OkLetsRead! Could Become the KickStarter for Serial Fiction
Serial fiction has been a hot topic ever since Amazon revived the idea last Fall. Now a newly launched website proposes to a combine serial fiction with its natural partner, crowdfunding, in order to create a new way for fans to support the authors they like.
OkLetsRead! was one of the contestants in the Publishing Hackathon a few weeks ago. It was knocked out of the contest in the very first stage, and in fact the website does not appear to have gotten any further than a nonfunctional demo, but I still like the idea.
Here’s how OKLetsRead was described in the contest pitch:
OkLetsRead is helping to bring back the serialized novel through crowdfunding and community-driven book clubs. In the age of Twitter, when singles are selling better than albums, and instant gratification is everything, books can seem intimidatingly large to the casual reader.
OkLetsRead lets authors write a single standalone short for our community – 30 to 50 pages that doesn’t take a year to write allowing authors to try out different plots or styles, or just opening up the field to part time writers.
Readers get great stories that aren’t daunting to test out a new author, series or genre. Stories can be read in an hour or less, even for slower readers. If they get hooked, they can help fund the writing of more shorts with the rest of the community and bringing them closer to the author.
Publishers can access data and analytics on future purchase intents of readers, opening up a new information stream to help them inform their own portfolio decisions before committing to a large advance and marketing budget.
This isn’t a completely new idea; I have heard of a couple websites that were trying to turn slushpiles into a crowdsourcing project. There have even been a number of KickStarter projects for individual titles, and in fact Stephen King was the first to use this very idea with his early digital novel, The Plant.
But this is the first I know of that is trying to build a crowdfunding platform for serial fiction.
I am not a fan of serial fiction for its own sake, but that’s mainly because I know that this type of literature was invented for monetary reasons. When Amazon revived the idea I didn’t see what the serial payment business model added to the content that was being sold. But now that OKLetsRead has come up with a good reason to use this business model again, things have changed.
I think this could be a useful way for an author to fund an ongoing series of short stories. An author could propose a story and let their fans express their enthusiasm financially. As each story is released, fans could pay incrementally.
This is potentially a good idea, but OKLetsRead appears to be defunct. If someone would care to copy the idea and launch a new site I would be interested.
P.S. If this idea is already being used somewhere, please let me know.
Jerry Fan August 26, 2013 um 7:55 pm
I’m the founder of JukePop Serials, a platform for authors to test out their story via serialization, one chapter at a time. I love how OkLetsRead.com describes their idea so succinctly, and hope their working feverishly behind the scenes still. Wish I found this blog post earlier though!
When I moved to the US as a teenager, I was surprised that newspapers here don’t publish stories along side articles. Growing up, I became addicted to the cliff hangers authors build at the end of each installment and that was the equivalent of my Sunday Comics. Then as I progress along my career as engineer, management consultant, then high tech product manager – I realized that what the publishing industry needs is to bring back serialized fiction. Serialization is perfect for authors that are looking to get a quick validation for their story concept before they invest their time, and perfect for publishers that are looking to de-risk their decisions.
I was invited to speak at Litquake.org’s Digilit conference (http://www.litquake.org/authors/fan-jerry) on "Needle in a Haystack: Discovering New Digital Content". At JukePop Serials, even though our editorial board curates (and pays) so readers are exposed to quality stories, we don’t believe we’re the final word on what’s makes a good story. That would be falling into the same predicament that publishers are in, and frankly are a little arrogant for my taste. Instead, we hand the reins to our community of authors and readers to help us decide what’s worth reading. Based on our authors' Endorsements and readers' +Votes, we then accept Aspiring JukePop Authors into our main reading catalog. To provide additional motivation for authors to keep up with new chapters, we reward the top 30 authors with cash rewards on a monthly basis.
Oh, and yes, we provide basic analytics for the writers – with more to come in the next couple of months. Amazing what valuable reader behavior writers learn when you know which at which point in the story readers "abandon" the serial.
Would love to talk more, and do check out jukepopserials.com when you can 🙂