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Serial novels

April 15, 2010

So I’m going to publish Wombat Blues as a series of zines, each chapter a new zine to be distributed once a week or so.  I haven’t come across many novels published like this at the moment – as hard copy self-published snippets.

Publishing serial novels online is a different matter.  This is a growing trend.  Self Publishing Review recently reviewed and recommended some good ones.  Sci fi, fantasy and fan fic are favoured genres.  The online serials that seem to ‘work’ (ie attract and keep readers) are those with easy-to-access chapters and interesting graphics on professional-looking websites.  Have these writers tried and given up on mainstream publishing or are they simply committed to self-publishing or both?  Then there are the serials published on communal sites.  I’ve just checked out ‘Free Novels Online’ and most of the links were dead or led to ads instead of stories.  So add ‘reliable’ to that list of criteria that make serials work.

Who are the great serial novelists?  Dickens, most famously with The Pickwick Papers, is one.  He was my guardian angel while writing Wombat Blues.  I love his huge casts of characters, his convoluted plots, the romance, the tears, the pulpit-thumping diatribes.  Readers would have been queuing to buy each chapter.  In recent times, Stephen King had a go with The Green Mile and The Plant.  Hasn’t done his career any harm either.  When I think about what Dickens and King have in common, you can add ‘page turner’ to that list of criteria I mentioned earlier.

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