Today we're joined by PJ Kaiser. She's a co-founder of Tuesday Serial and a serial fiction veteran. She joins us today to talk about focusing on what style of fiction do you enjoy.
There's nothing like sitting on my verandah on a bittersweet September evening, sipping a glass of Pomerol. The crystal decanter catches the light of the setting sun, casting glimmers on my white lace tablecloth. The oak tones, slightly overshadowed by the nutty aftertaste in the 1992 vintage are among my favorite delights.
Okay, that's BS. I don't know beans about wine. I don't even have a verandah. Standing in the wine store faced with a thousand indistinguishable labels makes my head spin. But I do know when I taste a wine that I enjoy. After a recent evening at a wine bar, complete with sommeliers (my first exposure to that term), I endeavored to study a bit more about wine to at least know the types that I enjoy; cabernet, pinot noir, chardonnay all tend to run together for me.
I often feel the same way about fiction. What makes me choose one type of fiction over another? When would I read a novel versus a short story or a collection of short stories? When would I dive into a serial story versus reading a collection of poems? This issue never felt particularly pressing to me until I started writing. As writers, we want to be able to find our niche audience at the time that they would like to read our work. If we spend a lot of time trying to reach any and all readers, then we run the risk of wasting our resources and missing our target audience altogether.
So, I did an informal poll on social media and found that many of my friends have distinct opinions about different forms of fiction. Some really dislike reading short stories - they enjoy the deeper plots and characterization of a novel. Some really dislike serial stories - they don't like delayed gratification and want to have the entire work available for immediate consumption. Some really enjoy reading short stories because they don't have much time to read and can consume at least one story in a sitting.
This led me to think about John Locke's marketing approach. You know John Locke - he's the first self-published author to sell a million e-books. In his book, "How I Sold One Million E-Books in 5 Months," he says that one of the keys to his success is finding his target market. He's extremely specific about his target market, practically to the point of knowing what color shoes they're wearing. It seems there is an important nugget of wisdom in this approach, especially for those of us who are writing fiction in formats that are a bit offbeat like web serials or short stories.
It was this line of thinking that inspired us to create Tuesday Serial. The Friday Flash community (#fridayflash on Twitter) - geared towards short fiction - welcomes serial stories, but they weren't gaining a lot of readers. My friend Tony Noland and I decided that we needed to seek out a specific audience for web serials and we created Tuesday Serial to provide a place for these readers to find serials. Our community of serial writers and readers continues to grow.
And so, my research continues. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share with me what formats of fiction you enjoy and why you enjoy them. Why would you choose to read a short story over a novel on any given day? Why would you choose to read a web serial over a short story on any given day? Is there a method to your choices or are you an opportunistic reader? Let's discuss over a virtual bottle of merlot on my verandah ;-)
Tomorrow, newbie serial fiction author Dwain Smith joins us to discuss his first brush with serial fiction.
P.J. Kaiser stays at home in Hoboken, New Jersey with her two children and writes between loads of laundry. She writes short fiction and has a dusty novel draft she’d like to work on soon. She has been published in various anthologies including “Best of Friday Flash Vol. 1,” “50 Stories for Pakistan,” “100 Stories for Queensland,” and the latest anthology from eMergent Publishing, “Nothing But Flowers.” She can be found at her blog “Inspired by Real Life.”