rss
twitter
  •  

Monetizing Serialized Fiction

| Posted in Guest Posts |

24

E-publishing is making ways of sharing stories feasible that weren’t when physical books were the only option for self-publishers. We’ve seen a return of novellas and short stories, as well as a surge in serialized fiction, both by independent authors and by publishers (Amazon has been putting out Kindle Serials for several months now).

Though I mull over the idea of writing a serial now and then, I haven’t put anything together yet (unless you want to count certain cliffhangers at the ends of certain novels… ahem), but I’ve got a great guest post for you today from someone who’s done a lot of research in regard to the effectiveness of publishing serialized ebooks as a way to earn an income as an author.

Monetizing Serialized Fiction by Zachary Bonelli

Thank you for having me on your blog, Lindsay.

My name is Zachary Bonelli. I’ve been writing in my free time for over a decade. Last year I decided to take the story I’d been working on forever, Voyage, and realize it as science fiction serial.

Voyage’s format eluded me for a long time. Like most writers, I’d just assumed I was writing a novel. If it’s that long as a whole, what else would it be, right?

One of the most liberating moments in my career as a writer was the moment I realized Voyage was not a traditional novel, but in fact a serial. I was finally able to give myself permission to tell the story in the way I wanted to tell it, unrestricted by the conventions of novels, which were holding my story back.

The most important way that a novel differs from a serial is that a novel’s chapters cannot stand independently of the novel as a whole, whereas each episode of a serial can.

Voyage consists of largely independent, novella-length episodes that weave together to form a bigger narrative. Serialization was definitely the right choice for this project in terms of style and execution.

But was it the right choice in terms of marketing?

Choosing to go serialized is a mixed bag. There are some big advantages, but also some important disadvantages to consider. At nine episodes into my massive seventy episode arc, and with a second serial on the way soon, here’s what I’ve learned about working with this format.

Pros

Higher Return on Investment

A few months back, I did an interview on Google+ with developmental editor David Arney on the topic of return on investment for serialized fiction as opposed to the standard novel. David pulled items from Amazon’s Top 100 list, approximated their word count based on page length, then worked out the return on investment for each book.

While the novels averaged a mere $8.15 per hour, the serialized fiction averaged $20.89. Releasing smaller works more often, it turns out, causes revenue per word to shoot through the roof. [Click to tweet]

Customers are less likely to feel reticent about many small purchases spread out over time, even if they are many in succession, and even if they add up to more than what they would have spent on a single large purchase.

Here’s a concrete example. Let’s say you’ve got a 100,000 word epic novel. If it’s possible to break that epic into 10 episodes of 10,000 words each, then you can charge $.99 for each one as opposed to $3.99-$6.99 for the whole thing. And, you can still market the collected epic after the individual episodes have run their course.

More Frequent Releases

We’re all aware of the awesome impact of social media. Facebook, Google+, and Twitter permeate our modern collective conscious. I’ve even heard mumblings that they now are our collective consciousness.

Whether you find that prospective frightening or exciting, the fact remains that the mechanics of social media play well with the mechanics of publishing serialized fiction.

We all know that we’re only supposed to blog and tweet and post when we have something relevant to say about our work. Just spewing out your book’s Amazon link ad nauseum is likely going to get you ignored. When you have a single novel, you get to push its release, then maybe when it gets a review, or maybe when something relevant in the real world relates to your book.

When you have a serial, a legitimate reason to post is every time you release an episode. Not to mention any time any of the above legitimate reasons applies to any single episode you’ve ever released.

More Engaged Readership

More frequent releases mean a more engaged readership. Each episode that you release on schedule adds to the perception that you are a dependable source for new content.

Post your release schedule on your website. Make it public once you’re sure you can meet the deadlines. And whatever you do, make sure you have enough content built up in advance that your schedule isn’t blown away if something unforeseen happens in your personal life (or your other career, if you’ve got one).

