why so serial?


Matthew asks in response to my post about writing 10,000 words in a single day:

“You ever thought about writing serially? Like releasing a few chapters of something a week and making it like 99 cents? 10k is absolutely insane. I’m not sure I know another author who makes 10k words in a week.”

Good question! Actually, I have tried something like that, and I concluded that it doesn’t work at all well.

I released THE THIRD SOUL as a serial, and I wrote THE BONE QUEST series of FROSTBORN short stories structured as a serial, and based on the reaction to them I’ve come to the conclusion that a large majority of readers simply do not like serials and prefer novels. Both THE THIRD SOUL and THE BONE QUEST get a lot of complaints because of their length.

So, I’ve concluded that the majority of readers prefer novels to short stories, novellas, and serials. (I like short stories, but I kind of suspect they might be an artifact of the old days when people did a lot of reading in magazines and there were only so many pages available.)

I think the only way a serial would work is if you wrote the entire thing in advance and made sure each, say, 10k words were ready to go every Friday, like a webcomic artist who prepares three or four weeks’ worth of comics in advance before launching his website.

Of course, if you did that much work, you could just release it as a novel to fewer complaints about length.

I’m launching three new novel series this year – SEVENFOLD SWORD, GHOST NIGHT, and a science fiction series, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to have short stories accompanying them. If I do, I think I’ll group the stories in their own series like THE BONE QUEST, but have each one be completely stand alone.


4 thoughts on “why so serial?

  • April 12, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I end up greatly preferring novels. That’s because for me to enjoy a story I need the following:

    1. Adequate description of rich and interesting environment/world.
    2. Plot development/movement and action
    3. Character development to the point that I somehow connect with at least one character and preferably at least somewhat like or admire that character.
    4. The story needs to be wrapped up at the end and more-or-less standalone

    If you can do all that in something shorter than a novel, great, but I’ve read enough short stories, etc., that didn’t meet the above that I’ve kinda given up.

    Even the Caina short stories, which do actually satisfy my requirements above, aren’t my favorites (though I did rather like the Cloak Games short story with Russell and Riordan) and I wouldn’t read them if they weren’t free and I’d just as soon you spend the time writing the next novel.

    • April 13, 2017 at 12:21 am

      That does seem to be the general consensus – I’ve developed a theory that short stories are what writers write to impress editors and maybe other writers.

  • April 13, 2017 at 4:23 am

    I used like twice in the same sentence. I feel like a tool. Going to go practice my diction and grammatical structure as penance.

    • April 13, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Ha, no worries. What’s really fun is when I look at a book that’s been out three or four years and see things I wished I’d changed.

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