Get to grips: What even is serialization?
Before we jump straight into something that may seem unfamiliar to some of you budding authors out there, let’s make a small overview of what serial novels or ‘serialization’ really are. I’ll use the term ‘serialization’ throughout as it’s slightly easier to generalize with and hopefully will lend some perspective as to how you can take advantage of it.
Essentially serialization does what it says, meaning that it allows an author to write and release their work in specific pre-determined segments, be they pages, chapters, or even full novels within a much larger series. Much like a TV series, you can craft your serialization in a similar way, choosing to leave the reader waiting for more or giving them something they never could have expected at an earlier stage in the serial. If this is all sounding very ‘Hollywood’ don’t fret, you’re in good hands! Serialization isn’t actually anything new, novels have been being serialized since forever so it’s not a big deal, what is a big deal is how you utilize it to your advantage in your own vernacular.
Let’s break it down: Why should I bother with serialization?
Let’s trade places for a moment; if you’re an aspiring author put yourself in your reader’s’ shoes and vice versa. As an author you’re going to want to engage your reader no matter what and if you’re not quite ready for an entire novel, then releasing chapter by chapter can be a perfect solution. This method, which is often seen in online reading/writing communities, frequently proves to be one of the people’s favourites as it creates a demand regardless of the popularity of the novel itself.
Equally good to note is that as an author, often working under stress (it’s a hard life guys we know) you may find yourself pushed for deadlines, in which case; serialize! It’s a win win for authors. You can take a more collected view of how your work is developing without having to worry about an epic conclusion or a tricky plot hole whilst subsequently creating a demand by alluding to even more engaging content in the chapter to follow. Readers will often engage more with a serialized novel due to that ‘ooh what’s going to happen’ feeling that’s created without them even realizing. Use this to your advantage.
Time to get to work: How do I serialize my novel?
Okay, so now you know generally what serialization entails and why you should bother; so how do you go about actually doing it? Well, it’s really not that much different from the means you’ve already been using to publish or display your work, but seeing as we live in a digital world, let’s start with the internet. Across any social channels, or writing platforms such as Inkitt, you’re able to serialize your work at your own pace by releasing an initial chapter or excerpt, then scaling up as needed. Let’s be honest, this basic premise isn’t too interesting. Serialization works best when you develop a following as you publish, this way you’re directly feeding your readers all your juicy content piece by piece whilst simultaneously gaining invaluable feedback from your toughest critics. From a literary perspective, serialization will also allow you to not only take stock of your fictional universe as it unfolds but also develop more intricate plot features as you grow with your characters. What I’m referring to here is a ‘story arc’ within your serialization. And if you’re not following what I mean by story arc, think television series like ‘Lost’ and ‘Breaking Bad’, series which seem to just add and add and add with no rhyme or reason as the seasons progress. Where this may seem unorganized or even intimidating, it’s really not! You can create story arcs of varying sizes to allow your plot a certain depth of complexity without having to worry about the possible questions that may arise…yet.
In essence, serialization is a great tool, especially today, to not only build and engage your reader base, but to also to allow you some creative room to breathe as a writer. Setting your own deadlines for smaller chunks of text and knowing you have an eager fan base waiting for the next instalment should almost always make for a more interactive and enjoyable writing experience.