OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
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.
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!)