For example, you can see my timeline for releasing Voyage: Embarkation and Insomnium are public and therefore do not change. The second Voyage arc, Windbound, has a tentative release schedule, but I haven’t made the page public, because it might yet change.

Narrative Structure Opportunities

Since a novel is a single, giant block of narrative, you really have no control over where the reader will put the book down and pick it up again. A serial gives you more control.

By strategically placing the breaks between stories or by skillfully weaving just the right detail into an episode’s closure, you can make the reader squirm. You can make them need to know what happens next. And since you control the release schedule, it will, by definition be a week or two or three before the reader can continue the story.

I’ve written before about how I feel that the cliffhanger can be used manipulatively. But in terms of raw, profit-driving potential, it’s hard to ignore just how effective this trick is. Simply have the conclusion of an episode leave the main characters in some dangerous situation, unresolved.

I need to reiterate here the two things that drive me nuts about cliffhangers. First, your cliffhanger should not come out of left field, a kind of inverse deus ex machina. Your cliffhanger will feel “thrown in.” I recommend it be the natural consequence of your narrative’s progression. Second, do not resolve cliffhangers in a way that relies on luck or circumstance. These are the two easiest ways to make a cliffhanger feel hollow and forced.

There are other narrative techniques you can use. The serial gives you the unique opportunity to explore characters across a wide variety of stories and situations. How do they respond to this change? How do they grow over time? A novel usually follows characters over one stage of growth and development. A serial gives you the opportunity to explore many stages and for many characters.

Cons

Perhaps Not the Greatest Entry Point

One of the most disheartening moments of my career as an independent author so far came when Goodreads posted the results of their 2012 user surveys. See the section titled “Please, Sir, I Want Some More.”

As the graph clearly shows, readers are fairly interested in reading serialized fiction from well known, established authors. However, for an unknown author, interest plummets to an abysmal 54% of Goodreads users saying that they are not at all interested in reading serialized fiction from someone new.

Well, bummer.

I am committed to the serialized format. Voyage is a serialized story by its nature, and I will pursue it to completion as such.

However, if you have the option of starting a new project as either a novel or a serial, the data speaks for itself.

Remember the upsides! If serials are your passion, perhaps you could write a few short stories and novellas first, put those out, then start your serialized fiction.

Lindsay has written before about not putting all your eggs in one basket. By maintaining a diverse portfolio of writing, you can spread risk around.

More Inventory to Manage

Above I talked about how great it is to have so many books out there on the market. Well, there’s a dark side to that benefit. You’ve got to manage that inventory. To boot, you will lose more time to releases because they will happen more frequently and for smaller works. And oh, if only you knew how much time I lose to updating the backmatter in extant Voyage episodes. Oi.

This is definitely something to consider when starting a serial. If your serial is twenty episodes long, are you going to update the backmatter on each ebook as a new one becomes available? How are you going to communicate to readers at the end of an episode when the next one will become available and how to get it? Will you have to update the messaging after every release?

This kind of work compounds upon itself. At episode two’s release, you have to update episode one. At three’s release, you update one and two. At four’s release, one, two and three. This is called a linear growth curve. And it is not fun. Trust me.

Build in coping mechanisms. For example, in Voyage, I plan to make the backmatter for all episodes in the Embarkation arc static once the Windbound arc begins. In other words, I won’t have to update those at every release anymore.

Readership Communication Issues

Novels have a long literary history. The narrative form goes back at least a couple of centuries. The standards and expected styles of novels are very clearly established, and they have been more or less stable since the inception of the form.

Serials, though they’ve been around almost as long, do not enjoy consistency over their history or any establishment of standards. They started with writers like Charles Dickens and Herman Melville in the nineteenth century, but petered out quickly into the twentieth. They experienced some stops and starts in the professional publishing world, little side roads along the way, never leaving the realm of genre, before finally getting appropriated fully by television in the 1960’s.

