Radish's Sue Johnson brings TV and games thinking to serialised books

Radish's Sue Johnson brings TV and games thinking to serialised books

This week Radish, a short-form serialised fiction platform, announced the launch of Radish Originals, its first foray into producing in-house  stories. It also announced the appointment of Sue Johnson as c.o.o. and the head of its New York office. Johnson formerly served as VP of Programming at ABC Daytime, and most recently was at Pocket Gems mobile interactive storytelling app Episode.

We first profiled Radish back when it launched in 2017, but this seemed the perfect opportunity to grill Johnson (below) on the new developments, and how she's planning on translating her TV and gaming expertise into the world of books.

What excites you about the role at Radish?

I love storytelling and serialized content in particular. Everything I’ve done previously in my career has been about creating great serialized narratives. As CCO of Radish, I have an opportunity to use my television and gaming experience in a new medium. I’m able to help bring quality serialized fiction to the mobile generation and to oversee that strategy right from the start.

Serialised fiction platforms have been around for a while and are yet to take off - what makes Radish different?

Radish is bite-sized fiction specifically designed for a mobile audience. The average episode is approximately 1500 words and can easily be read on the go - while commuting, waiting in line, between classes, etc. Each episode ends with a strong cliffhanger and is precisely constructed to make a reader want to learn what happens next.

In addition, we also offer Radish Live, an opportunity to chat live with the author and/or other readers for three hours after the release of a new episode. This is an opportunity for readers to interact and give feedback on the current episode. This feedback can potentially influence the direction of the serial going forward.

Radish is also curated. Writers have to be accepted in order to publish on Radish. That guarantees that readers will find high-quality content every time they come to the app.

What’s the reaction/uptake been to Radish Originals so far?

Extremely positive! Of the six Originals released so far, we’re already in production on a second season for three of them. Our first Original, Fraternity Madam began serializing season two on Monday and our users are loving it!

What do you think the book trade can learn from the TV world?

Television production is very paced and extremely collaborative. Traditional publishing is a long process and by nature, more solitary. With Radish Originals, we’re using the collaboration of a writer’s room to produce an outline for each season of the story (20 episodes). In addition, we’re combining that with an A/B testing model from mobile gaming. The writers room and testing method allow us to produce and iterate on our content in such a way that we can create high performing content in a minimum amount of time. These methods and learnings are particularly relevant for serialized content.

What will be your greatest challenge at the company?

Scaling at the pace we want in order to provide enough new quality content on a daily basis.

What are your own reading habits?

I’m a voracious reader of all forms of media - print, digital, mobile - you name it. I love getting insight into people, places, communities, etc. that I haven’t been exposed to before. And I love to be swept away by a great romance.

What’s the next big disruption you see hitting the publishing industry?

As the capacity to gather data and user feedback continues to grow, this will elevate the ability to iterate on content quickly. Users' demands will have expanding influence on what and how content is created. Tech will increasingly be a method of both production and delivery of content.

Also, the growing demand for publishers to provide content that represents diverse cultures will result in both content and content creators being more representative of the world we live in - which will be fantastic!

Additionally, there will be more advancements in audiobooks - they won’t just be supplements of the original but instead books in their own right. And interactivity with stories will grow to new heights - particularly in mobile.