Serial Fiction With Author Entrepreneur Sean Platt

Let’s get excited about indie publishing serialized fiction! In this exuberant interview, Sean Platt talks about the publishing and marketing lessons learned from serial fiction project Yesterday’s Gone. I really appreciate his positive approach and ‘can-do’ attitude so I hope you enjoy it.

In the intro, I talk about writing in the London Library as well as cutting 20,000 words from Prophecy and how I’m coping with life as a full-time author-entrepreneur.

Sean Platt is a prolific author, copywriter, publisher and online entrepreneur. He has written business and writing books, children’s books and also co-authored the recent Amazon bestselling Yesterday’s Gone, a serialized post-apocalyptic thriller. [Video at the bottom if you prefer that!]

  • Sean & his co-author love serialized content in terms of TV – “good junkie” TV series like Lost which drag people in and keep them hooked. The grand openings and the endings that make you desperate for the next episode. As writers, that’s what they wanted to achieve.
  • As publishers, they want to hit the same type of numbers as Hocking, Locke, Konrath etc and to do that you need to have multiple titles in the same niche. Now their model is to create a lot of great books available for low prices. Serializing . It’s fiction with a funnel. All the things Sean has learned as an information marketer he is now applying to fiction.
  • The pilot grabs you and they made this free to hook people in. You can do this by making it free on Smashwords and it trickles through to Amazon. This only works if you put out the very best and it over delivers. It’s got to be your best work as people are paying for it with their time, if not their money.
  • If you wouldn’t charge for it, it’s not worth being free. You also have to have somewhere for them to go if it’s free e.g. a sequel or another book to buy. You waste your time unless there is a return.
  • I mention CJ Lyons who also blogged here about ‘free’
  • Using episodes as Kindle & print books as well as putting it into a Series book with 6 episodes. Some people want to buy in episodes and others will buy in the series.
  • Writing fast and with quality. Sean is a retired ghostwriter so he learned to write fast as time was money. Writing fast enables your true voice to emerge as you don’t self-censure so much. You can find flow that way. The quality doesn’t decay.
  • Sean postulates that taking writing classes slows people down as instinct is un-taught. Writing based on what you love and your passion rather than what you are taught at school means you can be freer in your expression. You can edit a lot but the basic first draft is very fast if you write this way.
  • As a self-publisher you can’t put out anything that isn’t your absolute best.
  • The gatekeepers are now the customer, not the publisher. This is great because it’s easier to speak to those people. You also need ‘to work your face off’. We use the example of Stephen King who works extremely hard and puts out books people love year after year.
  • There is no writer’s block. It’s procrastination!
  • On book marketing. Sean has been everywhere in the last 4-6 weeks including some massive blogs. He has been online for a good few years so he has a network that he could tap into. He knew he had no fiction readers so he aimed for the influencers. This has created an audience for the fiction so next time he can market to them specifically. You have to do this for a first book but the 2nd would be done differently.
  • What really helped was being free on Amazon as they peaked at #1 on Horror (although it’s not really Horror) and that spilled into sales of the other episodes. But it’s only worth being free if you have a load of great reviews already. You have to have the social proof. You can’t game Amazon. Write for the readers.
  • For the next book, Sean is looking at actual mainstream media to get rid of the final stigma of self-publishing. It is fair as self-pub needs to earn it’s way. A lot of it is crap and it is different. We need to earn respect. We’re legitimizing it. He is focusing on getting a great quote as well as book reviews. The online network is now leveraged, it needs to more into another game. It’s proved in the market place with sales and reviews so they are able to approach people with some evidence.
  • The best way to market is to create more content once you have started the ball rolling.

You can buy Yesterday’s Gone at Amazon here. If you like Lost and Stephen King, it might be your thing!

You can find Sean’s site for writers GhostwriterDad here and you can find him on Twitter @seanplatt

Please do let me know what you think in the comments below. Thank you!

 

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Comments

  1. Doug Lance says

    It’s estimated that Amazon receives 147 million hits per month. That is an outrageous figure and a believable one. The more pages you can get on Amazon in more categories, the more you’ll get out of those 147 million potential customers, and the better your products will do. The key to success on Amazon is to take up as much space as possible with great products.

