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I am about 3/4 finished with the first "volume" of a novel I desire to serialize. Not for the money really, though I won't lie that it'd be nice, but more for the fact I can get my name out there. Now, I already know how to go about Print-On-Demand, e-Books, publishing in magazines, and online-distribution to various sites like Wattpad. This is more for the sake of having the route of "Traditional Publishing" available to both myself and others without the need of such other methods, especially since I didn't see a question asking for this, only for poems which would not help me.

I'd like to know how I could get a fantasy novel serial published traditionally, if at all, without relying on publishing it chapter-by-chapter in a magazine. Is it possible and how/through whom?


From here on out, the rest of the question is non-mandatory. It's more to address my specific circumstance, but the best answer NEEDS to answer the preceding question no matter what.

Extra Credit: Would it be possible for MY specific story to be able to and how/through whom? (This is not necessary for a best answer, but would give bonus points to answers that meet the main question's criteria.)

My story has some key marketability issues for the west that I already understand and acknowledge, but I think can be worked as features for the right publisher:

  1. The genre is niche. It's an "in another world" series that I am writing. For those familiar with Japanese, the genre is called "Isekai".
  2. I am writing it like a Light Novel. This means each volume is about a novella-to-novel in length, would be interrupted by scene-appropriate illustrations periodically, and would be generally designed to be easy-to-read.
  3. One of the two main characters is Japanese and is told halfway from his perspective. Otherwise, western-style names (but not necessarily real names) populate the majority of characters. Meaning: the idea of having to read "hard-to-read foreign names" too often would be subsided.
  4. My story deals with controversial topics including slavery, the sex-trade, cults (in the Jonestown, not D&D, sense), racism and bigotry, fighting and violence, and so forth. While I would never go graphic, I still touch deeply enough on the topics in order to leave a strong-enough imprint on my readers to express a given message. For those who are too young to understand the subtext, they'd see the battered and bruised female slaves as victims of violence, whereas a person who is older (or at least more knowledgeable about the evils in the world) would be able to understand what kind of violence. Basically, A Song of Ice and Fire, but less explicit in this sense. (The story is NOT dark fantasy. It just had some dark fantasy tones to it.)
  5. It would most likely appeal largely to anime fans due to the other variables, regardless of the art-style employed for the illustrations.

That said, is there a publisher in the West that I can publish this through? I did consider re-writing it in Japanese, which would certainly be possible, but it would not be favorable. While I could get it published in Japan (even despite the "isekai-ban" now employed by many Japanese publishers), I'd rather not do so someplace where the genre is a dime a dozen.

  • Considering I posted two questions, 1 right after the other, I can understand how my questions could come across and can't even be mad about the downvote on each. However, if you downvoted because of a different complaint, please explain. – Sora Tamashii Mar 14 at 3:55
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    Looking at new question in the past few days it seems someone has some very strict criteria for new questions. Most new questions seem to have at least downvote. I think your questions are good. Keep it up! – Secespitus Mar 14 at 9:03
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    @Secespitus not just questions either. Over the past three or four weeks, suddenly a large percentage of my posts get one single downvote, no explanations. Looks like one very critical user. – Galastel Mar 14 at 12:21
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    @Galastel wow so it's not just me experiencing this. I feel better now. I was getting downvotes even on posts from months ago. – Cyn Mar 15 at 1:22
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    @SoraTamashii Oh I've had plenty of downvotes (esp on WB) but the last month or two here on Writing my downvotes have skyrocketed and often come in bunches too, like someone is systematically going through all my posts (some of the posts are not in the list on the home page). – Cyn Mar 15 at 4:57
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I looked up Isekai on Wikipedia, and one paragraph grabbed me:

Several later examples from English literature include the novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), as well as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), Peter Pan (1902) and The Chronicles of Narnia (1950).

So this means, perhaps don't view it as a distinctly unique genre that's hard to appeal to Western publishers, but an update of the Oz/Narnia formula. Oz books had pictures, Alice in Wonderland's Tenniel illustrations are famous.

The descriptions in this Wiki page on Parallel Universes and subtypes thereof may also help you communicate with local publishers.

I did an Advanced Search on the Submission Grinder, limiting it to markets that accepted Fantasy and handled Novels/Novelletes (by arbitrarily putting in a wordcount of 17000), and found 82 possible markets, 20 of them paying.

You may need to "get in" with one first with a stand-alone short story, but an editor is more likely to take a chance on you for a longer work after they've accepted a single story and have built up some trust. Aim for the top ones right away -- they tend to at least refuse quickly.

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    Isekai has existed in a more broad sense since the days of Sumer. It's not a uniquely Japanese thing, BUT it is more common there than any other culture. (Thanks in part to Sword Art Online which isn't really an isekai, but gets labeled as one.) That said, never heard of the Submission Grinder before and the answer is still overall useful. :) Please don't take my dismissiveness as being actual dismissiveness. I am grateful for this answer. :) – Sora Tamashii Mar 15 at 0:45
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    I just learned about Submission Grinder through an older question here, and I have found it's a great answer for Qs about pay, markets, etc. – April Mar 15 at 13:43
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What you may be looking for is an anthology.

Anthologies are similar to magazines and, in some cases, may overlap. But they have significant differences and are often done by different types of publishers.

A magazine:

  • Comes out on a defined schedule (monthly, quarterly).
  • Usually more than once a year.
  • Has an indefinite run.
  • Paper stock is thin.
  • Cover is only slightly thicker than the main pages.
  • Has a variety of material which can include: fiction, articles, letters, editorial statement, ads, vignettes, and art.
  • Table of contents is optional.

An anthology:

  • Is a one-off or a series.
  • Comes out when enough material has been collected and the publisher has everything lined up.
  • Rarely comes out more than once a year, and it can be every 2-3 years.
  • The run is usually limited.
  • Issues may be themed.
  • Paper stock is better quality, and it is bound like a book (smaller anthologies may be bound like a magazine).
  • Cover is thick. Can be paperback or hardcover. (Some exceptions)
  • Nearly every page is a story (or other contribution) by an author or creative team.
  • There is almost always a table of contents. There may be an introduction or other pages, but the focus is on the contributions.
  • No ads (generally). No (or little) in-house contributions or space fillers.

Most anthologies don't use very long works. But some will consider it. In a current case I know, a publisher is considering using a 40 page story (comic, so the page count is exact).

There is a risk of an anthology not doing well enough to justify continuing, and your story is left partially unpublished. But that's true of a magazine as well.

You ask for specific publisher suggestions but that's not really possible, and is out of the scope of Writing.SE. "How to find an anthology accepting submissions" would be a different question. If you manage to find one who accepts your genre(s) and is willing to feature you over multiple issues, you're golden. But it's not easy.

Anthology publishers are usually individuals, small groups, or small presses. Most pay in copies or pay a small amount (for comic writers who don't do their own art, the payment is almost always a fraction of what they've paid their artists). But it is traditional publishing and you don't have to do all the marketing.

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    Thank you for the answer Cyn, and I was trying to word my question in a way more to be general in case by being specific I might go outside the scope allowed. I am glad I had it borderline otherwise I could have really messed up. Thank you for letting me know specifically. :) That said, this is a great answer I would have never thought of, so thanks Cyn! :) – Sora Tamashii Mar 15 at 1:08

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