Reading revolutions: serialising a novel – interview at the Malaysia Star

serialmalayYou really know you’re in a world wide web when an email arrives from a journalist on a newspaper in Malaysia. Elizabeth Tai contacted me for a series she was writing called reading revolutions. She’d seen that I had originally released my first novel, My Memories of a Future Life, as a four-part serial on Kindle, and wanted to ask me how that worked and why I did it. We talk about pros, cons, cautions – and tips I’d give to anyone considering doing the same. Come on over…

And in the meantime, tell me: where’s the furthest-flung place you’ve had a surprise email from about your work?

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  1. #1 by Joe Niemczura, RN, MS on March 6, 2014 - 10:47 pm

    Your ending question is an easy one for me – I live in Kathmandu Nepal part of the year, which 11 3/4 time zones away – it’s as far away as you can go without coming back in the other direction!

    Now, my book(s) are based there, as you might expect – and I get contacted from all kinds of place. I would suggest that mere distance is not the only factor in the concept of “remoteness”

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 8:36 am

      Joe, you’re in Kathmandu? How lucky that you whirled into my blog. I need an expert in that part of the world. I just signed up for your blog!

      • #3 by Joe Niemczura, RN, MS on March 7, 2014 - 9:10 am

        Namaste Roz Ma’am -

        Strictly speaking I am in USA, but headed soon to Nepal for a year – my sixth trip. My book about contemporary Nepal comes out in May – The Sacrament of the Goddess.

        If there are specific things you would like to know, email me joeniemczura@gmail.com or we can skype….

        I enjoy reading this one – keep up the good work!

        Joe

        • #4 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 11:42 am

          That would be great, Joe. I’ll keep an eye on your blog and once I get to the stage where I need specific questions asked, I might well tap on your inbox. Thanks so much for connecting!

  2. #5 by annstanleywriting on March 7, 2014 - 1:38 am

    I haven’t published my novel yet, but I live in Oregon, United States. One of my beta readers is in Singapore, one is in Great Britain, and another lives in Israel. The internet is absolutely amazing, the way it can connect people together from all over the world.

    • #6 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 8:37 am

      Israel and Singapore – wow, Ann. My husband, Dave, uses a colourist in Greece for his Mirabilis comic. They’ve never met in the flesh, but they work together as a team.

  3. #7 by symplysilent on March 7, 2014 - 2:38 am

    Roz; Putting it out as a series sounds scary. I get that you were worried they might drop away. Did you have all the parts done, or did you do some rewrites because of what readers said?

    I actually experimented with this with one of my stories. I wrote it in four parts, starting with the Blake Snyder formula of equal quarters. I tossed in the “save the cat” moment, the plot points and mid points, and even tried out the first and second pinch points. Then I read Bickham’s book, and moved the first Plot Point from the 25% to the 15% point. It was fun.

    Thanks,

    Silent

    • #8 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 8:40 am

      Hello, Silent! Yes, I did have the whole book written beforehand, then I split it up. I was lucky that it made 4 compelling parts, but the fear that it might not be really made me edit hard. I didn’t change anything from readers’ comments, though of course you could if you wanted to. But was enjoying their guesses!
      Bickham’s book is great, I recommend it all the time.

  4. #9 by susanpjames on March 7, 2014 - 5:40 am

    I haven’t published yet but I have several followers in India. I don’t know if I’d want to serialize my fiction book– a historical paranormal novel set in contemporary and colonial Mexico–but I am adapting it as a trilogy. On this subject, my father, J.R. James wrote a serial “Nearer…Nearer” for the Sunday newspaper (can’t remember which one) in 1929, a mystery that brought him a respectable income, a measure of fame, and was adapted as a movie. So serials have always been popular, depending on the subject.

    • #10 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 11:42 am

      Susan, how interesting that you have such a pedigree in serialising. Have you looked into republishing it yourself? If it was popular, it might find a new audience.
      But serialising whole books isn’t for everyone. I didn’t serialise Lifeform Three as it wasn’t long enough to be satisfying if presented that way. Indeed, My Memories of a Future Life is probably more a mini-series than a series. Splitting into several books makes sense if the original story has got too labyrinthine, and you might well secure a good fanbase that way. And your mix of modern/ancient paranormal Mexico sounds original!

  5. #11 by mgm75 on March 7, 2014 - 10:03 am

    It’s not a bad idea, and it’s how they used to do it. Wasn’t a lot of Dickens’ and other Victorian writers work sold as serialisations in literature magazines initially?

    Funny you mention it because I was thinking the other week that publishing my own novel as a serial might work. it too is divided into four parts and each of the first three finish on a cliffhanger (can’t remember if I did that deliberately but it works).

    • #12 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 7, 2014 - 11:44 am

      Hi Mgm! Yes, indeed, serialising was very popular with the Victorians. And I rather like it as a way to get back to the joy of stories, with cliffhangers, intriguing characters, vibrant settings. Good luck with yours!

  6. #13 by G.G. Andrew on March 10, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    Great to see this post! (I’m a few days late commenting, sorry–I get the weekly digest). I’m planning to publish my romantic comedy in May as the first season (four episodes) of a serial, with later seasons coming out in the fall, etc. I have a question about the logistics of uploading. Is it tricky to get the episodes uploaded so they are in all retailers on certain days? I was wondering if this might be difficult, and so was thinking I’d just release the first episode (free) and then the whole first season at the same time…but maybe this defeats the notion of a serial?

    • #14 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 10, 2014 - 2:47 pm

      Hi GG – what a good question. I used only the Kindle platform, but I found the uploading happened quite quickly. I’m in the UK and most of my readers were in the US, so I made sure the files uploaded the night before and would be available by the time I made the announcement on social media and my blog. And with some of my desperately keen readers, I was able to send secret emails letting them know they could get it early if they were really dying of curiosity (some of them were!)
      With Smashwords the upload is a little more tricky as you have to wait for it to worm its way into the catalogues, though I think that if you’re directing them to Smashwords itself the book can be available pretty much instantaneously (but check, to be sure). Other outlets can take anything from a few days to a few weeks, so it’s not so controllable if you’re trying to gather hoopla for the release. Kobo seems not to be instantaneous, either.
      So yes, a short answer is that it’s very tricky to get in all the retailers on the same day. Which is why I stuck to Kindle only because I had control. Good luck!

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