I am currently undertaking a project to write and maintain some serialized fiction. I think of it as like Dickens, but with blood and swears. http://www.unendingserial.com/ (Ok, so I'm whoring a little)
What are peoples opinion of serialized fiction?
My general feelings are that it fits a nice niche in internet culture. What with the twitters and the youtubes. Also for me personally I like the idea of a weekly deadline pushing me to produce and hone my craft and such.
I think serialized fiction is going to boom in the next few years. There are so many ways to collate digital resources (tweets, blog posts, serialized updates et al) and display them in multiple formats, or interact with, integrate with multimedia. I think readers are coming to expect short, fresh bursts of new content in their online reading.
I've planned out a serial project of my own, to be released at some point (I have the first 2 installments completed). Perhaps we can trade links at some point - I'm sure there are other Litreactors who would create serials. That reminds me - we need a new, flashy name for this concept. Any suggestions?
I will check yours out, David, it looks interesting.
Robert Brockway from Cracked is doing this in an interesting way. His first book was traditionally published but his second novel, Rx, is published in small, $2 portions every so often. It's sales have matched that of his first book because, really, who's worried about risking $2 on one installment? If they don't like it, they don't have to pay for the next portion. It's almost a matter of getting what you pay for.
I think that's one of the reasons serialization is booming. Have you ever looked at the trashy erotica on the Nook market? The first story is free, but you have to pay to get the next one. And the Series of Unfortunate Events books do it in a similar manner; the first book was on sale for like $3 the other day and I bought it just for fun because I read the series as a kid, but all the books after are $7. I'm just waiting for the day that a series has a staggered price -- book one is $1, the second is $2, the third is $3. It would be interesting to see how much people are willing to pay for a conclusion.
On the other hand, I'm working on a novel that would work as a serial so that I can work on getting the reader actively invested in the story. It's a way to polish my skills. I need improvement on suspense and not having my characters just loll about and let the river carry them downstream. This is a good way to do it.
Our attention spans have definitely gotten shorter. I think we will see people reading novels less and less. Not reading less mind you. I read more now then I ever did. Just don't find the time for novels and longform non-fiction like I used too.
I wish I had the popularity and skill to charge for my work. Right now I would just be happy if people read what I write let alone get paid for it.
That sub-$5 price point is great impulse buy territory. I can't count the amount of apps, books and games I've bought just for giggles when they are that cheap.
The serial is also a good way to get reader feed back as you work through it. It can help shape where you take the story and tighten it up. Also if you already have a readership you feel obligated to them adding more pressure to get things done.
Also Jeffrey your beard is epic and manly. As a beard should be.
I'm with you guys, I think serials are gonna be hot shit and deservedly so. This and stuff like hyperlink fiction, it's really cool to see some exploring into story formats that are perfectly suited for the modern fast-paced internet accessable reading era. I think Max Barry talks quite a bit on his blog of his process doing the Machine Man serial and what I recall it was very interesting. I've given a lot of thought into trying out some serialized stuff, though the level of on-gameness I think I'd have to be at is intimidating.
Yall seen this site? http://www.jukepopserials.com/
Thank you David. And may I say that you too have a man's beard. In case anyone is wondering, that is about the best compliment one guy can give to another.
I had never heard of http://www.jukepopserials.com - what a fantastic idea! I'm not sure what their revenue model is, but it is really a cool concept.
I'm completely obsessed with serial storytelling, which is the reason why I watch so much TV and read so many comic books.
I can't watch movies, but I love TV shows. I'll sit down and watch five episodes in a row of one drama; it's an interesting concept. In reality, TV shows go more in depth than movies (depending on their longevity, but in general) and have to constantly introduce new plot points to keep you hooked.
The beauty of serialized fiction is that it never has to end.
I really like the character development that can come from serialized story telling. It also lets you play around with different storytelling techniques with in the same story arc.
http://www.jukepopserials.com Looks really cool.
It was kind of surreal to see this tweeted by Jukepop.
EDIT: I'm not sure why that didn't hyperlink, I fixed it.
