Tag Archives: novel

Thoughts on Publishing – Serial Publishing Methods

I recently got back notes from our beta reader for The Multiverse Chronicles, and one of the questions we asked her was whether or not she would read it in serial format (in this case, one episode a week). We want to make sure that when we release the episodes that the method of release will work well for readers.

Though she said that she enjoyed the episodes that she read, she also said that she personally wouldn’t read it in the serial format. She explained the reason was because the first two episodes (two weeks of content) had a lot of characters to keep track of, and given that the episodes alternate between two groups, that was a long time to wait to find out what happened to the main character from the first scene.

As an alternative, she suggested releasing several chapters at once, but at longer intervals, so that readers would have a chance to get grounded in the story before having to wait for the next installment.

In a sense, this is what I’m doing with The Wishing Blade series, but with a several-month interval. Technically, each book will fit together as one larger, complete book, though each one is meant to have a semi-complete story on its own.

Our beta reader suggested looking at Stephen King’s The Green Mile as an example of releasing several chapters at once, a serialized novel that was released monthly in 1996. From what I gathered during my (Wikipedia) research, The Green Mile was released in six parts, once per consecutive month, each paperback book around 100 pages until the last book, at 144 pages). Later the publisher released a compiled edition.

Now, I haven’t read the book, so I’m not sure how complete each part was, (though I did try to skim through a few reviews to get a feel for it, and I’m still not sure), so I don’t know how much of a cliffhanger each episode may or may not have been. Click here for more information about the original release of The Green Mile books.

But this research did lead me to thinking about the various options involved in releasing a serialized novel.

Originally, Isaac and I had intended the Multiverse episodes to be stand-alone short stories that fit a larger story arc, but the story arc took over. and now we have a serialized novel on our hands.

The options (with variation, depending on the author) are generally to release episodes or chapters every few days, once a week, every few weeks, or monthly/bi-monthly.

Due to time constraints, Isaac and I decided not to release episodes more than once a week. Otherwise there would be a long span of time between the beginning and end of each “season.”

However, if you have a complete novel, or if you want to write daily and release the new parts as their written, a faster release schedule may be the way to go.

Releasing weekly or every few days could work great if you have cliffhangers and an audience who is excited for the anticipation of waiting for the next episode. Here, having a story that hooks the reader and doesn’t let go, but demands a faster release schedule, may work well.

Though I haven’t read it personally, I found one example to be Worm, a completed web serial by Wildblow. In their case, they released chapters twice a week (sometimes three times, if donations met a specific goal). Also, The Legion of Nothingwhich (according to the info at the top left corner of its home page) updates twice a week.

Interesting side-note: According to Merriam-Webster.com, bi-weekly can either mean “twice a week” or “every two weeks.” Gotta love the consistency there.

Releasing every few weeks might work better for stories with larger episodes, where the author wants time to make edits before the release, or for writers who are writing the story as they go, but want time for feedback to develop, and time to implement that feedback.

Releasing monthly or even bi-monthly seems like it would work better for longer episodes or short books that have a reasonably complete story arc, however, my current research suggests that stories with strong cliffhangers can work well at this extended rate, too.

One romance series I’ve heard has done well, Renee George’s The Lion Kings, (according to its description/reviews, since I have not read this series, either) has each book as a fairly short installment that involved cliffhangers, where the author released the books on Kindle at around a month or so apart. Of course, audiences preferences may vary between genres.

Then there’s The Martian by Andy Weir. According to Smithsonian.com, The Martian was released on his blog at the rate of one chapter every six to eight weeks, though it does sound like he made adjustments per reader feedback. I’m not sure how long each chapter was, though, and since I haven’t read it, I’m not sure what specific part of the book may have drawn in the large audience that it did. (The Business Insider suggests that the author’s enthusiasm for science attracted a lot of other readers who were also interested in science, which helped propel its popularity forward. The eventually release of a Kindle edition continued to boost its popularity until it was picked up by a traditional publisher).

I haven’t tested out these methods myself, but I wondered if Isaac and I could mix a couple of these ideas together.

In this case, we’re thinking of releasing six episodes (chapters) to start with, which should give readers time to get familiar with the characters and the world, but also leaves off at a major turning point for the story. Then, a week later, we’ll start releasing one episode a week until the story is complete.

We already know that we’ll have at least 28 episodes, and since we originally planned on a six month schedule of weekly releases, offering the first six episodes to start with would help keep this plan on track. Not only that, but it would give readers more reassurance that this will be completed, since they can begin to see how the story will progress. As a bonus, leaving off the first week after the sixth episode would give readers a bit more idea of the conflict that our Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel game (which influenced the story) is about.

So now I just need to see if I can get all six episodes edited before the release date. If so, then we may give this method a shot.

If that doesn’t work well, we can always switch it up later.

The main thing is that we’re trying to go for consistency, that way potential readers know what to expect.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. 🙂

Have you found any serialized novels or blog serials that worked well in terms of how they released each segment?

Related Posts:

Thoughts on Writing – What Does A Serial Episode Need? (The Multiverse Chronicles)

Thoughts on Publishing – A Novel or Three Novellas? (The Wishing Blade series)

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Novel or Three Novellas?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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. 🙂

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Behind the Scenes – Fallenwood

Another cover for Melange Books.

This is actually for the book prior to Forgetting Fallenwood, but the book is being re-released by Melange Books, and so it’s getting a new cover. For this one, I tried capturing the feel of the other covers I’ve done for this series, including text placement, colors, blur effects, and the fonts I used. I quite enjoyed playing with the concept of the unicorn, as well. The author had mentioned on the art form that it might be neat to have the unicorn somewhere on the cover. I took the idea and ran. 🙂

This is the end result:

SBibb - Fallenwood - Book Cover

Stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-black-horse-runs-image14200120
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-woodland-glade-image22617867
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-wild-eland-image5106959

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NaNoWriMo 2013

Hello everybody! We interrupt this week’s usual cover reveal (Next week I’ll be revealing the details behind a new cover, don’t worry), to remind all you writerly-inclined folks out there that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. A couple days away. As in, I really should finish reading through my current manuscript (Distant Horizon, book 3, part 1) so I can be ready to start writing part 2 of book 3. Anyways.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s National Novel Writing Month, which just so happens to be set in the busy month of November. You set out to write 50,000 words in one month, racing against yourself to crank out the rough draft of a short novel. (Or, if your like me and some of the other rebels out there, starting your word count as of November 1st to finish a current manuscript). The goal isn’t to have a complete, polished manuscript, it’s more to motivate yourself to keep writing, not get hung up on going back and re-editing, and simply get that idea that’s in your head down on paper… or in computer hard drive space.  The computer works a lot easier for that word count check in the end.

There’s no punishment for failure, it’s all in good fun. I’ve participated in one year previously (2008, that nice, reasonably quiet freshman year of college). Though I ended up trunking that particular novel, a few of its characters have snuck their personas into my other works. As have a few ideas. Even if you don’t use your story later (I didn’t even try editing that one), you may still find some good from it. Plus, it’s fun to watch your word count slowly heading for the 50,000 mark, and if you want a writerly community there to cheer you on, they’ve got the forums, too.

So, what are you waiting for? Got a novel in mind? Always wanted to write but never had the excuse? Want to get that pesky first draft done? Then check out NaNoWriMo’s website to get started. 🙂

http://nanowrimo.org

So, anyone else out there participating this year? 🙂

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Swann Saga – Cover Reveal

This is a series set of covers for Melange Books. They asked me to redo the current set, so this is what we came up with. My goal was that each would have a coherent feeling of being part of a series, while also setting the mood. In order to do that, I used the same font and relative placement for the title and author name. I also framed the images with the same leaf texture, and had the faces at the same general placement and size. Something to consider whenever creating a series of covers is how to keep them consistent. 🙂

SBibb - Swann Saga Cover SBibb - Swann Saga CoverSBibb - Swann Saga Cover

Stock images from Dreamstime.

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Cover Reveal – Slip Sliding Away

This is a wrap around cover I did for Barking Rain Press.

(You can find the book here: http://www.barkingrainpress.org/dd-product/slip-sliding-away/ ).

SBibb - Slip Sliding Away

(See a larger version on my Deviant Art Account: http://sbibb.deviantart.com/art/Slip-Sliding-Away-Cover-394872911 )

For this particular cover, I actually did a photoshoot (three, to get the angle and items right) of my own. The publisher wanted a desk with the drink on it and the photos, and when I first started trying to put it together with stock, I realized I’d have a much easier time if I just set the shoot up myself (especially since we’d just finished that dresser…. which worked well for a desk setting). I set up the glass, notepad, and alarm clock, as well as used an empty picture frame and two gift cards to hold the place for the photos. (Note to self: Next time someone has the stock photos they want used already picked out, just print them off and put directly in the image… it’ll save editing time later). I also changed the card reflections to that of the stock photos (from Shutterstock). For the alarm clock, I quickly discovered the numbers weren’t going to appear on their own (same reason you can’t have your shutter speed faster than 1/200 or you get a black line through your image). We had considered using a digital font for the numbers on the clock, but I found the LEDs just faintly showed in the image, had so I used the overlay tools to bring out the parts I needed.

I also changed the color of the overall image so it’d look more like night (I played with in-camera color settings, but found Photoshop was a bit more versatile for me). I did try to angle the lights (Alien Bees) so they’d look more like a lamp or low window.

 

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Cover Reveal – The Light of Day

Today we have another cover for Melange Books. This one was fun to do, largely in part because of playing with expression to achieve the mood I wanted to convey. For example, take a look at this stock photo: (http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-female-health-care-worker-image22294246) and compare her expression to the final cover. Liquefy filter and puppet warp tool in Photoshop– extremely useful. I made it so she no longer had as wide of a smile (based on the description of the book, I didn’t think a super cheerful tone would be in the cover’s best interest). Once I eliminated the teeth, I raised the chin, tweaked the corners of her eyes and lips, and even changed the nose and wrinkles of the cheeks just slightly to achieve the desired effect.

The other big edit that came for this one was using multiple pictures for the guy in front. Since he was supposed to be in a hospital gown, I had to add that in, which meant I needed to show more of his back. As a result, I merged three different images together to create the final picture.

And, on a final note: When you need a certain angle but the stock photo cuts off too soon on the person, the strategic placement of colorful title bars can prove useful. 🙂

SBibb - The Light of Day Cover

Photoshop CS6.

Stock photos from: Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-female-health-care-worker-image22294246
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-black-business-man-image1723303
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-docotor-s-office-image11152240
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-portrait-young-female-doctor-examining-male-patient-image29672475
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-young-african-american-man-flexing-triceps-his-studio-shot-image30583323

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