Is Publishing Starting to Come Full Circle?

I have seen a number of posts this past week about publishing and the world of professional writing, and a number of them raised the same question that I have been pondering; a theory that I am currently testing.

As the industry has changed, so changed the mindset of the read. The instant access offered to us all by e-readers led to a shift in reading choices, with more interest being expressed in short stories and anthologies than longer novels. I am not saying they overtook the popularity of novels, but the interest and demand for novellas and short work increased at a rapid rate.

What happened as a result… writers started putting short fiction out into the market. It made sense. However, it would appear that in an instant world, were we want everything to come in manageable chunks, we are seeing another shift in the demands of readers. Long ‘Short’ stories, or short novellas – term them what you will – have become the order of the day. Serials  are in an ever-increasing demand. A short burst of fiction that either tells one short story at a time, following the life of a set character, or a longer tale, serialized into perfect commute sized installments.

Does anybody else remember that Stephen King published several of his bodies of work as regular serials in publications. Is the writing world coming full circle and harking back to the days of yesteryear, or are we, as readers, becoming impatient, a victim of a world that seemingly encourages short attention spans.

I have looked at this for a while now, and have seen other writers have great success with serials. So much so that I have tried my hand at it myself. My series Diaries of the damned is (will be) a collection of 9 stories around 12,000 words each telling the tale of a group of survivors fleeing the zombie apocalypse.

Jessica  Leon  Robert

I have, now published the first three, and this coming Friday, the fourth installment will be released. I work on a two-week system, and so far the results have been better than I expected. I charge 99 cents per story, and have sold many more than when I had my novel priced at the same amount. This makes me believe that length is on of the things people look at nowadays when buying a story.

Of course, a serial also encourages more sales, because the story is not truly complete.

However, what I have been pondering today is, how would this work with novels? Could the future see novels being published electronically in weekly serials? Would that see an increase in reader, or would it be taking things one step too far.

I like to think (and my reviews would agree) that I tell a good story. What I lack is a natural flair or ability to market myself. I am determined to find out the best tactics, and use them to climb to the top. Of course, if I find that golden ticket, I will pass it on. I wouldn’t want to be lonely up there.


9 thoughts on “Is Publishing Starting to Come Full Circle?

  1. Meh… I’m always out of step with everyone! I tend to avoid short stories, and even many novellas because I hate a good story ending too soon. That’s why in the old paper days, I would always buy big, fat books. You may be right about reader tastes though. Hurry up and find that golden ticket, some of us need a leg up!

  2. I think you’d be silly to write a singular novel these days. I just recently published my first short story, just over 7500 words. I’m selling more of it than my 75,000 word novel set in the same universe. It doesn’t make financial sense to write novels, if I can get 99 cents for 7500 words, and only 3.99 or 4.99 for 75,000.
    (Of course, you have to factor in the decreased royalties for 99 cent price point) I’ve been thinking maybe I’d shoot for 12,000 words and price my serial at $1.99. I could break a single novel into 8 pieces. Even if I sold half as many I’d make twice as much money.

      1. My 7500 word short is 99 cents, it’s gotten great reviews, and no one has mentioned that it’s ‘too short’. Although, the length is the very first thing I mentioned in the blurb, AND it’s set in the same universe as my regular series of novels, so the WZF fans are eating it up as extra content. I don’t know for sure if anyone who hasn’t read the other novels has downloaded it.

  3. Great post, Alex.
    I’ve been putting horror flashes on my site for a couple of years with just this sentiment in mind: that people would enjoy (hopefully well written and interesting) horror fiction in doses not requiring a great time commitment. I have had mixed success in the blog format and may opt for taking them down and putting them on other venues to increase exposure.
    Again, thanks for a great post and things to ponder.

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