This is interesting. I've had some thoughts along these lines, one of which I really don't want to reveal (it may have been done before... it also might not have). It's an interesting experiment, but the demands are pretty beefy. You don't have time to sit on shit. You have to write it and get it readable really quickly, there's no cushion of "Hey, this is my manuscript, I'll just work on it for 2 years". Which is probably great and awful all at once.
Site looks nice. let us know how it goes for you as you progress.
I assume writers are still doing this, but back in the glory days of GEnie and CompuServe, established writers would write serialized stuff for their board members/groupies. I remember Steve Rasnic Tem doing that and then publishing the resulting book aftewards.
Now get off my lawn!!
Mike: I think that's the ultimate appeal of serials for me. It would force me to get my editing time down and always impose a deadline on me, which is something I need to write well. I can't do much when it's open-ended and just a vague idea of mine; I need to have something, or someone, waiting for it. Plus, it ups the necessary attention to detail -- I rarely do it right the first time around because I know I'll have plenty of time to edit it, but serials (especially those with the JukePop model) require less room for error because you only have so much time to get it out before you lose your readers.
Gary: Have you heard of John Dies at the End? It's basically what you just said in a smaller form. The original chapter of the book was just a fun, one-time thing by David Wong for his website and when next Halloween rolled around, his fans wondered where the next installment was and he realized that they thought he was doing a Halloween-installment serial, so he started publishing chapters of it, then published the entire thing as a book. It was definitely a funny, bizarro read.
I think that defnitely has its merits, Courtney. I find that I do better with something when I finally know someone's going to look at it, when I'm compiling it for someone to read. No matter how many times I edit something on my computer or whatever, I notice so much more that's wrong when I finally get it ready to put in someone's hands and I'm looking at a "professional" presentation of some sort, be that the exact document they're going to read or an ebook version of the story that looks like a book (I loathe ereaders, but I enjoy this method of reviewing my work because it saves on printing and still gives me that "final" feeling that makes the errors jump out so well).
I agree with most of your post so I'm going to focus on the bit about not liking ereaders. What exactly about them get to you? I don't own an actual tablet, but I use the Nook app on my phone and computer and love it. I get books instantly -- versus the two books I ordered on Amazon that won't be here 'til the second week of August -- and can read them whenever I want, wherever I want, without having to remember to pick it up in the morning on my way to school or work.
Plus, how well does serialization work in hard copies? It requires longer stories, a more dedicated fan base, and a superior marketing technique. You'd have to write novellas for each installment -- there isn't really a way to publish a hard copy of a short story -- and find a publisher willing to take on the risk. I think the beauty of serialization is that it's mostly author-run, so it's highly personalized and customizable. There's a lot of room for expirementation with serials because people are more willing to take a chance on one bite of a larger piece than shelling out anywhere from $15-$25 on a novel you may not finish.
As for JukePop, I signed up. I got a chance to check out the website and it looks really interesting.
I just don't like ereaders. I hate reading on a screen, be that a computer monitor, e-ink screen, whatever. I just don't enjoy it. E-ink is much easier on the eyes, but the actual Nook doesn't really do it for me. It's fine, but sort of wonky. For only really doing one thing, it doesn't do it all that well, which is pretty much the case with every ereader or ereader app that I've tried. They're okay, but they really should be less unwieldy. I just don't read quickly on my Nook, and I refuse to pay even half as much money for something that took no money whatever to print and stock. I just like books. I got Andrez Bergen's Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat for free from Another Sky Press's website, downloaded it to my Nook, and read just under half of it, but it took me forever. I since bought the paperback from them and it's so, so much nicer to read that way. Nice printing too, with great front and back cover art (the back art just makes me giddy). It's just a much more pleasant way to read the book.
I also don't like having to keep track of digital libraries. It's much easier for me to deal with physical stock. I already have countless digital libraries of music and indie games, etc. that I have to backup and sort through, the last thing I want is yet another of those. I mean I already have one, so I've got that library plus Calibre, the management program I use, clogging up my computer... but at least the library is small and easy to navigate. I mostly have philosophy books and classics on there, and whatever public domain or free books I find that seem interesting.
