Will Serializing A Novel Work?

As a kid I used to read comics. Superman and its spin-offs,  Batman, The Shadow and others that I can’t even remember. I had great collections of them until one day I loaned them and never got them back.

But the point was that many people (kids at that time) bought these serialized versions of what weren’t even novels, but on-going little adventure stories … and they (I, as a kid) lapped it up.  So maybe, I thought, …  just maybe … this might work with my new novel: BEGINNINGS : Where A Life Begins …. Tales of Survival and Revenge … as I describe it on the cover.   And it’s good to see that I am not alone in this experiment (see below related articles).


The trouble is it is some 550 pages long and I’m unknown as a  fiction writer …. and it’s unlikely that the readers of thecouple of dozen academic books I’ve written are going to constitute much of an audience.  But maybe readers will give a “short novel” a try – especially if it’s free – and if they like it, they’ll “buy” the other installments or maybe even the whole book!  And I suppose that there is the advantage of having 6 or 7 books out instead of one.

The first question was of course: would each of these “serials” work as stand-alone pieces of literature?

I answered “Yes, I think so.”  It’s an historical novel involving the idea of genetic memory  – that I’ve already talked about in an earlier post “Just how much do we have in common with our ancestors” – with a central story set in the Basque country of Spain and France between 1939 (the end of the Spanish Civil War) and 1959 (when there was a lot going on down there eg the development of the ETA terrorist movement)  …..  BUT with large parts taking place in different eras the past

– upper palaeolithic times (10,000 years ago);

– phoenician times (last millenium BC);

– Hannabil’s wars (just before the Christian era) ;

– Visigoth rule of the Kingdom of Toulouse (Spain and southern France) (5th century AD); and

– the Spanish Inquisition (15th century AD) ,

all the while hopefully keeping their connection with the central story.  So I figured I have 6 installments in it; each with plenty of adventure, love, violence, politics, revenge and all that.

Another issue was: what do you call these installments?  ….  Novellas, Short Novels, Novelettes.  Well, without getting into the debate about how many words is a “novella” (see  the articles below) and what is a novelette and can an installment of a bigger novel be any of those, I thought I’d settle for “short novel” as they are all more or less 100 pages long; and making it clear that they are installments .

The second question was: what about titles and covers?  Before you needed one of each and now you need SEVEN!

I answered “HELP”…..  I was hard enough coming up with one good title for the book itself …  I lately changed it to a one-word title:  BEGINNINGS,  after scanning all the titles in the airport transit lounge bookshops in Heathrow, Hong Kong and anywhere else I happened to be.  I plan a sequel but it will still be BEGINNINGS, but with a different subtitle.  ….. But I still needed new titles for each of the “short novels”.  Fortunately, I had already divided the novel into 12 parts with their own part names, so, with a couple of parts per short novel on average, I could still develop the existing ‘part names’ into 6 different installment Titles.

But then came the hard part…… Covers!   Now I have gone against all advice and designed my own cover for BEGINNINGS: Where A Life Begins.   It has taken time looking at lots of book covers; a reasonably good free programme eg Paint.NET; …. lots of experimentation, calling on the little bit of artistic talent I possess and selected artwork of friends and relatives …..  and I have a cover I’m pretty happy with.   But now I need 6 more and they all need to have some part of the original cover to make it clear that they are all part of the series.  I haven’t quite finalized all this ….  so any input is welcome  …. but the basic idea is that the top half of the complete novel cover will be the top half of the six covers for the serial installments …. and the bottom halves will contain the Title of the installment eg “I. Genesis & Resurrection” and artwork that represents what happens in this installment.



AMAZON cover1_enamed  AMAZON cover2  AMAZON cover3  AMAZON cover4b  AMAZON cover5a AMAZON cover6a

Related articles (serialization)



Unsure What Historical Fiction Is?

What do you think?  Lately I’ve been looking at the works of writers of historical fiction and what I mainly saw was authors like Elisabeth Storrs who sets her novels in the Etruscan era  and Alison Stuart whose novels are set in the 17th and 18th century England and started to worry that my novel “Where a Life Begins” wasn’t really “historical fiction” because it jumps back and forth between the wartime and post-war 1940’s and 1950’s and several different eras in Spain: Upper Paleolithic; Phoenician-early iron Age, Carthaginian, post-Roman-Visigoth, Christian-Crusades-Inquisition.  So it didn’t focus on just one era of history.  Was this a ‘no-no’? Could I be accused on being an ‘history  dilettante’? Its such a difficult genre to succeed in and avoid criticism.

Thankfully, I started to feel better when I came upon other sources that suggested that historical fiction could be divided into as many as 13 sub-genres (and there are others).  There was the “traditional” one, as mentioned above (though those authors might not agree); the “multi-period epics” that show how a specific place changes over the centuries; the “sagas” that follow families or groups of people over generations; the “western (US) historical novels”; the historical mysteries; romantic historical novels; historical adventure novels; historical thriller; literary historical novels; “time-slip novels” where characters shuttle between eras; “alternative history” novels where history happens differently such as where Hitler’s destiny is altered at an early age; and even “historical fantasy novels“.

I certainly breathed a sigh of relief as I’d been referring to “Where A Life Begins” as historical fiction.  But it still doesn’t seem to fit into any of these categories and so I’ve been “cross-genring”  (I know that’s not a real word) it, as historical/criminological/political/adventure fiction … though some people might even see some science-fiction or fantasy in it – and even history from a woman’s perspective, but I suppose such sub-genres don’t exist in the “real world”.  But does it matter?