Growing up in the 80s, I fell in love with TV and comic books, media that told stories in serialized form. Radio used to have serialized narratives in earlier decades. Now, podcasts such as The Magnus Archives and long form actual play TTRPG shows like Critical Role and Revenge of the Gith present grand narratives in serialized episodic content. In previous centuries, novels could be published as serial pieces within newspapers or literary magazines. As I’ve said previously, one of my inspirations for the way I’m presenting the adventures of Sam Hain is serialization. I view a book series as a television show: where each “season” is one story arc that is broken into the individual episodes of the books. As a result, I’m trying to keep my books to around 75,000-80,000 words so they’re long enough to give an enjoyable read but short enough to be read in a three-day weekend.
That said, the serialized publication of novels feels like a thing of the past. And then Amazon announced Kindle Vella. Kindle Vella is supposed to be a way for authors to publish serial narratives where readers “pay” for each episode after the third one by giving tokens that they purchased through Amazon. From what I’ve gathered, each episode will require one token for every one hundred words. Episodes are to be between 500 and 5,000 words in length, which means that I will need three episodes for each chapter, given that my chapters are between 5,500 and 7,000 words on average.
I’ll admit that I was excited when I learned that this format would be available. Now, I don’t plan on publishing the main novels in my series through this medium. However, I am strongly considering using this for companion novels, prequels, short stories/novellas, and other side pieces that don’t quite belong in the main series. I also really like the idea that I can set up publication for “Each Wednesday” or “Each Saturday” so that readers can get the serialized feel that has inspired me. Also, the idea that readers can read and respond to the text as it’s being written intrigues me.\
So with that in mind, I began working on Nights in Red Velvet, a supernatural mystery/paranormal romance that tells the tale of Sam and Carmilla’s first attempt at a relationship five years before Liam’s Doom. I have “published” the first three chapters on Kindle Vella, but the Vella store won’t be available for “several months,” according to recent wording from Amazon.
This frustrates me. I was genuinely excited by the possibilities serialized publication would offer for authors in general and for my stories in particular. If Kindle Vella goes live before June, I will finish the novel in serial form. However, if June arrives and the manuscript is finished, I will remove the story from Vella and launch the eBook on my website for a discounted price in honor of Pride Month along with Liam’s Doom when the period of Amazon exclusivity ends.
So, those are my thoughts on serialized publishing for fiction. What are yours?
My debut novel, Liam’s Doom, is on sale at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Bookshop.org. I request that you support Bookshop.org, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook version is, at present, an Amazon exclusive.