Writing fiction is fun, and it’s profitable too, especially if you write short stories. For novelists however, it can take quite a few months after self-publishing to make money. One way around that is to publish your novel in serial form, much as Dickens did in the 19th century.
Serials sell well on Amazon, and as you publish the parts, you’re building an audience. Once you’ve completed all the parts, you can sell the novel as a compilation of its parts – Dickens and other authors sold their novels in volumes.
If you browse Amazon, you’ll find that many authors are selling serials. Some of these sell very well – they’re in the top 100 in their genre.
However, before you decide whether or not to serialize your novel, you need to make sure that your novel will sell.
Will Your Novel Make Money?
The short answer, sadly, is usually: no. Writers write, and then are amazed when their story doesn’t sell. Nine times out of ten it’s because they failed to take into account what readers of fiction want.
You need to pay attention to what’s selling. Romance sells best, especially if you tap into a sub-genre with a slew of insatiable readers. Examples: erotica (specific kinks), billionaire romance, vampire/ paranormal romance etc.
You can do a little market research very easily. Go to Amazon, and type in the sub-genre. I typed in “billionaire romance” in the image below.
The first few titles are usually free, so you can download them and read them easily enough.
If you’re unfamiliar with a genre, your first step is to assess what appeals to readers in the genre or sub-genre. Readers always have specific likes and dislikes. You’re selling entertainment, so do your very best to keep your readers happy, and your fiction will sell.
On the other hand, if you’ve written something without considering genre at all, you need to get lucky if you want to make sales.
Roz Morris’s publishers asked her to revise her novel to fit into a genre’s parameters, but she did something unusual:
… Morris decided to publish the book in parts or “episodes”. She released an episode of 25,000 words every week.
She got her idea from TV series like Lost, which had such buzz that it got everyone talking about plot twists at the watercoolers. She wanted the same for her books.
Can You Publish Your Novel as a Serial?
Yes, you can.
A couple of tips…
1. Write in a Specific Genre if at All Possible.
If you ignore genre, you’re taking a chance. Perhaps your novel will sell. However, without a clearly defined audience (genre), you’ll struggle. Roz Morris has a platform; if you have a platform, you’ll sell, because you have loyal readers. Indeed, that’s the entire point of platform: readers.
2. Write the Novel Before You Start Publishing.
Dickens didn’t complete his novels before he published the episodes, and many writers today don’t either. However, having a complete novel, even if it’s in an early draft, ensures that you meet your schedule. Each ebook will sell the others, because your ebooks appear on Amazon’s “recently published” lists every time you publish, so keep to your publishing schedule.
Fiction is hot. As H.M Ward pointed out:
A book in the top (on Amazon) ten sells around 5–10K copies per day. Let’s take the average and give the book some wiggle room and say it’s selling 7K copies a day @ $2.99. In 7 days you’ll have made (net, not gross) over $100,000.
There’s a LOT of money to be made. Go and get some of it… 🙂
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.
You can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that your new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
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