How to Serialize Your Novel
November 11, 2022
Looking to reach more readers? Want some feedback about your writing? Serialize your novel as a way to connect.
WHAT IS SERIALIZATION?
When you publish a book in bits, or installments, that is serialization. It is a publication practice with a long history. Sherlock Holmes was serialized in Strand magazine, for example. You can serialize books or short stories that include the re-occurrence of main characters. Known as numbers or parts, The installments are released as separate publications or in sequential issues of a journal, newspaper, radio show, or podcast.
WHO SHOULD SERIALIZE YOUR BOOK?
- Your publisher through their newsletter. This can be done pre-publication or post-publication.
- You personally if you are self-published, or with your publisher’s permission. This can be done pre-publication or post-publication
WHERE CAN YOU SERIALIZE YOUR BOOK?
There are many serialization places with many different deals for authors. All will cost you something. You need to either have a finished book ready to serialize, or you will need to commit to a vigorous schedule to meet the demand of readers (up to 60,000 words per week.) There are some problems with serialization that have resulted in loss of its popularity of late. Here are a few:
- Pacing may be different. Serialized work flows differently than continuous writing.
- You have to put in the effort to build your audience for your serial. It doesn’t happen automatically. You might have a larger audience with your blog.
- Loss of credibility due to errors. Because serializing a new, unpublished work means it is unedited, you will have the benefit of feedback from readers (should you have readers.) However, readers are not always forgiving of errors.
In spite of all of this, serialization can increased visibility and help garner new readers in general. It is helpful mostly to those who can and do write prolifically!
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO SERIALIZE YOUR BOOK?
- on your website’s blog
- in your newsletter
- sent to your mailing list (through a service such as Mailchimp)
- on the writing platform Medium
- through a journal or newspaper (online or print)
SHOULD YOU SERIALIZE BEFORE OR AFTER PUBLICATION?
- PRE-PUBLICATION: If you serialize pre-publication you can hone your work through reader responses and make editorial changes based on feedback prior to publication. You would monetize other books by linking to them with your author signature at the end of the installment.
- POST-PUBLICATION: If you serialize post-publication you can be sure people will find typo’s and have complaints. Although you’ll have to just take the criticism you’ll get when you serialize your already published book — people will recommend changes you’re not going to make — some might click over and finish reading by purchasing the book. You would monetize by adding a link after your author signature at the end of the installment. An unknown author might get better results serializing post-publication. That way, you can include a byline at the end of each installment with a link to the book. It is still an exclusive serial to the newspaper.
WHEN NOT TO SERIALIZE YOUR BOOK?
Don’t put your book on a serialization platform unless it is pre-publication or self-published. If your book is published then you’ll need permission from your publisher. It could violate your contract with your publisher to serialize your book.
A PLAN FOR SERIALIZATION FOR THE INTREPID AUTHOR:
- have more than one book available for sale through regular channels
- select your worst seller
- release a chapter of your already published book each week on the platform of your choosing (READ GUIDELINES CAREFULLY; some require unpublished books)
- Put the chapter on your blog, too
- also send reminders via your newsletter
- take it down right after the last chapter (with advanced notice) and put up a link to the Ebook (these are electronic book readers) and offer a discount on the print book or series to these readers.
- determine how much time you will devote each week to writing and promoting your books
- post around the 5 chapters at once and update twice a week for the algorithm.
- Best results post a chapter at least once a day for two weeks.
- 1800 – 2000 words per chapter minimum.
- interested readers won’t pick up a series with less than 100 pages.
- Pimp your book; nobody knows it’s there.
A REVIEW OF MEDIUM.COM
medium has over 60 million readers a month. Anyone who has a Medium account can write for Medium — there’s no other vetting process involved. To get started, simply sign up for a free Medium account (or upgrade to the full $5/month membership for unlimited access), and you’re ready to start writing from there. My recommendation: Sign up for Medium using Facebook. That way all of your existing connections from Facebook who are on Medium will automatically be following your account once it’s created. If you sign up using Twitter, your Twitter profile photo and bio will be automatically synced to your Medium account.
you have the ability to a) add writers to your publication, b) edit and publish the stories that are submitted by your writers, and c) review the metrics for all of the stories that are part of your publication. As the publication’s creator, you’ll also have the ability to appoint new editors (so they can do all of that stuff I just mentioned).
“Share” and “Publish.”
Clicking “Share” will generate a link to the draft of your story, which you can share with anyone — even if they don’t have a Medium account. And the people you share the draft with will also have the option of leaving you notes.
