Serialising books has its obvious precedences, from Arabian Nights to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the great Arthur Conan Doyle to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities. That all without mentioning the greatest of all serialisers, the quintesential Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens. Serialising, I have found through the recent experience of the DCI Amos Serial, has its pros and cons.
PRO: Immediate Reader Response
Publishing via the regular route, books take many months if not years between the writers final draft and the moment the first devours his small offering. With a serial, each week or even more frequently, chapters are published and readers pick them up, response is immediate, your still close to the piece, and able to remedy any of your readers pressing concerns in the next episode.
Con: Immediate Reader Response
It’s still very raw, your relationship with the book, still very delicate. The first tentative steps into a novel are usually the most vulnerable when it could all fall apart beneath your tapping fingertips. Now, I have no safety net, no way to shelf a story or plot line that’s not working, the readers read it and liked it or not before it’s had its usual gestation period.
Pro: The readers guess is as good as mine as to how the story ends
It’s fresh, each episode spilling forth onto the screen, tales told before each can be plotted and weaved into the finished story. It’s exciting to meet new twists and turns along the way, which is in many ways the same as writing a regular novel, however in this case, plotting new ideas onto existing words, without the luxury of re-writing those existing parts, is an exciting challenge.
Cons: The readers guess is as good as mine as to how the story ends
Don’t tell a anyone else, but it could all fall apart! What if I get to a point where I realise that the story just doesn’t work. No that won’t happen. Will it?
Every few days I get to finish an episode, edit it, commission the ever talented Chloe Avery to work on the cover, and publish it. In the regular world of writing, all of this takes FOREVER. I am meeting my wonderful editor at Frances Lincoln tomorrow to receive her notes on a manuscript I finished months ago, a strange situation, to go back to something that’s sat dormant on my computer for so long.
Oh look, the pros out weigh the cons! Good stuff.