Serial Fiction: What is it? Where is it? And why do I care?

Serial fiction has been trending lately, so let's talk about what it is, where to read it and publish it, and why I think you should care about its existence.


K. D. Reid

10/28/2021 2 min read

What is serial fiction?

Serial fiction is all about the format. It's when a writer publishes a larger work in smaller bits. When we're talking about serial fiction, these pieces are usually narrative fiction. Publishing the story over several sequential installments is a great way for an author to keep their reader asking for more, and if they keep their promises, readers continue coming back to the author for more marvelous stories.

As far as what this means for writers, I think it's a trend to take seriously. My friend Michelle is a discovery writer, and she's said that she thinks it's a great way for her to get into a creative flow. Because instead of having to map out an entire novel all at once (very difficult for an ADHD brain) she can tackle the bigger project in smaller bits. You should check out her stuff, by the way. I'll link her serial in the pic on the right.

Where to read and publish serial fiction

What really made me sit up and pay attention to serial fiction was when Amazon dropped their newest platform, Kindle Vella. It's one of the newer options for publishing and reading serialized fiction, and when one of the largest book suppliers on the planet launches a platform developed completely for one sub-genre, that's significant.

Probably the second best-known platform for serial fiction readers and writers is WattPad. People have been writing on WattPad for years, but when they launched their own publishing company, that's when it got really hot. There's some really interesting success stories from WattPad, and it tends to be an option for writers who are still looking for their audience and audiences looking for new indies to follow.

A lesser-known platform is Radish Fiction. They actually launched in 2015, and since then it's reported having at least 2,000 authors publish on their platform. The biggest difference between the platforms seems to be the guidelines revolving around how, when, and where you can publish. Radish also has a more stringent system in place for vetting writers, so I can imagine the content quality is quite different and they may not be the best option for writers who are just getting their foot in the door.

Why is it trending?

My theory on why serialized fiction is so hot right now? For the same reason TikTok and YouTube Shorts are seeing so much success. I dislike the notion that "people's attention spans are getting shorter." It doesn't make sense to me, because we all clearly binged Squid Game, and those episodes are an hour long!

I think the main reason it's trending is because people's time management works differently whenever they're new-to-you. How much time are you willing to give a new-to-you Youtuber versus how much time you're willing to spend on a Youtuber you've followed for years? Exactly.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you want to experiment with serial fiction, it's a great place to start out. What's your take? Do you enjoy reading or writing serial fiction? What are your favorite platforms and stories?