A reader's struggle with reading
I love reading serial novels, newsletters and blogs. But reading online stuff is hard. How I'm trying to make it work.
I can’t read on my iPad.
Turn off notifications, say people.
I do, but the mere existence of some apps on the iPad, say, a browser, tempts me anyway.
So, while I’m trying to read Substacks or the blogs I subscribe too via Feedly, there’s a little voice in my head nagging me to check Google/Mastodon/Email.
On top of that, the bright lights from my iPad is disrupting my sleep as I like to read before I sleep.
So I gave up the fight. Recently, I used RSS feeds to convert my blog and Substack reads to ebook files which I push to my Kindle. My ebook reader is ancient, it doesn’t have apps and the browser is pretty shit.
It’s working. Every week I download and then upload my reads to my Kindle via Calibre. Then, I set a time every weekend to read them while sipping fancy coffee in a cafe. My personal magazine! Also, I can read my subscriptions without worry at night now.
How do you read online serial fiction?
Now that short-form blogs and Substacks are out of the way, I’m trying to figure out a way to read serial novels.
Currently, I’m attempting to read the online novels written byand . (I have no problems reading short stories in Substacks like and now that they're in my Kindle.)
I say attempting because I’m having little success.
Interestingly, both Elle wrote about this recently: Do you actually read serial novels online?
To answer her question: I have the same problem with serial novels as I do with blog posts and newsletters. I can’t read them on a laptop or my iPad without getting distracted. And if I do read them, I feel drained after. Also, I don’t absorb anything I read either.
I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard to read something?
On top of that, Substack isn’t made for reading serial novels. When a serial novel have a lot of chapters already, I find myself scratching my head on where to begin. A good tip for writers is to create a guide for readers like Simon did with this post:
It seems obvious: Read from the beginning! But it all seems overwhelming and I feel like I missed the party (I do like participating in community discussions). And I find myself wondering if they have an ebook instead …
I could do what I did for my blogs and Substacks — turn the earlier chapters into an ebook, but:
It is a lot of work to turn these posts into ebooks.
It doesn’t feel ethical to do so? What do you think serial novel writers? I don’t want to accidentally break a code of conduct.
Honestly, I’d prefer paying the writers to do the job!
While I seem to enjoy writing serial novels, could it be possible that I don’t like reading serial fiction online? In the early years of the Internet, I did read serial fiction, but I would print them out — sometimes 50 to 100 pages at once to read them.
But what I enjoyed about reading serial fiction online is the community aspect; reacting to a novel each time a chapter is published, leaving a review and reading other people’s reviews … and as a writer, boy did I miss that community feeling.
I think, maybe, I’m just not made to read long-form anything on lighted screen.
I’m really curious — how do you read blogs, newsletters and serial novels?
Do you enjoy reading them this way? And if you can’t, like me, let me know why in the comments below!
Also, if you have any tips on how to read online serial novels let me know!
I read almost everything on my iPhone via the Substack app or the Kindle app. I have everything set to dark mode (with nighttime mode after 8pm so it eliminates the blue light) and I have matte screen protectors on both which makes a huge difference- everything looks like a page.
I don’t have any notifications turned on except calls and texts from my husband. I also don’t have any social media apps so that helps. Really the only thing to do on my phone or iPad is read. In this way my phone and iPad function a lot like a Kindle! But with a browser, directions, a camera, and docs (where I write) too!
I’ve been doing thjs ever since I Marie Kondo’d my phone almost 10 years ago. Back then I decided to optimize it for reading and writing so I’d always have a book with me and a way to write. My phone became very undistracting at that point. But it seems like you’re reading system is very undistracting too. I was definitely a kindle paperwhite person for a long time before I switched to my phone.
Serials though I’m with you. I read short fiction via Substack. But largely wait until the book is done and I can read it on Kindle. I did start reading this one though and I like it because it comes with a lot of author commentary. We’ll see how it goes! It’s a new time for reading and my reading habits have definitely evolved as the medium has! https://theeggandtherock.substack.com/
Thanks for trying, Elizabeth! :P
I am working on this, as it's become increasingly apparent that it's a bit of a blocker, especially for new arrivals to the book. First up will be an ebook compilation of the whole story, exclusive to paid subscribers. That way all paid subscribers get a link to a convenient ebook they can download and keep, which is a pleasant way to catch up on the story so far. That ebook will be periodically updated to include new chapters.
Following that I also want to do ebook and print collections of the story. Rather than be the whole thing, this will form a series, with each collection being around 50k words. That way people can grab ebook and print versions without having to become a subscriber.
My theory is that it's all about giving people options, as everyone likes to read in different ways! I don't want to try to force everyone into having to read chapter-by-chapter on Substack.