In general, I write novels. Then I trim said novels because their early drafts are excessively long. However, I’ve recently become fascinated with the concept of serial novelization. You release the novel in several parts, with the idea that readers know they aren’t getting a complete work at one time and that the next installment will come in a timely manner. I toyed with the idea of doing this for my current manuscript, The Wishing Blade, with each installment between 10,000 to 15,000 words. But as I started the rewriting stage, I realized that each section didn’t feel complete. The sections left on a cliffhanger, and weren’t really satisfying.
The other serialized option I’d studied was to write a complete short story (or novella), and make sure it had a full beginning, middle, and end, even if it was part of a larger work. At the moment, I’m thinking that might actually work well for The Wishing Blade. Each installment would be around 30,000 words, maybe more, with an expected three installments. I could release the story sooner, while still producing a reasonable quality work. Each story would be complete in itself, so there would hopefully be fewer unhappy readers who aren’t satisfied with the ending. With each installment, the reader should feel the series has made progress. Think about the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. (I think Legend of Korra and Fullmetal Alchemist where this way in their first seasons, too, but it’s been long enough since I’ve watched them that I don’t remember). For the most part, each episode (or set of episodes) felt complete, even though there was a larger story arc in progress. Granted… I’m still in the second season of Avatar, so that might change.
So here’s how it would work.
1. I separate The Wishing Blade into three novellas. They’re tentatively called Magic’s Stealing, The Shadow War, and The Immortal Realm. (What do you think of the names? Good? Bad? Neutral?)
2. I then figure out the story arc for each individual novella. This is crucial, because while reading them in order would be preferable, I also want readers to be able to pick up book three, enjoy it, then go back to book one. I personally have a habit of grabbing whichever book interests me… even if it’s in the middle of the series.
So the novellas would look something like this:
- Magic’s Stealing: Focus on the loss of ribbon magic in Cirena. Main character who hates magic is suddenly one of the few who can still use magic, and she’s trying to figure out what happened to the magic and where she fits into the whole scheme.
- The Shadow War: Main characters get separated. One works from within the shadows to foil the trickster god’s plot to kill the gods and get magic for himself. The other seeks out glass-stone, a material which has been proven to kill shadows and not be susceptible to shadow magic, then seeks to protect and warn others in the mortal realm. (For those of you who read my post on creating fantasy languages, this is where word magic shows itself).
- The Immortal Realm: Character in shadow realm escapes into ‘immortal realm’ and seeks out artifact (from book one) which could wipe out shadows for good. Other character defends Cirena’s capitol city from the shadows’ massive onslaught. They’ll either succeed in their separate goals, which serves to aid the other, or they’ll fail and the shadows will take over the kingdom.
3. Edit book one and make shiny. Send to beta readers for feedback. Work on a different story in the meantime (either finish the rough draft for The Wishing Blade: The Shadow War, or work on long-overdue edits to book two in my husband’s and my Distant Horizon universe). Once beta readers return comments, I’ll review said comments, make edits as necessary, then set book one aside for a while. Work on The Shadow War in the meantime.
4. Polish book one. Do what editing I can, maybe get an additional beta reader to proofread for errors.
5. Begin publishing process. Upload to Kindle and Smashwords, and consider other markets (I’m currently considering Drive Thru Fiction and Draft2Digital, but I haven’t had experience with either). For now, The Wishing Blade will be in ebook format only. I hope that once I have all three books out, I’ll be able to earn enough from them to purchase a block of ISBNs. Then I’ll need to decide if I want to make a collected print edition with all three books, or make a separate edition for each story. (If you’re looking for a length comparison, I’ve been looking at the old Animorphs series. Wrong genre and age group, but the word count is about right.)
6. Continue process with book two. I’m hoping to release each book around two months apart, though I may change my mind on that once I get further into this process.
Granted, there’s a lot more going on in the background (my husband and I setting up a partnership to publish this, and we’re picking up the DBA, EIN, and trying to figure out tax forms, etc…) but this is what I’ve got going on in the front end. Hopefully you found this post to be interesting, and I’d love to hear what your thoughts are regarding this process. 🙂