Readers and feedback givers who don’t understand the rules of serialized fiction, or that you’re even writing a serial, may judge your serial on the terms of a novel. This is not good.

My famous example of this is my botched attempt to market multiple episodes of Embarkation together in chunks I called “parts.” It was only after an angry blog comment from a potential customer, who thought I was attempting to sell groups of unfinished novel chapters, that I realized I had a communication problem.

Episodes can be marketed individually because they can stand on their own, and the term “episode” communicates that intent. Call your episodes just that—episodes. Don’t use a different term like “part” or “chapter.” This will just create confusion.

I am still working on what you call the book collections of episodes that form a story arc. So far, “arc” and “sequence” are all I’ve got. Sean Platt and David Wright group their works into “seasons,” but that term is a remnant of a time in cable television history when episodes of television shows aired over the course of a particular yearly season in a cycle of filming, production and release. I’m not a fan of that term, but if it became standard for serialized fiction, I’d adopt it to clarify my market positioning.

Eventually, one term or the other will win out, and all of us doing serials will adopt that. Until then, feel free to contribute to the diaspora of lexical choices.

Challenges Managing a Sprawling Multiverse

I highly recommend joining a writing critique group. It’s one of the best things you can do for your development as a writer.

I get a lot of feedback from my peers, most of it useful, some of it not to my liking, and on some rare occasions, I find myself reeling at the things I hear. This is all part of growing as a writer.

However, there is one type of feedback on Voyage that has never, ever been silly or frivolous or inane: consistency of world details.

It is very hard to manage all your details in a novel. But a novel is one story. Maybe two or three intertwining stories. The number of stories in a serial is the number of episodes you have. And all of those have to be both internally consistent, and consistent in the larger context of your serial’s mega-narrative. As a result, it is woefully easy for an episode’s details to come into conflict with previously established story.

Get lots of eyes on your work before release, and build up a group of smart beta readers who pay close attention to details.

~

Serialized fiction has its share of positives and negatives, just like any other format. After writing in the serialized fiction format for many years, it’s my belief that doing a serial, even a short one, can be very beneficial, especially as part of a larger portfolio of writing.

~

Zachary Bonelli is the author of the ongoing Voyage Along the Catastrophe of Notions series. It is currently in the middle of its first sequence, Embarkation. He is active on the Google+ Science Fiction Writers community, and muses about serialized fiction, and randomly as well, on his blog.

Insomnium, Zachary’s second serial, is due out this October. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the series’ cover art on Kickstarter.

Related Posts:

Subscribe to the blog: EMAIL | RSS.


Comments (24)

One flaw I see in the above information is when he’s talking about breaking 100k words down to 10 shorts and charging .99 cents. ON that .99 cents Amazon only pays the author thirty five percent of that or roughly 35 cents. Thus netting 3.50 cents for the serialized tales. If I post my full novel and sell it for 4.99 I get roughly 3.44 at the 70% rate So not all that different

I know Wright & Platt novel-price their “seasons” to get the 70%. I suspect the hope is that many people will buy that way, but having a free or 99-cent first episode is a nice way to get people hooked. I’d wager they end up getting paid twice in some circumstances, where people bought the first episode but then decided to buy the season set.

I’ve also seen people make their chunks longer and do a 99-cent first episode and then 2.99 later episodes. I kind of went that way with my Flash Gold novellas (the 2.99 one is about 40,000 words), though those all stand alone so aren’t quite the same as these serials with cliffhangers to get folks to go onto the next one.

Well said, Lindsay. I agree completely. If you can find the right marketing terms to make your product’s intent clear, then a collection of episodes can be great.

For example, I’m having a lot more success with my “Embarkation #1-7 Special Collection” than the botched “part” I mentioned in the post.

I would also like to mention that the royalty structure for $.99 ebooks is not the same across all vendors.

Agreed. I made Episode #1 of my serial free, and people are now buying the Season One compilation of #1-12 after getting that taste test.

