There was such great response from Lulu authors at our blog post about a resurgence of interest in novel serialization, that we thought it would be helpful to talk about…
What’s the best way to make a serial novel with Lulu?
EBooks are really the way to go with serialized material, and the most important reason is length. Sizing options for print books require 32-page minimums for the best results. Don’t get us wrong, Lulu print books are a great way to compile and release your whole, finished novel at the end of the serial novel process, but most of us can’t write 32-page chapters on a regular basis. The short length of a single chapter of a novel is much more suited to a Lulu eBook. In order to harken back to the golden age of serialization, when a reader could sit down with the newspaper and read the latest installment of a Dickens epic after current events, you’re going to need a Lulu eBook.
EBooks are also less of an initial investment for the author, of both time and money, and that matches the low initial investment that comes with serialized novels. Think of eBooks as a chance to test the waters with whatever project or concept you just haven’t been able to get out of your head but you’re not sure will work on a large scale. You can write one chapter, and see if readers are engaged and excited about it. If you release Chapter One and decide, based on reader feedback, that your hero needs a sidekick, guess who you’ll be able to introduce in Chapter Two? You guessed it, the pun-hurling partner in crime of your terse heroine.
Whether you decide to go with print or electronic publication (hey, if you crank out chapters Dickensian in length, more power to you!), there are some things you’ll want to consider for your personal writing process, and some of the decisions you make after you finish an installment.
First, have an outline. Figure out as many details as you can and write as much as you can before you start releasing chapters. If you go back and change early chapters that have already gone out, you might end up with angry readers, confused about why the main character’s name has suddenly changed, or why subsequent chapters reference a different origin story than the one mentioned in the prologue, for example. Many writers are fans of the index card method, in which you write major events, one per card, and arrange them in the order you want them to occur. Many of our authors have also told us that Scrivener is a great tool for this purpose. It makes it easier to not have to commit the whole plot to memory. Of course, you can revise a Lulu eBook whenever you want, but don’t forget the risk of losing readers.
Get a writing plan and stick to it. You’re going to be sustaining a prolific period. You don’t want to miss a deadline, so once you do have a detailed outline, put yourself on a schedule, with a word or page quota per day, or an amount of time each day you’ll commit to the project, something reasonable, based on what you know already about your own writing habits, with a healthy buffer in case things go off the rails.
Finally, serializing is great because it allows you to be flexible with the price of your work. You can charge different prices for different chapters, but the best strategy would be to offer the very first chapter at a reduced price, or for free. Get those readers hooked, and when they finish the first chapter and like what they read, they’ll be clamoring for the second.