The self-publishing industry and digital media have given new life to serials and serialized fiction. They are no longer “for-free” publications or limited to magazines. A serial is a story written in segments. Daytime soap operas are examples of television serials. Serialized fiction, on the other hand, is a complete story published in segments.
Online Reading, Serials, and Authors’ Intimacy with Readers
In the past, writers like Dickens and Trollope who wrote long books released them as they were writing. George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” was also released this way. Sometimes reader response would make authors modify their work, as happened with Charles Dickens. Dickens altered the end of “Dombey and Son” in response to reader comments.
Serialized fiction made the novels more portable and created a community of readers. Today, digital media is creating a new community of readers as E-readers and mobile devices make fiction portable in the internet age. Successful science-fiction writer John Scalzi began with the serial, “Old Man’s War,” and “50 Shades of Grey” was a serial before it was published traditionally.
E-readers and mobile phones have changed the habits of readers who frequently use these reading sources. Writers have recognized that serials build their readership and allow them more creative freedom than traditional book publishing.
Max Gladstone is among a growing number of writers who have joined today’s serial writing genre. Gladstone is a writer for two fantasy serials. The writer of the “Craft Sequence” series is one of the writers on the Serial Box’s “Bookburners” and “The Witch Who Came in from the Cold” serials.
Capturing Readers with Serialized Fiction
The serialized book publishing method has a proven history of boosting sales and creating anticipation. A French businessman used serialized fiction to create a readership for his daily newspaper in 1836. He serialized Balzac’s novel in segments to hook Parisian readers. That same year serialized fiction began in England with the segmented publication of the “The Pickwick Papers.”
With TV dramas like “Game of Thrones,” House of Cards,” and Downton Abbey,” and serial radio programs hooking their audiences, book publishers would like to boost sales by creating a devoted audience of serialized fiction readers. One of the creative writers taking advantage of digital media is Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton Abbey.” Fellowes is publishing his new novel, “Belgravia,” as serialized fiction with weekly chapters released via an app.
Segmented fiction offers writers a new way to reach the reading public. As people spend time waiting, they can be immersed in fiction. Research has also found that people prefer occupied time and complain about unoccupied time. How long will it be before writers can earn income through businesses who want to distract their waiting consumers?