Back in 2018 I self-published my first ever book of fiction titled For Blood and Fatherland: The War Diary of SD Man Hans Abel under the pen name T.A. Wells.
With zero promotion budget, For Blood was a shot in the dark and failed to become a best seller (hah)! But, then, I heard of the (not-so) novel trend of serialized books that popped up around 2011.
Serializing on Substack or similar system, i.e. writing a longer read in (usually) weekly instalments for a token $5/week (a price less than what you’d pay for a pack of cigarettes in the US), picks up an old idea that has been reinvigorated by the explosion of the online revolution in the last decade. With no printing costs, and plenty of free online writing solutions, serializing is turning into the new rave in town.
Why is serialization back in fashion?
Simple: because the digital age allows for experimentation with the form of the novel in a way that traditional physical publishing could not. ‘What the novel needs again is tension. And the best source for that tension is serialization.’ Another reason: because serialized novels allow the authors to connect with their readers on a more regular basis than a single book does. Then is the question of time: readers are always complaining they do not have time to read a 300-page book. But they can certainly give half an hour every day for a serial instalment. ‘It makes choosing your next read a less daunting task.’
Serializing really got a massive boost with the appearance of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed, which was initialized in 2012 and, eventually, graduated to the movies in 2015.
I found the movie boring and disgusting, but E. L. James in laughing all the way to the bank thanks to a major (global) audience that gets its kicks from bondage erotica and the exploitation of women (the dirtier and nastier the better for the pocket).
Substack has already attracted many writers who wish to serialize their books (see, for example, this, this, and this) and the trend is strengthening by the day. I am creating a separate (serialization) newsletter and, hopefully, you’ll give it a look.