Regular FutureBook readers will know that one of our pet topics is the need for book-related events to evolve. So we were pleased when we caught wind of a new sort of book launch coming in October - a multimedia online storytelling event, no less, produced by serialised reading platform Serial Box.
Based on the classic literary parlour game "exquisite corpse" - a game in which a story is collectively assembled by multiple players who each continue the tale by picking up where the previous author left off - Serial Box’s Exquisite Corpse is a one-day live serial being released to celebrate Halloween. Taking place on Friday, October 19 between 11 am EST and 8 pm EST, the platform will release one episode every hour (approx 1,000 words, or 6-12 minutes to read), all completely free in ebook and audio (which will be recorded in binaural 3D sound) on the Serial Box website and iOS app. Readers can subscribe to an email list, which will provide exclusive goodies and promotions (think signed books, stickers, promo codes) every hour throughout the day.
"Our series usually run over the course of ten weeks, but with this project we're taking all that's great about the Serial Box mission of serialization and collaboration and making it shorter, quicker, and more playful," says the company's founder Molly Barton, ex-global digital lead at Penguin Random House. We asked her to give us the inside story on how the project developed.
Where did the idea come from - was it driven by Serial Box user data in any way?
Serial Box readers and listeners are avid fans of the series they follow - usually these series are released over the course of 10 weeks with a new episode coming out every Wednesday morning. Recently we started Microfiction Mondays where we send out miniature stories through push notification to everyone who has the Serial Box app and activates notifications. This service is free to all app holders and has seen tremendous success at bringing new readers and listeners to the platform. So the Exquisite Corpse series is another new short-form way that we're inviting new readers and listeners (particularly fans of horror) in to the platform.They can listen or read the whole series very quickly - each installment only takes a few minutes to experience. Plus we just love the game amd are excited to revive interest in it. The beauty of doing an exquisite corpse is that we got to throw continuity to the wind, let each author take the story wherever they please and the next (un)lucky writer has to run with whatever they were handed. This makes for a lot of fun and a wonderfully bizarre story.
What will success look like for you?
Success will be thousands of new readers and listeners coming to the site or app and checking out the full serials while they're there. During the day we'll be running a number of giveaways, and messages from Serial Box are the best way to be find out about the giveaways. We've already seen a flood of signups from people who want to receive updates.
(How) are you using the event to reach a new audience?
We partnered with leading horror website Dread Central -- their editors wrote the 'prompt' that started the game. And the players are an amazing group of horror writers including Christopher Golden, Cassandra Khaw, and Brian Keene.
What technical challenges has the event thrown up?
We're still figuring out if we can send giveaway and contest news on the day via text message / push notifications. For now we're relying on email.
What’s next for Serial Box?
We have two new series launching in the coming weeks - Silverwood and Bullet Catcher. There's a major update to the iOS app and launch of the Android app coming in November. And we have some major content partnerships that we'll be announcing in the coming weeks - some very famous characters and storyworlds coming to the platform. Watch this space!