In order to see how your stories (and responses) are performing, you can go to the “Stats” page using the URL medium.com/me/stats. You can also navigate to the “Stats” page via the dropdown menu at the top right of the Medium homepage (the bell icon).
Medium’s policies are thorough and appropriate to protect writers and readers: https://policy.medium.com/medium-rules-30e5502c4eb4
You are allowed to cross-post content from your blog to Medium, provided you own the rights for the content.
- YOU CANNOT Stories where the content is clipped with the purpose of linking to the rest of the article on a different website
- Repeatedly using responses or other interactions as a method of promotion or marketing
Third-party advertising and sponsorships are not allowed. While you may promote your own business, you may not advertise or promote third-party products, services, or brands through Medium posts
You must disclose affiliate links. Affiliate links, such as link out to Amazon with your code, or any other link out where you will receive a commission or other value, are allowed in posts. But, you must disclose somewhere in the post that it includes affiliate links.
- If the link directs users to your own platform to subscribe to your newsletter, blog or other content you create, then in your Medium content immediately next to the link you must disclose that the link will take the user offsite outside of Medium
To prevent fraud and abuse, you must:
- Include a link to your active project domain in your user account bio.
- Use an email address from that domain as your verified Medium account email, and maintain that email account actively.
- Link at least one consistently-branded social media account (Facebook or Twitter) to your Medium account. That social account should also link out prominently to the same domain as is included in your Medium user bio.
- Include a prominent about page with up-to-date contact information on your project website.
- Unless otherwise agreed in writing, by submitting, posting, or displaying content on or through the Services, you grant Medium a nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid, and sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your content in all media formats and distribution methods now known or later developed on the Services.
- Medium needs this license because you own your content and Medium therefore can’t display it across its various surfaces (i.e., mobile, web) without your permission.
A REVIEW OF PUBLISH ONLINE
Publish Online lets you publish anything online. The only thing you need is an Adobe subscription. You can publish a digital version of an InDesign document that works on any device, in any modern web browser, without the need to install a plug-in. The document can include buttons, slideshows, animation, audio, and video.
“After you publish your documents, you can share the online document URL so anyone can view the document in a beautiful, simple, online reading experience, which is available on any device and on any platform. With a single click, you can quickly share the online document on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, or over email. The document can also be embedded on any website or blog using the embed code provided by clicking the embed option on the viewing layout.”
I use Publish Online to create Anamcara Press’s online magazine, The Write Bridge. It is easy enough to publish and distribute with Publish Online, and there are no cons, however you still need people to send the link to!
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF SERIALIZING YOUR BOOK ON ONE OF THE MANY PLATFORMS?
- The episodes can be turned into a book. All of them must first be removed from the platform, however.
- You don’t need a finished book.
- You get immediate feedback (potentially)
- Once you’ve published the book, you cannot republish it to the platform. You can only upload unpublished material.
- “Published material” includes writing that was previously published but has been unpublished
- The content must be exclusive; it cannot be available for free or as an ebook anywhere else.
A REVIEW OF TWO SERIALIZATION PLATFORMS
RADISH: Radish hosted about 700 active writers who created original serialized fiction for about 300,000 readers according to a 2017 article in PW). Sold to Kakao Entertainment
of Korea to assist Kakao’s fast-growing global webtoons and web novel business.
Writers send a sample of a least 30 pages, and their story pitch. Must send links to other writing platforms and examples of previous work.
Because Radish’s royalty plan is hard (impossible?) to find on their website and app, I find it sketchy.
“If you have a book [unpublished] manuscript you would like us to consider, we request that you send the first chapter and a one-page synopsis of the book. If, after reviewing the chapter and synopsis, we think the book is likely to be right for Narrative, we will ask to see the complete manuscript for further consideration. Our response time for submissions is from four to twelve weeks … Each novel that we serialize will remain available to readers, in its entirety, in our Archive. … We will also use our best efforts to bring attention to your work, as we are able …”
- YOU MAY LOSE YOUR COPYRIGHT
- BAD PUBLISHING DEAL – less than 30% author portion (I didn’t continue reading after that. This was admittedly for the privilege of them publishing your book, not necessarily representing the cost to the author for serialization.)
If you don’t already have an author platform (a website, a blog with posts of your writing, a newsletter, and social media presence), then serializing your writing on a serialization platform will not likely benefit you.
If you do have an author platform, think twice and do your research before committing to any one platform to publish your writing. Some have very bad terms for authors. Some have good terms, but you’ll have to seek your own audience.
Try the stardust rule, and sprinkle everywhere!