A popular question: is it hard to write serial fiction?
In a word… No.
In many ways, it’s much easier to write a serial than it is to write a novel. For example: we’ve discussed hitting the dreaded wall in fiction—you’ll be pleased that there’s no wall with serials.
Overall, serials tend to cause far less stress and confusion than novels; they’re easier to market, too.
Writing serial fiction: less stress and confusion (so, easier publishing)
When you write a novel, there’s a lot to keep in mind:
- Characters and their development;
The more novels you write, the more skills you develop in keeping a novel organized, so you write better books. However, writing those novels can be challenging.
On the other hand, when you write serial fiction, it’s less like writing a novel—it’s more like writing several short stories. You’re only concerned with a limited number of words per episode, so there’s less to keep in mind, and you’ll write episodes more quickly.
Let’s look at reasons to consider publishing serial fiction in more detail.
1. Faster publishing and reader-feedback inspires you
With a novel, you can’t know if it’s a dud or a bestseller for months, or even years. It’s challenging to keep your motivation. With a serial, you publish more quickly, so you win readers, who inspire you.
2. Serials are easier to write: one episode at a time
I love blogging, because it’s instant gratification: write, and publish. Similarly with short stories and serials.
Novels are big, awkward beasts, not so much because of their length, but for the amount of structure. We looked at fiction essentials for a novel, and at times, writing and editing a novel seems overwhelming.
Not so with serial fiction. You can write and edit episodes more quickly; there’s less to keep in mind.
3. Simpler character development, and plotting
“Simpler” in the sense that you can set goals for an episode, and develop your characters at an easier pace.
For example, let’s say your main character has something nasty in her backstory. In a novel, keeping track of open loops is confusing. You forget what you’ve shared, and what you’re holding back. In a serial, you can decide that you’ll close an open loop in episode eight, so there’s less anxiety.
With a serial, plotting is easier too, even for pantsers.
4. Great marketing benefits: you win more readers
My favorite reason for writing serial fiction: the marketing benefits.
Let’s imagine you’ve written a novel. Three months after publishing, you’re writing the next novel—you’re a savvy author, so it’s the next novel in a series. You know that you need to market Novel 1, but it’s a constant distraction. If you don’t advertise, the novel stops selling entirely.
Imagine the same scenario: you’ve published Novel 1, are busily writing Novel 2, but before you began Novel 2, you published a serial. Over eight weeks, you published eight episodes.
- Novel 1 is selling happily, with minimal advertising: the serial’s promoting it.
- Your serial’s episodes are selling too. And you’ve come up with amazing strategies to make Novel 2 amazing. (You become inspired when you’re writing.)
- The mailing list you created months ago has tripled in size: subscribers join every day. By the time Novel 2 is ready for Kindle pre-order, it will be even larger; this means more sales before publication.
5. Increase your income: some readers will buy every episode
Each episode of your serial introduces your readers to you and your books. That’s priceless marketing.
Most readers will buy an episode or two. However, a proportion (usually small, but you never know) of readers will buy every episode. Imagine you’re pricing each episode at $2.99. Over eight episodes, that’s $23.92; serials tend to produce more income than novels.
Make the most of serial fiction, starting today
Writing serial fiction has many benefits. Will it work for you? That depends on your goals for publishing. If you’re bored with your current novel, consider a serial.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.