I’m not sure about charging more than $0.99 per episode. It’s sort of become the norm for serials, and unless you’re established, you might not be able to get away with it.

Ignore the Goodreads data. Look at the way the question is phrased. No one waits six months for a book by an unknown author. That’s logically impossible. If you are waiting, you know something about the author.

The reality is that the most important thing for an unknown writer to do is to give the reader a cheap way to get to know you (be a cheap first date…). Cheap isn’t just about price. It’s also about time. Serials are a perfect way to introduce yourself to a potential fan.

As far as your inventory management issues, I’m working on a technical solution. I’ll email you about that.

As far as the collections, I think “Book 1″ , “Book 2″, etc. works, but I have no idea if anyone else would think that.

I would like to point out that episodic storytelling is much older than the novel. The Odyssey. The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Mayan Hero Twins. The Mahabharata. I would bet that most prehistoric cave paintings were just the artwork to support episodic storytelling…

I think calling a collection a “Book” will confuse readers who are used to seeing novels. They will still be inclined to think of the story arc as the “whole”, and feel like you’re trying to scam them by selling them separate chapters with the individual episodes.

You want them to feel like they are getting a bargain with the collected story arc, not feel cheated if they already bought some episodes separately!

I wonder what terminology the comic book industry uses. They seem to have a handle on serialized fiction… :P

Misty, you’re totally right.

The comic book industry uses the terms “issues,” “compendium,” and “trade paperback.” Each comic is an issue. They release short story arcs in trade paperbacks. Collections of arcs are released as compendium hardcovers.

I tried using that format with my serial, but it didn’t quite work. I think people were confused about the terms, so they weren’t sure what they were getting.

Now I’m marketing my “chapters” as episodes, and arcs as seasons. Each cover clearly says “Episode #1,” and the seasons clearly state so on the cover as well.

I think I agree with Misty, that the term “book” may be confusing. Customers may conflate this term with, for example, its use in the Harry Potter series, which is a series of stand-alone novels, not a series of episode arcs.

I agree very much with your point about the history of episodic storytelling, William! I think that before writing made long form narrative possible, many stories were orally told in just this way, a series of adventures following the same characters around. You could add the Decameron to that list, too, for example.

I simply wanted to illustrate that the novel has very clear literary expectations, and readers tend to understand what a novel is, while the fractured and varied history of the serial makes it something of a harder sell, at least in terms of effective communication with potential customers.

You could call each story arc a “collection”. I believe this terminology has precedent, so readers will get what you’re trying to do.

Just a thought!

Thanks for the insight into the world of serialized publishing. I’m still seriously considering this for my next big project, so this helps me a lot. :)

I have considered “collection,” too, Misty! It’s on my list of possible terms for the final “Voyage: Embarkation.” Collection? Arc? Sequence?

Very hard to decide. :)

I’m very glad you found this post useful and informative. I have a series of blog posts about the structure of serialized fiction, if you’re interested. http://zacharybonelli.com/?cat=19

Please let me know when your next big project is available. Serial or otherwise, let me know how it turns out.

Thank you for the mention.

I would disagree with the pricing argument, though.

There’s a perception among some readers new to serials that authors do it to milk money out of them. I’ve seen some authors charge 2.99 or more for some serialized “episodes,” which is just greedy.

Releasing 10 books at .99 forces your readers to shell out $9.99 for a 100,000 word book. Way too much, in my opinion, particularly for an indie author.

If you’re an indie author, pricing lower than the big publishers is leverage you have. Why dilute it by charging the same prices? Pricing lower also lowers the barrier to entry to your work as an indie author (a good thing).

Sean and I not only coined episodes and seasons for our work, but also something called Season Pricing. Simply put, we charge .99 for an episode or 5.99 for the full season, giving readers the choice in how they want to read our series.

Originally, we released episodes one at a time and then the full season. After the full season came out, we raised episode prices (all save for the first one) to $2.99 to drive readers to the full season.

