Episodic Publishing is Back in Vogue

Apr 14, 2016

Serial episodic publishing, a mainstay of publishing in Victorian literary magazines, is back in fashion due to 21st century technology according to research by The London Book Fair. With 90% reading on mobile phones, young readers and writers have led the explosion in growth of readers and writers of serial episodic fiction. With over two thirds of regular readers in the 18-23 age group reading serial fiction and 41% reading it on a monthly basis.

Huge growth in demand for episodic, short publishing has been driven by Tumblr which acts as a co-creation, self-publishing platform and Wattpad, one of the biggest players in this space, which now has 40 million regular users per month worldwide (1.3 million in the UK) a massive 400% growth since 2012, when they had 8 million registered users per month.

Now, what some would consider the more traditional areas of publishing, are sitting up and taking notice of this phenomenon. This week Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, will be publishing his new story Belgravia (released by Orion Publishing), a tale of secrets and scandal set in 1840s London, not as a print book first but as eleven episodes released week by week through an innovative new app and his website, building up the story in bite-sized installments complete with twists and turns and cliff-hanger endings. 

The format has created some young stars including Anna Todd whose wildly popular One Direction fan fiction has secured her a £1m book deal due with Simon & Schuster, and Abigail Gibbs, who self-published her novel The Dark Heroine, chapter by chapter, and by 17 she had a fan base of 17 million readers and a six-figure, two book deal with Harper Collins.

This boom has also inspired thousands of people to become authors, many working collaboratively, on platforms such as Wattpad and Tumblr. Indeed, over half of those who read serial fiction on a monthly basis have also posted their own stories online.