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Book TV?

I don’t really follow television trends like most people, I don’t watch Game of Thrones and I’m not really a big fan of Dr. Who. My point is that if you were to name a popular TV show, I probably haven’t watched it. Although I will admit to having watched the majority of AMC’s The Walking Dead, I absolutely love the kind of characters a good zombie apocalypse can spawn.

Even with my limited exposure to television I’ve come to realize that a large portion of our culture seems to really like consuming our media in bite sized bits. With television it makes perfect sense to release things in an episodic manner, but recently the serial format has seen a resurgence in the literary world as well.

With the advent of self-publishing and eBooks, it became much easier to quickly put together a smaller piece of writing and quickly publish said piece of writing. This made the return of the serialized story much more plausible, and more than a few writers seem to be trying it and having success.

Hugh Howey is a name you may be familiar with, he is the author of the Wool / Shift series and he has seen a great deal of success through serializing his novels. The book that is now Wool was initially released in 5 smaller novellas. He’s done the same thing with his second book the series Shift, the Shift omnibus was initially released in three separate smaller books (First Shift, Second Shift, and Third Shift). The model seems to be working pretty well for Howie.

On the other hand, a forum post and a poll started by Smashwords.com strongly suggested that readers loathe serialized books. A staggering 90% of the people replying to the poll said they tried to avoid or just would out right not read a serialized story. Now only 166 people replied to this poll (that is a pretty small sample size) , and the poll could have been constructed a bit better.

I personally don’t feel strongly either way, I seen the ups and downs of both sides and neither are a big detriment to the story for me.

This leads me to wonder, should I try to serialize the novel I’m writing? There are some definite bonuses to the serialized model: you get more work out there faster (The one tip I have seen the most in my readings is that the more titles you have published the better off you are), it allows the author(s) to be much more agile in terms of what parts of the books resonate with their readers, and then focus and enhance those parts further, it opens up a few good marketing strategies, and it makes it ‘safer’ to try a new author as the individual parts of the series tend to be cheaper.

There are some negatives too, I’m sure, but I feel like most of the negatives I’ve come up with are personal issues. I don’t really like feeling like I’m writing on a schedule and I don’t really like the thought of having to do all the revising, formatting and various other tasks in a piecemeal fashion, overall it just seems like a great deal of extra work to me.

In the end, I’m not sure if I’ll serialize my story or not. The way I’m constructing it would certainly lend itself to serialization, but I’m still on the fence as to if its the right way to go for me or not. I just have not read and thought enough on the subject to make a decision yet.

What are your thoughts on serialized books? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Leave a comment, or tweet at me (@Prjstahl). I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “Book TV?

  1. How I feel about serialized books: it depends. Generally, I like them, but sometimes it just feels like the author is “milking it.” Since you’re not the type to “milk” something, I think it might be something worth considering. I like the idea of releasing things in chunks, both as a reader and writer, for the reasons you’ve listed.

    The scheduling thought – that’s tricky, and to be honest I don’t know a lot about how that works. Personally, I don’t feel like you are on a schedule if you go down the series road, especially if you’re self-publishing. When the next part in a series is ready, it’s ready. If it’s a year, awesome. It’s five, fine. If the first part was was good, people will wait for the next. It’s not like you’re on some contract and by golly you better pop the next one out in 18 months or you’re toast.

  2. We’ve decided to go the serialized route from the very start with The Eighth City and it’s been an interesting journey. We’re only at the very beginning but many of the advantages and disadvantages have appeared quickly. It’s great to have multiple titles out (2 so far), and we have more things to get excited about (releases) and make cover art about (every “episode”). It’s also great to know that readers can pick up the first episode for free and check it out to see if they’d like it, much like when you read the first chapter of a book in a bookstore (R.I.P Borders). We’ve also had the chance to interact with fans to help guide the rest of the series, which is a blast and really gratifying.

    However, we do stick to a fairly tight deadline and that can cause problems. We’re dedicated to rewarding our readers for their patience but also want to put the best content possible out there and striking that balance can be tough. It’s harder to sell a series as opposed to a single book too. In addition, it’s harder to sell your published material while writing or editing your newest episode.

    All that in mind, we’ve had a blast! I would say think hard on your story and how you want to appeal to readers and the rest will fall into place. Our story and goal as storytellers fits right into the conveniences of an episodic series for readers, so we did it!

    • I’m still flip flopping on it and I’ve been toying with the idea of taking the basic concept behind serializing a series and modifying the concept to fit within the confines of something I’d be a bit more comfortable with. A way to bring the best of both worlds to the table for myself. It’s still far too early in the process for me to make the decision though. If I did serialize I think I would want to have the entire series nearly completed before I published the first one, allowing me to to have a great deal more control over hitting the release dates on time.

      • Just remember that if you choose to serialize it you need to make sure your entire story is made of smaller stories that are satisfying reads for your readers that are left on cliffhangers etc.

        Let me know if you have any questions about how serialization is working for us!

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