However, in our experimenting we’ve changed it up a bit, now leaving the episodes at .99, and releasing our season along with the first episode of each season (which we were making free when we were doing KDP Select — which is another topic altogether.)

While yes, some people will buy all the episodes at .99 and we’ll only make 35% on that, we figure if we’re doing our jobs, readers won’t be able to wait six weeks, and they’ll rush out and get the full season.

So far, episode sales have taken a huge dive, but season sales are great. What worked when we started in 2011 is far harder to pull off now with KDP Select. It used to be that free Kindle sites would pick up single episodes and promote them, which was a huge boost. Nowadays it’s way harder to get episodes to get picked up by such blogs, and harder to get noticed.

If you’re pricing your books at .99 and are releasing 10 of them, you’re making it a lot harder to compete with other books out there. Readers are far more likely to think you’re milking them than easing them into smaller prices spread out. They will add up the .99 and times it by 10 and see the true cost of the book. Maybe they’ll pay it, I dunno. But it’s a hard sale.

Plus, you’re only making 3.50.

If you sold your full season at 4.99 you’d make 3.49. If you sold it at 5.99 you’d make 4.19 per sale. AND… you’re offering your readers more value, which makes for happy repeat readers.

You’re also making it even harder on yourself with books that are all over the place in word count. Your first episode is 5,700 words, and number 10 is only 3,000 words (!). While yes, some are above 10,000 words, you’re going to alienate readers who open Episode 10 and get 3,000 words! They WILL feel ripped off.

Having an Episode 1 which has 5,700 words isn’t setting up confidence in your reader. Far better to even out your word counts across the board and make the first episode a nice length to give readers more. Better yet, break your books down into 6 episodes to remove the $10 price pain.

For sake of comparison, Kinde Serials are releasing at 1.99 at sale price (3.99 regular) and update automatically and are running anywhere from 60,000 words to well over 100,000.

I hope you’ll take this advice as what it’s meant to do, be helpful. When Sean and I started this, there weren’t many examples of people doing it, especially not in weekly releases like we were doing. We had to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but I think the lessons have been invaluable, and can help others taking a similar path in serialization.

Best of luck,
dave

Voyage: Embarkation #1-4 are available for free on all vendors that allow me to price works for free. Such vendors include Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes and Screwpulp.

The upcoming Voyage: Embarkation #10 will be free as well, on all platforms that allow me to set the price to free.

All episodes of Voyage: Embarkation are also available as direct downloads from Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, in ePub, mobi and PDF formats (via Gumroad). Between these three formats, I have covered the vast majority of ereaders available today.

I will email a complimentary copy of Voyage: Embarkation #1-4, or #10, to any person who asks me for one.

I believe that readers will only think I am “milking them” if the product I deliver is of low quality. I believe I am selling a very high quality product.

I have made entry easy (the first four episodes are free), and low word count episodes are free as well. I feel this a form of respect to my readers.

Also, for readers who want to wait for an entire arc to be complete and buy the whole thing when it’s done, I completely respect that position, and I will price the final collection affordably.

I believe there are also those who enjoy the episodic experience. I make that path available, because I love the thematic and narrative possibilities that the serial offers. I think that many readers will enjoy those elements too.

Zach – I hope you didn’t interpret ME to be saying you’re milking readers. I am talking about perception readers may have based on criticisms I’ve seen of other serial writers on Amazon.

As for your pricing, I’m only going by what I saw at Amazon.

Not at all, but the “milking” argument has always made me uncomfortable. I could pay $.99 for twelve-line poem, and if that poem was beautifully constructed, and I mean of really superb quality, I would never think to complain that I had been milked.

If someone were to feel I had milked them, then either my work would not be for them, or I would not have succeeded as a writer, and I would need to go back and reanalyze my writing more critically.

