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Would publishing my story like a TV series be successful?


I'm considering writing my latest story in the style of a TV series. The plan is to write 13 episodes of 10-12,000 each. Episodes will be published weekly on Kindle over a three month period. If season one garners even mild interest, I will write season 2 in the off-season and repeat the procedure. At the end of each season the complete season would be published in a dead tree version.

Is publishing my story like this likely to be successful?

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This question was closed on Oct 15, 2019 at 16:30 by System. New answers can no longer be added.

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2 answers


The publishing model you're suggesting isn't actually all that new.

Serialised novels - novels published in newspapers or magazines, one chapter at a time - were very common back in the 19th century, starting with Charles Dickens' publication of The Pickwick Papers in 19 monthly instalments between 1836-37. Novels published this way include Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Anna Karenina.

With the rise of TV and radio, print media largely moved away from serialising novels, but it still happens occasionally; Rolling Stone magazine serialised a draft version of The Bonfire of the Vanities between 1984-85, and Stephen King experimented with publishing his unfinished novel The Plant as a serialised e-book all the way back in 2000. Now, in 2019, there's an iOS/Android app called Serialbox that works exactly as you describe: stories are divided into "episodes" like a TV show would be, with new episodes released weekly.

Serialbox seems to mostly cater for sci-fi and fantasy, and I don't know whether you'd be able to publish your specific story through them. But their very existence tells me that the answer is: yes, there is still a market for serialised literature. Whether these serialised works are "successful", and whether anyone would be interested in your specific work, is probably a matter of opinion.

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Is publishing my story like this likely to be successful?

I doubt it, I doubt enough Kindle readers would be interested.

If by "published" on Kindle you mean sold on Kindle, I think you have a marketing issue. Sold at what price? Who is going to buy the first installment, knowing it is not a complete story? Thirteen episodes, at 99c, is $12.87, almost twice the price of a published book by a well known author. You are competing with 99c novels, and $2.99 novels by known authors, not to mention the free Kindle offers.

You might get some takers if it was all free, but can they trust you to make the final installment free? Can they trust you to even finish the 13 episodes you promised?

And even then, if I'm willing to try an unknown author, it would be worth it to pay 99c for a whole book I can read in a week, that I know is done, instead of reading 13,000 words on a Saturday morning (less than an hour for most people) and having to remember the book for a week before I read the next installment.

I think the instant gratification demands of the modern world, along with the problematic cost structure and trust issues, will leave you with a very tiny audience.

There is a difference between a book and a television show; TV is a visual experience, with recognizable characters, and typically an easily remembered plot line in progress. A book is a literary experience that all happens in the reader's head and imagination. It isn't as easy to remember as turning on a TV show; the show writers and actors make sure you remember the characters and setting and what happened "previously". Unlike Dickens's time, in the modern world, I think there are too many other things competing for our memory for this approach to gain any traction.

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