First, a commercial break for today’s stop on the Susannah Sandlin Omega tour—check over a Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts as the Penton women tell secrets about their guys! Remember to enter to win the grant tour prize of your choice of the Kindle, Nook or $100 book gift card.
Last week we had an interesting discussion about covers and what people do and don’t like. This week, I thought I’d turn to an idea that seems to be gaining steam: the serial novel.
Now, anyone who knows their Charles Dickens knows that a serial novel is nothing new. My college major was Victorian literature, and that era saw a surge in the popularity of serial fiction. Novels appeared in installments in magazines and newspapers. The most famous was Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, published in 1836. In the United States, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Herman Melville wrote serial fiction (although not the infamous Moby Dick, the most “faked” read among authors doing interviews on this blog).
In more recent times, Tom Wolfe published The Bonfire of the Vanities as a serial in Rolling Stone magazine. Stephen King tried it, and science fiction author Orson Scott Card.
Currently, SF author John Scalzi is publishing a serial novel for Tor Books called The Human Division. There will be a total of 13 “episodes,” sold at 99 cents each, released weekly. At the end of the serial cycle, the book will be compiled into one volume and released as a regular book.
Another author to try the serial soon will be, well, my alter ego Susannah Sandlin. I’ll be doing a nine-episode serial novel that’s a paranormal-romantic-thriller called Storm Force. It will start March 19 and release a new “episode” every two weeks through mid-July, then will come out as a regular book. Only difference is that there’s a single price one pays ($1.99) for the whole serial, so you only pay once. Once it’s released as a full-length book, I assume the price will go up but authors have nothing to do with pricing (maybe another topic for another Shop Talk).
Anyway, I can see pros and cons to serials. If I start reading a book and really get into it, do I want to wait two weeks to see what happens? When the new episode comes in, do I need to go back and read the end of the last episode again to remember what’s going on?
The pluses: There’s a chance to influence where the book goes, and to chat with the author while the book is in progress. The first part of Storm Force will be released and in your hands while I’m still writing the later chapters, and there will be a discussion board set up online to ask me questions, pose theories, try to pry spoilers out of me (it won’t work!), etc.
So, on the one hand I’m excited about doing a serial, and it’s proving to be an interesting writing process that matches my skill set pretty well. On the other hand, I’m a little uncertain as to what to expect. I’ve heard some say they like a serial because it’s a short read every two weeks, doesn’t take a huge time investment, and it’s sort of like watching a favorite TV series with a storyline that carries over from episode to episode. Which is, I think, a good analogy.
Anyway, what say you, my peeps? Does the idea of a serial appeal to you? Is everything old new again? I’ll choose a commenter from this week’s Shop Talk to win a Book Horde book or a $5 Amazon gift card…your choice. Weigh in!