An intriguing idea, this writers’ room in publishing thing, but also dismaying to all the writers who are trying to leave the TV writers’ room environs and proudly and solitarily produce work that’s all theirs.
by Charley Locke
MATTHEW CODY BEGAN his new book ReMade with a premise sure to be a hit with fans of dystopian YA fiction: In a post-apocalyptic future, 23 teenagers wake up to look for answers in the wreckage of human civilization, all while being hunted by machines. But beyond its initial chapter, he didn’t write the details of the rest of the book. He didn’t have to—he’s just the showrunner.
ReMade, which debuts today, is the fifth series from Serial Box. The company is essentially a book publisher, but instead of releasing whole novels by lone authors, it rolls out stories like a TV network: one “episode” a week, each penned by a different writer. Every installment, much like every episode of The Night Of, will take a little under an hour of your time, and for those who keep up with their shows on iTunes, the options to buy will be familiar. Readers can purchase an episode at a time for $1.99, subscribe and get each of the 13-15 episodes for a discounted $1.59, or buy a season pass for $19-22. For subscribers and pass holders, a new episode arrives in their Serial Box app each Wednesday, in both written and audio form.
Other companies—Wattpad, Crave—have experimented with serialized digital storytelling, but Serial Box hews much more closely to the TV model than anything that’s come before it. That’s intentional. Co-founder Molly Barton, who was previously the global digital director at Penguin, wanted to start an ebook company that borrowed not only from television’s release schedule, but from its marketing and creative process, too.
“When I was at Penguin, I was going to more and more dinner parties with literary agents who were just talking about TV,” Barton says. “With TV, I can figure out where you are, but if we’ve read the same novel, it’s a more dense thing to access.” Through episodic release, Barton hopes to offer a reading experience that’s easier to speculate and obsess about, through books that you can read in sync with your friends.
Writing Novels Like TV Seasons
Serialized book publication, of course, requires a quick turnaround….