Monday’s Friend: Aheila (2)

I am pleased to welcome Aheila back to my blog, for her second appearance here.

Are Serialized Novels for You?
By Aheila

Since the beginning of my blog, I’ve been posting a weekly chapter of a novel – a fiction format dubbed blog novel, blovel or serialized novel, depending who you’re talking to. I’ve written two of them so far (Unforeseen Dives and Killing Time OST) and will be launching the sequel to Unforeseen Dives on September 6th.

Several aspiring writers told me they contemplated the idea of starting a similar project and asked if I had any advice. Well, today is the day I write the reference post for all these people. 😉

The first thing I always ask them is: Why do you want to write a serialized novel?

To Build a Following
There’s a reason why I put this one first: we’re so often told the current publishing industry requires online presence from authors that we all want to put ourselves out there. That’s okay but a serialized novel is not automatically going to create hordes of fans anxiously await your first book.

Building a following involves a certain number of things, whether you’re writing a personal blog or a serialized novel.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend as much time networking as you do writing. Of course that depends on the following you expect as well as your content; talking about celebrities will make you pop up a lot more often in Google.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a public for online fiction. It’s not going to magically appear on your blog, though. You’ll need to leverage specialized sites such as EpiGuide and Web Fiction Guide along with Twitter, Facebook and standard blog directories. You’ll also want to read and comment on other blogs telling stories in the same genre.

These platforms will draw readers to your serialized novel if you use them properly. The readers will stay if you regularly produce quality content. As a general rule, a steady publication schedule of chapters between 500 and 1,000 words encourages retention. I’d say posting once a week, always on the same day, is pretty much the minimum.

To Be Published
This objective is tricky as it depends on what “to be published” means for you. If you hope a serialized novel will sway the agents you’re querying for another project, then your objective is more to build a following. If you hope to self-publish your serialized novel or have it published by an indie press, you’re all good.

If you want your serialized novel to be published by a major editor, prepare to have your bubble burst.

Publishing a story online means you are using the first publication right. In other words, your serialized novel falls under the same category as a self-published book, aka the category of books major editors will not sign. It doesn’t matter if you take it down after a while or not; your story is considered “published”. You might be able to have major editor republish it once you’re an established author but it won’t be your debut.

To Receive Feedbacks
Serialized novels are great to improve your writing as they force a steady output of quality material. If you’re good at auto-analysing your writing, you can lean what works and what doesn’t pretty quickly; the immediate feedbacks from the readers will show you where they got excited, where you lost them and where you turned them into addicts.

If you expect thorough reviews, you’re out of luck.

What you are posting is perceived as entertainment by your readers. Very few of them will leave a comment (between 10% and 15%, if my experience is any indication). It’s unlikely you’ll get an in-depth analysis of the quality of your writing. Not impossible, just unlikely.

Closing Words
For every situation described above, there are exceptions, writers that have attracted readers without trying, writers that published their serialized novel, and writers that received awesome constructive criticism.

But we cannot assume we will be the exception! Yeah, I know, bummer. 😉

That reality check aside, there’s a lot you can get out of a serialized novel. Meeting new people, developing your writing (and the discipline to get your butt in the chair), experimenting like you wouldn’t necessarily do in the novel you want to query, finishing a long story; these are all things you will achieve with a serialized novel if you stick with it. Don’t underestimate the motivation you’ll draw from the knowledge that people are waiting for your next instalment!

Plus, it’s fun!

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a game designer by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, undying energy and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”, a belief she embodies daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog.

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