It's like a book elegantly bound, but in a language that you can't read
This content is intended for mature audiences.Sign In To Confirm Your Age
or, enter your birth date.
“I was praying you would have a blanket to spare, or anything, really; my room is so drafty and yours seems awfully warm…” She broke his gaze and looked around him on the bed, looking for blankets he supposed...
Miss Reese Alexandra
.also known as Alea.
twenty-three, blonde, blue eyed, Canadian.
"there is beauty in all things - spiritual, intellectual beauty will manifest itself in physical ways, and one commences to become whole: a fusing of the internal and the external self. Connections between the tangible and the abstract are most obvious in the eyes: ever-changing waters that reflect the soul."
"Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?"
The serial publication of today is mostly posted online, and in the cases of fanfiction, “unpublished” fiction (i.e. works without a publishing contract, and not having been self-published for profit), and blog posts, is free to read on blog platforms like WordPress, or fiction sites like FictionPress and Wattpad. Authors, like Dickens before them, like the serial format because it enables reader feedback and engagement as the story is being produced, as authors are “always looking for people who would actually be interested in reading what [they] have to say” while they are crafting a work (Montgomery n.p.). Works published and offered for free online, though, have one pitfall: authors can’t make money off of the content. Perhaps, though, this is not a pitfall, but an opportunity to adopt a new model of generating revenue without selling access to the content being produced. This seemingly fruitless form of publishing can actually profit through a model of reader funding and rewards based on readership, working in tandem to support the author.
Crowdfunding has gained ground in recent years, expanding 167% globally in 2014 (crowdsourcing.org n.p.). This explosion of growth in a market fuelled by users and their desire to support content creators or charity campaigns, among others, highlights an increasing trust and interest in giving money online to causes and projects consumers care about. Within publishing, crowdfunding sites such as Patreon are valuable tools authors can use to support themselves while writing. The serial publication is the perfect format to publish if interested in such sources of revenue, as “83% of funds raised globally in 2011 came from reward-based campaigns” (n.p.); authors can offer the release of chapters as a reward for reaching a certain donation threshold, without actually selling the content being released. And because the content is not being sold, anyone can read it, while not necessarily everyone will donate.
Because of this, and because “[m]ost of these sites allow you to retain publishing rights, so you can publish the stories again somewhere else” (Montgomery n.p.), authors can publish on multiple websites. One of these might be JukePop, a secondary vehicle through which to create revenue, still without selling content. JukePop, for example, accepts submissions from authors, and “[a]uthors keep readers hooked and tackle their book by releasing it bit by bit, collecting votes to earn rewards each month;” they can also track reader analytics, and learn about their audience in the form of data as well as reader feedback as they work on their book (JukePop n.p.).
The model for authors to adopt is thus a cross-platform, serial publication approach that can generate revenue without selling the content in any way, and without placing ads within the content. Monetary compensation is strictly based on readership and reader donations. What, then, does this spell for authors, their readers, and the traditional publishers that would otherwise have exclusive rights to the work?
Readers continue to purchase print books and ebooks alike from distributors — according to BookNet Canada, 93% of Canadians surveyed read a print book in 2013, and 58% said they read an ebook (Genner n.p.). Alexandra Alter of the Wall Street Journal explains how publishers are attempting to fit serial publications alongside complete print and digital works and struggling to do so, fearing that “digital serials could … be bad for business if they eat away at future print profits—still the biggest revenue source for most publishers” (n.p.). However, traditional publishing models will not die or suffer horribly from authors, not publishers, moving towards crowdfunding and reward based models of serial publication, as the modern reader is capable of “transliteracy,” or the ability to read across many different media channels.
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “84 percent of adults who read literature (fiction, poetry, or drama) online or downloaded from the Internet also read books, whether print or online” (8), illustrating that people are reading content just about everywhere, in all forms. This fact is good for traditional publishers as well as self-published or crowdfunded authors; through this transliteracy, neither mode of publication is at risk of being edged out by the others in the near future. That publishers find it difficult to commiserate serial publications into their business models is a good opportunity for authors to take control of their own online content, as well as how that content is funded.
Digital serials are presently used by authors as a stepping stone to traditional publication of an entire work, described as “opportunities to make yourself known, which could lead to a book deal with a traditional publisher in the future” (Montgomery n.p.). However, if the author becomes funded through crowdfunding and rewards, then serial publication on its own may be a sustainable alternative to traditional publishing, or even to self-publishing that involves the sale of content.
Publishing unrestricted across platforms and giving readers free access to content is something that can be well marketed on social media. According to Guy Kawasaki, “[o]ne of the most important factors that traditional publishers use to decide whether to acquire a book is the marketing platform of its author,” as they are expected to sustain their social media presence even after landing a contract (n.p.). If publishers expect this of their traditionally published authors, having complete control over one’s own content while maintaining a social media campaign may be more rewarding, as an author isn’t promoting sales: they are promoting reading, and optional funding.
To sustain the readership of a serial publication, social media is an excellent tool if authors are smart about their social media use, and don’t make their readers feel pressured to give money. As Kawasaki explains, “Less than 10 percent of [an author’s] social-media posts should promote [the] book or other commercial endeavors” (n.p.), and if this is done successfully, sharing and discussing the work through these channels enables an author to receive the most feedback, gain readers, and get funded. Some readers will then pledge to the project, while others are content reading, all without feeling obligated; together, they form a valuable readership that the author can respond to, discuss ideas with, and receive funding from those who wish to contribute.