I will continue to offer episodes individually because I feel that serialization is a fun and engaging format with unique opportunities for narrative structure and characterization, not because I am out to bleed my readers.

And if I came off as harsh, you have my sincerest apologies. Amazon has thus far ignored my numerous requests for them to price match my first four episodes, so this is a topic I am naturally very vocal about.

I agree with you on the milking thing. People, particularly writers such as ourselves, don’t mind paying for something which truly entertains them, moves them, etc…

Unfortunately, the milking thing is typically an argument you have to win before people read your work.

As a salesperson, you have to remove the biggest objection first. For a 10-part book that comes to $10, that first objection is the price… among readers not familiar with you.

If you put out a book and it does great and you earn your fan base, you have a lot more leeway in this area, I think. You’re a proven commodity. But newer writers, or writers with new serials, have to consider price and overcoming this barrier, particularly with readers who aren’t as familiar with serials.

And yes, having your books free on Amazon will make all the difference in the world. Amazon is the biggest player in the U.S. at the moment, and can make or break you in making a living as a writer. I think Kobo is definitely making headway in this area, however, which is good news for indie writers because we can utilize free there.

As for Amazon price matching, I’ve never heard of a writer being able to get them to directly price match. They usually ask people they know to “report” the book (at least the first episode) to Amazon as being free on other places. Pick places higher up in the food chain to quote on pricing, otherwise Amazon tends to ignore them.

That means Apple, BN, Kobo. From my experience, so far, I’ve noticed they seem to price match Apple and BN quickest, but are starting to see Kobo as someone they need to compete with, so they’re also matching them more often.

Glad you didn’t take offense to my lengthy comments. I’m a huge proponent of serials and love to authors find success with them.

Best of luck, again.

dave

David, thank you so much for your comments. It’s interesting to get some insight from someone who is having success with that format.

I’ve been considering writing a serial for some time. I’ve got an idea that works perfectly in that format. But I’ve got a novel and two novelas in the queue ahead of the serial. By the time I get to it, it should be obvious what works and what doesn’t

[...] did a guest post for Lindsay Buroker’s blog about marketing serialized [...]

[...] Lindsay Buroker: Self-Publishing Basics: Focus on One Book Series or Start Multiple Series? Excerpt: “A lot of successful authors, self-published and otherwise, have a core series that accounts for the majority of their income. So if you’re starting out, you should definitely focus on putting out a series… right? Well, maybe. I thought I’d take a look at some of the pros and cons of focusing all your efforts into publishing multiple books in a series.” Also, be sure to check out Lindsay’s post: Monetizing Serialized Fiction [...]

Thank you Zachary for your very detailed post. It really made me think about my historical Chinese novels.

I wrote a huge manuscript that came in at about 180,000 words or about 600 Word pages. I really didn’t know what to do with it so sat on it for a long time. I wasn’t finished with the story, but I didn’t know where else to go.

So I decided to break it up. The first book had a good end point at about 90,000 words or 305 pages, 237 on Amazon. I found I could split the rest evenly into two shorter “novels” of 44,000 words, 146 pages on Word and 116 pages on Amazon.

I’ve been wanting to pick up that story again, and have been considering just writing shorter stories, and perhaps serializing it is the way to go. I’d have to get them up to 20,000 words before I would feel good about releasing them, however.

Thanks for something to think about.

Hi, Greg. Thank you for reading, and I’m glad you found the post useful and informative.

I think a serial would be a great way to expand a world and characters that you’ve already established with novels. Like I mentioned above, I think diversifying your writing portfolio is a good idea.

Best of luck expanding upon your novels!

I’ve been publishing my serial, Sandpaper Fidelity, since last summer. I started writing it because I had this idea for a character-driven drama that so did not fit into novel form. I released twelve episodes weekly for three months. Sales trickled in.

Originally, I planned on taking a three-month break to write Season Two, but because of health issues and time constraints, I had to postpone the conclusion.

