentence test: Take a look at some of the ____ I wrote.
@Meredith & Natej11 - Chronicles might work. I'll have to think about it.
@LDWriter2 - It doesn't have to be one word at all. Serial Tales... I'm trying to get away from the word "serial," however accurate it might be, because it sounds (IMO) too much like a scientific classification of an object, as opposed to a thing you want to go out and buy.
@genevive42 - Episodic novella series... accurate, kind of fun to say, but a little bit too much of a mouthful for my taste.
Incidentally, these are all good ideas. I'm just trying to come up with something that seems to stick. I don't see a lot of this stuff around (and perhaps it will fail miserably because of it), so I don't have a lot of established precedent to go off of.
I like KDW's "installment" as an alternative to "book." I wouldn't do "chapter" or anything weird. You don't want whatever you use to detract from the real substance of your product.
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Just curious, but if it's a serial, would anyone really want to take a look at numbers 3 and 7 of n, for example? Or would they have to start with the first issue or installment or episode to enjoy and/or understand them fully?
I know you've said that stories are for campfires and children, but I'm partial to that name if they really are individual stories that could be enjoyed out of order. Installments or episodes implies to me, at least, that each ____ is not fully standalone, and thus I'd have to read them in order to get the most out of them.
Is it the word count that is an issue? Certainly others are calling 40k stories books when selling electronically. Can you bundle two 25k _____s together into a 50k word 'book' (if it's the length that is a concern)?
I suppose it works, and perhaps i was too dismissive of stories. Perhaps my real drawback is that I feel a story is self-contained, and I consider the episodic-novella-chapter-installments to be halfway between contained and self-contained. They are SC in the sense that each one of them has (I hope... I've written a grand total of three) a beginning, middle, end, some sort of conclusion, and a reason to read on, but the are not SC in that issue 2 doesn't explain everything that happened in issue 1, is a direct continuance of the story, and assumes you know at least a little of what happened in the past (recently, at least, and there is a brief summary of relevant characters). That makes just gluing two of them together somewhat problematic. If I did glue them together, though, it might make it more sensible for me to sell at the magic $2.99 price point (instead of 0.99), at which you get 65% of the sale on Amazon instead of 30% (or 80-40 for nook, I think).
I think Stephen King Called them Chapter Plays when he did "The Green Mile," and John Saul did "The Blackstone Chronicles." But, "chronicles" would probably be MY choice.
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