Not just here, of course.
There are numerous places on the Internet where you’ll find web fiction. (I’ll be discussing some of them shortly.) But the web fiction at Edward Trimnell Books is unique in two aspects:
1.) It’s written in an Internet-friendly, serialized, pulp format, and
2.) The web fiction at Edward Trimnell Books is written with an adult readership in mind (very important).
That’s the short explanation of what this site is all about.
Now, here’s the longer one…
Static site to web fiction site
In late March 2019 I carried out a major renovation on Edward Trimnell Books.
The site had been a run-of-the-mill, static author website.
You’ve seen those. “Here are my books!” “Check them out on Amazon!” “Buy now!”
Boring! Those websites are little more than online billboards. I was never happy with that.
Also, I’m a blogger at heart. I love putting out regular doses of online content.
But I mostly write fiction nowadays.
So I decided to combine fiction with blogging. I converted Edward Trimnell Books to a serial web fiction site.
Since then, I’ve been serializing novels, short stories, nonfiction books, and essays here.
But this whole web fiction thing is much bigger than just me, and what I do. There’s a history behind it…
Web fiction and pre-World War II serial fiction
Web fiction may be less than 20 years old, but it’s cousin, serial fiction, has a much longer track record. Many of the novels that we now regard as classics were originally delivered in serial format. These include:
The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriett Beecher Stowe)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)
The War of the Worlds (H.G. Wells)
Middlemarch (George Eliot)
The Jungle (Upton Sinclair)
Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)
David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)
Why were so many of these novels—published between the Victorian Age and World War II—serialized first?
The reasons can be traced to the economics of the publishing industry.
The cheap, mass-market paperback is a relatively new innovation. Paperback books technically existed in the early 20th century. But they didn’t become common until the 1950s.
Prior to World War II, if a book was published as a single volume (regardless of when it was originally published) it almost always appeared in hardcover.
Then, as now, hardcover books were expensive. In the 19th century (when Dickens was publishing), only a small segment of society could afford them. The market for hardcover, bound books was therefore very limited.
But ordinary wage-earners could afford newspapers and periodicals, which were cheaper to print, and did not have expensive bindings. Publishers therefore adopted the custom of serializing novels in weekly or monthly publications.
In some cases, the writers owned the periodicals. Many of Charles Dickens’s novels were first published—in serialized format—in his magazine All the Year Round. (I suppose it would therefore be correct to say that Dickens was a self-publisher…Imagine that.)
By 1960 or so, paperback books were common; and modern printing and binding techniques enabled publishers to manufacture and distribute hardcover books more economically.
The serialized novel therefore died out.
Magazines still serialize novels on occasion. But the practice is mostly a novelty nowadays. (No pun intended.)
Web fiction = serial fiction
But the Internet changed what is possible in publishing yet again. Online fiction, or web fiction, offers the opportunity to deliver long stories (novels) in a serialized format.
Just like Dickens did it.
But not exactly like Dickens did it.
Serial installments in magazines typically consisted of four or five thousand words (or more) at a time.
That’s a lot of words on a web page. Too many, really. The serial format that was appropriate for magazine publishing in 1850 or 1920 isn’t suited to the Internet.
Web fiction written for the Internet, to be read on a laptop screen (or, more commonly, on smart phones and tablets) should be presented in a more concise format. This means writing in bite-sized, self-contained chunks of about 800~2000 words.
A story chapter as a blog post, in other words.
On Edward Trimnell Books, I am serializing some early novels of mine that were originally written in traditional, longer chapters. But I’m writing all the new stuff with short, snappy chapters that can be read while waiting in line at the bank.
Now, as in Dickens’s time, the format must fit the delivery system.
Web fiction and the short story
Another thing at changed during the twentieth century: the status of the short story. Print magazines stopped running short stories. Writers stopped writing them, and readers stopped looking for them.
Today many writers disdain short fiction. This is because every writer is dreaming of seeing her paperback or hardcover novel on the shelf at Walmart.
The opposite used to be true. While he was alive, F. Scott Fitzgerald made most of his money selling short fiction to magazines. His novels were his long-shot “passion projects”.
You might remember reading Fitzgerald’s “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, “Winter Dreams” or “The Ice Palace” in your high school English class. (I certainly read them; my junior English lit teacher was a Fitzgerald fanatic.) Fitzgerald wrote these short stories for weekly publications like The Saturday Evening Post. The weeklies needed a constant infusion of new material. Once a writer was included among a magazine’s stable of trusted writers, the writer could produce a predictable, steady income stream by churning out short stories for the publication.
In the 1920s (when Fitzgerald wrote most of his “Jazz Age” stories), a novel was a far more speculative undertaking—both for writers and for publishers.
This is why Fitzgerald wrote so many short stories. He wasn’t thinking about future generations of high school students. Fitzgerald was thinking about paying his bills.
Another writer who made his mark in the early 20th-century magazine market was H.P. Lovecraft, author of the Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft, needless to say, didn’t publish much in The Saturday Evening Post. Instead, he published stories in niche magazines like Weird Tales.
It is no wonder that Lovecraft’s entire oeuvre consists of short fiction. Lovecraft never wrote much of anything that could be considered a novel, by current standards. His few long pieces that technically meet the minimal novel word count (like At the Mountains of Madness) are better described as novellas—short novels.
