A while back, fellow members of a Google+ writers’ group were discussing serial stories. Some of the indies were complaining about fellow indies releasing stories by chapter and then releasing the book in its entirety once it was done. Somehow, these writers were subverting the system, weren’t playing fair, or were just outright greedy.
And so I replied: Serial writing isn’t anything new. It’s just enjoying a comeback enabled by the nature of social media, our relationship with consuming online writing, and people trying to figure out how to make a living off their writing through nontraditional publishing.
One of the commenters went on to scream about how it’s totally different for novelists, how their situation is some sort of unique situation. And it really isn’t. Not if you think about the history of movies and movie houses. The precedent is there, even if there is only a small population who remembers that lifetime.
And honestly, releasing a work piece by piece isn’t confined to writing. How many of us have bought selected tracks rather than the entire album, or bypassed offered tracks while waiting for the entire album? Or contributed to a webseries’ development to get new episodes released, but then bought the DVD of the entire season?
Ultimately, offering people options to purchase just the stories they want versus the entire collection (for someone who writes or edits short story collections and anthologies) isn’t much different than musicians offering individual tracks versus an entire album. It’s giving people choices in how they want to own the material when it can be broken into component parts.
It’s pretty much a case of an old practice finding new life in the digital space.