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Writer's Corner > To serialize, or not to serialize

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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) I am considering splitting Boltman into 2 novels. It is naturally split into 2 parts, and at about 100K words total, it easily makes 2 short novels instead of one giant one.

It seems like serializing is becoming popular, so I'm wondering what everyone thinks of it. Here is my 2 cents, to start things off: brick & mortar publishers don't generally serialize into small novels because publishing is expensive and customers who are paying $8-$15 a book want value for their money (and size is the first value perceived after the cover). And the production cost of a second book is just as high as the first book; if that first book doesn't do well, no one will shell out the dough for the second and the publisher takes a huge hit.
With e-books, I don't see where size really matters, since size is not easily perceived by the customer. And at a common price point of $0.99 - $2.99, I think a 50k word novel is pretty good value. Obviously, the more titles we have, the better we do financially.


message 2: by M.R. (new)

M.R. Jenks (mjenks6) | 74 comments I like the idea. My second novel in my series is so big that I am going to serialize it as well and release it in installments. There ARE, however, a contingent of readers who absolutely hate being left hanging, so one does run a risk here - some will review badly based on this. Still, I think it is worth the risk, as long as you have some sort of short term resolutions in each release. That's important.

message 3: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Interesting. Any titles you can recall that got bad reviews for serializing? I'd like to take a look at them.

message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Serialization used to be common. Funny that someone would give a negative review for that. I suppose it would help to indicate in the book description that it's serialized.
I find it odd that people have the same expectations of a $0.99 book as they have of a $10 book.

message 5: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Here is an example of someone who has serialized successfully.

message 6: by Scott, Fabled Reviewer o' Tales! (new)

Scott (bookblogger) | 1315 comments Mod

I was approached by an author I have worked with in the past looking for publicity for a project he is doing with serializing a novel. He uses Juke Pop which is apparently a hosting site for serialized stuff. Here is a link to his story if you are curious.

The first chapter can be read without registration, but after that requires signing in (should be free).

message 7: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Cool! Thanks, Scott! I'll check it out.

message 8: by Scott, Fabled Reviewer o' Tales! (new)

Scott (bookblogger) | 1315 comments Mod
I played around a bit more and it seems like a neat idea. They actually pay contributing authors based on popularity (number of votes received). It also actually has an iTunes app for mobile reading.

message 9: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) It's a cool idea. Tempting, but they don't have anywhere near the marketing power that Amazon has.
I've started working with another author on a scifi thriller that we're going to serialize. Instead of putting out individual episodes, we're going to put out bundles of 3 episodes (so about 60k words per bundle). We're still working out the story, but hope to get the narrative rolling after the holidays.

message 10: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 17 comments The 50 - 60 K word target is a good one for us. If you then decide to go down the print route, it ennables a paperback edition to be produced at a profit, even using POD, and selling at a competitive price

message 11: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) I agree, Will. And I think it's a fair value for the typical $2.99 pricepoint that most of us use.

message 12: by Robert (new)

Robert (valdieron) | 108 comments My favourite book of all time is Magician, by Raymond E Feist. That being said, I have absolutely no inclination to purchase or read it in its split format - Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master. You will find readers with similar ideals, and there will always be the opposite. I like the concept of the perception of length not being there with E-books, it raises some interesting thoughts and ideas. I think you will find that a lot of readers will always opt for the 'value for money' option. Being such a 'new' thing, Ebook pricing is naturally a wide and varied road to tread. The good thing is, what works for one book won't necessarily work for another.

message 13: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Instead of serializing a novel, I'm going to serialize a much longer story, in the model of comic books and television shows. Audiences are used to that kind of story telling, but they haven't seen that in a narrative format, which e-readers have made uniquely viable. Sean Platt and David Wright have had great success with such a model

message 14: by B. (new)

B. Throwsnaill (bthrowsnaill) | 208 comments I've considered serializing as well, but the primary motivation for me is time to market. I'm going to see how things go in my current project, and if I reach a point where a break seems reasonable and "natural", I may be tempted do it. But I'm not sure how people will react to an ebook novel at 50k-60k length. Plus my current project is a Book III in a trilogy. So it may not be advisable for me to introduce the serial concept this 'late in the game'. Also, there is an expectation in the fantasy genre for longer novels, so I do think there is a further risk in taking a serialized approach. And I wouldn't feel comfortable charging $2.99 for it after I've charged that for longer works earlier in the series. So I'd be stuck at the 33% profit margin on Amazon--an obvious negative. So I am leaning against trying it, although if my writing pace doesn't speed up I may be forced into it by fear of taking too long with a new product.

message 15: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) B, you could serialize pieces at $0.99 until the book is complete, then upload the book in one piece at your usual price. But I think you run the risk of upsetting your audience, since the previous books in the series were not serialized. On the other hand, your readers might be happy to be able to read more, sooner. If you have an email list, maybe try running a poll and give your readers a say.

message 16: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 247 comments So I am leaning against trying it, although if my writing pace doesn't speed up I may be forced into it by fear of taking too long with a new product. ..."

How long are we talking here? I released my second novel a year after my first, and the readers didn't abandon me.

message 17: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
Ditto here. I released my books about a year apart. The fans were waiting for me!

I hope to have my next book out before summer. We'll have to see. :)

message 18: by B. (new)

B. Throwsnaill (bthrowsnaill) | 208 comments I'm closing in on the one year point since my last book was published and I'm only about 20% done the next manuscript. I think this thread has helped me realize I just have to start writing more. I am thinking of some "life hacks" to make more structured writing time. I'm leaning agaist the serial approach--I don't think it's something that can be switched to midstream in a series.

message 19: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
The only way I'm doing it is to quite literally set aside specific times in my weekly calendar where I don't see clients, don't run errands, etc. Its my time to write. You know what? It's working! I'm completing nearly a chapter a week.

No TV, no radio, no XM, no distractions. That's what works for me!

message 20: by M.R. (new)

M.R. Jenks (mjenks6) | 74 comments I'm in the same boat as you, B. It's been hard not to get sidetracked by other projects while working on Book Two. I think part of the problem was that I only knew in a general way what was going to happen in the rest of the story, but I hadn't nailed down the specifics. Now that I do (for the most part), Hearth: Rebellion has suddenly taken off and the words fly onto the screen almost faster than I can type them. I wish my tendency wasn't to write these epic length behemoths. They take a long time both to plot and to write.

message 21: by B. (new)

B. Throwsnaill (bthrowsnaill) | 208 comments I usually give myself at least 6 months to work on the plot for a novel. This is usually something I work on in the summer time doing lawn chores (oddly enough). This is the first year since I stared my writing endeavor that I'll still be writing in the summer. Perhaps I'll be plotting out scenes in more detail rather than in the broad brush strokes of an initial mental outline. I'm sure it will come together one way or another provided I just keep writing. That is my new mantra! M.R., I'm glad you're writing is taking off! And, Jeff, whatever you are doing is obviously working well. Congrats.

message 22: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
Thanks, B! It's definitely a challenge to keep the books downloading. But... I love challenges!

message 23: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Jeffrey, how long did it take after you made your first book free before you started seeing significant increase of sales for the 2nd book?

message 24: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) And how long did it take before Amazon's international stores priced your first book free as well? I'm thinking of the stores other than the UK.

message 25: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (last edited Feb 20, 2013 02:09PM) (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
Eric - after Amazon finally price-matched my first book and it became free, it was downloaded thousands of times. I was ecstatic. Was this venture going to work and would I see an increase in sales for my second book? The first week only saw a marginal increase in sales. Nothing spectacular.

Then about three weeks later, after getting one or two sales a week, the sales started picking up and what was originally a little extra $$$ I made on the side suddenly rivaled what I was making as a computer tech. I was floored! The sales kept increasing! Then the numbers from Smashwords started coming in and I noticed that I was getting the same results there:

People absolutely loved the idea of getting the first book in a series free.

It was working. As long as downloads of book 1 continued to accumulate, sales of book 2 kept pace with it. There have been a few times when sales slowed down a little bit, but if you're able to keep interest in your books alive, then the downloads keep going, and I keep getting sales. It's awesome.

With regards to Amazon UK, it took about four months before those sales increased and matched what I'm getting from Amazon US. I'm still floored by how many sales happen on a monthly basis from both Amazon US and Amazon UK. The really cool thing is that sales are increasing in Amazon DE, namely Germany. My book isn't even in German and yet it's making sales. Why? Because the first book is free there, too.

Right now I'm working on making my first book free in Canada. Can't hurt, right?? :)

Oh, and a final note, the release of book 3 was just icing on the cake! Thanks to the interest of the fans, the fourth book set in Lentari is in the works right now, with three others all waiting to be written. It's absolutely been a crazy ride and it's something I'll keep working on as long as interest is there!

Big J

message 26: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) That's great, Jeffrey!
How long did it take to get the first book free in Germany?

