Attention Writers: Yes, You Can Crush It On Kindle This Christmas

Recently, I wrote an impassioned post about how the new Kindle family will turn ebooks mainstream. This guest post from Sean Platt expands on this theme in a way I’m interested in as well, although I will be in edits over Christmas with Prophecy. Still, the advice holds any time and setting deadlines is always a good way to approach a project. It’s also good to see another experiment in serialized fiction. Enjoy!

Are you excited by the Kindle and digital eReaders?

Do you realize what a BIG deal it is, Amazon’s recent price drop to $79 for the regular Kindle, and $199 for a full color tablet touch screen.

I’m sure you do, that’s why you’re reading the Creative Penn.

Have you been racking your brain, searching for ways to capitalize on the extra attention, but you’re not really sure you can do it?

Or have you wondered if maybe you were out of time?

Have you been worried that no one would buy your book?

Or even worse, did you think you could publish just about anything, then collect on the coming Kindle gold rush?

You’re wrong either way.

Self-publishing is a sort of gold rush, but only for those writers with the sharpest pickaxes and most durable knees.

You MUST have:

  • The ability to write well. Depending on what type of writing you do, this could either mean the ability to reduce information into bite-size chunks that are easy for anyone to understand, or being able tell a story and hold reader’s interests. Ideally both.
  • The ability to market, at least a little. You could be as good as King, Grisham, or Patterson. But they have publishers, you don’t. You don’t get a choice. You must know how to market. It is remotely possible that your writing will get noticed and shared enough to land you on the bestseller’s list,but it’s about as likely as me landing Stephen King for a quote on our cover. Be sensible and spend your time learning the one skill that will get your books read and spread faster than anything else.

That’s it. Two things.

Of course, there are a million much smaller things in between, but the bottom line is you must be able to get a quality product to market, then fuel the crowd’s desire to read it.

Now, let’s talk about getting this done in time for Christmas.

We did say crush it on Kindle in the headline, and the number one rule of great copywriting is that you must always deliver on the promise made in the headline.

If you really want to crush it on Kindle this Christmas, you can. But you’re going to have to do the same thing John Locke, Joe Konrath, and Amanda Hocking did.

You must bring multiple titles to the same market.

You probably don’t have multiple titles in the same market, but that’s okay. Neither did we. Two months ago our imprint, Collective Inkwell, had published five books.

Unfortunately, those five books were in four separate markets.

We may as well have had just one.

So we decided to serialize a story. My partner David Wright had an amazing idea for a post-apocalyptic setting, which gave us a giant sandbox to write from. There was no way we could produce a half dozen quality titles by Christmas.

We could have written six titles, sure, we’re both fast writers. I’ve written more than three million words in the last three years alone. But those six books wouldn’t have been as good as they should’ve been, meaning we wouldn’t be able to maintain success even if we managed to temporarily grab it.

Publish crap, and we’d be stealing from an audience who would never buy from us again.

So we made something amazing instead.

Check out the trailer, then finish the post below so you can see how you can make something amazing, too.

Dave made that trailer for $17. Of course, it was done in Final Cut, which cost him $300. But the trailer itself was just $17 worth of stock photo, sound effects, and audio.

Think about your own book trailer and the feelings you’re trying to invoke in your audience, then do the best possible job you can with the resources at your disposable. Keynote for Mac is $19.99, and if you’re not on a Mac, you can always use PowerPoint.

As far as the writing, develop a concept and find a writing partner if possible. I could never have written Yesterday’s Gone without Dave. It would have been impossible. Considering I only had to write my chapters, while he assembled and edited the entire beast; blending everything together, keeping our timelines consistent, inserting dates and times, and making sure there weren’t any blunders (like in the first final edit of the pilot when we wrote a man in handcuffs changing his shirt!).

Self-publishing doesn’t have any rules, other than create awesome stuff and don’t be afraid to talk about it, so if you don’t have a partner, do it yourself. I wouldn’t have wanted to write something with the scope of Yesterday’s Gone without Dave, at least not by Christmas, but I would have written something. You can, too.

