The 5 Benefits of Writing and Publishing a Serial
Would you like to write and publish your novel ASAP?
Whether you’re struggling to finally reach the end of your first draft, are overwhelmed with how to revise, or are just completely intimidated by the publishing process—have you considered writing a Serial? What is a Serial, you ask?
Most simply, a Serial is like a TV Show, but in book form. It’s a series of shorter stories that follow a continual storyline and are fast-released to the public over a few weeks or months. In effect, your serial can become easily “bingeable” content, establishing you as a published author multiple times over, helping you to grow your readership and keep them engaged.
In working towards publishing my own YA Fantasy Serial this year, I’ve done a ton of research and talked to many authors who’ve found success with the serial format. So, let’s talk about five reasons you might consider writing a serial and what that might look like for you!
Before we get started, I’d like to introduce you to Brittany Wang!
Brittany is a YA Fantasy author and Youtuber who helps young writers find their community and finish their novels. You can check out her site here, and read the post I wrote for her while you’re there: How to Use Pinterest to Discover Your Novel’s Vision 🙂 – Lewis
How Writing a Serial Can Benefit You
- 1 How Writing a Serial Can Benefit You
- 2 What Kind of Serial Should You Write?
- 3 Let’s Do This Together!
Improve Your Writing, Faster:
First, there are a few ways serials can help improve your writing and publishing process.
While a normal novel is typically 50-100k+ words, each episode of a serial generally ranges from 17-25k—sometimes shorter! Hence, much faster to write. Plus, as you work on each episode, you’re practicing and scaling your story structure, pacing, and character arc skills over and over, improving your craft with each completed story.
By the way, if speed is one of your goals, you should also check out Lewis Jorstad’s Ten Day Novelist series!
Get “Proof of Concept” and Net Interest:
Writing a serial allows you to test out your story concept in a shorter format. If your readers want more, you can follow up with more episodes or even a full-length novel! If not, you can easily move on to your next project without having spent years of your life on a story that possibly never takes off.
Professional Editor and Cover Designer Benefits:
Since editors usually charge by the word, shorter stories equal a cheaper editing experience! You can even work with multiple editors over the course of your serial to see which ones you love most.
With cover designers, most serial writers start out releasing ebooks only (which are cheaper than paperback or hardback covers). Some cover designers also offer deals if you purchase multiple covers at once. Since each episode will have a slightly different cover, you can also experiment to see what design elements connect with your readers most.
Develop a Publishing and Marketing Process:
Publishing and marketing a novel for the first time can be intimidating. With serials, many authors start small, publishing each episode as ebooks first and then getting more advanced with each release. For instance, I’ve seen some authors repackage groups of episodes into “box sets” or even a physical paperback with all episodes included.
Marketing feels more organic as well, because you consistently have a new release to promote. And if you decide to publish a full novel later, you already have your serial for readers to check out next!
Build Momentum and Reader Engagement:
When you publish a novel, you might find readers who love the story.
But with long stretches between publication, you run the risk of losing momentum.
With serials, new episodes might release every few days, weeks, or months, depending on what you decide to do. Fast releasing a continued story with the same characters has huge potential to build committed fans that can’t wait for the next installment, especially if you’re consistently engaging with them through social media or your newsletter.
If you’d like to learn about even more benefits of writing serials and other forms of short fiction, check out the conversation I had with short fiction author Amara Luciano!
What Kind of Serial Should You Write?
Release Your Book Chapter-By-Chapter:
Is the idea of publishing your own serial sounding appealing? Here are some of the MANY ways I’ve seen serials done.
Many authors do a form of serials where they release their full-length novel chapter-by-chapter on platforms like Wattpad, on their author blog, or in their newsletters. Though you wouldn’t be publishing your story for profit this way, you also wouldn’t have to invest money to hire an editor or cover designer.
Your story is technically “published” somewhere and is a great tool to market your writing and grow your readership. Some authors even use this method to get feedback on their stories as they write them and then edit and publish the story later.
I also recently saw Sarra Cannon doing this kind of release on her YouTube channel as a live “read along.” In each video, she read a new chapter of the unpolished draft of her book, which helped her to gain interest in the story and characters and to connect with her fans. Then she edited and published that book for others to purchase!
Break Your Current Novel Into Episodes:
While you can’t sell each individual chapter of a full-length novel on Amazon, you could try dividing your current novel project into chunks of chapters to create longer “Episodes.”
I’ve actually thought about doing this with my upcoming full-length novel (and I still might) but it can be very tricky. While readers on platforms like Wattpad know that they will be reading incomplete segments of a bigger story, book purchasers expect to receive a full story when making a purchase on platforms like Amazon.
That being said, let’s think about a TV show or even a series of full-length novels again.
As long as each of your novel’s episodes has some kind of satisfying story arc (while still letting the reader know there’s more coming in future episodes) it might work! I believe the key here is to examine the story structure of each potential Episode and ask yourself: “Does this segment of the bigger story still have some kind of beginning, a middle, and an end?” The answer might be no, and that’s okay. Not every novel can convert to a serial successfully. But it might be worth looking into if you already have most of a novel written.
Write a Spin-Off for Your Novel:
I’ve also seen some authors choose to write a spin-off serial that will lead up to their full-length novel. This serial takes place in the same world and often follows events that happen before the novel’s timeline takes place. Sometimes they feature the stories of side characters instead of the main character. This helps readers get excited for the full-length novel but also works the opposite way as well. When you go to market the full-length novel, you can tell readers to check out your serial that’s already finished!
Create a Serial From Scratch:
This is the path I personally decided to take, starting with a completely new story idea for my YA Fantasy Serial, temporarily called “Project Handmaidens.”
In my research, I’ve seen serials that range from 4 to 20 episodes in one “season,” but I’ve decided to start with just three for now and build on that if it’s well received. To plot my episodes, I’ve also found it helpful to study TV show structure and have come up with a helpful Five Act Structure outline, which I’ve shared with my Patrons and will be sharing on my YouTube Channel soon!
Let’s Do This Together!
Are you ready to start writing a serial?
Have more questions?
Let’s chat in the comments below. And if you want to learn even more, I’m sharing my own writing and publishing journey with Project Handmaidens and what I’m learning along the way every month on my YouTube Channel. Check out this playlist to follow the journey!
Would you ever consider writing a serial? Let me know in the comments!
Brittany Wang is a Young Adult Fantasy Author passionate about helping writers finish their novels, find writing community, and build their author platform through her YouTube Channel, Mentorship Group, and Author Website Services. When she’s not working on her upcoming novels and serial stories, she loves to travel with her husband and help him lead worship at their local church. You can also grab her free Series Bible Templates on her website to easily organize and plot your story today!