The Return of the Serialised Novel: Why This is Good For Authors

‘Serialisation is a thing of the past!’

Alright, I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard someone say it so explicitly, but I have been involved in a couple of conversations where this has been the general gist.

For some reason, a lot of authors seem to think that serialised novels can never be a thing.

‘Oh sure,’ they say, ‘it works well enough for TV like Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead, but it will never work with novels…’

Now, this annoys me for two fundamental reasons.

  1. It can work.

It has worked in the past. In the days where a large amount of the population couldn’t read or write, people would gather in rooms with the neighbours to hear the latest instalment of whatever novel was being printed in the newspapers at the time, much like we do with television nowadays. In fact, some of our greatest stories from that era were serialised: the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Woman in WhitePickwick PapersPride and Prejudice – I could go on…

What ever can be applied to television popularity, can also be applied to the written word.

       2. It does work

Serialised stories are all around us. And, more to the point, I can guarantee that most of you reading this post have read a serialised story at some point.

Who wasn’t anxiously awaiting the next instalment of Harry Potter for years on end? Who wasn’t eagerly awaiting the next Hunger Games or (and this pains me even to bring it up) Twilight story?

A Song of Ice and FireRebus. Divergent. Jack Reacher.

The list goes on.

And on.

All of these are examples of serialised stories – novels that have millions of people excitedly waiting for the next instalment.

It is impossible to deny the existence of serialised stories.

Today I read an article from The Washington Post, written a few years ago. In that article, the writer suggested that publishers could release novels in a bit-by-bit fashion online or through regular periodicals instead of just going with the standard all-or-nothing, do-or-die advertising push that has marred the publishing world somewhat in recent years.

Word-of-mouth would spread, people will talk about the latest editions of novels as much as they would the most recent instalment of television programmes, and more stories will get the recognition they deserve without publishers having to throw money at them.

It’s brilliant, right?

‘But why aren’t there publishers out there doing this if it’s such a good idea, Nick?’ you may ask.

Well, funnily enough, one or two are.

I spoke recently about my most recent project, Murder Under My Nose and about how this was a completely different way of writing for me.

One of the main reasons that this story was different was because I was writing it in serialised form.

And the reason I was doing that was for one such company that is taking serialised novels by the scruff of the neck and doing something amazing with them.

Senserial is a publishing company with a difference. Not only are they specialising in novel-length stories that are published in instalments (usually twelve) over a period of time, but they are also giving writers a unique experience to collaborate in a way not really seen on the publishing stage.

With Senserial, unknown writers can sign up and create their own channels where they can release their own work. But they can also collaborate with editors (to get their work polished and ready for release) musicians (to create accompanying music that can be used for book trailers) and even, if they want, producers (to co-ordinate the release strategy).

It’s like the novel version of YouTube, only with the added ability of being able to connect with the people who can help your story truly take off.

Now, before I go any further, I should point out I have a vested interest in this company as I was recently hired to run their blog and video blog campaign – but my point very much still stands.

Serialised stories are making a comeback in a big way and publishers like Senserial are paving the way for unknown authors to be recognised in a big way. It’s early days yet, but I think we are witnessing the start of a new era in publishing.

And, as with a lot of things in life, the way back appears to be the way forward.

And I, for one, am very excited…

 

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