Monday, 21 April 2014

Start Of A New Term and The Benefits of Serialisation

Start of Term:

One of the great things about working at a school, other than getting a whole lot of paid holiday, is that your life is neatly divided up into manageable chunks: 4 terms, each time a chance to re-prioritise and get down to business.

(For those of you who don't have such an easy, inbuilt system, a writing challenge like Round Of Words in 80 Days is a great alternative.)

Today is my first day back at work, so time to look at how I went last term, and what I can do to improve and move forward this term.

Last term I was overly optimistic about how much I would be able to get done while settling into a new job, etc. In the end I managed to do a few edits of After The Winter, get the cover done, and do one edit of The Five Day Writer's Bootcamp.

So this term I think I might set myself more realistic goals.

My major priority for the term is to establish a strong routine. Yes, I have specific things that I want to get done, but my focus is going to be on doing a bit each day, and not always thinking 'oh, but today is special, I don't have to do it today, I'll do it tomorrow'. This is a recipe for disaster.

So, considering I work a rotating roster of 4 days on, 2 days off, the goals for my work days are:
- Two hours of writing or editing/day
- Gym every work day that I can (gym not open on Sundays)
- One blog post/day
- Visit at least one blog/day 
- One tweet/day
- Read 1/2 a book/ work week.

I think that should be pretty manageable.

The next big question is what am I working on?

After The Winter: my 1920's romance - I've just (today) finished going through the notes returned by my editor. It really made a big difference to the writing so thank you Anna. Tomorrow, I'm going to print off a paper copy and do the final proof-reading edit by hand (I find more typos that way). Hope to get it all finished by the end of the week, and get it published over the weekend. Yah!

Once that is gone, I've started writing out the story notes for a contemporary romance serial about internet dating. What are serials, you ask? Good question.

The Wonders of Serials:

A serial, compared to a series, is a story told over a number of episodes that eventually form one book, very much like a TV show will have episodes which are individual stories but are still part of an overarching storyline that is the season. A series, on the other hand, is a number of books.

I'm going to be writing my serial in roughly 12,000 word episodes, with seven episodes to a season. I plan to publish one episode every fortnight as an ebook until all seven have been published and then bundle them together into a print on demand paper copy.  (My hope is to be able to write each episode in a week, then have the second week to edit it, and so publish one every fortnight. Will have to see how this goes.)

I've been very excited about the serial concept since I first heard about it on The Self Publishing Podcast, probably about a year ago now. So I'm thrilled to be finally testing it out. The basic theory with serials is that you can get more content out there, faster, for cheaper, which is a great model for self-publishing. It allows people to get a taste of your writing style without too much investment. And if your work is good enough, then they come back each week/fortnight to get the rest of the episodes, or wait until the end of the season when you bundle them all together and publish them as a single book.

It is not at all a new concept for authors. This is how Dickens and many others produced a lot of their work, serializing it in a newspaper or magazine, then collating them as a book at the end. 

It is also not an unusual idea for modern readers, who get their TV in the same way. There are those who rush home each Thursday night to watch the latest episode and be the first to know what happens, and there are those who wait to get the whole season and watch it in a block.

For self-published authors it has a lot of advantages. As already mentioned, it gets more work out there, faster, and is more affordable for people to take a risk on (generally serial episodes are around 99c, and then bundled together for something like $4.95). However, it also allows you to do a lot more with KDP Select.

With a normal book, you get 5 days on KDP Select to give it away for free. This gets it free advertising, but unless you have another book for customers to buy, or it does spectacularly well, not much is gained. With a serial, you have five days per episode, so if you have 10 episodes in one season, that's 50 days of free advertising for that book. Further, you aren't giving away the entire book for free, only ever 1/10 of it. When people download episode 3 for free, they might still buy episodes 1 and 2. Each time you list an episode for free, you get back sales.

All this for the same amount of work that you would normally put into writing a book.

Of course, your writing still needs to be good. And you still need to get cover design (which hopefully you can easily modify for each episode), and each episode needs to be edited. Also, it is more difficult to write as you can't go back and change things later on (without seriously upsetting your audience). However, those are difficulties that you can definitely plan against.

So when am I getting my first episode out?

Well, I'm not sure yet, but you'll definitely be the first to know.

And while you are waiting, why not sign up to my GoodReads giveaway for the chance to win one of ten free copies of After The Winter (closes 24th April)? Also, adding it to your shelf is much appreciated :D

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