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.