Hello, I’m Elle Griffin

I have a thing for classic literature

That picture is the day I got to hold a first-edition copy of A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite books. I was nearly in tears.

I should introduce myself. My name is Elle and I work as the editor-in-chief of Utah Business and a freelance writer for Forbes, Every, The Muse, and other such business publications. I hold degrees in fashion & French, and completed my graduate studies in Mariology—the study of the Virgin Mary (see: marian art project).

A few years ago I fell in love with French literature: Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Phantom of the Opera. And then the associated gothics: Dracula, A Christmas Carol, A Picture of Dorian Gray. Then I ran out. Apparently, there are only so many gothic novels one can find in 18th- and 19th-century writings—and I even read several of the more obscure ones.

But I wasn’t done with the genre yet—I wanted to stay in that dark, beautiful world. I wanted one more gothic novel, written in the French style, with all the mystery of Edmond Dantès and with all the philosophical complexity of Jean-Valjean—but with a strong female protagonist and a lush Americana setting.

So I wrote it myself.

I’m about to make serial novels a thing (again)

After I finished writing my strange little gothic novel, I spent an inordinate amount of time researching this article and this article on the best way to publish it. What I found is that the current model—publishing through a Big Four publishing house—is not the best way to attract readers and earn a living. And in fact, very few authors make that work.

As I outline in this article, if an author sells 1,000 copies of a book, she will earn:

  • $2,250 if published traditionally

  • $4,200 if self-published

  • $108,000 if published as a serial

As 96 percent of books published sell less than 1,000 copies, I decided to try the latter option. After all, as the going wisdom states: it only takes 1,000 true fans spending $100/year for a creator to earn a salary of $100,000/year. Theoretically then, an author could release a new chapter every week, charge subscribers $8 or $9 a month, and earn $100,000 a year—from only 1,000 readers. This idea deeply appeals to me because some of my favorite novels were written as serials—including my beloved The Count of Monte Cristo—and they were wildly successful.

There are starting to be platforms that make that possible—like Substack—where writers can build a following for their work and then monetize it. That’s why I’m running an experiment. In September of 2021, I debuted my gothic novel as a serial, releasing one chapter per week exclusively for paying newsletter subscribers until it’s done in June of 2022. I charge $50/year for those who wish to subscribe to weekly chapters of my novel and be part of my private discord community and $200/year for collectors who would also like to receive a signed, hardcover collector’s edition of the book when it’s done.

Following in the footsteps of all the Royal Road/Patreon authors I interviewed, I also launched my novel on Medium, Wattpad, Inkitt, Royal Road, Reddit, and Neovel—and you can read it on any of those platforms for free—one month after the chapter debuts for my paid newsletter subscribers. After the serialization period ends, in the summer of 2022, I will publish the whole book on Amazon.

My second novel will debut in September of 2022 and my hope is to do the exact same thing. Every September I will debut a new novel that will serialize for ten months, then I will take two months off to put it up Kindle. My hope is to build a following for my fiction writing as I go, and perhaps even make a living doing it!

This is an experiment. I may get 100 subscribers and earn $5,000/year. Or maybe I will get 2,000 subscribers and earn $100,000/year. More than likely, my first book will start out looking like the former scenario and as I start to attract readers who are into the kind of thing I like to write, my second or third book will start to look like the latter scenario. If I reach about 1,000 paying subscribers (split between my two pricing tiers), I will quit my job and write serial novels (and this newsletter) full-time.

Let me introduce you to my book

Obscurity is a piece of lush, atmospheric noir, with a strong female lead and literary tendencies. It reads like a wandering through apothecary shelves, each step revealing a vignette more dark and mercurial than the last.

Set amidst the wild palms of 1790s Louisiana, the widow St. Vincent appears in the wake of her husband’s death the most wealthy plantation owner in the South. But strange occurrences ensue in her wake and the town becomes obsessed with their superstitions about her. As they attempt to unravel the widow’s secrets, we find she knows something of their secrets as well and the philosophical underpinnings of their pasts all surface to haunt them all.

Something of a Southern Gothic, with a mysterious Count of Monte Cristo-esque protagonist and all the atmospheric aplomb of a visit to Sleep No More, Obscurity has been compared to books like Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Interview with a Vampire, or The House of the Spirits.

Start with The Prologue and sink into Obscurity. Then subscribe to join me:

Get in touch

Subscribe to this newsletter to follow my writing. You can also follow me on Twitter, join my Discord server for Substack writers, or email me at novelleist@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading.