Cozy Mysteries are not new to the concept of serialized fiction. Sherlock Holmes (though arguably Noir rather than Cozy) began as a serialized story in the days of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But are serialized mysteries making a comeback?
What is Serialized Fiction?
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first published The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he released them in 12 installments in The Strand Magazine. Readers waited to see what was next for Holmes through these short works. The novels came later, after readers became entranced by the short segments of story they devoured monthly.
Serialized fiction is a series of short works released shortly one after the other to combine into a larger story. Many authors today are calling them "episodes," where, like a TV Show, each one tells a piece of a larger tale. Those following the story have to wait and see what will happen next for the characters, who they come to know through these segments of story.
While some writers use a serialized style to release a larger book, like handing out a chapter at a time, others don't consider releasing chapters to be the same thing as serialized fiction. Staying true to the episode analogy, each issue of a serial gives readers a satisfactory beginning and end that can stand on its own, but piques interest in continuing the overall story. In a way, it's kind of like a book series, but in parts short enough to finish in the same amount of time as you'd watch a weekly show.
Where can you read/publish serialized fiction?
If you enjoy short stories and serials, there are always the usual places to publish/read them such as magazines and blogs. But there are also several places online dedicated to only publishing serialized fiction for readers. Some target specific audiences or genres, while others are open to a broader range of stories and readers. Here are just a few cozy mystery authors might consider:
Wattpad allows authors to publish short fiction for free to readers in order to build an audience. The site has gained a lot of readers and attention over the internet, but leans toward younger audiences, allowed age 13+ to read on the site (17+ on the mobile app). There is a lot of competition on the site, too. However, if you have a good social media presence, and you intend to upload your story segments often, you can build a large audience on Wattpad. While some readers may go on to purchase your future books, there is no guarantee you'll be able to make a career out of your work on Wattpad. It has been done, though, and some authors have had great success with it. What about cozy mystery authors? Doing a quick search on the internet I found 123 stories using the "cozy mystery" hashtag on the Wattpad site (642 using the "cozy" tag), which means there isn't as much competition in this genre as one might think. But keep in mind the audience on Wattpad may not be as interested in cozy mysteries as other genres.
Inkitt is a publishing company that chooses your story based on popularity with readers. It's reader base consists of "beta readers" or people who are reading the stories for free in order to give feedback to the author. Inkitt refers to their readers as talent scouts and encourages readers to help authors by giving constructive criticism of their work. Using an algorithm to determine a story's popularity, Inkitt then offers publishing deals to those who perform well on their platform. In a way, it's like test-driving your publishing career before going a traditional route. If you're wondering about the cozy mystery audience on Inkitt, I couldn't see exactly how many cozies this site had, but the genre is present on the site. Not only does Inkitt have many cozy mysteries available to read, they also offer articles on their blog giving advice on how to write cozy mysteries and have over 700 books in the overall mystery category, which would include cozies.
Amazon has just announced that they'll be releasing a new serial fiction platform soon called Kindle Vella. Authors can publish 600 -5k word stories on this new site and readers can read the first three stories in a series for free. Then, readers "unlock" new episodes with tokens they can purchase in bundles. Readers give thumbs up to episodes they like, fave their favorite stories of the week, and follow stories to be notified when the author uploads the next episode. Authors can also publish "author notes" to communicate directly with readers. Authors receive 50% royalties of the tokens used for their stories. The stories cannot be published anywhere else, but it's still possible to build an audience who might buy future books.
Since Kindle Vella isn't up yet, it's hard to say whether cozy mysteries will be big on the site, however, cozy mysteries are big on Amazon Kindle in general and cozy mystery authors have had success in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, which also have an exclusivity clause. So, it's entirely possible that this new platform is one that will attract cozy mystery readers and many new cozy books and authors to the site.