I'm having some success with Ring of Destiny being free, but my download rate is around 200 a month, so I imagine it's going to take awhile to pick up sales on Maloch (the sequel). I did have an initial 2 week period of being in the top 40 free--that was worth a few thousand downloads, while it lasted.
I'm not doing any marketing, but I plan to once the 3rd book is up later this year.

message 27: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
It took about a month. Bear in mind the site is in German. I speak Spanish, and some French, so I was able to navigate my way through to report the lower price to them, but the German site didn't show me the link to report a lower price.

It was about a month later it showed up free and the downloads started. Since then, it has dropped from the free list and has been re-added several times. At the moment, it's still free. Thankfully. :)

message 28: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) That's interesting. I can use Google Chrome to translate the pages to find where to report the lower price, but what links did you post? US Amazon?

message 29: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
I've reported enough "free" books to Amazon to know where the link should be, but the problem is, for me anyway, the link wasn't there on the German site. Weird.

Want to hear something cool? Imagine getting a good review in another language! I got several for my first book in the Amazon Germany store. I had to copy and paste the review and put it in my translator app on my iPad so I could see what they said!

Made me smile.

message 30: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
What links did I post? Usually when posting to Amazon I'll give 'em Barnes & Noble's links. That usually pisses them off to have their competitor with a lower price. I've found them to be the most effective. Mwahahaha. :)

message 31: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) So you report the US B&N page to Amazon Germany?
(sorry for the bazillion questions, but this is big news for me! I assumed that I couldn't report US prices to the international Amazon sites).

message 32: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (last edited Feb 20, 2013 03:00PM) (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
I have before, but that usually doesn't get good results. I've found if I can find my book in that country listed at another website for free then I'll use that. For Amazon Germany, I couldn't ever find the link to report a lower price. Granted, it was all in German, but the link just wasn't there. Oh, well.

At any rate, when reporting links in the UK, find your book at places like WHSmith, or wherever else Smashwords distributes to, and use that, or better yet, find the link to Barnes & Noble UK and use that. But yeah, I used Amazon US prices before. Might take a little longer, but it works. The only thing they want you to do is to log in to report the price difference.

message 33: by Eric (new)

Eric Quinn (eqknowles) Fan-tastic. I am off to the races. I'm going to go through each Amazon site, look for local ebook listings, and report back on what I found.

Thanks, Jeffrey!

message 34: by Jeffrey, Lentarian Fire Thrower (new)

Jeffrey Poole (authorjmpoole) | 2287 comments Mod
Good luck! And you're welcome!

message 35: by B. (new)

B. Throwsnaill (bthrowsnaill) | 208 comments I'm back to thinking about serializing again. I'm getting close to the theoretical cut point for the first serial "episode", and the closer I get the more tempting it gets. It would probably end up being a novella, and would be a precursor to the next novel which I think would not be able to be split up like this.

message 36: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe | 23 comments As a reader who reviews a lot of books I have criticised a couple of books for serialising. Here are some examples: &

I think there is a time and place for serialisation. A book, even an ebook, can only be so big and some books have a natural breaking point. What I have been encountering on a more and more frequent basis are series that are broken into numerous books without completing any single arc in any single book. There really needs to be some sort of resolution to something before a book ends. So, my basic two cents is to be careful serialising. It's great if used correctly, but irks the heck out of readers if not done well.

message 37: by Alexes (last edited Feb 23, 2013 06:03PM) (new)

Alexes | 15 comments Interesting discussion. I've been thinking about serializing my second novel, set in a completely different world than my first with a completely different story line--and pricing it at free. it would run 30,000-40,000 words . My problem is that the logical place to break is a turning point, but without a clean resolution. I worry that readers would be upset at not getting a neat wrap-up and semi-ending. Any thoughts?

message 38: by B. (new)

B. Throwsnaill (bthrowsnaill) | 208 comments I think Sadie's point is very important. It's something that's been on my radar in terms of serialisation, but I haven't stated it. I don't think it's good to consider ending a book w/o some kind of a resolution, Alexes. The question then becomes a matter of degree. How important is the arc that is ending versus the main story arc? I think this contributes to the level of reader satisfaction. In my case I am hoping (ok, reasonably confident) that the arc will be deemed significant enough.
I will pose this question, though. If I were not going to go serial, I would be introducing another plot arc in the form of some extra chapters interspersed with the main arc that will be resolved in this latest (serialized) book. Now that I am going serial, should I jettison that other arc and place it in the next installment? I'm thinking it's either that or I need to also resolve the other "mini-arc" in the same volume. I'm thinking too many loose ends could get confusing for both reader and author.

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