Serial fans flock to Pigeonhole

Serial fans flock to Pigeonhole

A new online publishing platform, The Pigeonhole, aims to tap into a community of readers who want a shared reading experience based on serialised publication.

The platform has been co-founded by Anna Jean Hughes, formerly of Random House and Peters, Fraser & Dunlop, alongside Jacob Cockcroft. It will also employ Erica Jarnes, who previously worked for Bloomsbury. The Pigeonhole will launch in October with four projects, each published in 10 serialised sections. Weekly episodes of several thousand words will be delivered through a bespoke app for reading on smartphones, tablets and online. The instalments are micro-priced at 50p apiece.

The Pigeonhole’s first four projects are: Deadlines, a crime thriller by Chris Brosnahan, who won Authonomy’s Novel in 30 Hours competition in 2013; Wisdom Hackers, a series of philosophical investigations edited by Alexa Clay, who founded; erotic short story series Sex Staves; and a classic novel which was first published in serialised form—the identity of the novel in question was yet to be confirmed by the company at the time The Bookseller went to press.

The Pigeonhole website will offer pages for each project, with online resources such as author interviews, photo galleries or soundtracks released to accompany each instalment. It also offers a forum for readers to share their experiences of serialised instalments with their peers, and ask the relveant author questions.

Jarnes said a beta project, a serial publication of Cornwall-set novel Redpoint by Yseult Ogilvie, had been received “amazingly well”, with well over 600 subscribers. “We’ve just been talking to people online, asking them, ‘How would you like to read and interact with authors?’,” she said. “Several hundred people read Redpoint and the main thing we wanted was feedback. Some were frustrated, and said they wanted the next instalment straightaway. But the overwhelming majority of people said they really enjoyed the experience, having discussions online in real-time with lots of other people.”

Jarnes said: “Anna [Jean Hughes] and I each have a decade of experience. The reason I left publishing two years ago was that I was a bit tired of it—the way we as publishers were communicating with readers seemed patronising to me, and we’d been doing things in a similar way for so long. It’s been so freeing to be able to say, ‘We’re trying something new; we won’t know what works immediately.’”

The Pigeonhole intends to involve writers “as much as possible”. Jarnes said: “Some writers are not appropriate for our platform. We are looking for writers who want to engage directly with the platform. Those we are publishing in the autumn are excited by that—they are all active on social media.”

At the end of the 10-week serialisation, the instalments will be collated and made available as an e-book through Amazon, or via The Pigeonhole if the reader wants it via the app. If there proves a sufficient audience, The Pigeonhole will then consider print publication.

Jarnes said: “When I joined The Pigeonhole, I had in my head that hardback publication was the real one, and everything online was just marketing. I’ve shifted perception—the 10-week serialisation is just as valid a way of reading. But we know a lot of writers harbour a love of the physical edition.”

The Pigeonhole has an open submissions policy, and writers will receive a 50/50 split of revenue.