24 March 2014

Is Serial Web Fiction the New Way to Self Publish?

First question -

What is a serial web story?

Basically, it's when a writer publishes a fiction story onto the web.

I was reading over an article on the NYTimes about a writer, Anna Todd, whose popular serial fiction, "After," has reached enough of a following to receive 10,000 comments per chapter within a day of it's posting.

Can you imagine? I'm lucky to get four comments in a single blog post, let alone expect 10,000 of them.

But then this made me wonder? I've obviously taken a stab at posting fiction to my blog and I guess I've taken this fiction to the wrong platform. Would I have more success on place like Wattpad, where Anna launched her serial story (read the latest chapter here)?

The thing is she posts a chapter a day and I wonder - does she get feedback for her work before she publishes? Has her craft for telling this popular and growing story simply improved over time and she has no real need to pour over the words and edit like most of us do?

The reason I ask if you can envision success with web fiction is that it makes me wonder who the target audience is for these types of stories. With e-reading and various reading apps becoming a popular way to access the printed word, it may start to make more sense to have web fiction.

Like some of the self-published books I've seen, it isn't entirely without errors. I read over the book After 3 linked via NYTimes and I spotted a few items I may have suggested she fix.

But like a lot of self-published fiction, I also see a lot of work put into the story, including a well designed cover. So, it makes me wonder the benefit of doing this rather than simply releasing the book on Amazon or Smashwords, doing book tours via the Web, and going through the other types of procedures and marketing people go through when self-publishing.

I don't have much room to criticize the method, being an unpublished author myself, but I do wonder whether this will shift the self-publishing world a bit. Could you see yourself doing something like this?

Will this become the next 50 Shades of Grey?


  1. I think it's a way to go. I still write non-fiction, but, but, I'm currently writing fan fiction in a serial manner. With the right audience it's great. On a positive note, it's also improved my writing in general. As always, a great post.

  2. I'll be serializing a super hero story on Amazon sometime starting in December, but I think the really important thing to think about with this method is how much you're expecting readers to pay for the completed story. If you only publish about 1,000 words per chapter, and charge 1.99 per chapter, a 50,000 word novel (which is short) would net you well over $99, just for ONE story. (at 99 cents, the lowest Amazon will let you go, you would still net $50 per whole series sale!) And I've seen this done and felt it was ridiculous. If you're going to serialize, you have to make sure it's worth that price for the reader. Basically the same, or only slightly above/below the cost it would have been for a full novel.

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.


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