As noted previously, crowdfunding has exploded recently; for instance, Kickstarter’s books-related projects have more than doubled, “from 735 in 2011 to 2064 in 2014” (Bausells n.p.). This increase in growth demonstrates that people are more willing than in previous years to donate to a cause or project online; as third party sites like Kickstarter and Patreon become credible and secure, more people feel compelled to donate. And “[u]sers respond well to projects which offer something a little different” (Bausells n.p.), a positive for free content authors, as crowdfunding is “‘a way to do something a little bit different than just making a book and selling it’” (Atwell, qtd. in Bausells n.p.). For authors, crowdfunding also “‘helps build a community around a project, when it could otherwise be an isolating venture’” (Atwell, wtd. in Bausells n.p.). The relationships built by these communities are direct between author and reader, a valuable resource for the author when crafting an ongoing work.
The gaining popularity of crowdfunding book projects, along with a strong social media presence by the author, creates a successful approach to free content. However, in order to maximize readership and increase traffic and discussion, authors should publish across multiple platforms. As mentioned before, one of these platforms could be JukePop, which is a further source of revenue. Readers may feel that serial works online lack the backing of the traditional publisher’s “gatekeeping role,” but JukePop acts as a gatekeeper of free content, asking for “previously published or unpublished first chapters of original, high-quality popular fiction or non-fiction” for them to vet and accept (n.p.). JukePop is the most exclusionary of free serial platforms, but this act of vetting may help readers feel more positive about online content; in addition, since JukePop, not the reader, is paying the author “[c]ash prizes … if [a] story hits the monthly top 30 in +Votes” (n.p.), this acts as a solid revenue source if an author can gain enough readership, and the readers do not have to worry about supporting the content monetarily.
Of course, both crowdfunding and rewards based on readership would mean that the crux of publishing free content online is the reader. Readers are their own gatekeepers on more open websites that do not vet content, such as Wattpad, and thus readers decide which works are worthwhile, as they read and fund certain projects over others. They then contribute to culture by sharing, quoting, and discussing these free works, creating a more accurate depiction of what the public enjoys, as opposed to publishers’ attempts to predict the market and by vetting publications prior to public viewing.
To summarize, Montgomery describes that a “defining feature of these [free, serial] sites is that writers rely on readers’ endorsements to popularize their work. This isn’t so different from traditional means of publication, in which writers whose works are ‘bestsellers’ become well-known. However, in this case, you have easier to access readers, because the sites remove the middleman between you and the reader. Thus, you can more easily cultivate a base of fans and followers. Of course, the flip side is you are competing with all the other writers on these websites for readers” (n.p.). While her latter statement is true, if an author remains diligent on social media, responds to readers and continues to hold them engaged with regular content, gaining and maintaining an audience across many platforms is not only possible, but successful.
Moving through this model, and what it means for publishers, authors, and readers, there are three important takeaways: that readers continue to prove their ability to read across multiple channels, as data suggests: they purchase books (both print and online), and they also read works for free online, making the serial publication simply another form through which to read content, and not an overarching concern for publishers — if they stick to the traditional print and ebook that they are known for, instead of trying to work serial publications into their business model; that authors need to maintain a strong online presence, both through social media and across multiple serial sites, in order to capture the strongest audience possible; and that readers are the heart of the crowdfunded/rewarded serial publication: they connect directly with the author, they disseminate and engage with the content, and they fund the content either directly through donations, or indirectly through popularity on reward websites like JukePop. Essentially, readers demand content both from print and digital means, and the transliteracy of the 21st century affords authors the ability to make money through the described model — or through the traditional publishing model; transliteracy and the resurgence of serial publications has opened many pathways for authors to generate a readership and a revenue.
Alter, Alexandra. “The Return of the Serial Novel - WSJ.” Wall Street Journal. n.p., 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.
Bausells, Marta. “Kickstarting a Books Revolution: The Literary Crowdfunding Boom.” The Guardian 5 June 2015. The Guardian. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Brattin, Joel. “Project Boz - Dickens & Serial Fiction.” n.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
Crowdsourcing.org. “Global Crowdfunding Market to Reach $34.4B in 2015, Predicts Massolution’s 2015CF Industry Report.” n.p., 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
Genner, Noah. “Canadian Readers by the Numbers.” BookNet Canada. n.p., 7 Mar. 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
JukePop. “JukePop - Discover Free Books, Fiction, Stories and Serials.” n.p., 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
---. “JukePop - Submissions.” N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
JukePop Serials. “How to Start a Web Serial.” JukePop Serials Bloggity. n.p., 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.
Karp, Josh. “What Is This Buzz Word ‘Transliteracy’? A Q&A with Ryan Nadel | Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning.” n.p., 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
Kawasaki, Guy. “Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Social Media Tips for Authors.” MediaShift. n.p., 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Montgomery, Molly. “Serial Online Writing: Literature’s New Frontier?” LitBloom. n.p., 5 May 2014. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.
National Crowdfunding Association of Canada. “NCFA Canada - Crowdfunding.” n.p., 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
Patreon. “Patreon: Support the Creators You Love.” n.p., 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.