    I’ve found success by offering a subscription to my Kindle product, instead of one-time sales. It’s great to have a steady and reliable cash flow. I have to work on it every month, but every month I get paid more and more so I think it’s worth it!

    • says

      Doug, I love the subscription model and I think you have a great idea for it. My fear personally is that I jump around a lot and may not be able to deliver long term on one idea or product. Certainly you’re doing the right thing for your magazine though.

      • Doug Lance says

        Yeah. I can see where you’re coming from. You know, Amazon offers syndication of any blog on the Kindle. You might be able to set it up so your blog goes right to the Kindle and people could subscribe and get all your articles right on their Kindle automatically for a nominal fee. The only drawback is that they’d miss out on all your great multimedia stuff, like the awesome video interviews such as this one!

  2. says

    Joanna, you mentioned in the article thinking about doing the free thing on Amazon. Just a thought, but instead of putting a novel like Penticost up for free, why not write something shorter specifically meant to be your free sample? A novella or short story featuring your protagonist. It might even foreshadow events in one of your novels, pointing readers at the series.

    I downloaded the free short story “Blindsight” by indie Kait Nolan off of Kindle. It pointed me to her other books in her series, and since I enjoyed that short story so much I went right over and bought the novels that very afternoon.

    -Archer

    • says

      Thanks Archer, that’s a great idea – I could do a novella instead of the full length novel. That would only be 20,000 words. I’ll definitely consider that for the new year. I want to get the 3rd novel out before I go back into hardcore promo mode but very soon I will be back with the latest on Prophecy, the 2nd in the series. Thanks for your help.

  3. says

    Great information and a great interview as always. Thank you both for that!

    Joanna, you mentioned in the introduction that you write on the iPad in the London library. I considered writing on an iPad to be laborious – as you have no real keyboard. Isn’t it that hard? I don’t have one, yet, but I am considering buying a tablet soon.

    • says

      Hi Kerstin, I use an external keyboard – you can see the picture of my setup at the library here
      http://joannapenn.com/the-london-library/
      about half way down. It’s the keyboard I usually use at home with my MacBookPro but it uses bluetooth so just connects to the iPad as well. I have a origami stand which was pretty cheap so it’s a portable system. I also used to think writing on it would be hard but it’s actually brilliant and so light to carry. My husband reckons a MacBookAir is better but it’s expensive and I already have an iPad so I’m very happy with it.
      I use Pages on it which is available as an app and I just email myself the files (although it also syncs). This is definitely working really well for me!

      • says

        Thank you for the answer and the link to your posting on working at the library. With a bluetooth keyboard connected the iPad is surely a great equipment.
        I also work at home all day and sometimes it’s a bit lonely – plus all kinds of distractions get in the way of focused work as you also mentioned in the linked posting. Working in a library is a very interesting idea. I should try that, too. Unfortunately I don’t have such a nice and history-charged library as the London Library around the corner. But I will have a look at the others nearby. Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. Renee Pawlish says

    It’s a great interview and he brings up an issue that is a conundrum for indie authors. He, like myself, harps on “good writing”. Unfortunately there are too many indie authors that have no barometer to know whether their work is good or not, and they don’t solicit anyone’s advice, or if they do, they can’t handle the criticism. It’s too bad, because it takes time to develop your craft, and your voice. Stephen King talks about writing for years before he ever got published. But too many indies think they are another King with their very first book. That’s usually not the case, and it shows. Thanks Joanna, great work.

  5. Elizabeth cairns says

    Absolutely love Sean’s level of enthusiasm! His books are not in my usual genre of choice but am sold on his passion alone so will be trying yesterday’s gone soon. Great to have the message of putting out quality when indie publishing hit home too. So important.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How Johnny started with creative writing, but didn’t pursue it as a career choice. He wrote his first novel 12 years ago but then started writing copy and articles for hire. Then he moved into websites and blogging, and later into business writing. More recently, he discovered self-publishing through people like Sean Platt who has been publishing serialized fiction and short non-fiction. [Listen to Sean's podcast interview here.] [...]

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