Monday, December 3, 2012

The modern serial

There are some books that get self-published because they're not well-written enough for traditional publishing, and there are some books that get self-published because they're not initially perceived as marketable enough for a traditional publisher. The Wool series falls into the latter category.

Please, sir, may I have some more?

Back in the good old days of deerstalker-wearing detectives and orphan boys-turned-heirs, many works of fiction were serialized. We don't see this so much any more, but Wool makes a good case for reviving this tradition in the age of ebooks.

The first Wool novella is free to download on Amazon, and subsequent stories are available for between $0.99 and $2.99. This allows the reader to try the series with no monetary commitment and little time commitment (the first segment is short and reads like a self-contained story).

You can see why printing and distribution costs would make the first-segment-free strategy untenable for print books, and serialized novellas are a bit too experimental for most traditional publishers. But this is perfect for e-publishing, where authors can offer a cost-free preview.

I'll be surprised if more writers don't make use of this format, even if it means offering a free sample chapter of a 90,000-word novel. 

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