(Oh—and Lovecraft had a hard time finding a home for At the Mountains of Madness, because the periodical publishers felt that it was too long. Weird Tales rejected the story in 1931. This 40,000-word horror tale was eventually serialized in Astounding Stories in 1936.
But the magazine-based market for short fiction changed, too. Most of the general-audience magazines (like The Saturday Evening Post) that published fiction either folded or went into severe decline by 1970. Much had changed. Fiction now had to compete with electronic forms of entertainment…notably television.
A vibrant, paying market for genre fiction persisted for a few more years. The horror stories in Stephen King’s first short story collection, Night Shift, were ones that he sold to men’s magazines during the early 1970s.
By the turn of the new century, though, short fiction had become a boutique undertaking. In many cases (literary short fiction, especially) short fiction outlets were supported solely by authors and aspiring authors.
That isn’t exactly a formula for success…Imagine if HBO’s Game of Thrones were only patronized by people in the film industry. George R.R. Martin would be working at McDonald’s today in order to make ends meet.
But the fact remains: For about fifty years, the publishing industry has mostly pushed novels (with the exception of the occasional Stephen King short story collection, of course). And so novels are what most readers are looking for.
And herein lies an irony. (The publishing industry produces many of them.) In 1931, H.P. Lovecraft had trouble selling At the Mountains of Madness because the story was too long. Today, a traditional publisher would consider it far too short!
Enter web fiction, and online publishing.
The Internet is the perfect venue for short stories, too. I’ve long been a fan of the short fiction of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and others. I’ve only recently gotten serious about writing it, though, because short fiction collections are difficult to market (even in the Amazon Kindle format).
But a short story of 3,000 to 8,000 words, broken up into multiple, easily digestible sections, is perfect for the Internet…Once again, going with the rule of “chapter as blog post”.
How is this site different from Wattpad, Web Fiction Guide, etc?
I don’t mean to suggest, by any of the above paragraphs, that I’ve invented the concept of the web novel, or the online short story collection.
When you Google “web fiction” at present, you’re likely to come up with two results: Wattpad (which everyone knows about), and Web Fiction Guide (which slightly fewer people know about).
These sites are great. The people who run them seem quite well-intentioned. The sites also attract some very dedicated readers and writers.
Check out the stories on Wattpad sometime. Almost all of them are written for a 13- to 18-year old audience.
Web Fiction Guide is a little different, but it is similarly slanted. Go to the front page of the site, and you’ll see that the front listings are dominated by Harry Potter-, and Hunger Games-esque stories about teens performing magic, teens with superpowers, teens piloting spaceships, etc.
Other web fiction guides on the Internet that I’ve found are similarly slanted toward YA romance and/or YA fantasy/superhero/scifi mashups.
And just so we’re clear: There’s nothing wrong with any of that!
It naturally appeals to a very limited readership, in a very specific age range.
Teenage readers are welcome here, of course, but adult readers are my primary focus.
I write suspense, thriller, and supernatural fiction for mature readers. Before I started seriously writing fiction (about ten years ago), these were my favorite authors:
Notice that you don’t see J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, or Suzanne Collins in the above list? That’s why you won’t find any Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games knock-offs on Edward Trimnell Books.
What you will find here are fast-moving suspense tales written for adults.
For example, Blood Flats, my first novel, is a story about an ex-marine and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who is framed for a drug-related double homicide.
The Eavesdropper is the story of a corporate employee who learns, by eavesdropping on a conversation, that three of his coworkers are planning a murder. One of these coworkers is his boss.
I don’t mind horror (Eleven Miles of Night), and I’m not opposed to youthful characters per se. (12 Hours of Halloween, Eleven Miles of Night, and Revolutionary Ghosts are all supernatural tales with protagonists under the age of twenty-four.) But I don’t do the tropes, tone, and style that you find in young adult and juvenile-oriented fiction nowadays…much of which strikes me as rather silly.
No sexy vampires. No pseudo-anime stuff. No LitRPG.
And no Harry Potter rip-offs.
Web fiction and the bottom line
Some of you will no doubt wonder: What about the bottom line? Everything should have a profit center, right?
Edward Trimnell Books operates on the freemium model. Everything posted online is free for you to read and enjoy here on the site. No questions asked.
Not everyone is going to want to read a complete story online, though. For those readers, the stories will also be available in ebook, paperback and audiobook.
I also believe that where publishing is concerned, free to the reader need not mean unpaid to the author. I unapologetically run ads on this site. If done correctly and within reasonable limits, advertising and affiliate links (Amazon, etc.) represent a perfectly legitimate way of subsidizing an online publishing venture.
There is nothing wrong with advertising. It’s been a key component of publishing economics since time immemorial.
What about the P-word? Patreon.
For now the site is supported mostly by ads, book sales, and affiliate links. Patreon is an option that I’m considering for the future.
Web novels, web short stories, and more…
Anyway, such is the philosophy of Edward Trimnell Books and the web fiction presented on this site.
To round out the offerings here, I’ll also be publishing some editorials and serial nonfiction; but the heart of his site will always be, “pulp fiction…hot off the keyboard!”…just like the tagline says.