If you’re a self-publishing author who’s writing fiction, you may wonder about writing serial fiction.
Does the thought of committing to regular publication make you nervous too? Most of the questions I get about serials involve the publishing process. That is, getting your writing done and publishing your episodes on a schedule.
My best advice: start with a strong idea. No matter where you are in your fiction writing journey, the idea is what counts.
Serial fiction: start with an idea which excites YOU
Over the years, I’ve discovered that a serial needs to start with an idea which gets me excited, so I’m eager to write.
In my experience, publishing a serial (a part-work, if you like) has more in common with publishing short stories than writing a novel. Although I enjoy it, I know that I need to keep my initial enthusiasm at a high pitch, so that publishing every two weeks won’t become a royal pain in the you-know-what.
If you adore an idea and you think it would work as a serial, you’re good to go.
Let’s look at the answers to some popular questions I receive about writing and publishing serial fiction.
1. “What if I get BORED and can’t finish my serial?”
Stop publishing. If you wish, and you’ve got a reader’s list, you can tell readers that you’ll complete the serial as a novel. Then they’ll receive the novel for free.
Let’s say you’re not bored, but sales don’t justify any more episodes of the serial. Again, stop publishing.
I’ve done this and several of my students have done this too. Not a single reader has contacted us to complain. We’re all hugely busy today. Readers read for a hit of entertainment. A day later, they’ve forgotten the novel or serial they were reading.
2. “Should you enroll serials in KDP Select, so they’re free in Kindle Unlimited (KU)?”
If you enroll your serial’s episodes in KDP Select when you publish, your books are free to KU subscribers. You get paid by the number of pages read.
I’ve never published serials in KU. My aim is to get readers; readers who’ll buy every episode of a serial and other books as well.
However, as with everything, your mileage may vary. If you wish to publish serials in KU, go ahead and experiment. You can always opt out of KDP Select after three months.
3. “How do I manage book formatting and conversions?”
You don’t need to convert anything. Upload your MS Word doc to Amazon; Amazon converts MS Word to MOBI, which is the format that’s used on the Kindle.
I use apps make conversions easy: Scrivener, Ulysses, and Vellum. I’ve been using them for a long time, and I use them for reasons other than book formatting and conversions.
You certainly don’t need them, or any other app. You’ll do fine with just an MS Word doc for Kindle and for D2D.
4: “How should I price my serials?”
Keep your prices at around $2.99 for each episode. At $2.99, Amazon gives you 70% of the sales price. You need to balance a higher return, with the fact that you may get fewer readers.
I price the first episode of a serial at 99 cents when I release it and keep it at that price. Then further episodes are all $2.99; this price means that the royalty is 70% (although Amazon places conditions on that.)
Here’s Amazon’s Help file on digital pricing, it’s worth reading. Keep an eye on Amazon’s terms, they tend to change.
I hope these answers help you.
Got other questions about serial fiction? Please ask. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.