Now, Season Three starts July 2nd. I have a small but solid fan base. Currently, I have a Season One compilation of episodes #1-12, single episodes #13-24, and Season Three episodes #25-30 that will be released weekly. The Season Two compilation comes out on June 25th.

It took a while, but I figured out a format. Single episodes are released via KDP Select. When their ninety day exclusivity ends, a season compilation is released to all ebook stores. (Some ebook stores, such as Smashwords, do not accept serialized fiction. With the compilations, there is an arc with a beginning and end, so it fits within their TOS.) Now that I’ve got this thing down, I’m working on three more serials.

I think there is great value for creating a fan base with serials. I think you also have the opportunity to be more agile. For example, my original format was twelve 1,000-word episodes each season. My readers said that they love the characters and want more of them in each episode, so I adapted. Season Three will be six 3,000-word episodes. If they still want more, Season Four may be six 6,000-word episodes.

I like sticking to a specific word count per episode because A) it helps me write more fast-paced, B) it creates equal value between episodes, and C) it has helped me create a formula for each episode.

I only just recently started listening to The Self-Publishing Podcast with Platt, Truant, and Wright, but I think they’re genius in calling arcs “seasons.” I release mine seasonally, so it works perfectly for me.

I could talk about writing serials all day. I’m glad they’re starting to be more popular. For a while, I didn’t know anyone else who was writing one. It was kind of a lonely process, but also kind of fun, in an experimental sense.

Thanks, Lindsay and Zachary, for a wealth of current information on serials. I’ve bookmarked the post and the very informative comments.

I started a blog for the express purpose of posting the novel-in-progress, Pride’s Children, a scene at a time. I had a good backlog of polished scenes (as pointed out above, life happens). The story is finished, but the chapters and scenes are rough in places.

I’m watching all your comments on pricing, as my reason for serializing was that I can’t publish for a year and a half (of course, it may take me that long to get it done), but I was getting desperate for some contact with the reading public. I write mainstream fiction, and there isn’t even a category for that on things like Wattpad (I checked), but Tuesdayserial.com has welcomed me to the bunch of people putting out something new every Tuesday – and I haven’t missed a week yet.

The blogging – not all about the novel – has also turned out to be fun: I have my own online magazine that accepts everything I write – and no one HAS to read it. Everybody happy.

My hardest part has been navigation: I’m pushing myself to make it easy for the reader, so every week I update the Table of Contents and the Latest Scene, update the Menu, and send out a post announcing the new scene. The post also quotes the end of the PREVIOUS scene, for the convenient re-entry of the reader to this week’s scene (my own invention? I haven’t seen that done anywhere else yet). Then I make sure that no matter where you start reading, there are clean links to all the other parts.

It has been a great learning experience – and rather time consuming.

That, and I use epigraphs and inserts to the text, which WordPress doesn’t let me format the way I want – so I have to change certain formatting sections to something that approximates what I want – and that will only be true for the posted novel, not the finished one.

By the time I get to Book 2 and 3 of a planned trilogy (not sure you call mainstream novels that get too long a trilogy?), all of this learning should lead to me being able to do the whole thing more efficiently – and spend more time writing.

Your information should come in very handy at that point.

Wish me luck.

[...] Monetizing Serialized Fiction | Lindsay Buroker [...]

It would be interesting to offer up two different formats for a serial right out of the gate. A per-episode payment and a season payment.

Season payment would of course need the reader to add their mail address, so they could get the episodes when released, and the format would likely not be successful with new authors, since paying for a season upfront would require some confidence in the author to actually deliver the entire season.

A few details would have to be considered though with this approach.
- Since you cannot run the setup through retailers, you would have to offer it in your own setup, and this would require a webshop/payment processor.
- You would probably need a newsletter setup like Mailchimp or Aweber to collect mail addresses. It should probably be setup as an independent list beside your newsletter (if you have one), but you would be able to add in a few details about your other work, when you send out episodes.

Post a comment