Curious? Here's the series description:
John Scalzi's new thirteen-episode novel in the world of his bestselling Old Man's War [series]. Beginning on January 15, 2013, a new episode of The Human Division will appear in e-book form every Tuesday.
#1 The B-Team
#2 Walk the Plank
#3 We Only Need the Heads
#4 A Voice in the Wilderness
#5 Tales From the Clarke
#6 The Back Channel
#7 The Dog King
#8 The Sound of Rebellion
#9 The Observers
#10 This Must Be the Place
#11 Problem of Proportion
#12 The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads
#13 Earth Below, Sky Above
Brilliant, I say!
Might this be the way future authors could build an audience prior to the release of full-length novels, and then feed and increase that audience in-between novel releases? I think it has some intriguing possibilities. And it seems it would be far more effective than blog posts, interviews, virtual guest appearances and any of the myriad other social media outlets authors use to attempt to reach more potential readers.
So as a Scalzi fan I was delighted, but I also saw some real benefits for the writer side of me. Below, I jotted down just a few:
Four Benefits for the Reader
- Not having to wait a year or more for a fix from your favorite author
- Allows a method to learn more about a much loved universe or characters
- Provides an invitation to explore other POVs or offscreen action from the main novels
- Lets the reader enjoy reading more stories in the preferred author's style and voice
- Allows a way to intro and expand on a fictional universe without resorting to copious backstory dumps
- Keeps the ideas, concepts and conditions of the universe and/or characters in the fan's thoughts in between novel releases
- Provides a creative outlet for all the world-building contained in the authors head that might otherwise never make it into print
- Introduces a new stream of income in between advances to keep the utilities paid
Of course, it will be a bit trickier for an aspiring or pre-published author to do this in the same big way.
Second, authors would have to take care in how their stories are crafted so they don't become spoilers for major surprises and turning points in the main novels. Setting the series before the opening of the main novel, or writing them around a different group of characters or locations in the same universe is a way to help avoid this pitfall.
Third, it's doubtful a new author will have a powerhouse like Tor behind them to design professional covers and end product. Let's face it, kicking out poorly packaged, improperly edited work is not going to help writers grab that brass ring. Better to spend a little time and investment producing the best possible product than throwing something together with a "it's good enough because it's cheap [or free]" attitude.
The biggest drawback to this idea is the element of time. How does a writer write, revise and edit a novel while working on several side pieces? Well, the same way an author writes posts, blog tour articles, and tweets while at the same time carrying out all those activities. It may just be a matter of deciding what has more priority--social media or companion stories.
What are your thoughts? If you're a reader, would you enjoy reading a companion series set in one of your favorite author's universes? Would you be interested in discovering new authors and their universes in the same way? If you're a writer, have you ever attempted or achieved something similar to promote your work? Would you consider it?