Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Serialize a Novel (or Not)

Yep, I messed up when I serialized A Fistful of Fire. My screwup wasn't that I serialized the book, but in the details of how I did it.

I even researched before jumping in, but information on web serializing is hard to find. In particular, the model I wanted to follow did not fit much of the advice I was reading. Certain things translated, but not everything. Many serializers are writing in chunks and posting a WiP (Work in Progress).

I already had the novel completed. I just wanted to serialize it as a variation on the "offer first work for cheap" method of indie author promo. I knew from experience how helpful web novels could be when needing to de-stress on a 15-minute break at work.

And, well, hindsight is 20/20.


  1. Get "cutesy" or "cool" with your text. Goal is to be read. Don't make that tough with huge sections of hard-to-read text. Sadly, I had to be conked on that one.
  2. Jump the gun and get started before you have a pleasant easy-to-use blog ready. If you're not sure if the site's any good, don't shrug and figure it's "Good enough". Get it critiqued.
  3. Use Blogger. There's no way of making the posts show in reverse order, that I've been able to find (short of doctoring the posting dates). Use a blogging service that will let posts show in reverse order.
  4. Wait until the story's about to end to start advertising and actively promoting. (Yes, this is a "DON'T".)
  5. Use that cool widget that says how many page hits you get. Took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize how useless that widget is for a blog whose goal for visitors to start at page 0 and read all the posts to the present.


  1. Pick a URL that's based on the world of the book being serialized. I didn't, instead choosing a URL based solely on the book itself. Now I'm regretting it. The novel's done. I'm stuck with a blog URL that's specific to that book; what if I later want to serialize something else in the world? Many folks will miss the announcement for the new place to go, and I'll have to pretty much restart my audience-building.
  2. Set up your Table of Contents in advance so you can figure out its size and how you need to put it on the site. (Note: there are ways to set up even Blogger so a widget will show on some pages but not on others. Take advantage of that.)
  3. Have a setup and plan for "announcement/news" posts. I hadn't planned to do them. What was I going to do, change sidebar text? Yeah, because that gets noticed.
  4. Use Feedburner from day one. No, really. And have one of those "plug in your e-mail address to have the feed delivered to your inbox" widgets on your site. I was downright embarrassed when I realized I'd forgotten that, and I was halfway through the posting schedule…
  5. Include the Google "Follow" widget from day one. (See above for my embarrassing story.)
  6. Include the FeedBurner widget for how many subscribers you have. Adjust it to match your site layout.
  7. Prepare the novel and schedule the posts all before going live.
  8. Have your cover ready in advance, and base your site appearance to match that cover.

With me the stubborn little thing I am, I suspect I'll serialize something else sometime, to do it right, this time. (Or, more likely, find new ways of doing it wrongly.)

I have one project in particular that'll probably end up serialized, though I doubt I'll start it until late next year. I'd like to finish the Chronicles of Marsdenfel quartet before I jump full-tilt into that series, though.

I hope anyone who hopes to serialize their novel finds this post useful.

Have you serialized a novel online? Are you planning to?


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