Sunday, July 5, 2015

Considering a Web Serial

This past week, I was in the mood to write something different, but still fantasy related.  I created a bard character and his apprentice, then wrote a 5,200-word short story about the characters.

My wife and children are avid Minecraft fans and they frequently watch players that stream their gameplay content on Youtube. She was telling me that there was this site called Patreon that allowed fans of online content to make donations to support their favorite content creators, like some of the people that do Youtube videos.

Since I'm planning to give away "Heir of the Blood King" during my book blitz that is scheduled from July 20th through July 24th, I have considered the idea of making my novel available for free. I don't feel my story is reaching enough people.  My target audience is primarily tweens and young adults, who have the vast resources of the internet to discover interesting content without paying out of pocket.  In addition, I have done very little in the way of advertising and promotion to reach this audience because the plan was to start with the scheduled book blitz.

So, I disabled the auto-enroll function into Amazon's KDP Select program so I could set my price to free when my enrollment period expires on July 15th.  With the book blitz, the free promotion, and the tour giveaway for two $50 Amazon gift cards, this should garner enough attention onto my story to attract the readers of my audience.  I mean, after all, how can it get better than a free download PLUS a chance to win money, am I right?

This begs to question, however, how I do recover my investment into "Heir of the Blood King" and earn the funds that I need for my next novel?  I paid out of pocket to have a professional book cover made and professional editing of my manuscript.  I also have money invested in the tour and giveaway.

The answer was simple.  I could use Patreon just as streamers do. Of course, when I researched it out, I didn't find very many successful authors doing more than $100 a month.  Besides, who would donate money to me and wait three to six months for me to release a novel?  I know I would have trouble trusting that unless it was someone who was already established.

This morning, I came across an article on ways authors could market themselves successfully online. When I came across #3 under "Build your fan base", the answer struck me. "Start a controversial web series". I'm not one to be controversial, per se, but my new story already had some intriguing elements that would stand apart from my peers.  First off, the main character is just old with a much younger assistant and he has arthritis. Performing with a sword has become a burden for the character, but why hasn't he quit?  Plus the character is unusual because he is a black main protagonist in a fantasy setting.  I couldn't help it.  As I wrote the story, I kept hearing Samuel L. Jackson's voice speaking the iconic words, "Say what again!"

I know what I want for a cover design for the short story and I had already been thinking about future installments for the characters. I was dreading the additional costs for future works since I've not made a lot of money from my initial investments in my first story.  By investing in one cover and finding an editor who would be willing to edit installments of a serial publication, I could lower my overhead and produce a manageable stream of regular content for fans of my work. This allows me much greater flexibility and will keep me engaged with my audience as well.  Patreon will fulfill that need for me by giving me a platform to offer early content to not only my novels and short stories, but my serialized content as well.  It is a win-win situation.

So moving forward, I need to do my research and find the best practices for setting up and maintaining a web serial. I'm very excited about the idea and I would like to get started on it right away.

-Will


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