Amazon Turns the World of Web Serials on its Head

This post, by PJ Kaiser, originally appeared on Tuesday Serial on 9/13/12.

When it comes to publishing serial stories, writers have faced a conundrum. There are very few online formats that lend themselves to publishing installments. Smashwards specifically disallows unfinished works, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble force the publisher to package each installment separately unless it’s a completed work. This means each episode / installment has its own price, its own cover, its own description, its own reviews. The reviews make it a particularly sticky issue because if the first installment has glowing reviews, those reviews don’t show up automatically on the seventeenth installment. Readers have to go to some trouble to track it all down.

Roz Morris recently wrote an insightful post about her somewhat frustrating experiencing publishing her novel “My Memories of a Future Life” in installments on Amazon. She recapped her issues and lamented the fact that Amazon and other publishers didn’t easily allow for the publishing of a serial in installments.

Just after she had published her post, however, Amazon made an announcement which has the potential to revolutionize the publishing of serial stories. You’ll see at the bottom of her post, she included an addendum about Amazon’s announcement.

For full details of Amazon’s announcement, you’ll want to check out this press release from the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch. The upshot of this is that Amazon now has a new format specifically for serials which will allow readers to pay one flat fee and receive all installments of the story: past, present and future. It keeps reviews in one place and doesn’t clog up the reader’s kindle with multiple entries for the same story.

At the moment, Kindle Serials do not appear to be a self-publishing platform, although it does appear to bypass the role of the agent. Amazon’s submission guidelines provide no indication of how serials are evaluated, how many might be considered for publishing or any specifics. We hope that over time that will become more clear and of course we also hope that the platform becomes a self-publishing option.

As writers, publishers and everybody else try to figure out how Kindle Serials will work, there’s a lot of buzz about it on social media and the interwebs.


Click here to read the rest of the post on Tuesday Serial.