Increasing serial readership needs better models

Recently, news articles have generated excitement about serials and installed some hope that these new developments will bring more readers, money, or attention to these online novels out there on the web. That said, there is something fundamentally wrong with the ecosystem right now.

Any standalone website with a story on it has two avenues to finding visitors. First — luck of the draw based on your social media capital. (How popular are you online. Or how popular are your online friends. Or how can you go viral?) Second – sharing traffic from a hub or network of existing readers.
There are a few problems I can see right now that mean some problems for the standalone serializer.

Readers exist, they’re just more likely to end up in a colony



(Bi)Weekly Discoveries, ending 1/24

How the Amazon Kindle Serials Program Works (with Roberto Calas)

Roberto Calas guest blogs about his experience in the program. From what he reveals, the pace sounds brutal for the duration of the program, but thankfully it appears to have a finite end. Better yet, the carrot of having a “completed novel” promoted heavily at Amazon is really promising.   It is not impossible for some of the indies I’ve watched to match this pace with the right schedule, but man…  it’s not for the faint of heart either. 

Some of the comments reveal that there is still resistance to the serial concept.  The fact that this many months in people are still trying to educate readers-at-large how the program works may show that there is a need for better education.   AKA: I think Amazon needs to put out some FAQs.  

I have a few serials already and my favorite so far is the Kurt Vonnegut short stories collection.  But the interface is nice.  More or less the app syncs and adds new pages to the back. The bad news in this is that I don’t know where the breaks are if I’m not keeping up with each installment. (Therefore I can’t tell you about how the authors break each installment up. In that sense actually it is exactly different from Wattpad or JP or other “serial apps.”) 

Roberto also just posted a follow-up at his own blog at

And also check out comments at The Passive Voice  

Caelum Lex: Origins (an interview with the creators of the sci-fi serial)

Caelum Lex’s creators get featured at an indie book blog site.  I like this article as an example of what good can come out of serializers/webfiction folks looking for common ground with independents.

And this author found the story at Reddit! I don’t know if it’s thanks to /r/webfiction but HEY, Reddit! 

Why online book discovery is broken (and how to fix it)

The basic question this article is trying to address is whether seeing something “online” actually translates into a book purchase.  The graphic in this article is hard to understand but at least it throws some of the idea of this all social networking being part of a sales strategy back at authors and agents to show otherwise. The bad news is that no one knows how people got to Amazon in the first place right?

I still think reader discovery comes back to trusted peers and reviewers.  I’ll be honest, I would rather hear from a bunch of people who like the same books I do on what they think I’d like than rely on random things like Facebook and Pinterest to offer something up.  

Stranger Than Fiction: The Humble Start of ‘John Dies at the End’

I’m guessing folks who are in today’s current batch of online novelists/webfiction writers have little idea of who preceded them.  But yeah – web novels have been around a long time (and having failed at my first one ten years ago, I know), but this one seems to be the first one to transition to the silver screen.  Google “David Wong” and find his wiki or main blog.  But yea, the film is coming!