It’s Serial Time – Tips On Writing Episodic Fiction for Self-Publishing

Lana PecherczykBook Reviews, Self Publishing2 Comments

What is a Serial?

(Apart from the stuff you eat in the morning.)

Robin Lockslay – Serial Fiction

My first go at episodic fiction is ‘Robin Lockslay’ – a re-imagined version of Robin Hood.

It’s an episodically released story. Think of a TV show were you get an episode every week or so. The same goes for the written word. Amazon has sections where you can purchase/upload your story in short blocks at regular intervals.

What’s the benefit of doing a Serial?

Ha! This is the first time I’m doing one, so I can’t say from experience. I can pass on the information that I’ve found that has led me to want to tackle this channel myself. I’ve heard that it can be a good marketing strategy, if you have each episode at a low price, then you can entice the reader to buy the pre-ordered next episode. Capitalise on them being hooked on your story. I’ve even heard of putting the first episode as ‘perma-free’ in order to hook the readers and help grow your readership.

Why am I doing a serial?

I hate waiting. It really sucks. I hate waiting to read an awesome story, and I hate waiting to publish my awesome story. So, when I read about serials, I thought I had to give it a crack. The writing process can be long and tedious, especially for heavy plot driven novels. I know that the sequels to my debut novel, Hunting for Witches, will take a while to get out to readers, (by a while, I mean at least 6 months) so I wanted to have a quick, fun, and short read published so I could not only see progress under my name on Amazon, but also something to show my friends and family that yes – I am getting stuff done.

Benefits

  1. You can set your own publishing schedule. If you want to weekly, daily, monthly; you can. Amazon lets you publish your items as a pre-order. I’m going to publish my serial schedule here on this site shortly. Look for it in my books page.
  2. You can choose the length of your serial. Each episode can be what ever page, or word size that you want. Amazon has ‘short read’ categories that it will allocate your book in automatically based on your page length.
  3. You can set your price. I can’t add my first story perma free at the start, but once it’s online, I can have Amazon price match it when they see I’m offering the first episode for free elsewhere. I might try putting the first episode on Wattpad, or use Smashbooks.
  4. You don’t have to wait until you’ve finished the book before you start publishing. If people really like your story the extra downloads will motivate you to finish the book. If they don’t download the story, then you haven’t really lost anything have you?
  5. You can have fun with the ‘pantsing’ style plotting. Meaning, there is little outlining. You come up with the story on the fly. I loved this! It felt as exciting to me as reading a novel.
  6. If you stick to the minimal outlining method, it’s a great way to unblock your brain.

Negatives

  1. You can’t go back and add in the bits you forgot to foreshadow. Well … technically you can, but that means you’ll be changing the story and is unfair to the readers who have already read the episode. If this happens, you need to bite the bullet and just keep writing.
  2. Outlining takes up a lot of time. So if you are a strong plotter, maybe see this as an exercise in loosening up your writing style. Or, just plot like mad before you start.
  3. You have to make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself and choose a genre where it’s not so heavily plot based. I chose the romantic comedy/action mystery genre. Think the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. There’s a lot of random stuff that happens, but in the end, you still get to the finish point. Having a good idea of your climax before you start writing is a good idea.
  4. You need to write fast! So if you are a slow writer, maybe try releasing your episodes once you are fully finished your novel, instead of as you are writing it.

What is my serial?

My serial is called “Robin Lockslay” It is a romantic comedy with a twist of mystery and suspense. As the title suggests, it’s a re-imagining of the historic fable ‘Robin Hood.’ Robin is a girl, and a thief. Here is the blurb:

Robin Hood as you’ve never seen her.

Robin Lockslay, a thief with a heart of gold is caught red-handed relieving Richard Lionhart of his family heirlooms. After Richard discovers Robin giving the loot away to her hungry fellow street urchins, he hires her to ferret out corporate espionage at his multi-billion dollar charitable organisation, The Lionhart Foundation. When Richard goes missing, Robin joins forces with some light fingered friends: Scarlett Wilson, Allana Day, Jonina Little and the mysterious Marius Day. Will she solve the mystery in time to save the man with whom she owes her life?

Here is the first paragraph …

Nominative determinism. It’s a real thing, I kid you not. It’s the theory that a person’s name has inevitable power over the choices you make in life. So, when you hear that my name is Robin Lockslay and I break locks, well, you can make up your own mind. It’s not like the first moment I understood what slay and lock meant that I gravitated toward a hair pin and shoved it in a padlock. Ha! No. There was a series of unfortunate events that led to this moment. A moment where I ran for my life down the tarmac towards a private jet with the son of a billionaire and a case of stolen diamonds.

Comments welcome, and if you would like to be a part of this project as a beta reader, please shoot me a message on the contact page.

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