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Monday, April 20, 2015

Musings on Serial Fiction, a Guest Post by Anne Louise Bannon

Anne Louise Bannon, author of Fascinating Rhythm, is joining us today to get your feedback on how readers feel about serialized fiction.  Is it relevant and appealing for today's reader?  Please comment below to let her know your thoughts!

By Anne Louise Bannon

 I'm afraid this is not one of those wonderful posts where I solve the problems of the world with my succinct, yet powerful prose. I'm not going to solve any problems. I'm writing because I have a problem and don't know what to do. So I'm going to throw it out there for all of you to weigh in and see what happens.
   I'm trying to figure out if serializing a novel on a blog is a viable way of publicizing it before publication. Or even another way to publish a novel or story, in general. You see, I've got my nice little cozy Fascinating Rhythm out now, in which my two heroes search the streets and speakeasies of 1924 New York City to find out who killed her boss. But there's a sequel, Bring Into Bondage. Would it make sense to publish it as a serial on my blog before putting it into book form? Or maybe serialize one of my other novels?
            I already have WhiteHouseRhapsody.com, a romantic fiction serial about a single president and his aide trying not to fall in love with each other. Years ago, I decided to do that one as a blog because the novel just wouldn't end. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of it. It hasn't exactly taken off.
            Even though there is a sizable community out there publishing serial fiction, I'm not entirely convinced that it's going to get popular enough to use it as a promotional vehicle.
            On the plus side, folks love novel series. And TV series (yes, that's relevant, I'll explain in a minute). And Charles Dickens did very well by the fiction serial, admittedly over 150 years ago, but the way the Internet works, there are some of the same advantages to reading this way. Fiction serials are published in easy digestible chunks, so that you can read an episode or two while commuting, for example, or during a quick work break.
            On the other hand, it's not like novels are that expensive these days, as they were in Dickens' day. Most folks could afford a penny paper every so often, as opposed to a whole novel, which made reading a story over several editions of a paper much easier. Nor is it that hard to pick up and read a bit of a full novel, especially when you've got e-readers that will hold your place for you.
            But there are two more important reasons why I don't think serial fiction will fly. One is that Amazon tried selling it about three years ago and dropped the program pretty quickly. It's possible they just didn't give it a chance, but methinks there just wasn't enough of a market. The other reason is something that's happening in the world of Television.
            Up until last year, I was a TV critic and had been one for over 15 years. So, as you might imagine, I'm usually pretty up on how people consume media. And the big trend these days is binge viewing – watching all of a series' season in one fell swoop, as opposed to watching week by week. Whether they use a DVR or a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, more and more people are watching series kind of like they read novels – in large chunks at a time.
            This is interesting. People love investing themselves in a great extended storyline with characters they care about, but now have the freedom to watch several episodes in a row rather than wait for a new one each week. And they're increasingly choosing to do just that.
            That being said, it is possible folks just don't know about the serial fiction alternative. Maybe Amazon just didn't give it enough of a chance.

            So I'm putting it out there. Do you like the idea of reading a story over several months in small bits or would you prefer to binge read, like you would a novel? I think it's a question worth asking, even if I didn't have some personal skin in the game.

About the Author
Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. She also writes the romantic fiction serial WhiteHouseRhapsody.com. She and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters.


  1. The you for joining us Anne Louise! I prefer to read my stories in one swoop and pretty much steer clear of serial fiction. I read several of the serials that Amazon put out a few years back, but only after they were published all together. I am having a hard time watching this season of Broadchurch on a week to week basis, and much preferred it when I was able to binge watch season 1. I guess I am a slave to instant gratification!!!

  2. On Facebook, Judy Gardner says"

    "Yes I read them all the time from several of the writers I read"

  3. I prefer a complete novel. And I am a great binge watcher.

  4. Price is certainly an issue. With a multi-part serial priced at 99c for each episode, you can often end up spending more than you would for an entire novel, especially one released by an indie.

  5. I've wondered about this, too. I knew a blogger who serialized several short stories on her blog and I was there every week for the next installment, and there were other readers who were following them too. But these were really short pieces. I knew I wasn't going to be kept hanging for long. If I'm seriously into a novel, I resent having to put it down. I probably wouldn't read a whole novel that way by choice.

  6. Being as old as I am but not as old as your mother, I would find spreading it out over a long period of time very hard. I would forget what happened at the beginning as well as the middle.
    Your favorite Missouri Uncle.

  7. I don't like books broken into smaller pieces but will read anything from some authors. It is hard enough to wait between full novels that are complete. Cliffhangers drive me crazy and serial are natural cliffhangers.

  8. I agree with your favorite Missouri uncle: I would forget what was going on from one installment to the next. That being said, I've never actually tried serial fiction on a blog, so maybe I'm not a good one to ask. Good luck!

  9. i love short sequences of stories. I prefer to read it online as i tend to travel a lot...


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