Serial publishing or episodic publishing is a form of storytelling made up of contained units of content with individual story arcs distributed over set periods of time, with an overarching story arc that bookends the entire experience. In the past, magazines and newspapers were the primary publishers of serial content and more recently radio and television have perfected the format with audio/visual tools and global distributions.
One of the benefits of serial publishing is the ongoing commitment of fans and readers as the story progresses. Fans ongoing commitment only grows as the amount of time they give to the development of the characters, week by week or month by month. Understanding how to keep the momentum of the story is critical to maintaining high engagement with new and returning fans.
Recently, novelist Hugh Howey appears to have done just that with his novel Wool. Howey self-published Wool as a series of short novellas to Amazon's Kindle. Apparently, this was enough to grow an audience that then led to some lucrative licenses in 24 countries, a print publishing deal with Simon&Schuster and a movie deal to boot. Well done Mr. Howey.
To learn more about his story, check out his post at HuffingtonPost, here.
Tomorrow is an impossibility. And yet somehow, I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and find that a story I wrote while working as a bookseller--a story that blossomed into a novel one serialized piece at a time--is now being released into bookstores far and wide. - Hugh Howey