The Return and Rise of the Serial Novel

In early 2012, I stumbled across a promising new publisher called JukePop Serials. At the time, I had never written a serial novel before, but it sounded intriguing. So I began writing Misty Me and Me, a story about a man whose porn addiction leads to embarrassment, affairs, and murder (so far…there’s much still to come). It has been an absolute blast creating and updating the story every few weeks. The best part about this whole experience has been working with JukePop. JukePop Serials is an innovative website with a lot of great things to offer contributors. Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jerry Fan, one of the staff members at this wonderful publication. Here’s what Jerry had to say:jukepop image

Jerry, thanks for agreeing to chat with me. Let’s get right down to business. You’ve managed to create a beautiful site with what seems to be a big following. The obvious question first: what made you decided to focus on serialized fiction?

Thanks for the compliment, we can always make things better and there is more to come. We started JukePop Serials to provide incentives for writers to start writing and be rewarded for it, because on average it takes 475 hours to write a novel.  Just thinking about the time investment writers put into their novels made us want to help get those beautiful stories out there as quickly as possible.  Serialization was the perfect means to get started quickly, build confidence, and attract a meaningful following. Especially when we know there are quality novels that never starts or remains unfinished – a recent poll of 2700 internet users indicates there are roughly 8 million unpublished novels out there. Fiction was more appropriate because even though nonfiction outsells fiction typically 2 to 1, 20% more fiction is being published these days via the internet.

What was the initial response like when you put out your call for submissions? Were you overwhelmed by the quantity or quality of submissions?

We started receiving submission on the very first day we called for submissions.  We didn’t expect to receive submissions at least for 2 – 3 weeks after we started to spread the word.  This just reaffirmed that there are unmet needs, and we’re providing a valuable service to our authors.  Over time, the quality of our submissions has been increasing, making it harder for our editorial team – but we welcome it!

All of the artwork for the serials is created by the authors. Why did you choose to do it this way? Do you have a favorite cover image?

Initially we wanted to provide cover design services to the authors, and some authors had asked about it as well.  So that may become available in the future.  Also, the nature of serialization means the story can change over time and the authors should have control over what cover art is most representative of where their stories are going. Our authors have some beautiful covers, but that’s certainly not indicative of success. We’re glad the community does not judge a book by its cover!

Do you feel that the original beta launch was as successful as you hoped it would be?

We’re still in beta actually, even though we’ve launched apps on iPhones and Android smartphones.  But yes, beta has been more successful than we had expected – hard to believe it’s only been a short 4-5 months.

Obviously the account feature is a great way to help protect the integrity of the voting. How many people are currently registered on the site? Do you have a way of tracking active users? How many users log in just to vote for a story and then log out without really doing any exploring or even reading? Do these users bother you?

We’re currently seeing tens of thousands visits a month, and it’s amazing that over 80% of our readers are active and vote regularly.

Have you seen a growing trend in serialized fiction since the site was launched?

Absolutely. Authors these days have multiple venues to serialize their stories and it’s not just via web blogs anymore.

Do you still receive a lot of submissions? What percentage of authors submit multiple serials?

Submissions are still pouring in because even though we control the quality, the fact that we understand starting a story is half the battle makes us more appealing to published and aspiring authors alike.  Less than 10% of our submissions are multiple stories and less than 5% of our authors have more than one story going on at once.

What percentage of authors keep their serials active? Are there plans to archive the inactive serials so they don’t take up space on the home page?

Over 70% of our serials update new chapters at least once a month, and it’s amazing that we have some serials that are over 20 chapters – these authors are writing at an incredible pace.  We are thinking about denoting serials that have not been updating as well as completed serials, but since these are not a high percentage we’re going to roll out more exciting features first.

You’ve managed to supply contributors with loads of benefits, including upfront payments for the stories as well as monthly prizes for the top thirty stories. How are you able to provide all these great benefits when there are so many publications out there that can’t afford to pay at all?

We believe in our authors and our platform.  Because of results we’ve seen, we are able to attract investors that share our vision.

You’ve developed some apps to help promote the site and make it more accessible. You also just re-designed the site. Can you tell us what the future holds for JukePop?

We’re going to focus on providing more tools and services to help our authors succeed and different venues to increase the exposure of our serials to the general public.

One of the new features is Editor’s Picks. What do you look for in these? How do you come to a consensus as a staff?

Editor’s Picks is a place where we highlight interesting serials that may not have the established reader base so they get discovered.

Jerry, thanks so much for talking about JukePop. We look forward to what the future has in store for this terrific project. Thank you for providing such a great service to readers and writers.


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