Writing for Books vs Writing for a Blog Story

Now, I’ve written novels, short stories, and been running a few serial stories through my blog.  The most recent one is Derailing Bedlam, but there was also the Raven Series that I did for the last 4 Octobers.  Will these ever be published like my novels?  Maybe, but I can’t say for sure.  The first one is connected to published works, but I couldn’t afford to put money into more when nobody was buying them.  The second one never had my full confidence to garner a cover and promotions, so I gave it for free.  Anyway, they always made me think about the differences between book and serial writing.  Figure I’d put some of my thoughts down.

  1. You lose audience members faster with a blog serial.  It’s sad, but true.  With a book series, you always lose a few people between volumes.  That isn’t a very fast rate though, so it can be countered by new readers giving you a chance.  Serials are different because it’s all one volume cut into pieces.  A person may drop out after a while and there’s no guarantee that someone will jump in.  This brings us to another challenge with serials.
  2. It’s more common for people to step into a serial midway.  For a book, a person could enter a series midway, but it’s still clearer than entering a story at an odd point.  This can prevent people from getting into it, especially if you’re really far in.  So, there’s a bigger risk of intimidating new readers who don’t have a lot of time.
  3. Blog serials are exposed, so people can check out spoilers fairly easily.  There’s no thumbing through pages to get the juicy parts.  They’re there.  You can counter this by not making it clear, but then you can cause confusion.  It’s a fact of blogging that you can’t hide things very easily.
  4. Every piece of a blog serial needs to have a hook at the beginning and a cliffhanger at the end.  A blog can have sections that are interesting, but milder than the other parts because people will read right through.  There isn’t a long break between story sections like with series volumes and serials.  Action and witty dialogue can help here because ending with suspense or a laugh will stick with a reader more than a low key finale.  It helps to think of every entry as a chapter, which is probably an obvious piece of information.
  5. Blog serials require a link or reminder at the beginning about the previous section. Not so much a recap, but a message that this is a continuation.  It might not be as obvious as turning a page, especially for new followers.  This covers your butt in case people mistake it as the start of a story and gives a spot to direct them to older pieces.  A book comparison here would be a series volume list at the beginning of a later story.
  6. You can spread things out with a book and have it go out in one piece.  This eliminates the threat of having to end the story early or giving up.  A serial can hit a point where nobody cares anymore.  This forces you to choose between ending it before you’re ready or continuing in spite of low reactions.  Personally, I would go with the second option since the first can cost you the few readers you have and anyone who finds you in the future.

Those are what come to mind.  The truth is that my blog serials were first written as long stories.  It makes things easier to keep it going, but it has a high risk of not hitting with a good cliffhanger.  This is why I tried to write with this in mind, but it didn’t always work because my habits are that of someone who publish it at once.  I can’t think of any serials that will happen after Derailing Bedlam, so I guess I won’t have to worry about this much longer.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to Writing for Books vs Writing for a Blog Story

  1. Good information. I do a serial on Wednesdays but anyone can read it anytime without worrying about what happens before. I keep the current episode “in the moment,” so what you read is what you get. If a reader wants to go back I really think it is a waste of time. I would rather the reader would want to go forward. Your point about recap is important. To stay in the moment the reader needs to know what happened last time. Good job, Charles.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. L. Marie says:

    Great tips! You do blog serials really well, so your tips are valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never thought about a blog serial before, but what you wrote makes sense. I also appreciate John weighing in here. The only fiction I’ve put on my site is micro stuff that concludes in one post. It makes me wonder if two-fers might be a valid thing. You get the whole story, but in two posts. Gives a bit more length, but not something that drags out. Years ago, I concocted a loose story about a witch hunter and a witch. A lady named Marie Wells wrote the story about the witch for her blog, and I posted the witch hunter at the same time. Then we cross referenced each others’ sites. It was a fun event. Sadly, Marie disappeared and I haven’t heard from her in years.

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  4. ellenbest24 says:

    I believe this … People /readers, they want soundbites, microworks or flash fiction, things to read in a lunchtime in the bath or the thirty minute window before sleep. The fast paced world we live in where everything is demanded now seems to me where Bloggs come in handy. The longer reads get saved for dedicated time, time set aside specifically … a higher level of me time. Series or trilogy works fare better on film or television. And so we are on another cycle a fresh way of enjoying our words and tales to excite and influence … but the world still reads, still has a place for books to smell to stroke and devour. Long live the book, before we know it change will come again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So, do you think longer stories are harder to do in book form? You mention that series do better as tv shows and movies.

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      • ellenbest24 says:

        I; for what my opinion is worth, think books need to capture early so that it makes the reader engage to the end. Short blogs, anthologies of snappy flash fiction and substantial books capture the whole spectrum of readers. Being diverse in the writing (length) adaptable will be the Authors of success stories.

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      • Capturing early is important, but I’ve been finding it’s harder to do. Many people want it to be a big action scene like how James Bond movies start. You can only do that for so many story types. I’ve also noticed many people will give up on a book when it stops being exciting. Any build-up sections or dialogues aimed at character development come with more risk than they did years ago. That could be another reason why short stories and flash fiction get more traction than novels these days.

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      • ellenbest24 says:

        You are right, the surge in flash popularity books crammed with short sharp tales are definitely hitting the mark.

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  5. I can see why you are serializing your current Derailing Bedlam, but it’s a finished book. If someone encounters it midway and wants to start from the beginning, it’s fairly easy to go back up the tread and find that. I don’t know if I would ever start an open-ended serial, though. At least, I’d have to have a huge base written and be able to press on while releasing the already written material in chunks.

    Another question is, how big should each part of a serial be? If it’s too short, readers won’t find that satisfying. If It’s too long, they may lose interest.

    Also, how often do you release installments? Weekly, be-weekly, daily? It’s a whole other planning process, for sure.

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    • I think it all comes down to the story and author. There isn’t one size fits all. My weekly sections are chapter parts and they work for Bedlam. John Howell does short dialogues every Wednesday and that works great for him. I’m assuming there’s an audience for all formats too.

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  6. I’ve been making a list of blog posts ideada I have because of the book I’m writing. It’s been interesting diving into both again. This sounds like a plan to forehead realization for me, but I’m going to say it anyway. The more I write, the more I need to write. My book writing is feeding my blog writing and I’m having so much fun with both. If only I didn’t need as much sleep or a day job. 😀

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