Novel serialisation, good for readers, good for writers
13 January 2023
Publishing novels by serialisation, or regular instalment, used to be a widespread practice. At one time it was the only way to read the latest works of authors such as Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Jules Verne, Leo Tolstoy, H. G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Usually authors would later publish their serialised work as a complete edition, or whole book.
But book serialisation is a model some writers are again embracing. As an experiment, American journalist and author Bill McKibben published his latest book, The Other Cheek, on email newsletter platform Substack. Long story, short, the idea seemed to go down well with readers, says McKibben, writing for Literary Hub:
Still, despite all that, readers seemed to enjoy it, and for just the reasons I had hoped: the story lingered in people’s minds from one Friday to the next, and they wondered what turn it would take. As it spun out across the span of a year I got letters (well, emails) from people regularly suggesting possible plot twists or bemoaning the demise of favorite characters. I didn’t consciously adjust the story to fit their requests (and I’d written much of it in advance) but I did take note of what people were responding to.
Reader interaction and feedback during the publishing of a book, instead of as a review, or reaction, to a whole work, now there’s something.