Make smaller chapters, perhaps 50 pages instead of 100. Or start with a story that has four episodes instead of one, like Roz Morris did with her serialized novel, My Memories of a Future Life.

Take something you’ve already written and see if you can expand it into something bigger and better, then break it into smaller pieces like I’ll soon be doing with my children’s book, Penny to a Million.

You’re the author, you make the rules.

Christmas is in three months. And there will be a ton of Kindles under countless trees.

You still have time.

The full season of Yesterday’s Gone is out now, but two months ago it only existed as conversation.

Get started today.


Sean Platt is an author, publisher and creative entrepreneur. Follow him on Twitter @seanplatt.

You can buy the Yesterday’s Gone pilot for $.99. It’s great entertainment and a passenger seat to see what happens with this awesome serialized fiction experiment. The full season is available for $4.99.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, you can also click here to become a “goner,” and get exclusive chapters with shocking endings, along with a ringside seat to all the behind the scenes stuff Dave and I are doing at the Inkwell (perfect for readers AND writers!)

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  1. says

    What a great idea! I’m reading Roz’s story…bought all 4, just finishing the first one. I can see it working with scifi, romance and other genre fiction. Would it work with historical? Could I turn my just-begun historical trilogy into a series of episodes, like a soap opera? Or could I expand a short story I’m almost finshed with and turn into fewer episodes? Lots to think about. I would love to have something done for Christmas. Thanks for this post, Joanna and Sean!

  2. says

    Hi Marcia!

    Yes, I believe it works with nearly any vertical. I’m definitely going to hit it with several genres, and am already doing it with children’s and nonfiction in addition to Yesterday’s Gone.

    My best advice: Don’t rush it. Pay a lot of attention to your beginnings and endings so your story is remarkable enough for people to talk about.

    Best of luck!

  3. says

    Awesome article! Thank you for sharing. My partner and I are right on your heels with something similar for the Urban Fantasy genre. We are on track to have three titles in our serial on sale by Nov. 1 and another three by Dec. 1. Plus a free short story set up as an exclusive freebie for signing up with the mailing list. (Another big thanks to Joanna for the mailing list advice in another article.)

    The biggest takeaway for me with this article was how you present the serial aspect to the potential readers. That was something I’d been struggling with as I hammered out a marketing approach. Being upfront with the readers about the serial nature is important to avoid making them feel lost or annoyed when they are left with a cliffhanger instead of the story wrapped up in a bow after each part. Using TV episodes as an analogy to explain the series makes a lot sense. The trailer and the article have helped me big time. I like how you make the serial nature of the series a selling point to build up reader excited and interest.

    Thanks Sean and Joanna!


  4. says

    My pleasure!

    And yeah, changing the language has helped us immeasurably. Everyone I’ve explained it to has gotten the lightbulb in seconds. The analogy has been everything.

    Best of luck with your serial!

  5. says

    Thanks for this Sean! Just before logged on here I had made a list of things to do relating to marketing my current children’s book which came out at the end of the summer and how to approach the next one that’s almost ready for upload. With Christmas coming I’ve been deliberating about when/how to launch this second one…. I’d already thought about making it available in e-format first without its black and white interior illustrations – to create some initial buzz, but your post here has made me think about releasing it in bite size e- chunks as an alternative strategy…. I like that idea as a way to create some early interest! So thanks for this! (I needed a boost to my marketing strategy thinking this morning – I received a note at the end of the last week from a children’s editor saying that she is overwhelmed with books to review and one rule she has is that she simply doesn’t review any self-published books !)

    • says

      Hi Karen, I do think there will be a change in attitude about self-published books – at the moment, Uk is about 18 months behind America and things are changing there. I am waiting for Amazon publishing UK to get going :)

  6. says

    So glad that I stumbled on this article. It certainly gives a lot of food for thought.
    Been thinking of creating episodes out of some of the parts of my book – maybe now is the time to revisit that idea.
    Would be really interested to hear how the sales figures look on doing things this way.

  7. says

    This is pretty helpful. I’m thinking of selling single or pairs of stories from my short story collection as a way of creating some momentum – so, different to serializing, but some good insights here to help my thinking just the same.

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