But yeah, obviously serialization doesn't work so well with hard copy stuff. You're probably looking at online distribution or at the very least a magazine or regular publication where you aren't the only attraction. And that's cool. I'm not against any of that, really, I just enjoy reading far more when I have a big fat book in my hands and can really settle down somewhere cozy with it. My PC, laptop, iPod Touch, and Nook just never, ever provide that same feeling, even if I'm settled and cozy. Couldn't tell you why. I've been surrounded by computers and technology my whole life. The computer I'm using I built myself from spare parts. But the inorganic feeling of reading on these things never does it for me.
I still plan to deal in ebooks and online, though. Many people prefer digital to print these days, and while I will never in any wise understand that, I have to respect it. One of my ideas is entirely digital, and actually makes use of that as a gimmick. I don't know that I'll ever actually write it, but I'd really like to if I could solidify the idea enough.
I think it's been proven that ereaders slow down reading time, actually. That's one of the cons I've noticed. It doesn't make me a more detailed reader, either. I think I miss things more easily when I use an ereader because I tend to skip lines on accident and don't notice.
As for libraries: I only recently got internet back, so my computer is flooded mainly with Scrivener folders and random photos I've downloaded to my phone and transfered to my laptop. I could see where the irritation comes, though.
But with serialization, or at least the kind we're talking about here (short story length), I think an ereader would be preferable. I don't like magazines because they're so flimsy and stocked to the brim with things I barely care about. I've never picked up a magazine and liked everything I read in it, which is mandatory for me when it comes to books and collections. I hold it to a higher standard than other media because it's my personal preference. But with serialization, I don't have to worry about paying for the entire book when all I actually read is the lackluster beginning.
The whole "paying full price for something that cost nothing to produce" irks me a lot. I should at the very least get a discount for saving the publisher on production costs. Ereaders are definitely my method of choice for the classics and things like that because they're so often free or extremely cheap. I don't think I've paid full price for a book in my elibrary more than maybe once because I was so excited to finally get it. Publishers don't charge $25 for a book because it was so pricey to produce, though. It's because they know you'll pay it.
Plus, how well does serialization work in hard copies?
Plus, how well does serialization work in hard copies?
They work fine in magazines. Michael Chabon's The Final Solution I believe ran in The Paris Review originally and Gentlemen of the Road in I think New York Times. Both those mags are usually worth the read even if you don't like every feature.
I guess I have the wrong mindset when it comes to magazines. They tear easily, the ink bleeds, and it just seems like an uncomfortable reading experience to me, the way Michael dislikes ereaders. I like solid, thick publications, ones that I can break the spine on and dog-ear. I don't hate magazines on large tablets, but my smartphone Nook app is terrible for magazines. I either don't get to see the page at all and read the articles in horrible formatting or get to see the pretty pages without being able to read the text.
The NYT website is one of my favorites; I have no trouble reading it online. But, again, that's serialization without hard copies. Frankly, I'm biased by my distaste for magazines, I'll admit it.
The problem with serialization in magazine or journals is the barrier to entry. There are gatekeepers. Which means what's in them tends to be higher quality then the web at large. But it aslo means getting in them is harder, whether you are skilled and talend or not. As a note I'm not saying I'm either. Also if they are going to devote their precious inches to you, you need to have some gravitas or be really, really, really good.
JukePop Serials has accepted my novel, Madrigal, for publication on their site. It will appear, in serialized form, on the site in September. It promises to be a really exciting experiment and test of their business model, which is based around giving readers 'coins' that are in turn given to writers to encourage them to post monthly chapters of thier stories.
Cool shoes, Jeffrey! Keep us updated.
This thread is an awesome read, because I've had the idea of a serial fiction blog simmering in my head for a couple years now. It would be a chapter-by-chapter thing, very hook-y, with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to keep people coming back. Would be a really fun experiment. Still on my list of things-to-do, but man, that's a hell of a list.
Nice going, Jeff. What's the novel about?
Fuck Yeah! Go Jeff.
Wow, that website looks pretty cool...
@Renfield: It's a dark epic fantasy/horror/adventure about 3 teenagers connected in mysterious ways and brought together by ominous forces to save the world.
Not very high-concept in other words.