The biggest benefit of Kindle publishing is that it’s publishing YOUR way. Within limits, you can do anything you like. Case in point: serialized fiction, which has become a hot new trend among self-publishers. As a promotional strategy, it’s a clever way of boosting sales.
If you’re not familiar with it, you’re wondering how serial publication works. Basically, instead of publishing a full-length novel, you chop it up and publish it serially. Each “episode” of the serial needs to be a decent length – around 10,000 to 15,000 words. You publish each ebook of the series, then publish the novel as whole.
So, let’s say you’ve got a story you’ll be publishing as a serial. The total word count will be 90,000 words. You publish six 15,000 word parts. Then compile them into a complete novel, and you’ve now got seven ebooks selling on Amazon, rather than one.
Tip: ensure that readers know that their ebook is part of a serial, so use the same cover image, just changing the text on the cover to let readers know which part is which.
Students of our Kindle publishing program asked whether serial publication only works for romances. No – I’ve seen horror, fantasy and mysteries published as serials.
Here are the benefits of serialized fiction:
- You’re publishing regularly, so you appear on Amazon’s “Recently Published” lists, which means more exposure to readers;
- You’re gaining more exposure as your catalogue on Amazon grows. Readers who like your serial, will buy further episodes, or the complete version;
- You’re getting feedback, so you’re motivated to keep producing.
Let’s look at some strategies.
1. Decide on a Publication Schedule.
Look on serial publication as a strategy to promote your ebooks – to get readers. So, price each part of the serial low, at around 99 cents. After you’ve published several parts, make the first part of your serial permanently free. Price the final compilation – the full-length novel – at $2.99 or $3.99. Keep it consistent with what other authors are charging in the genre.
Decide on a publishing schedule. Will you publish a part a week? Every two weeks? Try not to leave too much time between parts, otherwise readers who’ve purchased an episode will get annoyed if they have to wait.
This means that if you’re not totally confident of completing each part on schedule, you need to have a few parts up your sleeve, so to speak, before you publish episode one.
2. Write Ahead: Don’t Get Stuck!
You can get stuck with any novel. You paint yourself into a corner. Then you realize that to get yourself out of the corner elegantly, something has to happen way back in Chapter Two of the setup. If you’re publishing as normal, you can go back now, or later in revision, and add whatever it is.
If you’re publishing a serial, you can’t do that. To be safe, make sure that you’ve got three or four episodes ready to go, before you publish the first one.
Ideally, have all the parts written before you publish the first one.
3. Each Episode Needs to Give Value: Create a Plot Arc, With Climax (Cliffhanger.)
Your challenge with serial fiction is to make each episode in the story satisfying. Yes, you want readers to read the whole thing. However, each episode has to deliver entertainment and value. So each episode has a throughline, with a setup, action, and climax. (If you’re uncertain on plotting, check out Hot Plots.)
Can you write serialized fiction? It’s popular among many authors, and readers like it too. Try these strategies; they’ll help you in your publishing ventures.
Here’s a little graphic; it covers the primary points you need to remember when self-publishing serial fiction.
Post updated on January 13, 2017.
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