There have been several online sites attempting to re-ignite the once powerful popularity of serialized novels, that is, chapters released sequentially, rather than altogether in a book, to generate eagerness and anticipation in readers. This resulted in fans unable to get enough of a story, which created a veritable furor when discussing the next instalment with similarly enthused readers about what might unfold. I’m thinking of Charles Dickens’ popularity in Australia in the 19th century. The same thing happened a hundred years later with the television soap opera. The difference, however, between those times and today is the absence of scarcity. The reason for their popularity was that the material couldn’t be substituted for other material; Dicken’s published as he wrote and soap operas were released as they were produced. The difference now is that there is no scarcity. There is massive content. Too much for anyone to consume in several hundred lifetimes. There are more books written than will ever be read, and more television produced than can ever be watched. As a result, the potency of any one publication, no matter how popular, can always be substituted with another while consumers wait, and therefore, the effect of eagerness and anticipation inevitably lessens. Sites like Raddish.com and Steemit.com are vying to reintroduce the serialized novel, but I wonder if online entertainment consumer patterns has changed too much for it to be viable. There are, of course, exceptions: Game of Thrones, for example. Virality will always be a phenomenon, but finding mechanisms to trigger it will remain as elusive as our own idiosyncratic natures from which such popularity arises.
There is, however, another option that might help: rather than releasing serialized chapters of a novel as they’re written, how about releasing serialised videos of a novel while it’s actually being written? And by that I mean without any editing of its content; the writing of words as they come to the author, in all their clumsy, poorly chosen and convoluted arrival. Would readers find that more interesting than a print-ready polished piece? See the ore before it’s refined. Read the grit before it’s raked. Before the author’s had a chance to go back and tidy up. I’d find it fascinating.
And so that’s what I’ve done.
My Wrong Book series (the parody of writing the Velvet Paw of Asquith Novels), and the Velvet Paw of Asquith Novels themselves, are being screen captured as they’re written and made available on the books’ Facebook Page and Youtube with all the inherent clumsiness and embarrassment of a draft. As far as I’m aware, I’m the only author doing this, though for good reason.
The notion of reclaiming serialisation to cultivate interest is a good idea, but I feel that in this day and age it must be more than reclaimed: it must be reinvented. This is my attempt. I’ve had no views, though. It probably takes an author who actually has an audience. Who knows. Perhaps this will help cultivate one.