Writing is a world with two sides for me at the moment. On the one hand, I am incredibly happy with the feedback I’ve been getting from readers. I’m so lucky to have the readers I do, who keep saying nice things and leaving wonderful reviews.
On the other hand, though, I’ve been publishing for about twenty months and it’s a rare month that I earn more than $100 from it. Which, considering a novel takes me about a hundred hours to write, isn’t much.
To solve that issue, I’ve turned to the advice of Nick Stephenson, who says that building an email list should be the top priority. With an email list, I could notify readers when a new book is out and the sales of that book would push it up the charts. Which would then get me more readers, and so on.
The tactic for getting new email subscribers is to put the second book in a series free. Which has been working exceptionally well. About three weeks ago, I had a dozen subscribers on my email list. Most of whom I knew by name, as they’d emailed me, left lots of reviews and been the most awesome readers an author could hope to have. But a dozen people isn’t enough to make a writing career a viable option.
After implementing Nick’s advice, I now have over fifty subscribers. Which is an amazing result. The first dozen took me a year and a half, the next forty took me three weeks. And it’s the offer of a free book which did it. You can see the offer above this post, on the menu bar. Subscribers to my email list get the second book in a series for free.
Which brings me to the subject of this post: are trilogies the best thing to write at the moment? The reason I say that is that a trilogy would boost the email list the most, in terms of writing time, from among my options:
- Write short stories: Not many people are interested in short stories at the moment. Even given away free. So that hasn’t worked for me, at least;
- Write novellas: A viable option if they’re part of something else. They are quite short, though. I think that they’re a good form for things like episodes (Greenstar), but people want a more expanded story for a standalone;
- Write stand-alone novels: Definitely something I want to do, but they’re unlikely to convert people to being long-term fans unless they’re amazing;
- Write long series: Bytarend is something I’m very proud of. There are going to be six books in total and the overall story is going to be incredible. I can’t wait for everyone to see what happens by the end. However, I’m getting diminishing results from advertising the first book in the series. The people who want to read it have read it. Which means that the last two books in the series will have their audience already. The series still picks up new readers at a rate of a few dozen per month;
- Write trilogies: With the first book free, the second book as a mailing list incentive and the third book paid. This is something I want to try, because I believe that two trilogies would have more reach than a series of six books. However, it’s only a theory at the moment. I need to try it to find out.
At the moment, my theory is that the first book in the series is the most visible one. It’s the one that gets on the free charts and makes people want to read more.
The second book gets the subscribers. But it doesn’t just do that. Since there’s more than one book on the subscribers page, it encourages people to try other things. After all, with the first and second books already free for subscribers, what have they got to lose?
The third book (hopefully) pays the bills. The second book will do that to some extent as well, since some people won’t want to join the list. The third book, though, is there to pay for the covers and editing of all three.
As I say, at the moment it’s just a theory, but it’s one I want to try. Three books is a 300 hour investment, so it’s no small experiment, but I think it’s one worth trying.
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Bytarend is fast, fun fantasy that'll have you on the edge of your seat. Hard Vacuum is hard-talking, violent science fiction and my tribute to 80s action movies.
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