Is Smashwords Opening the Door for Fiction Serials @ Scribd and Oyster?

American Robins Arriving in Vermont medIs Smashwords Opening the Door for Fiction Serials @ Scribd and Oyster?


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Is Smashwords Opening the Door for Fiction Serials @

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Previous Related Articles :

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First Impression re Scribd & Oyster – I Like It!  And Why…

Update: First Impression re Scribd & Oyster – I Like It!  And Why…

Question Mark @ the Intersections of Pre-Orders and Scribd Oyster etc



Writer Unboxed has a super interesting post from Jane Friedman entitled “Beyond Dickens: Trends and Tech in Serial Fiction.”

Besides an also interesting read of growing comments (including mine, posted below), Jane provides both a historical perspective and current state-of-the-art tech-word update.

My reason for this post, and my comment below, is to throw a small brick into the framework.


Because I think something very valuable in terms of speculating about the future of serials has been left out – Scribd and Oyster and others offering ebook subscription plans.

This is a pattern I see happening right now.

And though kind of understandable, these are, after all, new entrepreneurial efforts, with tons of development in front of them, these plans are available now, growing, and present some attractive alternatives.

Smashwords, offering submission channels to both Oyster and Scribd, with (as of now) fairly decent terms, already has features for authors like, being able to number and group titles into series.  This lends itself to serial-like presentation of work.

My own work, whether in the connected short stories I write, or in most of longer work (novellas), is very much like serial episodes, and might be something I should consider honing in that direction.  We’ll see 😉

Meanwhile, below, is my comment, addressing several problems about presenting serial work to the reading public.  And above, are links to related Scribd / Oyster articles I’ve posted.


My comment on article about Serial Fiction

I’m gonna offer the thought that kept popping into my mind as I read this super interesting, very important article : the developing subscription services such as Scribd, Oyster, and (and as mentioned by Porter Anderson, 24Symbols).

Here’s a few examples :

“’Pure’ serials are tough to make money on right away. Today’s authors don’t exactly have a burgeoning market of periodicals willing to pay a meaningful wage for such work.” –

Beyond the idea that pure serials have no beginning or end, I would say, from what I see (via the free trial offers) offered on both Oyster and Scribd in terms of short work, here’s both a burgeoning market and a willingness to pay in line with other digital outlets


“Platt told me, ‘I always felt from the start that we were delivering a broken experience. [The serial] really shouldn’t be in e-book form, they should be an app. You pay for it once on the front end and you get automatic updates.'”

Again, pay once a month, read all you want. Not exactly the same, but close, and, in some ways, better (not paying each time for each app). If one’s not gonna read many, then maybe not so much.


“…by releasing the entire series as one product at a higher price point, Platt and his partners stand to earn more money. Amazon KDP pays 70 percent on e-books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and 35 percent on everything outside that range—making low-priced shorter works less profitable.”

All work (under current terms) shipped via Smashwords to Scribd and / or Oyster earn the same higher rate. (details on SW’s FAQ).


I’m not saying ebook / digital subscriptions are “the” answer, or that either of the three start-ups I mentioned in the beginning are the “one” to follow or subscribe to –

I am saying this very important, very happening (I believe another couple hundred thousand titles are to be added to both Oyster & Scribe very soon) digital expansion of opportunity is generally being ignored in discussions involving serials, discoverability, pricing strategies, and royalties.

In fairness, as Porter also says (in his article here on Writers Unboxed, Sir Hugh and the Snail) subscriptions are in the infancy.

But they are born, and growing.

I’m hopeful they will extend the possibilities of what we as writers and readers, can do.

I write somewhat episodic novella fiction and shorts; and serials (pure or unpure 😉 ) – something I had pretty much forgotten about until this article, are now back in my thoughts. Thank you so much for that Jane 🙂


Preview, my short story “The Concert.”  Set in Austin Texas, and first of four in a series introducing the six young teens and tweens in much of my fiction.


Final Thoughts

Of course, any of the subscription services succeeding, or creating similar opportunities, will bring tons of attention to this (serial fiction) and other issues (discoverability, royalties.)

And there’s wisdom in not bringing up something that might not work.

But it seems obvious there’s something very alluring about what Scribd and Oyster are working to offer.  Very similar to Netflix (both services have been called the Netflix for books.)

Seeing what ebooks has done (so far) to the traditional publishing world, it seems ignoring this newest digital rendition, and it’s possible effects on both digital and traditional selling models, is, well, obviously not something I’m willing to do.

I am willing to experiment, and in process of having all my work uploaded to both services.

Then, eventually, either way, I’ll have more to write about. 🙂

Best wishes everyone, get a free trial subscription! 🙂


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